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Archive for the ‘English pieces’ Category

John Lester – Fathers and sons

maandag, oktober 2nd, 2017

Ambit Acoustic Records 974005


Layered diary.


Singer and bass player John Lester’s fourth solo album is an alternative family tree: the ten songs deal with his relationship with his two sons, his wife, his father, his mother and his grandfather.

Lester recorded the songs with drummers Tim Bulkley of Michael Orbano, guitarist Paul Tiernan and occasional keyboard players. He played various basses and acoustic guitars and ukulele for the first time.

The latter instrument led to a fictitious conversation between the grandfather Lester did not know and his mother. In Through your eyes  Lester wants to see the world like one of his sons, who has a serious eye malfaction, and in The beautiful princess of never come true he wonders why expectations about boys and girls are so deeply embedded.

The text got shape after a performance by his other son in a dress at a school party. That Gretchen Peters sings along and her husband Barry Walsh plays the piano, is logical: Peters’ son was born a girl, but changed sexes in the end.

Just because of his family Lester lashes out hard in a supple way to president Trump in Train song (Don’t let freedom fade away): Everything we are tomorrow/comes from the stance we take today.

Once again, he shows his talent for beautiful and equally catchy melodies, in which virtuosity is secondary to ambiance. His singing is just as swinging as it is enjoyably hoarse in lyrics about themes that are autobiographical and universal at the same time.

That way Lester makes supple, layered songs for grown-ups with influences from jazz and singer-songwriter





Paul Batto –Lonesome road

donderdag, april 10th, 2014


Paul Batto is a songwriter who says to be influenced by John Lee Hooker, Mahalia Jackson and Frank Sinatra. That already is an unlikely combination for someone who interprets country blues in a personal way, but this entirely American sounding singer-songwriter was born in Ljubjana, Slovenia too.

That he turned into to a travelling blues musician, was no so logical: the guitar that he got when he was five years old, stood untouched in a corner for seven years.

Meanwhile he has already travelled Europe for twenty years and he plays wherever he can. His gigs must be impressive, because his playing and singing sound just as sparse as committed in the eleven songs on his new album. For conjuring up a lot of ambiance Batto needs no more than a good melody, an acoustic guitar and his voice.

His melodies stick in your memory without exception and his guitar playing is diverse in style. Batto especially feels at home in the South of the US, but also absorbs influences from Spain and India. His acoustic and slide guitar sound emotional continuously in the first place, while his vocal does not only add a melody to his playing, but also a lot of intensity.

Batto proves that he can reach maximum results with minimal means, because not only does every song form a logical whole, his inspiration is also clear every time. That way he convincingly evokes a world of endless roads, which indeed are lonely sometimes, but maybe yield many beautiful songs just because of that.


Ernest Troost – O love

maandag, maart 3rd, 2014

Small master.

On his fourth CD American Ernest Troost once again proves thirteen times exactly where he stands: on the crossroads of blues, folk, county and singer-songwriter.

The composer of music for movies and tv series exchanged that trade after some 35 years for writing and playing his own songs and clearly is still very fond of his first love.

Troost starts off just as restlessly as convincingly in the threatening Old screen door, a song full of revenge with a fatal outcome. His bass and electric guitar stress the atmosphere, but it is often just as effective in the semi-acoustic songs. Then Troost plays acoustic and electric guitars, mandolin, harmonica, pump organ and sometimes bass, although friends like bassist Mark Goldberg and  percussionist Debra Dobkin assist him.

In seemingly autobiographical songs he sings with lots of empathy about failed relationships, although he still believes in love in Close, which sounds  just as beautiful as melancholic.

That his songs convince immediately is also because of his vocals, which are flawless, natural and emotional at the same time. He makes regret and longing audible without having to use those words.

Troost’s inspired craft proves itself all the time in his carefully constructed songs, his consciously chosen instrumentations and his lyrics, which are written from original angles, be it in one of two up tempo songs or superior ballads like Storm comin’ or When it’s gone.

After his All the boats are gonna rise (2004), Resurrection Blues (2009) and Live at McCabe’s (2012) Troost once again proves that he rightly chose his own voice.

***1/2 (more…)

John Findlay – Fairplay

woensdag, augustus 29th, 2012


Guitar player /singer Findlay called this third CD his debut, because he mixes his jazz with more rhythm ’n’ blues and funk than on Fraser’s Dream and Manna.

His thoughtful melodies are full of unexpected tempo changes, measured funking rhythms and fiery guitars. Sometimes these genres blend, sometimes they grind profoundly against each other.

He sings emotionally on top of grooving blues riffs and quirky southern rock, adding equal parts of (more…)

Louise Taylor – Tangerine

woensdag, augustus 22nd, 2012

Superb folk-blues.

Singer-songwriter Louise Taylor’s sixth record is released after a long pause, because her first five CDs were released between 1992 and 2003.

Whether the crisis in the record industry caused this, is unclear. It can hardly have been an artistic crisis though, because Taylor plays eleven songs in which she (more…)

All the boats are gonna rise and Resurrection blues – Ernest Troost

vrijdag, augustus 10th, 2012

All the boats are gonna rise – Ernest Troost                                     ***1/2

Resurrection blues – Ernest Troost                                                   ****

Real music.

Live at McCabe’s was a first introduction to  a man with a calling. That CD proved to be Ernest Troost’s third, because the composer of film music already debuted as a bluesy folkie in 2004.

Troost plays and sings his thirteen songs solo on All boats are gonna rise, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar and sometimes on harmonica too.

That way it attracts all the more attention how (more…)

Jenee Halstead – Raised by wolves

woensdag, juli 18th, 2012

Thematic monument.

In 2008 Jenee Halstead made quite an impression with her self-released The river grace. In Evan Brubaker’s serene production she combined folk, country and singer-songwriter with her very emotional lyrics. They breathed enormous loneliness, also because of the often metallic sound of her voice.

The five songs on Hollow bones, an ep that was added to a later version of  The River Grace, were strongly influenced by country, but only the title song contained the mystery that was heard so strongly on Halstead’s debut.

However, in her eleven new songs (more…)

Ernest Troost – Live at McCabe’s

dinsdag, juni 19th, 2012

Second youth.

Ernest Troost has at least two personalites: after studying both jazz guitar and classical music at the Berklee School of Music, he has written music for films and tv series for some 35 years, getting an Emmy and several nominations in the process.

However, on 7 January 2011 he played fourteen self-penned songs live at McCabe’s Guitar Shop in Los Angeles. Eight came from All the boats are gonna rise (2004) and Resurrection blues (2009),  two CD’s on which he combined folk and acoustic blues. The other seven are new songs about love that he wrote recently.

During a visit to McCabe’s some ten years before that recording he had felt the urge to perform again, something that he had not done anymore since his days as a student, just like songwriting.

Since then Troost has become (more…)

Hello Cruel World – Gretchen Peters

dinsdag, januari 31st, 2012


Gretchen Peters is still known as a singer-songwriter that is influenced by country, but there is not much that reminds you of that on her fifth solo CD. In the stately opener/title song she combines layered pop music with autobiographical lyrics.

In it she strikes a balance of her life in metaphors and despite everything the message is clear: there is no other escape route than straight ahead. It proves a (more…)

LA Blues – Kara Grainger

dinsdag, januari 24th, 2012

Kara Grainger already made a great impression with her debut Grand and Green River in 2008. The Australian singer/guitarist debuted under her own name then, but already sang before that in her brother Michael’s band, Papa Lips. She also recorded two albums with that band that remained unnoticed in the rest of the world.

The eight songs on her second CD, which is only available as a download, were recorded live in studio with a band and depart from the blues. Now living in the US, Grainger proves in them that she knows the classics, but transcends the genre at the same time.

Robert Johnson’s C’mon in my Kitchen gets a (more…)