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L.A. Beat

CD Reviews

Sweet Alibi sound even more sweet singing together on third CD

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It is a beautiful thing to hear  lovely ladies sing together, so it is a pleasure to hear Winnipeg based folk/ pop trio Sweet Alibi’s  new CD “ Walking in The Dark.”
While I remember them as more of a folk trio, they show their pop side on their third CD.Click here to hear Sweet Alibi
 They remind me of The Indigo Girls in places and  Serena Ryder before she went pop in other places with just a touch of the Supremes and just a little bit of Taylor Swift.
The multi-instrumentalist trio Jess Rae Ayre, Amber Quesnel and Michelle Anderson along with bassist Alasdair Dunlop, keyboardist Alex Campbell and drummer Emmett Van Etten provide 10 slices of purely beautiful pop and folk music with plenty of gorgeous vocal harmonies and catchy lyrical and musical hooks that just make you want to listen to the CD over and over again.

They drag the listener into their music  from the first track “ Keep Showing You” and keep the listener listening intently on the gripping  “One Chance.” After three songs, their stunning vocal harmonies will have you falling in love with them.

 All three all have their individual voices, which you can hear on each song, but meld perfectly when they sing together.
 Juno award winning producer Murray Pulver (Crash Test Dummies/ Doc Walker) bring out the best in the ladies.
 The result is simultaneously heartfelt, impassioned and pop filled.

“ Walking In the Dark“ is dedicated to Quesnel’s mother Becky who passed away from pancreatic cancer a year ago, which released a lot of strong emotions, which the trio share with their listeners especially on tracks like “Dark Train” which showcase’s the trio’s haunting harmonies. Overall the CD has a pretty optimistic feel especially on tracks like “Move to the Country” which has a beautiful vocal hook.
 They share that and other serious emotions throughout the CD exploring issues of sobriety on some track and parental relationships like “Daddy.”
 But in addition to darker, more mournful fare, there are also a lot of more upbeat, yet introspective material. Like the bright and catchy look into the past of my favourite “Pick Up Truck,” which ends the CD with an ear worm of an arpeggiated guitar hook.
They bring out a touch of the funk and a while lot of soulful groove on “ My Love.”
“Walking In the Dark” ends up being a very laid back and very enjoyable listen.

CD: Walking In The Dark
Artist: Sweet Alibi
Genre: folk/ pop


Leeroy Stagger shows maturity and diversity on “Dream It All Away’

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Lethbridge folk roots musician Leeroy Stagger shows new maturity and introspection on his tenth CD “Dream it All Away.”Click Here to hear Dream it All Away
He keeps getting better with age as the CD features plenty of catchy hooks plus some really pretty guitar and piano playing. Lyrically the CD explores a variety of real world topics, not to mention a few different musical styles.

  The fantastic sounding CD is full of bright sounding roots rock throughout. The lyrics are real, earnest but tinged with darkness.
The CD begins with the hook filled “Something Beautiful. Three perfect chords played together.
“ Happy Too” is a highlight because of the melody and chiming electric 12 string guitar.

 One of my favourite tracks is “Living In America” which has some of the most vivid and impassioned lyrics about homelessness and some really beautiful violin playing.
 He picks up the tempo from more pop influenced roots rock to touch on his inner punk rocker on a couple of uptempo tracks like the  Dylanesque country foot stomper “New Music Biz Blues” about life in the music business which in addition  to the Bob Dylan influence also is reminiscent of Corb Lund.

 The other dark rocker is“ Poison the Well” a swamp blues number reminding me a little of Todd Snider.
 It also has a beautifully overdriven, ’60s ish guitar solo.
 “Dream” on the other hand his a sombre piano driven minor key number. It is one of  the more mellower moments on the CD  including the sombre ballad “Feel it All.”
 “Ten Long Years” is another mellow number winding down the CD with some moving fiddle  playing.
The CD ends with another slower more introspective number “ Angry Young Man,” as Stagger reflects on his past.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. beat editor

 CD: Dream It All Away
 Artist: Leeroy Stagger

Genre: Roots rock/ country


Karen Romanchuk shows her blues side on Down The Line

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Lethbridge roots/ country singer songwriter Karen Romanchuk takes a more upbeat and almost bluesy journey on her EP “Down The Line.” featuring six solid new songs.Click Here to hear Karen Romanchuk

 She has her full band  playing on the CD, which she recorded in Leeroy Stagger’s Rebeltone Ranch.
 She has an excellent band behind her including Jason Eveleigh, who plays some sweet guitar solos.
 As always Romanchuk’s voice has a straight forward an honest, gritty Lucinda Williams style timbre to it with just a touch of weather worn anger.

 She tells stories a with a lot of emotion like on “See Ya Later.”

 “ I Can” has a rock solid bass groove laid down by  bassist Alex Thomson and Romanchuk’s husband Darwin on drums
 Everything comes together perfectly on the rockabillyish title track “Down The Line.”

It has an addictive groove to it and some country bluesish slide guitar.
 She ends her EP with a mournful acoustic break up number “Anymore.”
 The band joins midway through the song and Eveleigh plays a beautiful outro guitar solo.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
 CD: Down The Line
Artist: karen Romanchuk
Genre: country/ roots/ folk

Samantha Martin explores gospel with sweet delta sugar

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Toronto  based songwriter Samantha Martin has really found her voice on her gospel inspired new CD  “Send the Nightingale.” While she is usually known as an alt country and blues singer, this sparsely recorded Cd showcases her big , beautiful, bluesy voice but also shows a pretty heavy gospel side throughout.Click Here to Hear Samantha Martin and Delta Sugar

She’ll make the seediest sinner “ See The Light” right from the first track of the CD which draws you in.
 The two woman choir of Sherie Marshall and Stacie Tabb behind her add choral and southern style background gospel styled vocal harmonies and lots of oohs and ahhs which put you in the middle and the mindset of a hot, sweaty, Southern  Baptist church deep in the heart of Mississippi.

 But first and foremost is Martin’s big, bluesey, whiskey soaked and cigarette stained voice reminiscent of Janis Joplin and Serena Ryder not to mention an amalgamation of female blues singers from the early days.

All of the songs showcase her raw power and emotion particularly on tracks like “Addicted.”

 While Martin holds down the rhythm on resonator and acoustic guitar, lead guitarist Mikey McCallum adds plenty of swampy blues guitar straight out Louisiana for most of the CD.
“ Don’t Shoot the Messenger” is a highlight as is the gospel rave up “One More Day.”

Martin has a few tender ballads like “ Mississippi Sun” and  “My Crown”  and the beautiful ’60s style “When you Walk Away” which drip with heartfelt soul.
Martin ends the CD with her backup singers on the gorgeous acappella song “Tell The Heavens.” The CD is raw and beautifully done. Martin’s voice is unforgettable.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Send The Nightingale
Artist: Samantha Martin & Delta Sugar
Genre: blues/ gospel / country

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