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{Review} Kevin Galloway – The Change

When you possess one of the greatest, most unique and powerful voices in music it can be difficult to find your own sound and style.  Thankfully, Kevin Galloway discovered what his true style during his Uncle Lucius days.  With his debut solo record, The Change, Galloway has refined that sound, tamped down the jam-bandy aspects, honed in on the country, turned up the soul and cranked out a gem of an album that is one of the year’s best (at this juncture, the best) and a testament to the self-described Gulf Country Soul sound he was seeking.

Galloway’s powerful vocals drive each song and provide them the proper gravitas to match the lyrics he has strained from his real life’s experiences.  These songs are unmistakably positive and affirming. Galloway is at peace with his place as an artist and his place as a man, father, husband.  Those elements have never failed to make a great record.  “Don’t It Feel Good To Smile” proclaims how good the life he’s found is and in it there’s a piece of each of our lives striving for satisfaction.  It’s a knowing contract with perfection that we’ll never achieve, but know that just working on it is just fine.  Galloway is confident, romantic, soulful, thoughtful and commanding. Allman-esque guitar solos have been replaced in some aspects with copious, but tasty use of steel guitar and keys.

It’s a balanced, country sound that evokes Don Williams with Otis Redding’s voice.  In fact, that’s a good description of this entire project.  It’s as if some country songwriters got together and threw their best work into one album and then called up the best soul singer they could think of to sing the hell out of it.  Just so happens, those songwriters and that singer are one in the same, Kevin Galloway.  This album is a love letter to Galloway’s wife, life and music.  We should all be thankful that artists like Kevin Galloway open themselves up enough for us to go along for that ride too.

{Review} Amanda Shires – To the Sunset

Fearless.

That’s the first word that comes to mind upon listening to Amanda Shire’s fantastic new record To the Sunset.  It’s a word that returns to your consciousness throughout this masterful collection of songs. Unbound from genre, burdened with expectation, fulfilled with artistry.  Shires’ evokes firebrands of all types throughout the ten tracks.  Echoes of Robyn Ludwick, Holly Williams, Robert Ellis, Father John Misty and Sean McConnell coalesce into something supremely Shires’ own.  Dave Cobb continues his gold-touch production streak of distilling what the artist is trying to say by pushing just the right buttons and never the wrong ones.  Each note, track, tempo, level is excruciatingly perfect.

Shires is a music biz survivor who is now thriving and chasing her own muse in every manner possible.  This record is as much 80’s alternative college rock as it is 10’s alternative country.  And, that’s a good thing.  It is different in the best way. There are many moments the songs sound as if Shires is fronting peak REM.  Set opener “Parking Lot Pirouette” and “Leave It Alone” in particular express Shires’ willingness and abilities to take songs where others are afraid or unaware to venture.  Dynamics abound in both lyric and instrumentation with “Charms” being perhaps the best example as Shires takes a simple child’s charm bracelet and uses the narrative to push a new take on the motherhood anthem.

This is the type of record that won’t just garner attention in the Americana circles, but should be a favorite to claim a few Grammy’s come next winter.  Industry platitudes won’t make this record anymore important or vital.  The fact that Shires took this moment in her career to create something so beautifully haunting and daring is what makes music the best artform around.  In the span of ten tracks, you learn more about Amanda Shires than you ever thought possible.  A true masterpiece.

{20 Questions} Garrett Bryan

Garrett Bryan is one of the most exciting new artists to hit the scene in a while.  On the songwriting spectrum he veers closer to the Fullbright’s and Kennedy’s…and live he’s Sturgill-esque.  High, heavy praise for a new artist, but deserved.  This kid is just getting started, so get to know him.  Peep the latest […]

{Review} William Clark Green – Hebert Island

The line from Misunderstood to Rose Queen to Ringling Road didn’t lead straight to Hebert Island.  Along that route, William Clark Green experienced some hardcore life.  He’s gone from plucky songwriter well-known on the plains to a regional headliner backed by one of the best bands to be found anywhere.  He’s turned modern country music […]

{Brad's Corner} August 2018: Realizations

{Brad�s Corner}

Realizations are hard.  Becoming fully aware of something, whatever that may be can be jolting, halting and alarming.  It’s usually a cause for growth.  A learning experience. When it comes to this music scene, the first realization I had many years ago was that it existed.  Once I got that part down, I became fully […]