Lexie Rose – 20 Weeks

Lexie Rose – 20 Weeks

URL: https://www.lexierosemusic.com/

Seventeen year old singer/songwriter Lexie Rose is three years removed from her club debut and has grown exponentially during the intervening time. She’s worked with noted music figures like Grammy award winning producer Sheldon Gomberg and Max Allyn and the latest collection from her, produced by the latter, illustrates the growing influence of songwriters like Fiona Apple and Elliot Smith on her emerging artistry. There’s no question that her turn as a songwriter illuminates her personal life and needs, but these are songs that, likewise, can be enjoyed by listeners on their own merits. That accessibility is key to the success of her latest single “20 Weeks” and it also shows her growing ability to craft material that doesn’t just catch sparks on a recording but exhibits boundless promise as a live number too. Lexie Rose, despite her comparatively few years, emerges from this song as a commanding vocal and lyrical presence far beyond her years.

Her voice has genuine delicacy, but there’s undeniable musicality and soul accompanying those gentle qualities and it comes across quite vividly from the first. It’s quite impressive how she threads such an assortment of threads together so seamlessly and it perfectly complements the equally delicate arrangement. It’s primarily centered, musically, on the acoustic guitar and there’s just a slight hint of orchestration built into the arrangement that gives it a little more of a dramatic structure. She has canny instincts as a vocalist. In the context of “20 Weeks”, that means she knows when it’s the right time to back off and let the music carry the song and when there’s a time for bringing her skills to the fore. The essential subject at the heart of this song, longing, comes across strongly in Rose’s vocal.

The lyrics possess an obvious suggestion of the personal while still remaining instantly relatable for anyone encountering this song. We’ve all known a form of separation from someone we love or value and the pain it brings. Rose, obviously, places a great deal of importance on invoking atmospherics, but there’s certainly enough “meat” on the bones of these lyrics that the song would still be successful, albeit in a different way, stripped of its theatrical air. The instruments are surrounded with a bit of sparkle and layers of warmth that give Rose an excellent aural platform for performing. The song, thankfully, doesn’t over-extend itself and the focus she brings to the performance and writing is the hallmark of a much more experienced performer, yet Rose sounds comfortable taking on this role and inhabits the song with a real presence. “20 Weeks” is the latest peak in a career that’s sure to experience many high points and this fantastic performer will undoubtedly expand her fan base with this release. Coming in on the ground floor, so to speak, of a rising star’s career is always a thrilling and desirable experience for music fans – she provides an increasingly rare opportunity for that to happen.

SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/lexierosesongs/20-weeks

Laura Dodero


URL: http://www.leitvox.com/

Straight from the hot sands of Miami comes a great new sound a mix of electronic synthwave music. His new Single “Gift” was released on October 10, 2017. Leitvox is a Miami based producer that works out of his studio in Wynwood. He has been producing music since 2013. He was originally from Mexico city. His first album was released almost three years ago and he never stopped evolving his unique sound. Since 2017 he has been in his new studio experimenting with various layering techniques perfecting and preparing his new work to be ready to be released to the public. His first EP “Fall From You” was released in 2012 and had opened to rave reviews in his home country of Mexico. This EP also served to form a foundation for some of his other works. “Floating Promises” which was released last year features his collaborations between Ilan Rubin of (Nine Inch Nails), Gavin Clark, James Griffith (Unkle), Nina Miranda (Smoke City), and Ana Karla Escobar. His Album “Floating Promises” has over nine tracks plus four bonus tracks which were originally remixes by musicians Ladytron, GusGus, Nortec, and Son Lux.

His newest EP single “Gift” is an amazing testament to his budding creative genius. It starts off with a delicately complex influence of classic electronic Nine Inch Nails sound. Just when you think you know where the song is going, it’s followed by the sultry sensual feminine voice of Emma Fox hitting a crescendo. It leads to electronic pander then the voice of Gavin Clark comes into a harmonization of voice and electronic instrumentation. After that then it slowly fades into an electronic bliss at the end. It doesn’t have the harsh metal tones so much as the industrial sound of Nine Inch Nails It has really subtle undertones which enhances and compliments the harmony of the piece which is pure poetry in sound.

Leitvox really takes electronic music to the next level with his new EP single “Gift”. His music it almost seems like a seamless blending of melodies and sound. I loved how he used the layering of the electronic synthwave sound and voice to create a perfect harmony of sound. It really leaves you wanting more. Leitvox really delivers a treasure of a piece of musical genius. Defiantly I am really excited to see what kind of works of pure genius they come up with next
If you love electronic sound with great vocals and harmonization Leitvox’s music single “Gift” is a wonderful work of musical genius. It’s worth checking out. It’s available now for download at Spotify, Apple Music, iTunes, and more. And if you love what he has done with his single “Gift” they also have two other albums out and available for download. “Fall From You” which has five songs “Transition”, “Fall From You”, “After Dark”, “Remains of the Sun”, and “The Road Not Taken”. This album is a little more techno mixed with industrial sounds and electronic instrumentation. Then there is his second album ” Floating Promises” which consists of fourteen songs a wide variety of styles from techno industrial to electronic pop. Very eclectic music with complex rhythms. They are both also available for download on Apple Music. So check them out it’s worth it.

SOUNDCLOUD: https://soundcloud.com/leitvox

Aura Stiers

Gina Clowes – True Colors

Gina Clowes – True Colors

FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/gina.clowes.7

Let’s have a cheer for artists skilled at pouring old wine into new bottles. Gina Clowes has made quite a name for herself as one of the best banjo players working in the Americana scene today thanks to her stellar work with Chris Jones and the Night Drivers. Her first solo album True Colors proves that she understands the form so well that she’s able to use it for her own purposes and isn’t restricted to performing pastoral invocations to a bygone past. There are a number of instrumentals on True Colors, but the lyrically driven material demonstrates that Clowes’ talents extend far past the merely musical. Those lyrics, however, complement the music to such an extent that it is quite clear they were composed with the arrangements in mind and Clowes’ surprising vocal talents means that they are delivered with maximum imagination. This is a worthwhile album for any bluegrass or Americana fan, but casual fans will likely enjoy it as well.

“Puppet Show” is an excellent introduction to the album and sports one of its finest lyrics. Clowes really sinks her teeth into this number and her phrasing is an absolute delight at key points during the performance. The claw hammer banjo employed in this arrangement, courtesy of Clowes’ brother Victor Furtado, duels nicely with Clowes’ chromatic style and the echoes of jazz and swing filling the song makes it deliciously musical. She draws from American history for inspiration on one of the album’s best instrumentals “Saylor’s Creek”. It begins on a predictably downcast note, but the mood turns more frantic as the tempo spikes and the wonderful performance given by the band will capture anyone’s attention. “True Colors”, the album’s title song, is meant as a quirky and loving paean from Clowes to her husband and succeeds spectacularly thanks to the chemistry generated by the musicians and an ideal arrangement for conveying such sentiments. The spiritual aspects of “Looking for Sunshine” are deeply connected to Clowes and she reflects that intimacy quite nicely in her vocal. Her vocal is strengthened further by some occasional harmony parts and the personal nature of the songwriting and performance will likely prompt listeners to invest even more of their attention into the track.

“For Better or For Worse” features a guest vocalist in Heather Berry Mabe and her voice is similar enough to Clowes’ own that some listeners might scarcely be able to tell the difference. Mabe’s singing doesn’t have the same ethereal potential of other songs on True Colors, but she has genuine emotive range that she puts to good use on this number. There’s a delightfully rambunctious sound to the instrumental track “Goodbye , Lianne” that restrains itself just enough for a positive effect. Malia Furtado’s fiddle playing is exemplary. There’s a gypsy-like quality to the swirling melodicism of “La Puerta Del Diablo” and Malia Furtado’s work on the fiddle is, once again, a glittering high point, but the rest of the band turns in remarkable performances as well. This is one of the most satisfying releases of 2017 from any artist, any genre. Gina Clowes has arrived in a big way with this debut and let’s hope there’s more to come from this major league talent.

YOU TUBE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LAR2-8LSr4c

Joshua Stryde

Donna Ulisse – Breakin’ Easy

Donna Ulisse – Breakin’ Easy

URL: http://www.donnaulisse.com/

Produced by bluegrass luminary Doyle Lawson, vocalist and songwriter Donna Ulisse’s latest album Breakin’ Easy finds this honored singer and songwriter tackling twelve country and bluegrass tunes well worth the attentions of her talent. She has a marvelous voice that’s technically accomplished and more than capable of getting under the skin of any lyric, but she’s equally blessed with an excellent ear that guides her efforts to tailor her performances as closely as possible to the musical ideas structuring each track. Lawson’s control booth duties guidance gives the material even greater clarity than it might otherwise possess – banjo, guitar, light percussion, mandolin, and piano weave vibrant and balanced musical narratives that give Ulisse the needed platform to win us over vocally. Ulisse’s voice never competes or works in counterpoint to the music; instead, she seems supernaturally tuned in to each song’s individual needs and has a steady presence that fills even the most traditional performances with their own distinct character.

“Without Trouble Please” makes for a great opener thanks to how it introduces her bluegrass, country, and even blues influences in one entertaining package. There’s exuberance in Ulisse’s voice that pushes back against the hard times and bad luck that the song depicts; in another singer’s hands, this would have likely manifested itself as a darker and direr number, but Ulisse surprises us for the first time on the first song. “Drive This Cold Out of Me” is a fine country flavored ballad that she shows the full range of her emotive gifts with – the way her voice plays off with the acoustic guitar and strains of slide snaking their way through the arrangement makes for wonderfully understated dramatics. There’s some lovely, melancholy fiddle adding to the melodic strengths of “A Little Past Lonely”, another tune in the country music weeper mode that Ulisse handles with just right balance of emotiveness and finesse. She doesn’t go after these retro minded tracks with even a hint of irony; instead, they are loving revamps that her confidence carries as if she were the first performer to try her hand at such a thing.

The pensive sensitivity of “Baby Back Again” benefits enormously from the harmony vocals that come in at crucial points and Ulisse carefully modulates her performance to make great use of the song’s natural musical high points. Fiddle returns as an important instrument on the track “Till I Finally Let Go” and is joined by some tasteful swaths of steel guitar. There are some bluegrass elements at work in the song, but this is a track with a much stronger connection to classic country. Another ballad –style tune comes with “Whatever Winter Brings” and the gradual unfolding of this tune is one of the more memorable moments near the conclusion of Breakin’ Easy. This isn’t a challenging musical affair – it’s all arranged quite nicely and there’s an organic inevitability to much of the album that will find favor with many – but it does break away from the typical downcast blues despair that so many think this sort of music commonly embraces. Donna Ulisse has turned in a great recording here and, building on her many prior acclaimed albums, solidifies her position as one of the finest artists working in Americana, Bluegrass and roots music today.

YOU TUBE: https://www.youtube.com/user/donnaulisse

Joshua Stryde

Romeo Dance Cheetah – Magnificent Man

Romeo Dance Cheetah – Magnificent Man

URL: https://romeodancecheetah.com/

You are forgiven if you assume Romeo Dance Cheetah isn’t entirely on the level. His satirical skills are so sharp that they obscure the serious talent driving the nine songs on his release Magnificent Man. The young performer, a Missouri native, grew up lip synching and making music videos heavily influenced vocally and in terms of presentation by performers such as Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury. His large YouTube subscriber base has been treated to a score of well produced videos both in a sketch comedy and musical vein and he surely garnered a larger following after his appearance on America’s Got Talent. Magnificent Man is likely the best possible representation of Romeo Dance Cheetah’s distinct talents and it isn’t any sort of puffery to pronounce it much different from anything else you’ll hear today. Rather than seeming to be limited by the nature of his act, Romeo Dance Cheetah’s future looks limitless – his songwriting imagination and performing excellence are so developed that there’s literally no subject out of his reach.

Cheetah really excels at invoking echoes of 1980’s-early 90’s AOR or arena rock. It has a harder edge than what one might have heard during its heyday, a concession to modern sensibilities perhaps, but the drum sound and production style have clearly studied the sound architecture of that area quite thoroughly. “Magnificent Man” sounds like a modern revamping of that sound with an individual style and energy that could belong to no one else. His unabashed preening and the exuberance of his vocal make this one of the album’s more entertaining experiences. Another of the album’s marquee numbers is “35 Year Olds Dancin’ maintains the same accessible sound defining the best tracks on Magnificent Man and he builds his vocal with such naturalness and relish that it makes the lyrics even more colorful and lively. “The Air Guitar Song” and “Gone With the Wind” show off two distinctly theatrical sides of their musical character – the former apes the style of arena rock anthems while filling it with Cheetah’s particular character and the latter is a respectful blues-like parody that benefits from one of Cheetah’s best vocal performances.

There’s more evidence of his songwriting prowess coming with “1970’s Disco King” and the song construction is even more of a highlight than usual thanks to the union of electric and acoustic guitars. “Laser Beam Makeup” definitely goes further afield lyrically than any song to this point on Magnificent Man and the sheer oddity of his observations gleans all the normalcy it can from his smirking, focused vocal. “Live the Dream” could scarcely sound more different. This, in some ways, is the most conventional musical and lyrical moment on the album but rings out with the same sort of heart defining his more comical efforts. The piano playing and vocal alike reveal a side to Cheetah’s talents only hinted at on the earlier songs There’s a little something here for everyone and, despite his odder inclinations, Romeo Dance Cheetah has a remarkably likeable, if unconventional, approach to mainstream pop and rock.

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

Joshua Stryde

Jack Massic – Let’s Go Away

Jack Massic – Let’s Go Away

URL: https://www.jackmassic.com/

Based out of the Miami area, Jack Massic has enjoyed a steady stream of hit singles since his 2016 emergence with the song “Gravity”. His latest single “Let’s Go Away” promises to propel this Latin songwriter to a previously undreamt of level both commercially and artistically, in no small part thanks to contributions from guest vocalist Julia Ross. Ross worked for seven years as a backing vocalist for Miley Cyrus and a solo artist in her own right who brings her own strong identity to this song. The mix of musical styles powering this track certainly keeps things consistently interesting – the tropical house strands in his music seamlessly weave with the dance hall aspects and come off as an unified performance with style and substance alike. Jack Massic’s career trajectory has trended sharply upward and there’s no reason his ascent will slow thanks to this stunning new release.

Massic’s songwriting invokes a delicate magic, uncluttered yet full, and his touch with unobtrusive percussion that, nonetheless, gives listener’s a clear pulse for the song is a skill few of his contemporaries possess in such a way. The song doesn’t attempt sticking around to test the audience’s patience and, as a result, has a structure that adheres to conventionality while still sounding fresh and original. It’s something to hear how well Massic brings together an array of instrumental voices yet never risks the sound becoming too dense or heavy handed. Instead, “Let’s Go Away” maintains a light touch throughout the duration of the song. It’s well in keeping with the song’s subject matter which isn’t so much about relocation as it is intimacy – wanting something that the speaker in the song can share alone with a loved one, far from the pressing issues and trials weighing on all lives.

Julia Ross’ vocal is the crowning moment of the song that makes it all more than the sum of its individual parts. The cohesiveness her voice gives to the song at large is inestimable because she gives each line such consistency that it’s difficult to imagine the song shorn of her vocals. Instead, she enhances the song’s warm gossamer glow even more and the emotive presence she provides the words makes them seem like much more than pure conversational song lyrics. She gives them a profoundly human quality that equates with a cry from the heart in musical form. She may be a young singer, but Ross has the veteran instinct to shape her vocal around the musical arrangement and never attempts to obscure the rich accompaniment she’s receiving throughout the recording. “Let’s Go Away” is filled with effervescent musical skill and a truly yearning spirit that will touch and inspire anyone with an open mind to its charms. Jack Massic’s latest foray proves just as successful as its predecessors while showing his continued growth as a writer.

SPOTIFY: https://open.spotify.com/album/6O5W37TvaJBrrMzMceM6tb

Jason Hillenburg

Karen Littman – The Dream of Life: Set Yourself Free

Karen Littman – The Dream of Life: Set Yourself Free

URL: https://www.karenlittman.com/

Karen Littman’s debut album is the long delayed result of a lifetime’s passion. She has been writing songs since early in life and that long apprenticeship informs every note and word of the sixteen songs included on her album The Dream of Life: Set Yourself Free. Her songs are musical documents that, since her earliest efforts, have always sought to communicate with listeners and share the struggles of living in a way that establishes community and common bonds. The San Francisco Bay area resident works alongside some top flight collaborators like engineer and producer Joel Jaffe to realize her artistic vision for this release and its combination of poetically inspired lyrical musings, melodic skills, and vocal talents comes together to offer listeners a hopeful and ultimately life-affirming collection. Sixteen songs may seem a little excessive, but it gives listeners a chance to explore the full breadth of her musical skills.

The opening number “Where Is Home” has a spartan musical arrangement primarily defined by sparkling piano and synthesizer lines, but it picks up at key points bringing authoritative drumming, fiery guitars, and impassioned vocals into play. The disparate elements coming together on this track never miss and sound utterly seamless. “Lost and Found of Life” might seem like a weighty title, but it’s a much less cluttered number than the opener and forsakes the rock posturing for a much more intimate recording. Piano means a lot to the songwriting on this album and few tracks are more affected by its presence than this one. Littman’s vocal is nearly counterpointed by some occasional strings and the lyrical bent to her piano playing. The hypnotic quality to the piano playing opening “Who Am I” is a feeling reinforced by the hazy, spectral quality Littman’s voice takes on thanks to post production effects. The ebb and flow of the song’s tempo seems natural for its dramatic lyric and nearly crystalline vocal performance. The crowning touch for the vocals is the inclusion of some ethereal, but otherwise unobtrusive, backing vocals.

“Choosing Love or Fear” has a strong guitar presence, but this is a straight up R&B number in the hands of Littman and she offers up a stunningly soulful vocal. Her lyrical acumen is an obvious strength from the beginning and this song certainly excels in that department as well. Her penchant for memorable song title continues with “Perfection Is Not My Friend” and opens with quite a memorable first line. The stylish manner of this track makes its brief length all the more satisfying and there’s, perhaps, never a heavy handed quality to the lyric thanks to her playful treatment of the subject matter. It’s one of the album’s shortest tracks, but meaningful. The album’s nominal title cut “The Dream of Life” maintains a straight line of attack for its nearly three minute running time and gives itself over to the pop/classical influences making their way into Littman’s artistic arsenal. This is a real stunner that sounds like decades plus worth of creativity emerging in one convincing blast, but there’s no signal that she’s creatively spent herself with this effort. We can only hope that Karen Littman follows up this near perfect effort with something new in the future as there is, literally, no one writing and recording songs today quite like hers.

I-TUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-dream-of-life-set-yourself-free/id1285123789

Daniel Boyer

The Commotions – Volume II

The Commotions – Volume II

URL: https://thecommotionsband.com/

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

The Commotions are the sort of band that’s a dying breed these days. The eleven member band hails from Ottawa, Canada and their second release expands mightily from the promise of their debut while still holding true to the musical vision laid out on that initial offering. This isn’t merely some expertly dispatched pastiche from talented technicians – it’s obvious, both vocally and musically, how the participants involved with the writing and recording of this release embrace the tropes of R&B, soul, funk, and blues while still desiring to bring something of themselves into those forms. It makes for a compelling listen. This isn’t a band afraid of taking chances either and that’s reflected in their willingness to bring substantive lyrical content to a musical form that, historically, has often treated that facet of a song’s presentation as a throw away moment or mere filler. The Commotions, thankfully, write fully rounded songs and the twelve tracks on Volume II bear ample evidence of that.

“Good Enough” makes for a blazing beginning to the album and Rebecca Noelle’s singing has every bit as much muscle as anything the band conjures musically. The Commotions’ horn section occupy a prominent and vibrant role in the mix for this song, but the rhythm section of bassist Ken Seeley and drummer Jeff Asselin play a clear role in making this the sort of first song that Volume II deserves and needs. “Bad Girl” allows David Gaw’s guitar a little bigger of a presence in the instrumental pie, but it’s never so much that it takes precedence over other elements of the song. One of the album’s more challenging numbers comes with “Masquerade” and one of the biggest influences on how this tune turns out is a powerful sax run and a light woo wop sound. It takes a different turn than many of the cuts on Volume II, yet it never sounds too different than the surrounding tracks. The Commotions continue their hot ride with the songs “Let Me Kiss You, Baby” and “Too Little, Too Late” thanks, in significant part, to the power of the chorus in each track. The former is the better of the two in the physical way it meets the listeners and the production really elevates it several notches with its “hot” sound. “Too Little, Too Late” breezes past listeners with a lot of muscular flash and the brassy bounce in this song is particularly effective.

Second vocalist Jeff Rogers really excels with Volume 2’s lone ballad “Loving You”. Despite the obvious nod to a more vulnerable side of the band’s songwriting, the same confidence defining the other songs comes through on this track as well. “Take a Chance” features an arrangement that plays around some with the tempo some, but settles for the most part into a straight forward, head down groove that makes for a great second to last song. The band ends Volume II with “Come Clean”, a smoky funk and blues infused curtain closer with a sultry Noelle vocal that matches up well with it. Volume II from this glorious band more than builds on the promise heard with their first release; it blows it up exponentially and hits home. This is a memorable platter of tunes and playing that’s difficult to forget.

RELATED ARTICLE: https://www.israbox.one/3137597248-the-commotions-volume-ii-2017.html

Pamela Bellmore

Dynamos – Shake, Rattle, and Roll

Dynamos – Shake, Rattle, and Roll

URL: http://www.dynamosmusic.com/

“Shake, Rattle, and Roll” brings listeners a rampaging platter of rock music that’s in short supply these days and it’s delivered with polish and finesse as well. Dynamos, a five member outfit based out of the Los Angeles area, The new single follows their debut recording, an EP entitled Cold Comfort, and shows a band that’s literally growing exponentially with each new visit to the recording studio. The song title implies that this might be some retro throwback, but it’s anything but. “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” is presented with all of the dynamics one would expect from a band so named as well as a wallop of soul that few other acts could match. Lead singer Nadia Elmistikawy comes across as a force of nature over much of this song, but she’s a lot more than just some powerful pipes – there’s technique galore in what she does and hits on some genuinely emotive moments in the song.

It’s truly an impressive performance. Elmistikawy doesn’t dominate the song, but she clearly leads the way by giving a voice to the mood conjured by the instrumental performances and lyrical content. Her range allows her to follow a similar dynamic line to the musical performance – she matches all of the crescendos, the dips in intensity, and the ferocious bite that they are able to bring to bear without once ever betraying a hint of strain or self-indulgence. Her phrasing has dramatic value that we appreciate in all great songs, regardless of genre. Elmistikawy gets inside of this deceptively simple and straight-forward lyric with the skill of a highly musical actress and the content ends up sounding like something ripped straight from her personal life. Moreover, and perhaps her greatest achievement, but she shows a clear instinct for when she shouldn’t sing and, instead, let the music do the talking instead.

The music speaks well for itself – for sure. The two guitar attack of lead player Jacob Mayeda and second guitarist Carlos Barrea takes a while to fully announce their presence, but they influence the track from the start and never relinquish their hold on the mix. They are ably supported by a rhythm section of drummer Ian Nakazwa and bassist Nick Schaadt. Schaadt, in particular, strikes down hard on a delicious bass groove that, in concert with Nakazwa, gives the song so much of its powerful swing. There’s an ample amount of power coming from the four players as well. Mayeda switches up nicely from blistering, blues-infued lead lines into straight ahead power chords and meaty barre chords for a well-rounded six string attack while rhythm guitarist Barrea gives him an layered foundation to work that sort of magic. “Shake, Rattle, and Roll” continues the memorable work listeners found on the EP Cold Comfort and expands Dynamos’ reach into the modern music world. This is a band that will seduce and bulldoze you at the same time – but always with a plethora of style.

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/dynamosmusic/

Shannon Cowden

Mark Newman – When I Aim My Gun

Mark Newman – When I Aim My Gun

URL: http://www.marknewman.us/

The soulful delivery of “When I Aim My Gun” strikes quite a contrast with its aching lyric about America’s often bloody love affair with firearms and the mentality that, clearly in Newman’s eyes, seems to drive some of its most extreme adherents. Make no mistake, however – this isn’t some musically dry piece serving merely as a vehicle for Newman to preach his political beliefs. This is a very human track, stylish, and has a nice aura of warmth thanks to the playing excellence involved and focused production that helps both Newman and the song deliver the goods for listeners. It’s quite pleasing to hear how direct this song is, yet notice the enormous skill that goes into making it come together. “When I Aim My Gun” goes after some thorny subject matter, but Newman obviously knows how to package it in such a way that it transcends any difficulties.

Guitar and organ really make this track go musically. Mark Newman’s six string work as the sort of assured touch you’d expect from a seasoned professional, but it doesn’t merely hit its marks. Newman’s playing acts as the equivalent of a second vocalist for the song and unwinds with the same warm, organic nuance we hear from Newman’s singing. He has a voice burnished by experience and technique alike and invests the characters and scenarios depicted in the lyrics with more drama than they already contain. The guitar though makes for a lovely choice of lead instruments and finds an excellent partner in organ playing equally adept at leading the way as well as filling in the verses with flashes of vivid color. Everything stays tasteful however. This is an instrumental vision that doesn’t wallow in excess and, instead, zeroes in serving the song before all else.

The song’s lyrics are structured around a chorus focused on voice and verses fixed on delivering an accompanying narrative. Newman obviously has a well developed songwriting sense that allows him to use different approaches within one tune without it ever sounding disjointed or ill fitting – it’s this sort of talent that allows him to push beyond mere sermonizing in his songs and touch the human experience behind some often very heavy issues. He never uses a word too many, much his approach to the musical half of songwriting, and those words he selects drive straight to the heart of the subject without any sideshows or self-indulgent attempts at poetic flourishes. “When I Aim My Gun” is the latest success story in an increasingly length discography full of excellence. Mark Newman, after a long career, hasn’t ever stopped growing either and songs like this testify to an artist who continues to be tightly engaged with the world around him. This isn’t songwriting or music that stays above the fray and aspires to pure entertainment; it uses a popular medium to make an important statement about the world we live in and one man’s reaction to it.

I-TUNES: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/brussells-ep/id978060700

Shannon Cowden