ANNA MITCHELL – Album Review: “Anna Mitchell”

Anna Mitchell album-cover

Anna Mitchell is a singer/songwriter based in Cork, Ireland, and she’s released an astonishingly beautiful album. Her self-titled Anna Mitchell dropped in January, and it’s as close to perfection as any recent album I’ve heard. This is Anna’s second studio album, which follows her 2015 debut effort Down to the Bone. With a lot of albums, it can take a couple of listens for the music to grow on me, but with Anna Mitchell I was blown away the moment I heard it. Each new track was a revelation, leading me to quickly recognize that here was an exceptional work of musical art.

Anna Mitchell

Drawing inspiration from some of the best singers and songwriters in music – including  Joni Mitchell, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt, Ray LaMontagne, Stevie Nicks, Tim O’ Brien, Bob Dylan, Shawn Colvin and Gillian Welch – Anna melds folk, country, Americana, rock’n’roll, pop and blues influences to create exquisite songs that speak to oft-covered subjects of love and relationships, and the joy and pain they bring. Her strong, clear vocals could easily go toe to toe with many of the aforementioned singers. The album was recorded independently, with musical assistance from well known Irish musicians Davie Ryan on drums, Brian Hassett on bass and Alan Comerford on guitar. It was engineered and co-produced by Brendan Fennessy.

Anna Mitchell opens with the gorgeous ballad “All These Things.” Anna immediately casts us under her spell with captivating vocals that seem to float and soar above layers of stunning, richly-textured guitars and a humming bass line. Davie Ryan provides just the right amount of percussion, and the lush horns add a jazzy flourish later in the track. The song’s unusual video is extraordinary:

Anna dials up the tempo on “It Pours,” a great pop-rock song with the kind of strong driving beat that I love. The bluesy guitars are terrific, and Anna’s sultry vocals turn passionate as she admonishes one to stop whining and start living: “Hold your tongue, hold your tongue, I’m not listening. You’re not the only one with sadness or sin. I feel the weight of the world creepin’ in. And if you don’t start kicking you won’t stop sinking. It pours outta you, outta you.” The trippy video shows blacklit images of faces painted with phosphorescent colors in the dark.

Radio Waves” is a lovely but bittersweet Country-rock song with slide guitar, piano and organ as the primary instruments. Anna earnestly sings of escaping from life’s troubles through music: “Radio waves, audio slave, turn me up ’cause I’m down.” On “Never Learn,” Anna’s smooth vocals are accompanied by a bewitching piano melody as she tells someone their broken relationship is beyond repair: “You can waste your time, but keep your hands off mine. Past the point of no return.” Staying with that theme, on the Country-rock track “Get Out” Anna tells a man in no uncertain terms that she’s through with him: “It would be nice to stop and chat, but I don’t like you. Well they say that you’re a really good catch, but I don’t want you / Do you just feel like a man when you shout? Oh, get out! Just get out!”

One of my favorite songs is the rousing foot-stomper “Dog Track.” Thanks to heavy, distorted electric guitar, buzzing bass and pounding drum beat, the track’s harder and edgier than the others. And like the music, Anna’s echoed vocals are more aggressive as she snarls the lyrics about a guy she finds attractive who’s also bad news: “Is that a wolf howlin’ or is it just the wind? Well I met him down at the dog track. He was walking around like he was on the attack.”

Anna’s impressive songwriting talents are showcased on the melodically complex “Better Life.” The mysterious and powerful song features a strong bass line overlain with tremolo-heavy guitars and an array of instruments, including piano, slide guitar, organ, violin, and drums. “Slice of the Pie” is a call for respect for the working class in  their struggle to make a living: “You don’t judge a man, just by the way he found to feed his children. Everybody wants a slice of the pie. They’re just like you and I, trying to get by.” The album closes with Anna acknowledging she was wrong, asking her man to “Come Home.” She teases: “I like your bedside manner / Come home, when you coming back to me?

Anna Mitchell is a phenomenal album that needs to be heard by as many ears as possible. I’m so glad Anna reached out to me, and I’m thrilled to do what I can help promote her and her incredible music.

Those of you in Ireland can see Anna and her band at one of these upcoming shows:

Saturday, February 10      Levi’s Corner House, Ballydehob  8 PM
Friday, February 16       Whelan’s, Dublin  8 PM
Sunday, February 18      John Cleer’s Bar & Theatre, Kilkenny  8 PM

Connect with Anna:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream her music on Spotify / SoundcloudApple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp or iTunes

RICH EVANS BAND – Album Review: “B Sides and Outtakes”

I’ve always liked songs that tell a story, and what genre does it better than Americana/Country? One such artist who’s extremely skilled at weaving compelling stories is Rich Evans, a singer/songwriter based in London, UK. He’s a prolific songwriter, and has recorded music in several genres, including rock, blues, and punk, but his greatest love is Americana. He’s been involved in a number of music projects and bands for more than 20 years, including The Mariachis (who toured with Joe Cocker, Bill Wyman and Jimmy Cliff) and the Americana band Roosevelt Bandwagon, as well as recording music for labels in Chicago and Nashville. He formed the Rich Evans Band to record and perform his solo material, an astonishing output of songs! As Rich Evans Band, he’s released several albums and songs over the past decade or so, which he’s been re-issuing over the past year through his label Baby Dylan Records (named after his son Dylan).

Rich Evans

One of those albums is B Sides and Outtakes, a collection of seven wonderful tracks that address common themes of life, love, relationships and the struggles of being a musician through honest, deeply-moving lyrics. A talented multi-instrumentalist, Evans plays many of the instruments on his songs with help from his backup band. But guitar, mandolin and harmonica seem to be his specialties, and are beautifully featured on the opening track Roll on Mississippi. Evans’ vocals sound raspy yet soothing on this sweet Country ballad, and backed by a lovely chorus of female vocals.

As good as Evans is on his guitar and harmonica, it’s his skill at writing tender, heartfelt lyrics where he really shines. On the poignant Old Midnight Special he sings about an aging musician unable to accept his growing irrelevance in the music business:

Guess the talent that he’s got has worn a little thin
Time was when he played they’d line up outside the door
Still plays the same bars, but they don’t come round no more
They’ve all grown up, got old and settled down
Guess he still fools himself he’s the new kid in town

These days the kids call out for songs that he don’t know
They don’t care unless they’re ones they play on the radio
He can’t reconcile himself that his better days are gone
Guess he’s still in the same place while the world keeps movin’ on
He still got the ticket stubs, pictures in frames
Of him up on the billboard when people knew his name

One of my favorite tracks is Bad Turns, where an upbeat, bass-driven tempo belies the bittersweet story line about a son inheriting his father’s penchant for making poor life choices:

Must have been about five or six
When Momma set me down and she told me this
Don’t go doin’ like your daddy done
I don’t believe it’s gotta be like father like son
Left us before you turned one
Yeah, the son of a bitch been a long time gone
He’s been making bad turns for so long
I can’t put my finger on what went wrong

Thought history wouldn’t happen again
They wouldn’t do to me what they done to him
But the devil come a knockin’ in the middle of the night
I was good and drunk there was a barroom fight
Swear I never touched that guy
Told me later that he’d up and died
Judge sentenced me to death just to help clear up the mess
I been making bad turns for so long
I can’t put my finger on what went wrong

Evans sings about a life compromised by a lifetime of alcoholism on the melancholy Blues Are Gonna Get You. And on the song about a hardscrabble life in Bakersfield, he touches on other California locales such as the Kern River, Bakersfield’s oil-producing neighbor Oildale, Los Angeles, Santa Cruz and Highway 99, as well as Illinois – all places I know well. I’m impressed that a musician from Britain would have such a good working knowledge of California geography.

He turns romantic on the sensual Irresistible, pleading with a woman he still loves to leave her new boyfriend and come back to him. “Have to steal your love away from him. Have to steal your love right back again.” The bluesy guitars and bass line on the track are particularly good. The album ends on a high note with the bouncy rock’n’roll track Midnight Creeper. Evans tells the object of his desire that nothing’s gonna stop him from winning her love: “I don’t care if your Momma won’t let you. Honey I’m gonna come and get you. I’m the midnight creeper, gonna slide right through your door. It’s a good metaphor to describe how, through his music, Evans slides right into our hearts and minds with his catchy melodies and relatable lyrics. Good stuff!

Connect with Rich Evans Band on  Twitter and Facebook
To hear more of his music, go to Spotify or Apple Music and purchase it on iTunes

ANCA – EP Review: “Tomorrow in Sight”

ANCA album cover

Anca is a lovely young indie singer/songwriter from Sydney, Australia who released her equally lovely debut EP Tomorrow in Sight in December 2017. She writes heartfelt lyrics based partly on her own personal experiences, and sets them to delicate piano-driven melodies. She played piano and drums on all the tracks, with assistance from Ian Craig on guitar and JimmyJay Lovelace on bass.

Her folk-pop music style contains elements that at times remind me a tiny bit like Jewel, yet sounds totally fresh and original. In her bio info, Anca shares her feelings about the EP: “This is my debut EP of the best songs I wrote before turning 21. Recorded on the piano I grew up with, I am incredibly excited to share the music from this period of my life. After the release of this record, tomorrow is in sight with my adult songs coming next year!

Opening track “Trainwreck” sets the tone with a sweet piano riff and gently strummed electric guitar creating a mood that’s soothing, yet lighthearted. ANCA’s delicate vocals are enchanting as they skitter across the soundwaves. She explains the meaning of the song and its charming video:

Trainwreck is a song where I am laughing at myself for how terrible I am when it comes to dating. The particular story starts with me starting to see a guy and things going really well until we hang out and I have a few too many and make an absolute idiot out of myself. The video definitely goes overboard – I didn’t really break a glass in the original but the catastrophe level was pretty close! But hey, if you can’t laugh at yourself then what can you do? At least one of us found it funny!

On “Red Flags” Anca muses on whether she should open herself up to a possible relationship: “I could be wrong, maybe I should let you in“, yet she has reservations, afraid of being hurt: “Red flags run from my eyes. I know it’s hard to see when you’re so high.” The track features a beautiful little guitar riff, accompanied by subtle piano and gently pummeling drums.

Learning to Let Go” has her coming to terms with the pain caused by a failed relationship and moving on: “Learning to let go was the hardest thing I’ve ever known.” Continuing on that theme, Anca closes the door on any hope of a reconciliation on “Talk About It.” “Why don’t you run away. I don’t know why you want to talk about it. I know why I don’t want to talk about it. You’re not gonna change my mind.” And though the song is clearly pop-oriented, her vocals at times have a bit of a hip hop quality in their cadence.

Anca turns somber on the haunting “Hey Anna,” addressing the pain and despair of someone having the unattainable goal to be perfect: “Hey Anna, get out of my head. You made your point, I heard what you said. / What the mirror shows, is someone I don’t know. You know I’d give anything to be perfect.” But then she sings an emotional tribute to the strength and inspiration she gains from her grandma on the folk ballad “Nana’s Song.” “When I’m with you, I don’t have to be afraid. If I cry, you chase the monsters away. When I’m with you, I don’t have to wear a mask. If I tried, you see right through it anyway.”

It’s an uplifting finish to a fine EP that takes us on Anca’s journey of self-discovery and life lessons learned. I hope she delivers on her promise of new music very soon.

Connect with ANCA:  Website / Facebook / Instagram
Stream her music on Spotify or Apple Music  and purchase on iTunes or Bandcamp

SKINNY WIZARD – Single Review: “Phantom Pain”

Skinny Wizard builds houses by day, but come nightfall his musician alter-ego takes over. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Skinny Wizard – whose given name is Bill Cherry – is a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who began playing guitar at the age of six.  As he tells in his bio “I took it seriously during my high school years, but then I moved away from home and life took over. I didn’t really understand how the music industry worked and it was easier to make money building houses to make someone else rich.” It’s a sentiment I’m sure a lot of musicians can attest to.

Now that he and his wife are empty-nesters, Skinny has taken up his six-string again, and gotten back to expressing himself through his music. He plays mostly folk and blues-rock, genres he seems most comfortable with as a solo artist. He’s just released a new single “Phantom Pain,” a moving song he felt he had to write to honor the death of a friend from suicide.

The track starts out with sounds like being in a thunderstorm or possibly a subway train, then he begins strumming his acoustic guitar and singing the honest, heartfelt lyrics expressing bittersweet feelings of pain over the loss of a good friend:

I woke last night and I thought I heard you talking
But that’s absurd ’cause you’ve been gone over a year
And I remember all the good things we done together
A new definition for a thing called Phantom Pain
And that’s the way it goes sometimes you don’t know what life brings
You just keep pressing on in spite of all the odds
I hope to see you again someday

He has a casual, pleasing style of guitar playing, and though not overly strong, his vocals are well-suited for a gentle folk ballad like “Phantom Pain.” Check it out:

Connect with Skinny Wizard:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Purchase “Phantom Pain” on cdbaby

ANDY K LELAND – EP Review: “Happy Daze”

Happy Daze

Andy K Leland is an Italian folk singer/songwriter who sounds British, and has a wicked sense of humor. In his bio, Andy – who was born Andrea Marcellini – calls himself Andrea’s “shadow-self, and the two selves fear each other.” That dichotomy is evident in his songs, in which rather negative, biting lyrics contrast sharply with his simple, catchy melodies and pleasing acoustic guitar. In September, Andy dropped his debut EP Happy Daze, a collection of six tracks including two that I previously reviewed – “The Kingdom” and “Home Grown Muck”.

Perhaps the most unique aspect of Andy’s sound is his quirky, off-kilter vocal style, in which he clips his words, sometimes dropping a letter or two. It all sounds charming in an off-beat sort of way, and perfectly suited to his lo-fi sound. Despite his cynical, often dark lyrics about life and relationships, as the EP’s title suggests he may be telling us to not take them so seriously after all, or at least resign oneself to their inevitability. Because his music is fairly straightforward, I’ll emphasize Andy’s lyrics instead.

Andy Leland2

The Kingdom” seems to be speaking from the perspective of someone who is dying or already dead, and now describing their observations of the afterlife with a blithe sense of irony:

Got up one day in the kingdom surrounded by some strange folks
They held in hand their relics and really dug my antics
So we danced together took some rest however
They were all plugged and wet so they got electrocuted

Well outside it’s dawning la-la-la-la
I won’t see the morning la-la-la-la
I’ll be dead or dazzled by our own black nature

To a gentle, pleasing acoustic guitar riff, “Home Grown Muck” addresses the feelings of isolation and disillusionment increasingly prevalent in society today:

Once I was clever now I’m more than numb
But I’m just trying to oh… I’m trying nothing at all
There’s a lack of sharing however we just pretend we’re gold
But the point is that we’re the scum of the world
Oh, lord please bring me something warm just like opium
But don’t dare to keep the change

A failing relationship seems to be the subject of “Bistro Nights,” a short track only 1:51 minutes long. Andy sings the melancholy lyrics about giving up:

I’m wasting my time spending the night
Counting the days that I’m leaving that I’m trading
For you to be thinking I’ll be ok
And I’m tired sick of it all, all
Please don’t tell me to get on the track
Or wave my goodbyes I can’t cross the line

On “Half Dead Dog” he sings of his broken spirit to a rather somber acoustic guitar:

I mend a a few bits of my poor brain
You’re wrong when you think that I’m strong
I’ve been worn out for so long

Mr. Panic” has an upbeat vibe, with a nicely strummed guitar, but the lyrics confuse me a bit. Though I may be way off, Mr. Panic seems to represent death, who’s come for the singer:

So you’re great, you’re grand, you’re smart you’re “Hey!”
But ask your body and ask your brain as you often don’t recall my name
Well it’s P.A.N.I.C.
What? Oh… I’m fine thanks 
‘cause I’m wildish and stylish a bit childish don’t you know?

Now pack your bags and just follow me I swear you won’t regret… oh no

Farewell” is the most melancholy track of the bunch. Andy sings from the perspective of someone who has come to terms with the fact no one likes him, including his girlfriend who left him, because of his own failings. Consequently, he’s decided to end his life. Pretty depressing stuff here:

My friends pretend they have a job
They all pretend they’re having fun
Miss my dog, will miss my time with tomorrow’s morning light
My life is dreary and my girl
My girl adores me but she left ‘cause I’m weird but I am glad
Glad to know she’s doing well
There’s a truth I can’t avoid
Nobody likes me I’m a boy who hates you all, that’s so mean
No one to blame but me

Those of you in Italy can catch Andy performing at these upcoming shows:

November 11: WAVE – Misano Adriatico (Rn), w/Egle Sommacal
November 12: Circolo Arci Artigiana Fano – Fano (Pu), w/Haley Heynderickx
November 18: Circolo LaSerra Arci Recanati – Recanati (Mc), w/Massimo Scoposki

Follow Andy:  Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream his music:  Spotify / Soundcloud

Purchase:  Bandcamp

PHILIP MORGAN LEWIS – Album Review: “Grief Harbour”

Grief Harbour

I’ve written about quite a few excellent albums in recent weeks, and I’m pleased to feature yet another outstanding one, this time from UK singer/songwriter and producer Philip Morgan Lewis. The London East Ender just released Grief Harbour, an ambitious undertaking with 13 stellar tracks. Melding alternative rock, blues, garage rock and folk influences, Lewis has created an exciting, bluesy rock sound that complements his unique, raspy vocal style.

Lewis released his debut EP Karma Comedown in 2013 to rave reviews, and received extensive radio support in the UK and US. With Grief Harbour he firmly establishes himself as an extraordinary musician with a lot to say. A talented multi-instrumentalist, he writes and produces his songs and plays most of the instruments, including guitars, banjitar, bass, piano, and percussion. For the album, which was released through Moonalizer Records, he received assistance from Vick E and Little A (his daughter), who supplied backing vocals, as well as Jon Harris on drums, Nick Miles (Neek) as drum session engineer, Rob Updegraff, Charles Slevin and Gavin Bowers (Elêphant) on additional guitar work, Clive Smart on slide guitar, and Ben Jones on bass.

Philip Morgan Lewis

The hard-hitting title track “Grief Harbour” kicks off the album in a big way, with an aggressive pounding drumbeat blasting through the airwaves, letting us know right away that we’re in for a wild sonic ride. A barrage of gritty guitars ensue, along with some down and dirty bass and Lewis’ emotionally-charged, gravelly vocals that grab hold and shake us out of our complacency. Mysterious backing vocals combine with a distorted riff, adding a hint of danger to the track.

Grief harbour population one is a spit on the map at the end of the line
Welcome to desolation lane take a walk down the pier to the Laidback hotel 
Grief Harbour Six Feet avenue get a pint at the Fox and just settle your dues

I wanna burn like a thousand suns and set this town on fire if only for one night
I wanna rise like a dying star and set this world alight if only for one night

It’s a fantastic song, and the mesmerizing black and white video shows a shadowy image of Lewis dancing rather seductively in front of the album cover art (which was painted by his father). Not only is he an amazing musician and songwriter, he’s also a pretty good dancer!

And speaking of dance, you can’t help but move when listening to the sultry “Seven Deadly,” or “Six Foot Tambourine,” with its irresistibly catchy driving beat that aims straight for the hips. Layers of gritty guitars and a heavy buzzing bass line are driven by a thumping drumbeat as Lewis implores the lyrics that speak of a recurring nightmare:

A Six foot tambourine came down crashing on me
As I lay down in the tube somebody’s loading me
My feet are cold I can’t breathe but now I see
Though the nurse is kinky I’d rather she would let me be
Stay out of my head. I’d rather be dead
Stay out of my head, ain’t already dead

It’s one of my favorite tracks on the album. Lewis has produced interesting and provocative videos for a number of songs on Grief Harbour, and posted them on YouTube just prior to the album’s release. Here’s the one for “Six Foot Tambourine”:

Swing By Your House” is an emotional plea to a friend who’s thinking of killing themself, followed by the gorgeous and haunting “Foxes On Red Leaves,” a standout track and my absolute favorite on the album. The powerful, bluesy track soars with layers of jaw-dropping guitar work that goes from shredded to chiming to jangly to wailing, bringing chills from start to finish. Lewis captivates us with beautiful piano work and impassioned vocals about trying to hold it together and not lose your mind, seeking relief by self medicating with drugs:

Am I losing it babe. Just got a lot on my mind
Foxes on red leaves sink their jaws in my veins
As they go for the kill and I can feel no pain
Foxes on red leaves keep on calling for more
As I roll up my sleeve I shall fear them no more

A break from the heavy subject matter arrives with “Laidback Hotel, ” a delightful, bouncy track with honky tonk piano, lively guitars and snappy drums. Next up is the rousing ear worm “Karma Comedown 2.0,” a reworking of a track from the Karma Comedown EP.  The blues-infused rock song has an infectious foot-stomping dance beat guaranteed to have you on your feet and swaying your hips.

Phantom Pain” is a bluesy folk anthem with hard rock overtones. Buzzing bass and assertive percussion, replete with an abundance of crashing cymbals, provide a sturdy backdrop for layers of acoustic and electric guitar and some fine piano keys. Another favorite is “GYB (Got You Babe),” a sexy head-banger of a tune with a pulse-pounding beat and incredible bluesy guitar work that’s so good it brings goosebumps. I love songs like this with a powerful driving beat. The fantastic video features Lewis playing guitar and stomping his feet all over London, with his little daughter making a few appearances.

Whistleblower” delivers more foot-stomping goodness and bluesy guitars, with powerful lyrics urging us to rise up and speak out against tyranny:

Would you talk would you tell it all
Would you face the nation and be the whistleblower
When dirt hits the fan there’s a place and a time for you to rise
There’s no rest for the wicked and the whistleblower

The bluesy gospel-sounding “Sinner” serves up some tasty distorted guitar work, while “Don’t Care if You Don’t Mind” is a pleasing, romantic folk ballad. Closing out the album is “Bring Down Heaven,” a powerful five-minute-long anthem. Lewis employs all kinds of instrumentation – piano, shredded and screaming guitars, heavy bass, synths, and aggressive percussion, not to mention the sound of a thundershower – creating a melodically complex hard rock song with a gospel vibe. That takes some skill, something he has in abundance.

Grief Harbour is a brilliant, meticulously-crafted album, and one that Lewis should be very proud of. His heavy, blues-infused style of rock is among the finest I’ve heard, and a testament to his incredible musicianship.

Connect with Philip: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream his music: Spotify / YouTube / Google Play

Purchase:  iTunes / Amazon / Deezer

SOMEHOW – Single Review: “Someday”

For the first time on this blog, I shine my spotlight on Paris, France, to Erwan Pépiot, a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who goes by the artistic name Somehow.  He released a self-produced debut album The Desert of Wasted Time in 2016, receiving positive reviews in numerous French indie webzines. In June, he dropped a new album Hidden Memories on Toolong Records, also to wide acclaim both in Europe and the U.S., and has just released a beautiful new single from the album, titled “Someday.”

Somehow’s sound can be described as somewhere between Joy Division and Belle & Sebastian, with a vocal styling reminiscent of Morrissey or Ian Curtis. He wrote, recorded and mixed Hidden Memories in his own home studio, and was assisted by Aurélie Tremblay, who provided backing vocals and some fine cello work.

Somehow

“Someday” is a sublime pop song with a folk sensibility. The dominant feature is the layered nimble acoustic guitar work that goes from gentle strumming to jangly and swirling riffs. A beautifully-played melodica adds a soothing yet rich sound, backed by subtle bass and percussion. It all makes for an upbeat, incredibly pleasing listen, though the lyrics turn a bit darker toward the end of the track. With his warm, smooth vocals, Somehow earnestly sings of moving on in the hope of finding peace of mind and a better life one day, only to realize there’s no running away from your problems:

Oh it’s time to pull up stakes and become a drifter again
Someday, someday, we’ll have a different state of mind
A different way of living
And some way, someday we’ll find a different style, other ideas to stand for

Our surrounding sky is falling
The surrounding sky is falling apart, there’s nowhere else to go

Connect with Somehow:  Facebook / Twitter

Stream/purchase his music: Bandcamp / Soundcloud / Spotify

CAMERON MILLS – Single Review: “Burning On Full Steam”

Cameron Mills is a talented young singer/songwriter based in Devon, UK. Despite the fact he’s only 18 years old, Cameron has a phenomenal singing voice that sounds far beyond his years. He began taking singing lessons at an early age, and has performed at many gigs and concerts since before he was ten. He enjoys performing swing and jazz songs, as well as old classics and modern folk-pop that suit his mature vocal style. I think he sounds like a more soulful version of Rick Astley.

Cameron Mills

He released his first single “Autumn Leaves” in 2015, and followed up with a couple more before dropping his latest single “Burning On Full Steam” in April of this year. It’s a catchy, folk-infused pop tune with an almost gospel quality. The track begins with a slightly mysterious hummed chorus, then lovely strummed guitar and gentle percussion take over, accompanied by Cameron’s rich, warm vocals. He sings about dreaming big and not letting anyone or anything prevent you from trying to reach your goals: “You’ve got to aim for the stars. Nothing less. No matter what people say. Don’t let them get in the way. Never let anything get in the way. Aim for your dreams, Keep burning on full steam.

As an added bonus, here’s a video of Cameron singing a pretty decent cover of Stevie Wonder’s classic song “Superstition.” It really showcases his vocal ability.

To learn more about Cameron, check out his Website and follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

Stream his music:  Spotify / Soundcloud

Purchase:  iTunes

TONI SIDGWICK – EP Review: “Lions”

Toni Sidgwick is an indie singer-songwriter based in County Durham in northeast England. She was born and raised in the remote Shetland Islands northeast of the Scottish mainland, and began her musical journey by busking on the streets of Edinburgh. Her unique style of folk/pop draws from influences by artists such as Ben Howard, London Grammar and Bruce Springsteen. And like those artists, her lyrics are often deeply personal and introspective, speaking to the complexities of life, relationships and her place in this world.

Toni released her debut EP Lions in June, having worked with the brilliant young producer, Lauren Deakin-Davies, and I have the pleasure of reviewing it. Delicate strums of her acoustic guitar introduce the first track “Carry My Heart,” a gentle, lovely ballad in which Toni acknowledges her independence, but also desire for a romantic connection: “I can carry my life, I’ve been doing it for some time. I can carry my life, will you carry my heart. Her vocals are understated and soft, yet reveal a quiet intensity that makes the lyrics feel all the more powerful.

Toni ramps things up a notch on “Only One Way,” a lively track about being honest and true to your feelings toward another. Toni’s vocals are clear and confident as she emphatically sings: “And I gotta stay true to me. And I gotta stay true to you. There’s only one way, only one way, only one way…that I can be.” I love the fast-paced jangly guitars and toe-tapping percussion. Just like the lyric “it makes me happy,” this song makes me happy and is my favorite on the EP.

Dance” is a beautiful, tender ballad with acoustic guitar, gentle percussion and a beguiling harmonica riff. With heartfelt emotion, Toni sings “Oh dance with me. Don’t you dare stop moving our two left feet. Slow dance, dance. We’ll go higher and higher than we dare to chance.” The title track “Lions” is a peppy little number with plucky guitars, crisp snare drum and just a hint of bass. Toni sings of drawing on one’s inner strength to make it through this crazy world: “We are lions, we gotta roar.

The folk-rock song “Be Anything” speaks to holding on to another’s love and support that enable you to be a better person: “You pull me closer. And in your heart, I can be anything.” A combination of strummed acoustic guitar, a sturdy bass line, and light percussion make for an intensely satisfying track. In fact, all five songs on Lions are intensely satisfying, and it’s clear that Toni poured her heart and soul into its creation. It’s a debut effort she can be proud of.

Connect with Toni:  WebsiteFacebook / Twitter / Instagram

Stream her music:  Spotify / Soundcloud / YouTube

Purchase:  iTunes

Single Review: SORICAH – “Waiting”

I had the pleasure of connecting with the talented young singer/songwriter Soricah when she reached out to me about her music. Now living in Dublin, Ireland, Soricah is of Irish/Mauritian ancestry and spent various times of her childhood and early adulthood living in Ireland, Africa, Mauritius and London. Those rich experiences give her music a unique sound that’s not tied to any one genre, in her words “taking the melodies of Ireland and the Soul of Africa to produce some truly original and captivating music.” She provided the following bio info that gives a good snapshot of her music background:

“Soricah has gigged on the London circuit as a solo artist, and is a former member of the band Rebekah Met Sarah. She has supported musical acts such as The Palma Violet and renowned celloist Jo Quail, and has been a frequent collaborator with members of The Artist Community of Studio 180 and the rich artistic warehouse scene of East London. She has also been featured on a wide variety of different artistic projects and her collaborations have been aired on Freakfm, BBC Radio One and a variety of Irish and international radio stations.”

Soricah

She recently completed recording of her debut EP Let Me Know, planned for release later this year. Her first single from the EP, “Waiting,” was just released on May 11. It’s a beautiful song, with a soothing, languid melody that conjures up images of a beach bathed by tropical breezes, at least to my mind. A distinctive element of the track is the gorgeous cello, played by Gary Molloy, which gives the track a haunting, dreamlike sound. Soricah’s strummed acoustic guitar and smooth, sensuous vocals are complemented by gentle percussion and bass, courtesy of Daniel Doherty.

Both musically and vocally, the song reminds me of Lana Del Ray. The song lyrics speak of intense passion and longing for someone. In her captivating voice, Soricah seductively croons “Come a little closer. Feel my body move. My heart is beating faster, waiting for you. / You take me away into the stars. This is where I’ll stay waiting for you, waiting for you.”

Follow Soricah on Facebook.  Stream “Waiting” on  Spotify or Soundcloud, and purchase on  Bandcamp,  iTunes  or  Amazon.