FolkWorld Issue 34 11/2007

FolkWorld CD Reviews

Irene Budweiserova "Nobody's fault"
Label: Indies mam304; 2006
Koa "Koa"

Label: Indies mam306; 2006
Jablkon "Oslava"
Label: Indies mam290; 2006
Danaj "Janicku naö, Janku "
Label: Indies mam306; 2006
The Czech Indies label has a bit reputation in releasing folk, rock and jazz music from Czech and Slovakia. In this review four reviews in very different styles. The first one is Nobody's fault by Irena Budweiserova. For many years she is one of the best known Czech singer, with an international career. She sings jazz, blues, gospel and performed in musicals. This is her sixth solo cd with thirteen, mostly traditional, Gospel songs. She performs them in a easy going way. Open-minded versions of songs like Wade in the water, Deep river and Rise up shepherd and follow. Strong vocals and a good acoustic band makes this cd perfect for a wide range of people.
KOA is the second band with their nameless debut cd. The opening track Pro sast'ipen has a Latin sound, while gate sounds more like a traditional song. Very nice with strong vocals by Zuzana Navarova on that one. Acoustic jazz on Biele vrany, a very nice intimate song, sung by MŠrio BihŠri. In Big sur the band tries a more funky approach and even some tango in Cirikleskero tango. KOA recorded some nice songs, although it gives me a bit the feeling they want to try to many styles on one cd.
Jablkon with their cd Oslava. Twenty-one songs a bit in the same vein as KOA. A lead singer with a deep voice, bluesy like in Rikadla and folky elements like in Lidova this with some rock elements and that's it. Nice music, but a bit to much the same to keep me focused for twenty-one songs.
Finally the fourth cd and most interesting one. The Dulcimer band Danaj is located in the town of Stranice. Besides the dulcimer the band has violins, bass, clarinets and on this new project they invited many guest musicians. The theme on this cd is the Czech variations on the English name John. So many persons in traditional songs are called John, that Danaj choose some of the nicest, all telling about a John (or in the native language; Jankoch, Janku or Janky) The start is a traditional from Straěnice in typical dulcimer band style. The second song Banovce is a happy march followed by a beautiful ballad sung by guest vocalist Lenka gajdova. The styles played in these three songs are repeated throughout the cd. Nice are the vocals by Pavel Mucka and by Jan Gajda in Co sa stalo vnovť. Also the choir singing of the small women choir from Lipov is very nice. Their sharp voices make ZrŠzu zlķbeny a beautiful traditional song. The cd contains thirteen interesting songs with the name John in common. Besides that it gives a small overview of some of the traditional styles played in the region Danaj origins from.
www.indies.eu; www.budweiserova.com; www.koa.cz; www.jablkon.com; www.cmdanaj.cz
Eelco Schilder


Vilde Katshke "Flign mit a nign"
Label: Frea mwcd 4054; 2006
Vilde Katshke is a Dutch trio specialised in Klezmer music. The band was formed in 1998 by clarinettist Gottfrid van Eck to be able to combine his passion for Klezmer music and ancient Jewish stories. He plays together with Geleijn van der Ham on Accordion and Jiska ter Bals on violin. This is their second cd and besides the music, van Eck also published stories from the Jewish tradition. During their live concerts they mix the music with storytelling, on the cd you will find no stories, only music. The cd starts with a sad Romanian sheperdssong, a beautiful melody played in a sensitive way. The own composition Flign mit a nign is a bit more vivid but that song is followed by a heart breaking version of two Armenian melodies Mietchnatarian & Barmani. It doesn't matter if the Vilde Katshke plays Greek, Armenian or a Freylach, the band creates a fantastic atmosphere with their music. Often intense and fragile, sometimes careful happiness. This Flign mit a nign is a small acoustic diamond that grows every time I hear it.
http://www.musicwords.nl - http://www.klezmertrio.nl
Eelco Schilder


Billy Cobham "Drum'n' voice 2"
Label: Nicolosi 90038; 2006
Is there anybody who is reading this who does not know who Billy Cobham is? One of the most legendary and respected drummers in the history of (jazz) music? Played on dozens of lp's by artists such as Miles Davis, Quincy Jones, Santana and Peter Gabriel, just to mention a few. Besides that his solo career spans more than 35 lp's and cd's. This last album is another great piece of music with nice jazz rock. Hear the Hammond organ played by Brian Auger in Waveform, the funky bass by Rossana Nicolosi in running or the percussion only piece Ozone part 1. This cd has a great sound, a great drive and is prefect for a late evening. Billy Cobham shows that he is not only legendary in the past, but his drumming is still something to enjoy.
http://www.nicolosiproductions.com - http://www.billycobham.com
Eelco Schilder


Joe Goldmark "Seducing the 60's"
Label: Lo ball records 9; 2007
Joe Goldmark is specialised in the steel guitar and since he started recording in 1980, he has released nine lp's/cd's. His last cd is called Seducing the 60's and contains classical sixties songs from artists such as Neil Young, Bob Dylan, Donald Fagan etc. The sleeve and the choice of songs scared me a bit, what kind of sixties tribute band is this? But when I hear his version of the Neil Young classic Helpless I'm surprised in a good way. Lead singer is Brandi Shearer and she is doing a nice job here accompanied by Goldmark and his band. Goldmark has a good eye for guest vocalists, also Bart Davenport is a pleasure to listen to. He sings a nice version of Fagan's Dirty work. But it's the earlier mentioned Shearer that really surprises me. Nice version of Motown track Every little bit hurts. Personally I prefer the songs with vocals, the steel guitar solo songs like I feel fine from the Beatles and Darlin by Brian Wilson are a bit to much for a Dutch guy living in a steel guitar free country. This is not because of the music but because I have to get used to so many solo minutes on this instrument which has a very specific sound. I can imagine that steel guitar freaks might enjoy this cd. I did enjoy it, especially these 60's covers where the vocalists are taking the lead. (Sorry Joe, hope I don't offend you)
http://www.joegoldmark.com
Eelco Schilder


Pekah "Tuff gong blues"
Label: Zulu 1; 2007
Pekah is the pseudonym of Pierpoljak, a French reggae musician as far as I could find out. Most information about him is in French, a language in which I can order some food on holiday, but unfortunately not more than that. This Tuff gong blues contains fourteen laid-back reggae songs. Very easy going, constantly in the same vein so that you can stay in the same atmosphere without getting disturbed by any unexpected twists or other things that might disturb your relaxed feeling. More a cd for Jamaicaworld than for FolkWorld I guess.
http://www.les-zuluberlus.com
Eelco Schilder


Orkiestra Sw. Mikolaja I Kapela Romana kumtyka Czeremosz "Huculskie muzyki"
Label: Own; 2006
The traditional music of Poland has been a good kept secret for decades but the past few years more and more interesting Polish groups got their music played outside the country. When I visited Poland eleven years ago it was to follow a project at the Marie Curie university in Lublin. There, in that beautiful Eastern Polish town, I heard for the first time the sounds of regional and Carpathian traditional music. Funny enough this latest cd by the Orkiestra Sw. Mikolaja, which is a cooperation with the Ukrainian group Czeremosz, turns out to be a project supported by the same university. The two bands have been playing together since 1993 and finally they decided to record their mutual exchange of music. The Orkiestra Sw. Mikolaja exists for almost 20 years and have recorded twenty cd's of which Czas do domu is probably their best known one outside Poland. On that cd you can hear that the tradition which is made famous by the Warsaw village band, has been recorded and explored by Orkiestra Sw. Mikolaja before. The Orkiestra also has a more pure and acoustic approach and influences from more regional styles. The Kapela Romana kumtyka was formed in 1991 in the Ukraine. The band has a strong reputation in Poland where they recorded two cd's and had many live performance. The music on this cd comes mostly from the Hutsul tradition, Ukrainians Carpathian. It has a overlap with the Polish Carpathian music called Ruthenian. It's wonderful to hear how the music is connected but both groups also put their own identity in the songs and tunes. The kicks off with two fast tunes with at the end some deep male vocals. A nice start to keep the listener warm, but the cd gets at his highest level after the first two songs. Solodenika jabloneczka is an intense song with fabulous screaming female vocals that seems to come from deep inside. Same for Baba which has a haunting atmosphere with terrific male vocals and great string work. Baba is followed by the more fragile, sad sounding song Kolysanka. Ladkanie is the Ukraine answer to the previous two songs. Listen to the difference between the female vocalists in this and in the previous mentioned songs. The same power, the same emotions but more outspoken. The music on this song reminds me strongly of the traditional music of Transylvania. I think that this review doesn't need to get any longer, it's to long already anyway. I also don't need to write about the other songs, I can guaranty that they have the same quality and that this is such a cd that I want to listen from the first until the last note faded away.
http://www.mikolaja.lublin.pl
Eelco Schilder


Mark T "Where are you going?"
Label: Circle of sound 324; 2006
The English singer-songwriter Mark T started his musical career in the early eighties. This Where are you going? is his sixth cd with original and traditional songs. In spite of his experience and more than 25 year long career, this cd lacks a professional sound. Listen to his attempt to sing blues in Apple town. The standard guitar and his vocals sound like they have been recorded apart from each other and his voice is far from a blues voice. The strange thing is that I keep having the feeling in the folksongs as well. His version of Wild mountain thyme or Whiskey in the jar might work in the pub, but this recording is a nice try but unbalanced. Another example of this is Closing my eyes more than ever the vocals sound as if they were record far from the instruments, there is no unity at all. Besides that I find his singing occasionally unstable and after twenty five years of experience I did expect better guitar work than the standard way he plays on this latest release. For Mark T I hope there are people who do understand his music, I personally don't get it but that's a question of personal taste.
http://www.circleofsound.co.uk/markt
Eelco Schilder


Cornemuse Consort Coelln "Schnappschlag"
Label: Own; 2006
The Cornemuse consort Coelln is a small German orchestra existing out of thirteen cornemuse type bagpipes. The consort is a group of musician of all ages who share the same passion for the cornemuse. The instrument is often played solo or in duo, but not often heard in bigger amounts. Of course we know the Scottish bagpipe bands or the French groups like Bagad Kemper. On the cd fourteen tunes varying from French bourree to Scarborough fair. The cornemuses are helped by a hurdy-gurdy, bass and some percussion. The group has an overall good, balanced sound although the musical arrangements are a bit amateurish. It's not as exciting as the French Bagad bands, but it's clear that these thirteen musicians enjoy what they are doing and with a bit more guts and creativity it would be interesting to see if they can develop a more, own, unique (German) style. There is enough good German Bourdon music, so why not go for that!
http://www.musiccontact.com
Eelco Schilder


Pjotr Leschenko "Gloomy Sunday"
Label: Oriente 54; 2005
Leschenko was a famous Russian singer who lived in the first part of the 20th century. A big part of his life he lived in exile in Bucharest. He was tremendously popular in Russia but according to the Soviet cultural authorities his music was decadent and bourgeois. He sung both traditional material, self written songs and translated songs from others. In the typical atmosphere of the thirties, he sings in tango, foxtrot and gypsy style. The recordings are still very good considering their age. Leschenko shows to be a passionate singer with a good sense of politics and a critical look upon society. This cd contains some of his most intense and emotional songs. Not only songs written from a critical point of view but also sad love songs. A nice collection of pure, authentic music.
http://www.oriente.de
Eelco Schilder


Arabanda "Shams"
Label: Choux 0602; 2006
The Belgian band Arabanda is founded by vocalist LaÔla Amezian and accordionist Piet Maris. They gathered a group musicians varying from drummers to trumpet players. Together with them Amezian and Maris bring their own interpretation of the ancient tradition of Al Andalous music. Their interpretation is not classical or traditional like most Al Andalus interpreters, their background in Jazz, world and even electronic music makes it a more crossover interpretation. After listening to this cd I had to listen to some more traditional Al andalus cd's from my collection as well because somehow I find it hard to get the al andalous spirit when I listen to Arabanda. It's nice world music with a touch of jazz, Arabic and light pop. But it doesn't have the soul of the ancient songs and tunes. This Shams is just easy going roots pop Amezian has a limited voice that, at least to my opinion, is more suitable for jazz or pop music. Her singing is often in the same vein and doesn't have the subtle emotion that is connected with Al Andalus music. Same for the musical arrangements, all nice but very clean and sterile. As a roots-pop band Arabanda made a nice debut with easy going music. Nothing more, nothing less.
http://www.choux.net
Eelco Schilder


Tunng "Comments of the inner chorus"
Label: Full time hobby; 2006
The folk style music was able to survive and gain the interest of new generations because of the development the style has gone through the past decades. After the acoustic sixties it were the more progressive and folkrock seventies and early eighties that kept the Folk alive. Now, in the 21st century a few groups tried to create a new modern folk sound by mixing it with electronics. But most bands didn't get much further than adding some dance beats or a few samples. Tunng is one of the first band that takes it much further and actually is able to create a real folk-tronic sound. This band, which was started in 2003, released its first cd two years later. But it is this second album that got the band known to a bigger audience. Comments of the inner circle is a perfect, intriguing mix of electronic sounds and folk music. Soft banjo, layback vocals are mixed with computer sounds and stacks of samples. The good thing about this band is that they managed to integrate the electronic sounds in their music in such a way that it almost sounds natural. No heavy beats or unnecessary sampling, but well thought musical arrangements. Most songs have a friendly character, while a few songs, like Stories for example, have a strong drive and for a few minutes the listener is hunted by the sounds running out of the cd player. This second cd is a great example of how folk music develops in modern times. When you read this review, they probably have just released their third cd, I'm very curious how this Good arrows will sound.
http://www.fulltimehobby.co.uk - http://www.tunng.co.uk
Eelco Schilder


Rosie Thomas "If songs could be held"
Label: Sub pop 675; 2005
Rosie Thomas is a US singer-songwriter and If songs could be held is her third cd. The cd has a promising start with Since you've been around, her vocals and acoustic guitar promises a nice hour of pure music. The music changes drastically in the second song Pretty dress. A whole electric band is added and suddenly it's pop music. The piano start, the high pitched vocal, this sounds like a pop version of early Tori Amos, but without the heart tearing emotion. Loose ends is more a try to compete with Natalie Merchant, the way this song is constructed, the way the Wurlitzer sounds I wont be surprised if Thomas has Motherland by Merchant in her cd collection. But still this isn't bad music at all. Easy going pop with a light folk touch. Same for It don't matter to the sun or Guess it may. Music that doesn't disturb at all, until she starts her version of Becaud's classic song Let it be me. If you want to record such a great song, at least make sure you make it your own. This version is too careful, it doesn't have the tension such a love duet should have. The next song Clear as a bell is, together with Tomorrow one of the strongest compositions on the cd. Here I believe what she is singing. Her voice is fragile and she stays close to the emotion of the song. This 'If songs could be held' gives me mixed feelings. Sometimes Thomas catches my attention with good singing and nice songs, but on a few occasions she chooses the easiest way and her music gets stuck somewhere on the middle of the 'pop music' road. Would love to hear her new cd and see if her music got more own identity and to see if she has the quality to make a cd with only quality songs far beyond the pop genre.
http://www.subpop.com - http://www.rosiethomas.com
Eelco Schilder


Luvas Verdes "Fandango Desperados"
Label: NGD 05002; 2005
Luvas Verdes is a quartet of traditional musician who started to play together in 2001. The band has two gaita players as front man and besides that percussion and occasional vocals. That means the band has a traditional line up with limited possibilities. This Fandango Desperados is their first cd. The band plays traditional and self written tunes in Galician style. Twelve songs only Gaita and percussion, that means Luvas Verdes is a band that hopes to get noticed by the more experienced Galicia / Gaita lovers. The music is brought in a pure way with no tricks to make it more accessible for a bigger audience. But even I, and I have a lot of Galician music, think this cd has a good sound but has not enough variation to offer to keep me focussed for the whole hour. Even the added vocals in Non tedo meno is not enough to take this feeling away. Technically some nice pieces although I noticed a bit of a dissonant between the two gaita's in Pasodoble de pepe. Luvas Verdes shows that Galicia has some talented (more or less) traditional musicians. The only thing Luvas Verdes needs is to evolve a more own and unique sound. Promising!
www.novagalegadedanza.com; www.luvasverdes.com
Eelco Schilder


Iron and Wine "Boy with a Coin"USA

Iron and Wine "Boy with a Coin"
Label:
Subpop; 743; 2007
Sam Beam is the leading man behind the US formation Iron and wine. The band records EP cdís now and than and this three track Ep called Boy with a coin is their latest release. This cd contains three strong songs in the alternative folk / rock / psych style that is typical for the recent new folk wave. Male lead vocals with some female harmonies, electric and acoustic guitars and some smooth electronics. This EP is only a preview of the full length cd which will be released later this year. Seen the quality of these three songs, something to look out for.
www.ironandwine.com
Eelco Schilder


Kashu "Breeze"
Label: Own label; 2005
Kashu is an instrumental trio based in Germany. Samuel Schroth is the pianist specialised in jazz and popular music, Michael Bornhak is the bassist who has a wide range of musical interest from free jazz to oriental music. Besides them Karim Otham Hassan plays the oud. Hassan was born in Iraq and studied European classical and early music. On this debut cd they recorded ten own compositions, often with improvised parts. Sometimes very jazz with leading role for the piano, like in Free shots. I find the piano a bit to much up front here, the other instruments have trouble to reach the same loudness which makes this a bit unbalanced tune. Besides this kind of jazz orientated tunes, a more peaceful one like Breeze touches me much more. Subtle piano, nice oud and a bit sad bass sound. The more oriental touch can be heard in Banzhang mostly in the used rhythm patterns. This Breeze is a nice crossover cd which will be enjoyed by Jazz fans most I think.
www.kashu.info
Eelco Schilder


Gayane "He brings you flowers"
Label:
Keltia; 165; 2006
French singer Gayane recorded her debut cd on the famous French label Keltia, the home of many fantastic French musicians. She is one of the few that sing in English mostly, only three songs out of thirteen on this cd are in French. This is her debut cd which she recorded with the help of more than ten guest musicians. Gayane has a nice, but limited, voice. She is at her best in calm and peaceful songs, but when she has to sing in the higher regions her voice cant quit reach the ultimate result. Also a lack of emotion in her singing makes it sometimes a bit hard to finish this cd. But beside that the biggest problem on this cd is that the vocals and instruments just donít match. Listen to the title song He brings you flowers and you know what I mean, as If she sings a different song, in a different tempo than the musicians. There is just no chemistry between the vocals and the instruments. And that is a pity because there are some great instrumental parts on the cd, well done arrangements with both pop and folk influences, sitar sounds etc. I think next time Gayane should be aware of her limitations and find a way to put more heart and soul into her music.
www.keltiamusique.com
Eelco Schilder


Dan Treanor & African Wind "Mercy"
Label: Own label; 2005
Dan Treanor has been active as a bluesman for almost forty years. Besides his solo career he has been playing with several known names in the history of music. This Mercy cd follows his success cd African wind which he recorded with Frankie Lee. This time his band is called African wind in which we can find Rex Peoples who takes the great lead vocals, exactly like blues vocals should sound. Treanor makes a connection with the African music and blues, as they are closely connected or as he states in the booklet, the first Bluesman was an African. The combination of styles is a very natural one, the African and typical blues instruments mix perfectly and together they form a deep kind of blues-passion. Treanor mixes the famous rhythm of Simon and Garfunkels Cecilia song with a pure blues sound in From African soul, adds a very modern sound in Mississippi Fredís Dream or plays more traditional blues in What you gonna do and You shot the gun with great piano by Jim Beckstein. A bit less are The goat and the chicken and Standing in the shadow on which the female lead vocals are from Christine Webb, her voice is just to light for this music and cant compete by far with the soulful Rex Peoples vocals. The final song is the most traditional African one called African tale which is written in the tradition on a Griot song, a story half told half sung. This Mercy is a powerful cd which shows blues in many forms. Despite the small remark about the female vocals, this cd is high above average.
www.dantreanor.com
Eelco Schilder


Streif "Nordic Winter"
Label:
Ozella; 015; 2006
Streif is a quartet playing traditional music from the Scandinavian and Baltic countries. On Nordic winter you will find recordings from 1999 and 2003, so no recent material. Streif isnít the ordinary traditional Scandinavian band. They arrange the traditional compositions in a jazzy and ambient way. Long, sober and ice cold tracks with clarinet, accordion, percussion, guitar and many other instruments. No vocals, just a landscape of sounds. Somehow their approach makes the tunes sound more universal, I wouldnít always classify them as Nordic or Baltic, sometimes it sounds close to eastern European music or soft-klezmer. Nordic winter is a peaceful piece of music that helps to relax. Perfect after a long day work or in cold winter days with good red wine in front of the fire place.
www.ozellamusic.com
Eelco Schilder


Russ Barenberg "When At Last"
Label:
Compass; 744592; 2007
The US guitarplayer Russ Barenberg started playing at the age of thirteen. Inspired by artists such as Doc Watson, he recorded his first lp in 1979 on the famous rounder label. He is one of the most famous guitarists in the bluegrass music and this new cd When at last shows exactly why. It contains eleven, mostly original, fine tracks with indeed a bluegrass sound, but also some Irish influences like in the Pleasant beggar, Dixieland like in The man in the hat or a very nice version of the French traditional Aux marches du palais. Together with Jerry Douglas on dobro, Stuart Duncan on violin, Viktor Krauss on bass, Kenny Malone on drums and others Barenberg recorded technically spoken some high quality music. His style is very open and friendly and will be enjoyed by many. This is a cd Iím not only listening for the review but also play at the end of my working day to relax and gain some energy for the evening hours. Recommended!
www.compassrecords.com
Eelco Schilder


Sons of the Desert "The Big Bamboo"
Label: Own label; 2005
ĎWhat will this be for terrible music!í was my first thought by seeing the cd sleeve of the third cd by German band Sons of the Desert. Four musicians in a much to happy outfit, fake palm trees and a paper sun at the background. But when I opened the booklet it still showed some funny pictures of man with strange hat but the English explanation of the songs were much to good to just be fun, would it be possible that Sons of the Desert is a much more serious group than I thought? The band focuses on old songs from early till mid 20th century, many heard and learned from old 78rpm records. I have to admit that the band did really well in bringing these old days back to life again. The cd contains a Bowman rag from 1915, traditional blues from the storyville brothers and of course a big portion of Hawaiian music. Honululu how do you do, Makin wicky wacky down in Waikiki are just a few examples. The Sons of the Desert play with both fun and serious meanings, this can be heard in the easy going music which is very nice to listen to and feel the charm of these old recordings.
www.sons-of-the-desert.de
Eelco Schilder


Peter Ludwig "Dahin getršumt"
Label:
Oriente; cd 56; 2005
Peter Ludwig is a pianist and composer who made with Dahin getraumt, a pure solo album. More than one hour piano divided in twenty-four nocturnes. It is all improvisations, according to Ludwig a perfect and painful way to getting to know your own limitations. The melodies played on this cd came to him within a few nights and, according to himself, from deep inside. The result is a more than nice cd with a dreamy, bit melancholic sound. The twenty-four pieces are often very short but that doesnít bother at all because together they form a intense and quiet hour of music that makes me want to close my eyes and dream away about all the good and bad things life has brought me.
www.p-ludwig.de
Eelco Schilder


Fśrd "Logbok"
Label:
Tutl; shd 71; 2006
The band Fśrd exists out of the musicians Eskil Romme and Peter Uhbrand who play with a changing group of musicians from the Northern parts of Europe. In 2002 they recorded their debut cd which was a small masterpiece and I still consider that as one of the nicest traditional Scandinavian cdís from the past years. It was the clear vocals of Nanne Luders and the unique accordion sound of Karen Tweed that helped making their debut something to remember. Now their second cd was recorded called logbok. Besides Romme and Uhbrand the musicians on this cd are Jens Ulvsand on guitar, bouzouki and vocals and the Danish singer Julie Hjetland. Still the Scandinavian music is the biggest inspiration for the band but this time they also recorded music from countries like Holland and the Shetlands. It isnít easy to make a second cd after such a strong first one, but I think Fśrd did a nice job. I do miss the vocals of Luders a bit, but the more often I hear the cd, the more I appreciate the earthy male vocals. Personally I think that Hjetland sings technically fine, but a bit to careful. I would like some more emotion in her singing, a bit more singing as if she has been there. But these are just some small remarks on a strong cd by Fśrd.
www.tutl.com
Eelco Schilder


Balou "Prophets of the Iron Age"
Label: Own label; 2007
The German band Balou was formed almost ten years ago and focuses on folky guitar rock. Lots of electric guitars and drums but also mandolin, banjo and dobro just to mention a few instruments. Strangely enough this Prophets of the iron age is a much lighter album than the sleeve and the instrumentation does expect. Listen for example to Godís lament this is an angry song, a protest against the pollution of the earth. The musical arrangements are perfect to let this explode in a strong and heavy piece of guitar rock, but somehow it doesnít get further than a safe pop version of what this song could have been. Much better is Bloody sky which has a nice Americana rock touch. Strangely enough Songs of yesterday has the same problem as Godís lament. Great ideas, good arrangements but itís like the band is too careful and doesnít dare to take the music over the edge. Some light ska influences can be heard in AMT Airlines which stands for American torture airlines. But most of all it is easy going pop music, which I consider to be a missed change. So much potential, so much creative ideas, but why so careful? It is as if the band couldnít choose which direction to go. I do hope Balou will dare to cross their own borders next time as Iím 100% sure that will result in a bloody brilliant cd.
www.balou.de
Eelco Schilder


The Wilders "Throw down"
Label: Rural Grit Records; 030; 2005
The Wilders is a USA based band who concentrate on energetic Hillbilly music. More or less traditional songs and tunes are played with a lot of fun and ready to party. Not subtle in anyway, The Wilders must be great to see performing live on stage. But listening to the cd on the other side of the ocean on a average Dutch summer day, it all sounds a bit the same to me. Like I wrote before, great cd as a memory of their concerts but It all sounds a bit the same and to unsubtle to enjoy outside the Hillbilly concert hall. But, when they play in our town I will invite my friends and have a good night of fun.
www.wilderscountry.com
Eelco Schilder


The Ambassadors "The Ambassadors"
Label: Own label; 2005
The Austrian band The Ambassadors started in 2002 by Cristoph Schellhorn and Thomas Nagele, both only twenty years old at that time. They have a central role for the guitar and their vocals with occasionally instruments like harp, dobro and percussion added. Besides original songs they recorded on this 2005 cd songs by Kieran Halpin, Dan Fogelberg and Tom Petty. Their music has influences from the blues, folk and light rock music. Itís nice, easy going acoustic music with the typical sound of a slide guitar, straight forward musical arrangements without any surprises. Unfortunately they canít convince me on the vocal part, itís a bit to standard and the voices are nice but not of an outstanding quality. A nice cd, with a good feeling. Nothing more, nothing less.
www.ambassadors.at
Eelco Schilder


Daniel Moore "The Giveaway"
Label:
DJM; 10020
Daniel Moore, does this name ring a bell to you? Well, I have to be honest I never heard of him. I should be a bit ashamed as Moore has written songs for artists such as Joe Cocker and Three dog night. On The giveaway you will find sixteen recordings by the master himself made between 1973 and today. It includes The giveaway, once recorded by Bonnie Raitt, Maria Muldauers Lean back hold steady and his biggest hit Shambala made famous by Three Dog Night in 1973. All sixteen songs have a good old touch of the seventies, with the same kind of sound throughout the cd which makes it a bit predictable. Somehow not all songs survived time, at least not in these versions. In the booklet he tells the story behind the hit song Shambala one more time and shows Moore with the golden record he got for this song. Nice to hear how the original ideas of a composer sound, but personally I prefer some of the other versions of the songs.
www.djmrec.com
Eelco Schilder


Qntal "Silver Swan"
Label: E-wave; 053; 2006
The German band Qntal was formed in 2001 and this Silver Swan is their fifth release. The booklet has a gothic, mystical atmosphere and shows the ancient musical roots the band is influenced by. The lead vocals of Syrah play a central role in the music. Syrah has a beautiful high pitched voice with classical elements. She is backed by two multi instrumentalists; Fil on Keyboards, guitars and programming and Michael Popp on violin, saz, ud, tar and schalmei. The band brings ancient lyrics back to life, lyrics often anonymous, but also from the Carmina burana, Vogelweide or from the Cambridge collection. The group is often compared with bands like Omnia and faun, although I personally thing Qntal has a more classical approach. What I like is that the programming and keyboard are very subtle which gives the melodies and the vocals the chance to flower. Even on bombastic, theatrical moments itís not over the top. Beautiful is Falling star written by John Donne, a song that strongly reminds of dead can dance, with mystical, oriental influences. Strange that they follow this nice song with a weaker song called The whyle. This song has great opportunities, but misses the power and originality to be really convincing. Much better is Winter by Walther von der Vogelweide. This silver swan is beautiful piece of music which shows a band that has a lot to offer, much more than many, many other gothic/medieval wannabe bands. Qntal understands that less is often more and beautiful melodies donít need complicated musical arrangements but will speak for themselves.
www.qntal.de
Eelco Schilder


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