Okay, I have to admit I have been incredibly busy this summer. I’ve got home remodeling to complete before mid-September, festivals to produce and/or be a part of as emcee (People’s Fair, Carbon Valley Summer Festival, Bohemian Nights) or as a performer (Carbon Valley Summer Festival)… my show to produce weekly … records to listen to … sound gigs to do …. I really needed a day or two or three to just simply relax and listen to music that not only doesn’t shake, rattle, and roll but just sounds somehow refreshing to the soul. I need that on occasion. Today (Sunday) is one of those days. Sun tea anyone?
Selasee and the Fafa Family – African Gate
Genre/Style: World, African, Reggae
Sampled Track: African Gate
Bio from website: Born and raised in West Africa, Selasee’s pursuit of music eventually led him to Boulder, Colorado, where he currently lives. Selasee’s music is a unique blend of Reggae, West African Highlife and American Pop music.
Notes: I only recently became aware of Selasee’s music. This record was enough to convince me to check out his previous release called “Run.” Most reggae bands rarely ever fully embrace the style or immerse themselves in it authentically. That’s why those whose soul is tied to the message and the “nation” win out every time … This album is highly recommended if what you’re looking for is the authenticity that lies beneath the pop trappings of most who try to play African and reggae styles.
John McVey – Unpredictable
Genre/Style: Adult Contemporary, singer-songwriter
Sampled Track: Unpredictable
Notes: In today’s world, you just don’t take ten years off between doing records and hope that anyone who heard that “one” will remember you ten years later. John did just that … took ten years between albums. The result? Amazing. And it’s not that John didn’t have chops to begin with. He’s an accomplished producer/engineer at Coupe Studios in Boulder who stays so busy that this record actually took two years to record. The care, professionalism, and attention to detail shows in every imaginable way. This record is truly as good as it gets …
After Midnight Jazz Band – Midnight in Madison
Genre/Style: jazz, big band, vocal, trad, blues, americana
Sampled Track: Hallelujah I Love Her So
Recommended if You Like (RIYL): Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw, Lyle Lovett and His Big Band
Notes: I grew up in a house filled with the music of Benny Goodman (The King of Swing), Lionel Hampton, Pete Fountain, and other Swing Era greats. I am tremendously happy that bands like After Midnight not only keep the style alive, but do with the care and skill they do. This record represents the best of four sets of music the band did live in Madison, Wisconsin, in 2008. It is a joyously good listen!
Gabrielle Louise – Mirror the Branches
Sampled Track: I’ll Turn Myself in on Monday
RIYL: Joni Mitchell, Patty Griffin
Notes: There’s a gypsy in Gabrielle’s soul. I knew that BEFORE reading this on her website, “The daughter of two gypsy musicians, Gabrielle inherited the genetic predisposition to wanderlust and song.” On this, her fifth independently released album, Gabrielle follows further out across the trail she’s been traveling the past four years since the release of Journey. One of the most striking songs on the record is “Strange Summer Snow,” and I do dare to say that it is the equal to some of the best folk songs in anyone’s catalog. This isn’t simply singer-songwriter fare … Gabrielle, over the course of a few short years, has really and truly become a major force as a folk artist – not just singing love songs, but singing about the heart and soul in ways that MOST singer songwriters can only hope to achieve in their dreams.
Eric Forsyth – (the thin of thick things)
Sampled Track: Flannel Shirts and Boat Shoes
Notes: A solid performance and maturing songwriting are the highlights of this sophomore record from this California transplant who was, “Born of a jazzer father and very accomplished professional organist for a mother, “Er-Bear” Forsyth was homegrown in Northern California in the shadow of his late great grandmother’s baby grand Steinway.” A multi-instrumentalist, Eric wrote, produced, and recorded this effort with the skillful mandolin work of Dave Willis. Focus tracks include “Flannel Shirts and Boat Shoes” and “Happenstance.”
Dan Craig Band – Alchemy
Genre/Style: Folk, singer-songwriter
Sampled Track: Enough
Notes: Recommended if you like Josh Ritter and Damien Rice. Dan Craig’s music has recently been featured on the hit show “One Tree Hill” and has shared the stage with many artists including Gregory Alan Isakov, Mike Doughty (Soul Coughing), Ari Hest and Katie Herzig in the past year. Recommended tracks include: “Alchemy,” “Solid Ground,” and “Enough.” There are few voices as self-assured as Dan’s … and fewer still the songwriters whose arrangements are as fresh as those on this record. It’s solid… and he’s got a new one apparently in the can for a Christmas 2010 release … dude stays busy that’s for sure.