Valerie Fahren

Valerie Fahren

URL: http://www.valeriefahren.com/

Valerie Fahren’s music and acting career started in her teens when New York City radio began playing an original song by her band Gypsy. She has starred in principal roles in Equity productions of Fiddler on the Roof, Carmen, and Three Penny Opera; recorded with The Wilson Sisters, Neil Diamond, Edgar Winter, and Chick Corea; and had her own songs recorded by many other artists, including David Arkenstone. She is also an Artist Developer and vocal coach, who’s worked with an impressive amount of celebrities and even relatives of them, as listed on her website. “Say You Love Me” is her new single, out now.

Fahren’s plans to release a full-length album are preceded by this single release, which she revealed in a recent interview that she “tried to write it with the viewpoint of Adele,” but liked it so much, when it didn’t get picked up, that she decided to release it herself. And that’s a must mention because the song really does follow that big sound and appeal of Adele’s. It’s a really-good compliment to her and today’s way of emoting songs like Adele does. So, if you like Adele, this single is right up your alley as it falls into the same world class talent pool from which such contemporary artists do.

This is a radio-friendly, radio-ready track for the masses to soak up at the end of a year of much turmoil, tragedy and loss in the world. It deals with making the right choices in relationships, especially the commitment factors. The lyrics give a comprehensive look at coping with your choices once they’ve played out. It even goes deeper and gets down to whether or-not the other means what they say through actions not just words. You feel every word of it by the time you wrap your head around them, as the lyrics speak volumes for the track itself, combined with the tonal quality of her voice.

She asks how it is that people can live with themselves after not really meaning it in the end, and how she’s not interested in every repeating it again. It kicks off with a subtle build up to the overall point, before the chorus lifts it up as far as goes, and that’s where you almost get the feel you’re listening to something Adele would sing. It’s just a compliment but it’s hard to not hear a ring of current influence on Fahren’s voice and songwriting approach. This is the way music has been going for several years now and she seems to fit right into it like it’s cut out for her style and sound.

The single serves as a real intriguing effort to pique curiosity about an artist who’s obviously experienced but not well known in mainstream circles, and could easily catapult her the next level, it’s that good, But Fahren herself is no new comer to music, she’s just working with very good timing to release something that fits the times so well. If this doesn’t rattle a lot of ears than something isn’t right about today’s musical landscape. She wins top marks here, for efforts in both pop and contemporary circles with a great single that effortlessly holds up to today’s industry standards.

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/valeriefahren

Larry Toering

Cameron Blake – Fear Not

Cameron Blake – Fear Not

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/cameronblakesongwriter/

Cameron Blake’s personal journey resulted in a memorable first solo album, 2015’s Alone on the World Stage, and those exposed to his gifts rightly heralded him as an important new songwriting and musical voice in the indie scene and popular music world in general. His second album Fear Not goes after an even more impressive target than the first – for all intents and purposes, Fear Not is a concept album. It isn’t a concept album in the way we’ve traditionally been taught to understand the form, but rather it is a collection of 12 songs linked together by a common central theme that the writer and musicians alike seek to explore from multiple perspectives. Blake’s songwriting shows genuine poetic depth at key points and also carries a conversational style grounded in concrete imagery that makes for rich listening. Fear Not is a resounding artistic and individual statement far outstripping similar attempts by lesser writers and performers. There isn’t a false note struck at any point in the course of this album.

“Fear Not” might initially strike listeners as staid, even ornate, but you will quickly grow accustomed to the spacious delivery of Blake’s songs and how they derive much of the aural weight through a combination of what the players offer up and the spaces they create in the music. It shows the album’s predilection for classical and piano ballad influences – an abiding sound that recurs throughout the running order and defines a significant portion of the release. “After Sally” has a rustic sort of feel that seems near Americana, but Blake never pursues that vein in a purist sort of way – he seems more content with its suggestion than anything approaching outright homage or pastiche. “The Only Diamond”, likewise, is a number with subject matter that would have fallen ideally into the wheelhouse of some socially conscious folk singer, but it has a real verve and imaginative changes that certainly aren’t boringly predictable. There is some light jazzy guitar and unobtrusive drumming laced through the entirety of “Fool’s Gold” that patiently builds to an enormous second half payoff before slipping into a muted coda. Blake’s voice keeps a steady hand over the bounty of emotions this song explores and it ends up being one of the best moments on Fear Not.

“Queen Bee” embraces a loose, confident gospel/blues influenced pose that suits Blake’s voice well and is joined by some enthusiastic backing vocals. The call and response portions of the vocal arrangement are particularly buoyant. The intimacy opening the cut “Tiananmen Square” soon gives way to some glittering moments of pure orchestral pop bliss while “Old Red Barn” pulls the album back towards more traditional, rural sounding music. “Wailing Wall” is another of the album’s great moments thanks to a world class lyric you can place up against any of the best writers working in music today; it’s truly rewarding to encounter an artist capable of marrying such rich musical virtues with an unique way with words. That way with words is further highlighted on the track “Philip Seymour Hoffman” – fans and causal admirers of the late actor’s work will appreciate this tune and its outstanding arrangement while more astute listeners will notice how, in the manner of all tribute songs, the track ends up saying more about the artist behind its creation. As it should be. Fear Not is a mesmerizing second album from Cameron Blake that shows an artist working at or near the peak of his powers.

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/cameronblakesongwriter/

Lance Wright

FXRRVST – May XXVI

FXRRVST – May XXVI

URL: https://www.fxrrvst.net/

The Toronto headquartered duo FXRRVST are poised to make major waves on the basis of their debut release May XXVI. Pronounced as ‘forest’, Matthew Fuentes and Holly Forrest have produced a collection that places an equal emphasis on melody as they do alternative rock styled theatrics. The songs, likewise, have a real lyrical depth that reflects Forrest’s influence on the songwriting and it isn’t difficult to appreciate their literary qualities while they remain accessible to the average listener all the while. This is a duo where certain creative responsibilities are clearly set aside for each member, but they nevertheless come together in a seamless accord and never fail to exhibit a naturalness that many of their peers only aspire to. FXRRVST may seem cast in the mold of many other duo acts that have made a mark over the last decade and a half, but this is a shallow impression – even a single pass through of the songs on May XXVI will convince anyone that they are serving up something quite unique.

They are clearly masters of a traditional approach as well. “Road to Nowhere”, musically, isn’t anything that experienced music listeners haven’t heard before, but they imbue it with their own spark that makes it sound fresh and different when compared to similar efforts. Despite the often tempered sound of the album, this song is the first example of how FXRRVST builds tracks in a way quite reminiscent of how rock songs are constructed. Despite this, there’s a singer/songwriter aesthetic discernible on each of these tracks, sometimes weaker, sometimes stronger, but always present. “Drown Me” takes the duo much deeper into straight forward alternative rock and Holly Forrest delivers an impassioned vocal performance, but Fuentes matches her with a full on blazer thanks to his incendiary six string playing. The slightly more commercialized sound continues with the album’s first single “Tidal Wave” and the occasional backing vocals that distinguish a number of songs bring a lot of added beauty to this number.

“Safe House” is an interesting number much more solidly in a folk vein than the other numbers on May XXVI, but it doesn’t neglect to incorporate some of the duo’s standard electric guitar flourishes. The acoustic guitar melody that begins the song continues throughout the entirety of the track and does much to shape the mood of the performance. The musical mood is a little brighter on the next track “June 8th”, but Forrest gives one of her most emotive singing performances on the album and a close listen to the words illustrates that the songwriting hasn’t necessarily embraced brighter days with this tune. “Roofs” memorably begins with Forrest’s voice synced up nicely with mandolin playing before it switches gears into one of the most vibrant band arrangements on the release. The aforementioned quality of dynamics resembling those we might hear from rockier numbers and it mixes well again, for a final time, with the duo’s lighter more melodic qualities. May XXVI is an outstanding first release from this pair and let’s all hope they are only getting started.

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/fxrrvst/

Joshua Stryde

Al Gromer Khan

Artist: Al Gromer Khan
Song: After the Crash
Label: RASA Music
Website: http://www.khanart.de/en/c/content/?group=DV142181
Genre: Contemporary Ambient/World
Sounds Like: Vilayat Khan, Enya

Single Review:

Al Gromer Khan is a German sitar player who is perhaps most known for integrating his unique influences of ambient and world music together into a contemporary stylistic approach known as “paisley music”. As a seasoned young musician in the late sixties, Al Gromer Khan participated in a host of experimental music projects and collaborated with noteworthy artists such as Cat Stevens. Inspired by capable sitar masters such as Vilayat Khan and Roshan Jamal Bhartyia, the young musician dove into over twenty years of sitar tutelage and practice in an effort to develop the contemporary ambient style evident in his music today. Having released over twenty different offerings over his long career, this particular single, titled “After the Crash” is from Al Gromer Khan’s album Chai and Roses, which was released in 2004.

One of the most striking aspects throughout the five meditative minutes of “After the Crash” is its ability to seamlessly combine modern, almost electronic-like ambiance with the pillars of traditional sitar methodology. The composition is fascinating in that it works simultaneously as a piece that is contemplative and melodic, yet at the same time, possesses enough restraint and polish to suggest that the piece was recorded in a highly modernized fashion with contemporary sensibilities. Only the roughest of comparisons can be given when considering this particular genre/sub-genre, as it is difficult to relate world music, especially sitar-driven music, to anything that might have prominence in the current market. However, in an effort to summarize the sound which encapsulates Al Gromer Khan’s “After the Crash”, a crude comparison might be made as a vocal-free combination of Ravi Shankar playing over a less-orchestral incantation of Enya. In short, old world subtly combines with new world influence to create a meditative, contemplative track which appears the rely on a the exploration of a single melodic line as the centerpiece of its musical and creative value. The melody itself is well-constructed and indicative of a seasoned musician; Al Gromer Khan doesn’t overplay, demonstrates patience, and places notes with an artful intuition that can only be the result of years of tutelage and personal discipline.

Paisley music is decidedly not for everyone, and more likely than not, the only people who will entertain this composition are people who have a passion for world and ethnic music, as well as the patience to listen to a sitar-driven composer sparingly explore variations of melody. To an untrained or unappreciative ear, it is repetitive, oversimplified, and droning. It is quite removed from the rapid-paced, energetic, flurry of notes approach that most people think of when they consider virtuoso sitar-driven music.

Al Gromer Khan is a talented sitar composer, and through this track, it is evident that he has come to nearly perfect a unique approach to world music that demonstrates signature modern sensibilities. Although the melody is well-constructed and “After the Crash” has been put together artistically and thoughtfully, there isn’t any particular facet of this composition that would catch the attention of someone who isn’t already highly interested in the world music scene. Al Gromer Khan’s skills are definitive, but his skill-set also happens to be very specialized.

Owen Matheson

C.E.O. Business – Livin’ Life

C.E.O. Business – Livin’ Life

URL: http://www.ceobusiness.net/

Based out of the Little Rock, Arkansas area, the Natural State seems like an unlikely backdrop for the emergence of a major new talent on the hip hop scene. C.E.O. Business, the stage name for Mike Davis Jr., puts that idea to rest in convincing fashion with the release of his single “Livin’ Life” and it feels like the culmination for a dream he’s been actively pursuing since the summer of 2011. In reality, however, this wildly successful single is just another important step towards Davis’s professed goal of matching the talents and influence of his heroes like Jay Z, Michael Jackson, and Dr. Dre in building an impressive music catalog that sprawls into a full blown media empire or fiefdom all his own. This single proves he is well on the way towards that goal and it will leave close listeners relatively breathless to take in his immense talent level at such a young age. No matter though – “Livin’ Life” will grip those already familiar with this performer and win over countless new fans based on the persuasiveness of both its message and performance.

“Livin’ Life” has it all – a memorable vocal performance, a great arrangement, and above average lyrical content. Davis is clearly a performer and artist alike, not merely just one, and his unique vision for the genre has a fluency that seasoned performers often struggle to sustain. The song has a great build and establishes a satisfying groove early on – despite the fact that Davis is delivering a lyric about far more than just bling and babes, he never forgets that the audience wants entertained as well as informed and never errs too much on any one side. The balance of this approach is another feature of his talent that seems surprisingly well developed in such a young artist. Even the running time, nearly five minutes, illustrates the high level of confidence he brings to this performance and his relaxed method of winding through the lyric is note perfect.

The most striking musical features of the song are the pulsing bottom end he wisely anchors everything around and how cleanly he brings together individual synthesizer strands of varying color into one coherent composition. It isn’t a talent that all of his contemporaries share. The compelling tempo of the song keeps your attention throughout and definitely has strong physicality. “Livin’ Life” has such a naturalness of sound that it’s not difficult to imagine Davis entered the studio with this song fully formed in his mind and that the process producing the song involved merely transcribing the sound in his head onto a recording. It’s a performance that never sounds uncertain of itself. C.E.O. Business owns the song from his first entrance into the track while still working to make himself part of an overall package that hits attentive listeners like a gut punch. He’s a bright burning star in the hip hop sky and his reach will only increase with each new release.

SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/c-e-o-business

Joshua Stryde

Phil Varca and the SlamJammers – Cash and Don’t Push Me

Phil Varca and the SlamJammers – Cash and Don’t Push Me

URL: http://www.philvarcaandtheslamjammers.com/

Phil Varca’s vocal and guitar playing talents have carried his three piece live and recording act Phil Varca and the SlamJammers for nearly thirty years and established him and his collaborators as one of the foremost interpreters of modern electric blues. The newest singles from Varca and his band are “Cash” and “Don’t Push Me”, guitar heavy yet soulful invocations of the band at its best and bristling with musical life. One might assume that such veteran musicians might grow content and complacent after carving out a sustainable career as a nationally recognized act who have supported and played the same stages with musical giants like Shemika Copeland, Buddy Guy, Robin Trower, Popa Chubby, and Joe Bonamassa, but the two new singles showcase a singer and band still hungry for recognition rather than an outfit content to ride on their reputation.

“Don’t Push Me” sounds dredged up from some bitter personal experiences and Varca gets the story over to listeners with just the right amount of drama and tailoring to the music. His gravel and nicotine wrecked singing voice might not sound like an audience friendly instrument, but Varca ingratiates himself with listener soon in and his voice never affects listener’s enjoyment of the song. The guitar sound has a straight forward bluesy touch rather than mixing in elements of funk and soul and Varca’s voice locks around the six string work in an effective way. It’s part of an overall package that has strong intimacy and gets up in listener’s faces from the first. Varca’s a soloist who never tries to dominate the spotlight and, instead, makes sense with everything he does. He never overplays his musical hand, much to his credit, and there’s melodicism, no matter how ruggedly it’s turned, in his guitar work that complements his blues based strengths.

“Cash” dispenses with any real nuance and instead favors funkafied rock power blasting away at a breathless pace. Varca is quite to matching it and shows great skill with the lyric despite the fast pace – we lose nothing from them amping up the energy level and it’s a testament to their skill level that nothing ever spins out of control. His vibrato as a guitar player, a signature element of any player’s style as indelible as a master painter’s brushstroke, will leap out time and again at listeners over the course of these two songs and makes much of its mark on the track “Cash”. Both of the songs never take too much advantage of listener’s attention and show how Phil Varca and the SlamJammers have continued to produce high quality work nearly three decades into their career and show why they’ve garnered the reputation they have as one of the pre-eminent musical acts working in the genre today. “Don’t Push Me” and “Cash” will captivate new fans and remind old fans of their unique talents and power.

YOU TUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yPCjm_yWa8o

Michael Saulman

Mike Derek – My Dad

Mike Derek – My Dad

YOU TUBE: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCgASAZ5cN5GK2u6pwIKpsrw

A former Sunshine Boy in the Toronto Sun, Mike Derek grew up on a farm in Ontario Canada. He started his career singing in a church choir as a baritone. He moved to Kitchener, Ontario and gravitated to singing in Nursing and Retirement homes for the aged, as well as Sunbeam Centre for handicapped children. His concerts consist of a live performance at Civic Square in Kitchener, which was well received by an audience of over 300 people of all age groups.

Mike recorded a single in Nashville under famed producer Richard Donahue called “Down in the Boondocks,” and now he returns strongly with “My Dad.”

“He isn’t much in the eyes of-the world / but he is a world to me” is part of the opening line to this remarkably well-written and produced single by relatively unknown Mike Derek, who unbeknownst to me has-actually had some success in the past with an album under said famed producer. His bio isn’t detailed enough to add a lot of history, but this is a fresh piece of work to start with where anyone’s concerned in hearing what he’s doing now. The opening line combined with some guitar picking has a country-pop flavored ring to it, but it’s done more in the easy-listening vein.

Mike Derek isn’t just cracked up to influences though, he’s an original artist in his own right with his own truth to tell about his dad, and even more as the song goes on.

The whispering backing vocals get a mention for adding drama to the verses, and that’s just one quality they’re placed there for, it adds a classic touch that tops it off. Not that he’s any stranger to layers of sound, but it works wonders over the right words to bring out the best in the song. The rest is gravy, all checking out in the vocal, lyrical and musical departments. You can’t play it just once, so don’t expect to.

“My Dad” could even be considered folk or Americana in today’s mix of genres going around. It doesn’t matter where it’s coming from, these are hard to get away from to call what’s being done. You get something beyond category with Derek though, even if he leans in-the area of the Josh Grobin’s of the world.

There’s something unique about him that still stands apart, and this track takes you to that special place with a subject that’s difficult not to reckon with. Keeping it simple and to the point is where it pays off the most, and that is where this song does the business and earns high marks.

Written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, you’d easily believe it was Derek himself by the way he conveys the lyrics from the heart, but it doesn’t matter in the greater scheme of things, especially with such an excellent writing job is backed by an equal singing effort. You believe the words and the music and that’s the primary element that makes a good song as well as a good front person to champion it. You get all that and tons of soul and a great deal more in one package, which makes you want more of what Mike Derek is potentially capable of. If this is any indication of what’s in-store then I’d welcome plenty more.

MP3RED: http://mp3red.cc/album/5962592/my-dad.html

John Birch

Kevin Fisher – Beer Me

Kevin Fisher – Beer Me

URL: http://mcjamesmusic.com/beer-me-kevin-fisher/

This is an album that, at first glance, is difficult to take seriously. A concept album united by the common theme of beer is sure to elicit some chuckles and there’s no question Kevin Fisher intends to entertain, but even a cursory listen to the accompanying music serves notice that Fisher isn’t a trivial vocal or musical talent. Fisher’s songwriting on Beer Me is unabashed about what it is and the gloriously limited purpose it serves – it’s content to wallow in crude, obvious lyrical jokes and plays on words and that sort of earnestness is impossible to dislike. Some will love this approach, some will despise it. His considerable experience as a songwriter for high quality indie country/country rock acts is every bit as important to the success of these tunes as his attempts at humor. There’s plenty of the latter, however, and the genuine yuck yucks generated by the songs and performance provide listeners with a good time.

There’s some nice wailing blasts of electric slide guitar on the opener “Beer” and Fisher’s flat, distanced delivery proceeds to unwind a weepy tale of woe soaked in hops and barley. There’s definitely a country-ish feel to the performance, but the rock and honkytonk elements of the song are balanced to near perfection. A generous sampling of backing vocals adds further entertainment value. There’s a more pronounced anthemic quality propelling the album’s title song and the track’s bluesy twang has little if any subtlety, but Fisher belts out the lyrics with conviction and the playing has plenty of bite. There’s a light touch of banjo and steel guitar in the song “Dog Beers” and the musical values of the song presents a nice contrast with the infinitely silly lyrical content. It’s funny, as well, how Fisher invariably delivers the lyrics with as straight of a face as he can muster. This is a one joke song, most of the tunes on Beer Me are, but he makes that one joke work for these focused performances.

There’s a light lilt to the song “I Wish You Were Beer” reminiscent of Jimmy Buffet and the accompanying horns never overreach while still striking a slightly rueful quality. This is relatively straight forward song in every respect, but it’s probably the straightest song on Beer Me up to this point and demonstrates satisfying stylishness. We’re back to a bluesy sound with the track “To Beer or Not To Beer” and after a gritty rave up, the song settles into a comfortable groove punctuated with some tasty acoustic slide guitar licks. “Beerly Beloved” is laugh out loud funny, though you might find yourself given brief moments of pause finding paeans to over-indulgence if you take this tune, or the others, remotely seriously. Fisher, once again, doesn’t try to put over this song just on the basis of one joke and, instead, places it inside of a stomping, raucous musical landscape. The album’s final song “Last Call” has a loose, appropriately woozy feel considering the title and its light country inclinations are a welcome ending for the release. Kevin Fisher finishes Beer Me with the same graceful joviality that he opened the album with and, no matter the lyrical content, this is a straight ahead enjoyable album that holds up under repeated listens.

AIRPLAY DIRECT: http://www.airplaydirect.com/music/KevinFisherBeerMe/

Jason Hillenburg

MicFreeze – Cousin Skeeter

MicFreeze – Cousin Skeeter

TWITTER: https://twitter.com/MichaelMWillia5

“Cousin Skeeter” is the latest single offering from seventeen year old Detroit based hip-hop vocalist and songwriter MicFreeze. This young man has been focused on self-expression from an early age and discovering his musical and vocal talents has allowed him to tap into his nascent creativity with entertaining and crackling, impassioned results. It shows how he keeps making enormous leaps in presentation and quality since his recent debut – each new single has elaborated on the immense promise of his debut and has managed to not repeat itself. It’s no small feat for any performer, but MicFreeze first emerged at the age of sixteen and the reach of his skills at such an early age is eye-popping. The confidence he exudes, as well, is kinetic and has a positive effective on every second of the song. “Cousin Skeeter” is the next stage in MicFreeze serving notice to the hip hop world that there’s a major new giant in the making on the scene and his talents can’t be ignored.

MicFreeze radiates confidence from the first. The musical backing for this song is very strong, but he never loses his way going up against the electronic backing and adepts his voice to the arrangement’s various turns with palpable ease. He’s rapping from a personal place, but any autobiographical touches in his lyrical content only seem to encourage him to put himself more into the delivery and there isn’t a second of hesitation from him throughout the track. He never overemphasizes the lyrics, steering them towards parody, and this is likely one of his wisest moves – some listeners are going to have a difficult enough time comprehending how a performer so young can be so good without finding him prone to histrionic displays of his credibility. Instead, MicFreeze carries off the lyrics in just the right way and mixes a variety of modulated attitudes into his approach.

The music for “Cousin Skeeter” is electronically produced rather than using any conventional instrumentation, but it has a very human sound despite the synthesizers and machine produced rhythm section work. It achieves a great balance between invoking colorful atmosphere and giving MicFreeze a strong groove his voice can ride. The transitions from one passage to the next are handled with great finesse and the fluidity of the track, as a whole, is another hallmark of the solid writing process that went into its creation. MicFreeze is knowing and intelligent enough to never overextend himself as a writer and, as a result, “Cousin Skeeter” says what it needs to say and doesn’t waste listeners time. This is one of the more formidable hip hop singles you’ll likely encounter in 2017 and shows this young talent make significant inroads towards his avowed goal of becoming one of the leading artists of his generation. There’s no doubt that he’s getting closer to that with each new release.

Shannon Cowden

Flatt Lonesome – Silence in These Walls

Flatt Lonesome – Silence in These Walls

URL: http://flattlonesome.com/

Flatt Lonesome’s Silence in These Walls includes twelve songs clearly charting the development of the band since they first made their mark with a self-titled 2013 first album. They are moving further and further away from relying on genre standards and obscure, if not astutely chosen, covers and outside material. The primary artistic movers in Flatt Lonesome are Paul Harrigill and Kelsi Robertson-Harrigill, but they are joined by four other top shelf musicians and vocalists with Charli Robertson, Dominic Illingworth, Michael Stockton, and Buddy Robertson. The obvious family connections make this an even more intimate affair – there’s an instant rapport in everything you hear on Silence in These Walls. Moreover, there’s a sense of balance that seems like a natural outgrowth from them playing together that gives each of the album’s dozen cuts instant confidence and accessibility. Silence in These Walls pays tribute to tradition but uses it as relevant and rewarding vehicle for self expression.

The power and dramatic weight of their music is evident from the start. Flatt Lonesome’s compositions promote melody, in all its forms, before any other single quality. Few of the songs illustrate that better than the first track “All My Life”. Kelsi Robertson-Harrigill’s vocal is certainly sorrowful in a way the lyric demands, but also glows with a vibrant spirit. “It’s Just Sad” is a much more deliberate performance, the song unfolding in a steady way, and more guided by Charli Robertson’s vocals than what we hear in the opener. There are important harmony and backing vocal contributions, however, just not as pronounced or plentiful as those on the first song. “Build Me a Bridge” is some nifty songwriting from outside writers, but Flatt Lonesome doesn’t betray even an inkling of insecurity attacking this song as if it were their own. It does speak about a near-universal experience, so shoehorning themselves into the narrative wasn’t hard. The blues strands coloring the song’s tapestry of sound are particularly effective flavoring here and elsewhere on Silence in These Walls.

“I’m Not Afraid To Be Alone” would have worked well for any number of iconic country singers because it is such a good song, but Charli Robertson knocks it out of the park with a spirited reading that matches up nicely with the energetic backing track. “Draw Me Near” touches on the band’s spiritual inclinations, but never with a fundamentalist or evangelical hand. Instead, this is one of two songs on the album that qualify as pure testimony. Their cover of Glen Campbell’s 1970 track “Where Do You Go” illustrates how talented they are about picking up the mantle of classic country music and refurbish it into something utterly modern. “Gently Please Tell Me Goodbye”, written by Paul Harrigill, is a sumptuous ballad that gets beneath the skin early on and burrows deep in a listener’s heart. It’s easily the best ballad on Silence in These Walls. “Happy ‘Til He Comes” is a beautifully arranged and slightly playful paean to maintaining faith in a better tomorrow. This faith is put in spiritual/religious terms that Flatt Lonesome wisely never pushes too hard. Silence in These Walls is an enjoyable and satisfying recording from Flatt Lonesome and should catapult them to greater notoriety than they’ve known before.

ALLMUSIC: https://www.allmusic.com/album/silence-in-these-walls-mw0003092348

Michael Saulman