Reviews 07-19-2008  

Music Reviews 


Flavors of Entanglement

by Alanis Morissette

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Alanis had slipped to the back burner for me over the past few releases with nothing that really grabbed my attention and made me want to listent to her songs over and over again. It's not that I disliked her music over the past few years it's just that time being such a limited commodity I had other music that I spent my time listening to and enjoying. I knew that she had a new CD close to being released but I hadn't gone looking for details quite yet. I came across the 1st single Undeneath in the form of a video on Yahoo and decided that it was worth checking into to see if there were anymore samples out there that I could listen to. I was able to find Citizen of the Planet and Straitjacket and after hearing those I was pretty much sold on the music. The one thing that connected each of the songs was music that created a strong foundation and lyrics that brought to mind the Alanis I knew back when I first picked up her Jagged Little Pill CD. I particularly enjoyed Straitjacket with its very sharp and pointed observations about relationships and the problems that are inherent in any human interaction. Some were worried that Guy Sigsworth's techno influences would do damage to the rock edged Alanis' visions but that is hardly the case. The songs have a definite techno flavor to them but Alanis is still the center and the focus of each song. Her voice and her lyrics are what  you listen to each song for and the beats only add to that attraction.

Having spent a few weeks listening to this new CD I definitely would rank this as one of my current favorites. It has rarely left my car CD player for the last week. Out of 11 songs I like 10 of them enough to hear them repeatedly. The only weak link that I can find is a song called Not as We and in my mind at least it just doesn't fit very well with the rest of the songs in this package. The music on Flavors of Entanglement seems to lean towards a positive outlook on life but a realistic one to be sure. It looks at the good things we can find in our lives if we work on changing ourselves before we head out into the world with nothing but anger pouring out of our souls. I guess that is what drew me to the CD in the first place because Underneath was the first thing that I heard on this collection.

It also give us a look at what things should be in this world with the opening song called Citizen of the Planet. It speaks of what this planet might be like if everyone was fully aware of what it means to be a part of a global community that is interdependent on one another. I found the song to be a great what if...for the planet and all that live on this fragile globe we call home. I have become very fond of Tapes, In Praise of the Vulnerable Man and the last song on the CD called Incomplete which looks at life through the lens that we will never be complete while we are here on this earth. It is a song that recognizes that we are all "ever unfolding, ever expanding, ever adventurous and torturous but never done." It is a very positive statement to end this CD by simply urging everyone to enjoy the journey and understand that you will never be complete here because there is always a new horizon and a new goal that lay just beyond your reach. But the message is that we were never meant to reach completion in this life because the journey is the thing. Good song with a great message.

If you had been put off by what you had heard over the past few years from Alanis you owe it to yourself to pick up a copy of Flavors of Entaglement in your chosen format and get reaquainted with someone who continues to grow and change along with the rest of us. There has been a 4 year gap since her last studio release but as far as I'm concerned the time was well spent getting back in touch with the basics of what made Jagged Little Pill such a success. No one wanted to hear Jagged Little Pill II but they did want to see the sensibilities that made that CD resonate with so many fans and with her new CD she has stepped up to the plate and delivered once again.While you may not like the same things that I do you will find enough here to make it worth your while to buy your own copy right away. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Michael Foster editor of CEV


Volume 1

by Bootleg Tonic

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Bootleg Tonic is the name of this band and the the CD title is a simple Vol. 1 which I hope means that there will be a Vol. 2, a Vol. 3 and so on. Bootleg Tonic is the unlikely pairing of Georgiana Trent and Eran Taviv. You might ask why this would be considered an unusual pairing but with Georgiana coming out of Texas and Eran from Tel Aviv, Israel it becomes more apparent that we are dealing with opposite sides of the globe here. And yet the two of them mesh like hands in a snug fitting pair of gloves. Eran's bluesy guitar playing is a perfect compliment to Georgiana's voice that is very delicate starting out but takes front and center stage when she belts out the lyrics to many of these songs.  

The CD also offers a couple of choice guest appearances of Ivan Neville on the B-3 organ and drummer Jerry Krenach. If there is one thing that describes the music you will find when you crack open this CD it is that the songs are focused on the blues and each one tells a story that will hold your attention from track 1 right through to track 11. Georgiana's voice is what holds your attention throughout this CD and rightly so. This is not to say that Eran's guitar doesn't shine through as it backs up Georgiana's voice but it is that voice that carries Bootleg Tonic to new heights and makes the whole project shine.  

The music and arrangements are all in agreement with what I've said above and has been kept simple and laid back so that the voice has a perfect palette to paint upon. After spinning the disc a few times now I am hard pressed to pick out one song that I would call a favorite as all of them are equally impressive and have qualities that make you want to listen to them again and again. I guess as a little harder edged tune I would have to say that Sometimes I Love You jumps out at me and allows both Georgiana and Eran to show off what they do best as equal parts of the duo Bootleg Tonic.  

The CD ends with a song called Please Baby that begins with Georgiana's voice just floating there all by itself with no instruments and it sends shivers down your back as she plaintively asks her love to not walk away. The song builds from this simple beginning but the haunting stillness of just her voice will stick with you. A fitting end to the CD and something to leave you wanting more. At that point it is very simple to hit the replay button and have another go around with Bootleg Tonic. I found the CD as a whole to be well executed, well produced and all of the band very tightly knit when it came to delivering the goods on these 11 tracks. There is always room for growth regardless of how good you are right now so it will be interesting to see what this duo does next and to see if they will build upon this impressive debut effort. Bravo for putting out a product that showcases your joint talents but at the same time entertains the listeners by pulling them into stories that pour out your emotions through lyrics, voice and musicianship. CEV recommended.

Reviewed by Michael Foster editor of CEV


At the Root

by Leah Randazzo

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When I first received this CD in the mail the cover photo was the first thing that caught my eye. I tend to make a quick judgement of the type of music I might hear by making an initial evaluation of the photograph or the art work on the cover. Leah's face is the only thing you will see and that face does not necessarily give you an indication of the voice that will greet your ears once you pop the disc into your CD player. What you will discover is that Leah has a strong soulful voice that is at once smooth and silky when it wants to be and powerful and comanding as the tempo and the beat of the songs change.  

At the Root is the name of the CD and it is a combination of R&B, blues and some out right jazzy pieces all neatly packaged in this 10 song set. If anything you will find out about the strong voice that comes out of your speakers with the very first track which is called My Weapon and lo and behold her weapon is not a gun but her voice. Leah does understand at least that is what I suspect as I listen to these lyrics that her voice is not exactly what people expect when they see her face. So when they finally get a chance to listen to her sing they are blown away by what she is able to achieve.  

 The horns  and the rhythm section of her backing band are tight and the recording on the tracks is very solid which compliments her singing instead of drawing attention away from it by having a band that is not up to her level of professionalism. Most of the time the songs are funking right along and when you hit one of the tunes that slows it down it is like hitting the brakes while you are going 60 miles an hour. That is the feeling you get when you hit track 3 and Leah slams on the brakes while you slide into a sultry and silky blues tinged piece of music called Passes Me By. One of those classic songs with a little drum in the background and a guitar oozing around you making you think of a smokey blues bar with a spotlight on the female singer on the stage with her face close to the mic while her voice drifts out to the audience. One of my favorites by the way. Leah's voice pours over you and surrounds you with an atmosphere so thick that you can almost touch it.  

All in all I would say that Leah has done a fine job at choosing/writing the material that is presented on At the Root and the songs spotlight her voice but gives plenty of room to the band that backs her which includes a nice horn section and good jazz guitarist. I am happy to say that her debut CD is a great start for this 22 year old composer singer and would make a nice addition to your collection if you enjoy the female jazz singers of old which is what Leah Randazzo reminds you of as you listen to her songs. Given that Leah is in her early 20's I am expecting her to be around quite a number of years and look forward to watching her grow and finding out how much further her "lethal" weapon of a voice will take her. CEV recommended.

Reviewed by Michael Foster editor of CEV


A New Kind of Love

by Robin Spielberg

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“A New Kind of Love” is Robin Spielberg’s first release of new original material in eight years, and it was definitely worth the wait! With fifteen albums to her credit, Spielberg has matured gracefully both as an artist and as a woman who has experienced vast ups and downs in her life and has expressed many of them via her music. Spielberg has been one of my favorite artists since we first bumped into each other on the internet sometime around 1995, and I do believe this is her best album to date. Anyone who has seen Spielberg perform in concert knows that the stories behind her music are almost as big a part of the concert as the music itself, giving insight into the individual pieces as well as into the artist herself - truly a human being like the rest of us with a family, a garden, pets, love, pain, joy, memories, and all that makes up a life well-lived. Spielberg’s liner notes also tell the stories behind the music, and although they are much briefer than the stories told live, they offer vivid pictures of how the music was inspired. AND, Spielberg is an amazing pianist who puts heart and soul into her music, communicating a wide range of emotions to the listener. Most of the CD is on the quiet side, allowing it to be in the background, but this is music that needs to be savored again and again to be fully appreciated. 

All of the pieces are excellent, but I have some favorites. “A Walk Between The Raindrops” comes from a charming recollection of wondering as a child why her father never got wet on rainy days. His reply to her was that he just walked between the raindrops and that he’d show her how one day, creating many mysterious images. The music is fluid and graceful and yet suggests the falling of raindrops. “The Orange Fox Waits” is a tender love song for a beloved family cat who sadly passed away the day after the song was recorded. “This Busy Life” reminds me a bit of one of my other favorites of Spielberg’s pieces, “The Nature of Time.” Full of the energy of a fast-paced life, it also exudes joy and exhilaration rather than stress. A calm interlude in the middle tells of the peace of sitting at the piano, letting everything else go for a time. This should become a Spielberg classic! Robin has done several concert tours in Korea, and has included two popular Korean tunes that have her own special treatment. “Picking Flowers” is another classic Spielberg piece. If you know anything about Spielberg, you know that she absolutely loves her garden. This little piece spills over with joy and sunshine. The title track is about being comfortable being alone and also about the camaraderie of friends. Thoughtful and introspective, it’s a gorgeous piece. “Seeing You Seeing Me” is a loving tribute to a longtime best friend who is always there, no matter what. The CD closes with “It’s All Just As Well,” a piece I adore. It’s a bluesy piece that tells of acceptance and letting go of past dreams and ambitions, and is a great close to a great album. Brava, Robin!  

I’m sure “A New Kind of Love” is going to be garnering a lot of attention, so pick up a copy and ENJOY! It’s available from www.robinspielberg.com, amazon.com, and iTunes.

Reviewed by Kathy Parsons  of MainlyPiano.com for CEV (used with permission)