Deborah Henrinksson : Traces to follow

This time, with Deborah Henrinksson, we’re going to change our horizon. She is a Sweden based folk singer with a deep Celtic hint in her, sometimes popish, songs. Thus, Traces, her latest and forth record, is a special piece. Strongly ethereal and infused with Celtic / Irish spirits, Deborah opens up a foggy mysterious place.
Like fairy tales, the ground and trees seem to carry a message and we feel surrounded by magical sounds which are like spells on us. Using piano, soft acoustic guitars in harmony with celtic pipes and drums, Deborah Henriksson is the narrator of a big mystical fascinating book. She talks mainly about love but in a smart way, elusively, like if she wasn’t truly doing it. She mostly pictures it with natural elements like snow, water, stars… Almost like if she were painting, subtly adding small touches of tenderness and emotion in our landscape.
Her voice is flying among this beautiful country, evocating some mermaid, faeric tunes. It might be strongly influenced by the Irish side of the music but we can enjoy a fantasy-like atmosphere all along the record. I invite you to listen to the amazing song “Fly” that is just one example, but quite representative, of the overall spirit of this record. "Trains", by the way, is also an other interesting song, more folkish and lightier. A good choice since it's been placed on the opening of the record. The catchy melody works perfectly well as an introduction for a work which is much deeper.

Then, if you enjoy getting lost in music, diving in a dream, you should follow the traces Deborah Henriksson has set for you. It’s gonna be a trip you’ll easily be obsessed with.


The fantastic Neverland of Mackenzie Shivers

It happens sometimes. You hear a record and you dive in fantasy in a few seconds. The music is so powerful it leads you to your own dreams and let be honest, it feels great.
Mackenzie Shivers by Emily Lambert
Mackenzie Shivers, a singer-pianist-songwriter from New York City got the precious talent to do such a thing. In twelve songs from her record Neverland, she guides us in a dreamland. According to her powerful and evocative melodies, she transforms our reality into a big bed made out of a cloud where we happily lay down, close our eyes, and enjoy the moment.

The reason of this magic ? It’s actually pretty hard to tell. Maybe it’s the talent Mackenzie got to play piano, a result of a successful classical music scholarship, or maybe it’s just her wonderful, reassuring, voice. But it would be far from complete without mentioning the strong part played by the upright bass which builds a round and smooth atmosphere along with the participation of subtle and well used drums.

Mackenzie Shivers explained to PopMatters that “home” and “coping with loss” are the main themes of this record. We can feel some kind of a cocoon in her music that match perfectly with the chosen subjects and it makes those common themes quite specials in the way we feel them under the skin. Like Peter Pan’s world, this Shiver’s Neverland is a faeric place to let your mind wander.

Thus, open your ears and you’ll be welcomed in Neverland, a warm, comfortable and precious place for any heart, lonely or wounded, to cure. But if you’re not in this case, don’t be afraid and let you be embraced anyway.

Take a look at her website : http://mackenzieshivers.com/


The amazing story of Doug Seegers

There’s a lot of different reasons to love a record. On top of everything, there's the quality of the music by itself. But a good story is always something that can change our way of looking at an artist and/or feel his music. Especially if it’s a good-ending Hollywood-style one. And that’s exactly what it is about now.
Let me introduce you to Mr Doug Seegers. Coming from New York, then gone to Austin, TX, this man was discovered by the musician Aaron Espe unexpectedly in 2012. The encounter was made on the street, down on the ground. Doug Seegers was playing on the floor like a lot of homeless/jobless guys in the world because that was his case too. The only difference is that not every street musician got his talent. A powerful thing thats was able to blow up Aaron’s mind at the first chord. Immediatly the street wanderer grabbed his phone and capture the moment on video. “Going Down To The River”, that was the title of the song which was available on YouTube a few hours later in a video called "Who is Doug Seegers?".
We'd like to imagine it was the starting point of a huge success but not exactly. At least, not at this time. The real twist came with a Swedish TV show run by two musicians : Jill Jonson and Magnus Carlson. They were in the USA to talk about American music and they also met Doug in the streets. Jill and Magnus felt in love for this lonesome guy playing such a soulful music. The magic of the moment is something inexplicable. As it is for the storming success of this Sweden show when it came to speak about Doug Seegers.
From the first broadcast, Swedish people run to their computers looking for the guy playing “Going Down To The River”. And here comes the crossroad. What do you think all those guys watched on YouTube? Yes, you’re right, Aaron’s video. From this moment Doug Seegers became quite famous on the web. Sweden was fond of Doug and America started to consider him.
That’s was the proper time to start a music career. The swedish label LionHeart, which also got Jill Johnson and Magnus Carlson in its catalog, decided not to miss the train and quickly signed Doug Seegers. And here we are, since May 2014, you can buy the awesome record obviously called Going Down To The River and understand why so many people have been seduce by his music. To explain it in a few words, I could say it’s all about simplicity, honesty and truth. Nothing too complex, just essential music and a great talent to drive it. It goes up and down in your spine instantly. A great record, no more, no less.


Baskery : Energy comes from wilderness

Good music comes from everywhere. Thus, I lead you to Sweden this time, with a band called Baskery. A sister trio with an impressive style : a rock’n’roll feeling put into an acoustic string band. Greta, Stella and Sunniva Bondesson are skilled with a lot of instruments but their best assets are guitar, upright bass and percussions.

With that kind of tools we would imagine a bluegrass band or an old-time music crew. But, it’s way different. This acoustic sound doesn’t mean a girlish and springful music, maybe a bit boring. Actually, "energy" is probably the main word that comes to me when I think about Baskery.

Their music is rich and hard to define. You can call it the way you like : Banjo-Punk, Folk-Rock, traditional kickin’ music or whatever. The only thing that matters is how good it is. Between the nervosity of those girls, an electric guitar mixed with a rockin' banjo, and a melodic touch half from the acoustic sound and half from their hearts, they easily capture our brains. To speak frankly, I doubt we would struggle anyway. Their close voice harmonies also add a bit of a charming touch and softness over the global work.

Their third album is called Little Wild Life. They obviously picked the good name, because there’s wilderness in their voices, their music and their conviction to play. Like nature, it's strong, powerful, and captivating by the only force of its true beauty. It’s like looking at a storm and say to yourself : “wow, that’s impressive”. It might scare you but you can’t turn your eyes from its majesty. In the same way, Baskery is stunning and that’s what we like. They push us away from our comfort zone. This kind of music can always be renewed and that’s what we expected.

A new generation brings its own rules. They are no better nor baddest. They are necessary. Music is still living like a torrent and the raging sound you’re hearing is what is all about. The flow is strong and we’re up to follow it gracefully and joyfully.


Ollie Vee : the retro style heartbeat

These days, we’ve seen a lot of new bands and artists awesomely talented who produced a lot of good work, even from their very first albums. In this category, let me introduce you to a new 50’s retro band called Ollie Vee. Four gifted guys with a fantastic debut album : “Lonesome Girl.
From the first listening, the very first note, they captivated my ears and my heart. I must say that the beginning song is also the better one. Which, of course, helped a lot to put me in a good mood for what was up to come. Called “Ruby Red” this magical, simple but nevertheless, powerful song got everything in itself that makes the Ollie Vee’s sound : a soul and a spirit. Something that most people feels it’s vanishing with time in the music business. They certainly need to hear this.
Ollie Vee is on a bridge between here and the past. They walk somewhere where music is king and queen, the alpha and the omega. In their world, it’s all about the atmosphere. Not totally retro, a bit dusty, we feel like in an old road movie we used to watch and love. We enter in an “out of age” diner late at night. There’s no customer inside, the waitress is sweeping the floor and a band is still playing almost for themselves. That how we could describe this strange and moving feeling we got under our skin when we listen to this band.

With Adam Perzia on drums, Jesse Adamson et Johnny Vassos on guitars and Howard Linscott on double bass they know how to be rockin’ in a Chris Isaak style. Between Rockabilly and Honky-Tonk it’s the perfect mix served by a precise and skilled touch. The voice of Jesse got this little twangy style which you can find also on guitars with a lot of old school reverb.

If you are like me, a bit suspicious about retro bands who are often a bit fake, you will enjoy Ollie Vee. They are true because they don’t try to do retro. They just so deeply inspired by those oldies songs and artists, it’s now part of themselves and, obviously, part of their sound. As soon as you listen to this record you’ll be instantly fond of it. 

Check out their website at : http://ollievee.com


An amazing band : The California Honeydrops

What a big and strong shock for my ears it was, when I heard The California Honeydrops for the first time ! I like sometimes to put a CD in my player without looking, or deep-looking, at the label. This way, I'm not distracted by any picture, text, or story I might read before. And sometimes, I must admit it, it's just mechanical. Thus, I wasn't really focused on this CD at the first time. It was just one of the big CD pile I had to listen to. But what a catch it was.
From the first note I heard I couldn't let it go. I was really captivated by this amazing mix of Soul and Rhythm & Blues, so soulful and with an expressive joy.
Coming from Oakland and lead by Warsaw-born singer Lech Wierzynski, The California Honeydrops know how to catch us. Their music is between Americana, Soul and Blues with influences from Louis Armstrong to Sam Cooke. Lead by the trumpets you can't help yourself from dancing. Even this little head shaking you got right now is a proof of it. Going straight to the heart of those musics, they got the perfect feeling.
Like You Mean It is the third record of the band. From the first song, "Here Comes Love", everything that you may find in the CD is wonderfully exposed here. The piano is here for the melody as much as for the rhythmic part. The trumpets and this cool whistled melody are here to punctuate the all stuff. This craziness and musical joy seems to be spontaneous, almost imperfect but it's obviously a strong work, perfectly mastered.
We also have a great Gospel part, with "Just Another Day" where the voices and the organ show how The California Honeydrops are skilled to make their music to shine. They totally control the musical expression and we never feel like we're listening to an imitation.

All along the record, we got this lousy-cool feeling that is so pleasant. Blues becomes gold with songs like "Baby Boy's Blues". You're diving in a comfortable sweetness, closing your eyes and following the flow. It's like walking on a cloud and laying down on the floor. Actually I could talk about any song like that. Every track is at the same time, a new place, a new feeling but it's always logical in the overall work. It's not a patchwork of different music styles well done but all mixed up on a CD. It's more like a cool concert where you feel deeply connected to the music, forgetting where you are, with whom or when.
This is true Blues, true Soul, true Gospel, and so. Everything is made and played with the heart. They make the American Black Music alive with the most beautiful tribute to his masters. A great record you will play again and again for a while.


Guy Clark, master of words

It's been a long (really long) time since my last review. Indeed I've been busy with another project you can check it right here. If you can speak french you will enjoy it. But let's get back to what we care about now, a piece of art from one of the most talented songwriter this world has given to us : Mr Guy Clark.

His latest album, the ninth one, is called My Favorite Picture Of You and it is so soul-moving that is from this kind of record only a master of his kind can produce. Even if his talent for songwriting is well recognized by every connoisseur, lots of people don't know that he was behind big success from George Strait, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs and even Johnny Cash. By the way, in the first record of The Highwaymen, the super-band with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson, the main song "Desperados Waiting From A Train" is a cover of Guy Clark.

Though his new record is dedicated to his wife, Susanna Clark who passed away in 2012. She shared his life for 40 years. It was in the 60's, after Clark departure from Texas to California, that he met her in San Francisco and then they moved to Nashville. We can see on the cover of the record the picture he talks about. It was taken a day when he and his pal, the well-known Townes Van Zandt, were at home and quite drunk. Susanna entered and find them this way and were so angry she goes out. Guy Clark has this power to take out from this picture all the love he has for her. A wise spirit and a precise eye able to look at the small things and show how beautiful they could be, and finally are.

This is the true power of the poet. He's able to look deeper and show us the world in a more sensitive way. It's all about natural feeling, human kind, love and simplicity. Even the music is soft. It doesn't try to come to us or to show us how this or that is sad, happy or true. Some right guitar chords are efficient enough and the nice melodies are obviously what they should be. It shows what I call "the obvious of Folk Music". Like nature it's simple but we would never imagine the forests and the mountains on another spot, everything is where it has to be.

Songs like the beautiful and so true "Heroes" about war veterans or "My Favorite Picture Of You" are just small samples of a gigantic record that speaks directly to our heart. Like every record of Guy Clark, this one must be listen and enjoyed like a fine whisky.