Saturday, September 27, 2014

CD Review - Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper - ON DOWN THE LINE

Image635474073247562079Michael Cleveland is a nine time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Assn. (IBMA) Fiddle Player of the Year Award, and he’s up for it AGAIN in 2014! Listen to his newest CD, “ON DOWN THE LINE,” and you’ll know why in an instant!

A lot of fancy words get bandied around to describe his playing, all true, I must say, but…. in my humble opinion, what Michael has, in ample supply, is plain old simple FEEL! Feel can change with the tempo, the time signature, the genre of the song and a thousand other intangible aspects. For an instrumentalist to format his playing to enhance a good SONG, and all of a good song’s many elements, and to show that specific song off as beautifully as it needs and deserves to be, THAT is a musician being true to who he is. Cleveland puts his soul and passion into making the song the star. Let’s face it, the listener doesn’t always remember the person singing or playing the song, but…. they always remember the song, and the song is the final winner of every popularity contest. From what I’ve heard of Michael Cleveland, his FEEL is his strongest asset. There is simply no weakness in his playing, just turn him loose on anything, and he will make it shine, knowing exactly what to play, or, more importantly, what not to play. Michael can be the best friend a good song ever had.

Friday, September 26, 2014

CD Review - The Roys - THE VIEW

Image635473061284243040Lee and Elaine Roy are a brother-sister duo that largely features their considerable vocal and songwriting talents. Both have beautiful voices that enmesh nicely with each other. Elaine plays guitar and Lee plays mandolin and they are well-supported on this effort by Daniel Patrick on banjo and reso guitar, Clint White on fiddle and Erik Alvar on bass.

The View offers up eleven original cuts, including one instrumental, with the title cut sharing writing credit with longtime Country Music luminary, Bill Anderson. Their overall presentation on The View is well within the boundaries of what most would consider ‘Bluegrass,’ though they probably wouldn’t be characterized as “traditional” Bluegrass by most enthusiasts.

Elaine’s voice is ever-so-slightly salty, but gilded: smooth and clear with character and presence. She’s easy to listen to and well establishes her ability with fine lead-vocal work on the opening cut, No More Lonely, as well as on No More Tears (one of my favorites), Sometimes (a tribute to adults dealing with dementia-afflicted loved ones), Mended Wings and The View.

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