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Category: contemporary classics (Page 2 of 3)

Anna Coogan – The nocturnal among us



Anna Coogan’s development into a folky singer-songwriter was long and winding: the American broke off an opera study in Austrian city Salzburg, where she also sang show tunes during recitals to everyone’s bewilderment and sometimes missed classes because she went skiing. She studied biology after that and only started singing (again) after hearing Alison Krauss. Two CD’s with her band north19 scored nicely, but that band fell apart in 2007.

Coogan wrote the eleven songs for her first solo-outing mostly during sleepless nights, visited by doubt and despair. Even in that one up-tempo rocker with merry ooh-la-la refrain she sings how she would prefer to go back to bed to dream about another life.

In her ten other songs she mixes Continue reading

John Lester – So Many Reasons



Classy cat.


San Franciscan bassist/guitarist/singer John Lester lived in Paris and London, but settled in Amsterdam after that. There he recorded his eleven new songs for this third CD, but also during sessions in London and Berkeley, California.

Musically Lester exactly stays his course. He merges influences from jazz and singer-songwriter into  infectious, cleverly rounded melodies. Their moody and spacious foundation on acoustic bass and semi-acoustic guitar Continue reading

Krista Detor – Chocolate Paper Suites

Balanced emotion.

Krista Detor made an enormous impression with her CDs Mudshow and Cover Their Eyes. Her intimate piano songs proved a huge trump card for Dutch Corazong label. However, in fifteen new songs she confirms and enlarges her reputation as a singer-songwriter in an impressive way.

She grouped her songs ambitiously in groups of three, inspired amongst others by Frederico Garcia Lorca, Dylan Thomas and Charles Darwin. She recorded that last suite in Engeland, when she was invited for the Darwin Song House workshop.

This time too, the songs are musically restrained and melancholical of strucure and contents. Continue reading

Jon Cleary and the Monster Gentlemen – Pin Your Spin

Gritty and elegant.

On Cleary’s fourth interim drummer Raymond Weber plays, and not Jeffrey ‘Jellybean’ Alexander, who previously laid down the grooves. Still that is not the biggest difference with the self-titled predecessor, because with Weber, refined in New Orleans, the Gentlemen also drive Cleary forward effortlessly, often with the aid of a percussionist.

In twelve songs the keyboardist/singer unexpectedly mixes the diverse angles of Moonburn, his second album, with his uncompromisingly swinging third, recorded almost live, to a surprising unity.

Cleary and regular producer John Porter do not shun studio effects in that process from time to time. That makes one think of influence Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson (Agent OO Funk) and even of hiphop beats in Doin Bad Feelin Good, recorded more solo. Continue reading

Dr. John – Creole Moon

Chroniquer writes history.

Dr. John has never left New Orleans in the spirit. He bears witness to that with regular accompanists Herman Ernest III (drums), David Barard (bass) and new guitarist Renard Poché. In 14 songs, of which 4 were written with the late legend Doc Pomus, Dr. John once again explores the wayward but flowing rhythms of the town that shaped him.

Supported by different percussionists Ernest III, Barard and Poché roll out the cross-grained grooves tightly but interwoven, while the doctor plays the keys. Trombone player Fred Wesley’s horn section (ex-James Brown) plays fierce riffs on top of them and guests like David ‘Fathead’ Newman and Sonny Landreth take care of inspired solos. Continue reading

VandeVen Band – Off The Road

Feeling for the groove.

Veteran Clemens van de Ven made his previous CD Ticket To Paradise under his own name, but it was just as much hís music as that of his musicians. Now they are named after the way they sound: a compact band. Ten songs long Van de Ven and his companions again play flowing and at the same time soulful grooves: Harry Hardholt on guitar, Arend Bouwmeester on saxes, bass and percussion and newcomer Sin Banovic on drums.

In that tight line-up they evocate New Orleans in the Rhine delta. Van de Ven’s piano and growling singing are at the centre, but the propelling swing of his three musicians proves that they know how to reduce da fonk to its essence effortlessly. Doing so, they couple refinement to tradition and combine jazz, funk, rhythm ‘n’ blues and dixieland to a rootsy stew. Continue reading

Kim Richey – Wreck Your Wheels


Singer-songwriter Kim Richey is an American veteran that already recorded five solo CD’s. Apart from that, she wrote songs for Trisha Yearwood, James Morrison, Ryan Adams, Shawn Colvin and Mary Chapin Carpenter.

In the eleven songs on her sixth atmosphere is more important than volume in her restrained compositions, perfectly played by her live band. Her lyrics often start with an anecdote, but Richey has the ability to give them a universal validity without much emphasis.






Joe Iadanza – All In Good Time


In the ten new songs on his second CD American singer-songwriter Joe Iadanza makes a big step forward.

Much more subdued than on his good debut Traveling Salesman Iadanza stays much closer to folk than to roots music this time. The total absence of up-tempo songs in favour of ballads is striking, although in his lyrics Iadanza takes a stance just as categorically as on that first one.

From opener Skin And Bones to closing song American Dream he sings about great themes in the directly appealing way of the classic folk heroes: a soldier gets crushed by the war, a man holding two jobs gets crushed by the economic crisis, a son compares his life to his deceased father’s and a musician on tour longs for his lover at home.

Musically all songs are very restrained: Continue reading

Melleville – John Dear Mowing Club

Emotional knock-out.

The John Dear Mowing Club from the Hague is singer/guitarist/graphic artist Melle de Boer’s vehicle, just like when the band was still called Smutfish. On their debut Lawnmower Mind, the ep The Fish That Couldn’t Swim and Through A Slightly Open Door De Boer also determined the tone of voice alone, just like on the untitled debut of the John Dear Mowing Club after that.

That goes even more for Melleville. There De Boer gets minimal company of other musicians only nine times in seventeen songs that he recorded in his workshop.

Thematically they blend seamlessly with earlier work: Continue reading

Wendy MaHarry – Released 2CD

Purified singer-songwriter.

MaHarry’s career came to a standstill after the dissolution of her contract, but she recorded twenty new songs, of which eleven live with band.

On stage and in the studio she proves to be matured: in the songs based on piano the accompaniment serves her vocals more than on her two CDs from the nineties. Baroque excess caused fragmented melodies sometimes then, but these are absent here, except in Dyan Is Resting, fitted with Ian Anderson’s characteristic flute.

The result is a rich collection of ballads and medio-tempo songs, in which MaHarry’s singing gains intensity by the space that she leaves and by the slight fray that her sometimes metallical voice has now. Continue reading

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