Working with the talented Chicago, IL-based producer Brian Deck (Modest Mouse, Iron & Wine), Nevada singer/songwriter Liam Kyle Cahill is on just the right track to become a force to be reckoned with. Dirt on a Diamond is his second studio album, containing ten original songs (eleven overall if you count the acoustic rendition of “Love You to Life”). Cahill’s discography overall is summed up best by his Bandcamp statement, which reads, “Imagine Mumford & Sons in a bar room brawl with Bob Dylan at a punk rock concert-- that’s my sound.” However, this sophomore release goes in a slightly different direction.
Fusing country and bluegrass with Americana, folk, and traces of alternative rock, Dirt on a Diamond “serves as a tribute to the many faces and stories Cahill has encountered on his travels throughout the U.S.” Deck engineered and produced the album at SHIRK Studios and mixed it at Studio Maximus, both of which are of course located in Chicago. Lyrically, it paints a vivid picture of life, love and loss, and it serves as a heartfelt tribute to all the faces and stories that Cahill has encountered while traveling across the U.S.
Cahill starts off his new LP with what’s perhaps the most sonically shocking cut, “That Grave.” This sounds much darker than anything that comes after it, which isn’t to say that it’s the best, but its foreboding atmosphere will suck you in. For some reason, I can hear a band such as R.E.M. cover this. With plenty of raw charisma and amplifiers, “Come Hell or Heartbreak” comes storming in. “Everyone’s so scared to change / I’m scared not to,” Cahill sings in his higher register. This is where Deck’s production and mixing chops are showcased best, and I must say, I really enjoyed this one!
“Follow the Stars” and “Love You to Life,” the only two explicit songs on here, come next. The former is yearning in its lyrical messages whereas the latter lies more on the light-hearted side. With “Love You to Life” of course being a play off of “Love you to death,” I was expecting it to sound corny, but not so much in an annoying way as in an amusing way. Those expectations were lived up to. Both this and its acoustic version prominently feature banjo playing and strings to spice up its arrangement of guitars, bass and drums. In other words, it’s a terrific fusion of bluegrass and folk rock.
“Your Curable Sadness” follows. This one reminds me very much of Matchbox Twenty, in part because of its build from a slow-dance verse to a livelier chorus. Again, it’s evidence of Cahill’s burgeoning talent. We dip back into the bluegrass side of this project with “On the Road,” where the rapid strumming of a banjo conjures up vivid memories of long road trips.
While I’m not exactly a country fan, I can clearly tell that a song like “Music Money & Love” is meant to be played on country radio (“Music, money and love / On my best nights I make all three”). Change up the instrumentation here and there, give it some more polish, and it very well could be. However, it’s still missing a credit for the woman singing backing vocals on the chorus. “Nothing at All” again sounds like a recently unearthed Matchbox Twenty cut (the similarities between Cahill and Rob Thomas as vocalists are uncanny), and is all the better for it.
Lastly, Cahill treats us to the last two original songs before ending with the de facto closer. “Reno,” a Wild West-tinged tribute to the titular city, is a decent slow burn of a song, but I see why he felt like he had to put one last song (an acoustic version of “Love You to Life”) on the record after “Sink or Swim” because unfortunately, “Sink or Swim” chooses to sink. I was hoping for more with a title like that, but it feels limp and underwritten. A more recognizable melody would have helped this a fair bit.
Still, though, nine out of eleven ain’t all that bad, and the album itself has very high production values! Listen to Dirt on a Diamond if you need to scratch your Americana-rooted singer/songwriter itch because I highly recommend this.
I was under the impression that Nath McLean was one guy but it turns out to be a duo from London. The band recently released Batteries which is an eleven-song album. They mention “Batteries sounds like a journey back to the days of ’90s radio pop-rock with a spoonful of grunge for good measure (yes, grunge!). Drawing strength from inspirations such as REM, Pearl Jam, Springsteen and Buffalo Tom.” I agree with the ’90s part as I was alive and well in that decade listening to music all day long. One thing I would add is that the band does flirt with more elements of punk. The genres are fairly varied from song to song but the ’90s aesthetic does seem to maintain throughout the album.
They get moving with “I Am Julian” which is one of the more grunge based songs. The song is full of heavy riffs and catchy melodies. One thing I did notice is that the verse did sound a bit more grunge than the chorus. I was impressed with the delivery and felt this was a great way to start the album.
“Too Much Communication” is under two-minutes long and I would argue this song has more in common with ’70s punk in the spirit of the Sex Pistols, The Ramones and Minutemen. It’s a killer song. I loved the vocals and blaring guitar solo. The band mentions R.E.M and I would say “Old Advice” was the first song that felt heavily aligned with them. This song is pure ’90s, especially that chorus. The song would have been on heavy rotation in MTV back in the day.
They have more success with “Five Letter Word” which is a fun song and also a very single worthy tune. There’s a hint of Americana here especially on the chorus. They hit on a very well done emotive ballad with “Plenty” while “Stealing Life” has this unique blend of grunge and felt like there was some southern rock in there as well.
The grunge continues but more in the spirit of Pearl Jam with “And Now For Something Sinister.” I loved the energized flavor of “You Only Die Twice” which again hits upon some Americana flavor. The album moves forward with “Ghost In My Room” and the dance worthy “Line Your Pockets” which has some elements of post-punk and a wonderful syncopated energy. They close with the title track “Batteries” and the vocalist does sound a bit like Eddie Vedder on this song.
As a fan of ’90s music I can say this is a very good album. It’s nostalgic and leans on those influences while still forming a signature sound. The band apparently did all the production and engineering DIY which sounds quite good, so more kudos there. There’s a lot to appreciate here. Take a listen.
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Toronto’s Yound call themselves a “cosmic rock group” that were formed in a basement in Grimsby, Ontario “as a means to work through the emotions of the lockdown.” Their debut album is the self-titled Yound, which they describe as “an introspective journey of dramatic swells and cathartic releases. Booming drums, chest-rattling bass, soaring guitars and heady lyricism come together to form Yound’s dark aesthetic.”
The band members are Dave Hostetter (vocals), Alex Woolaver (guitar), Chris Masson (drums) and Mark “Kitty” Zuccato (bass). They describe this album as “five polished studio recordings paired with two looser live-off-the-floor cuts, showcasing Yound’s diverse sound and approach to music making.” They compare their music to Jim Morrison (The Doors), Black Sabbath, Leonard Cohen, Godspeed You Black Emperor, White Stripes, and Patti Smith. Recording took place at Grayson Music in Toronto on Pro Tools, with the first live pass reserved for vocals, guitar and drums. Editing, mixing and mastering was by drummer Chris Masson.
I have a close friend who plays keyboards in one of the best Doors tribute bands in Los Angeles. When I see them live, I know I’m not seeing the real Jim Morrison onstage, but that shamanistic attitude within the lead singer’s performance and the ritualistic pageantry of those songs always teleports me into that other-world headspace. Singer Dave Hostetter is not “doing” Jim Morrison in the strictest sense, but he’s clearly feeding off that same energy and I got buzzed in that same way listening to him.
“Realm of You” starts with Spanish-style electric guitar, similar to the classic band Love. Simple and dirge-like, the band takes its time setting its ghostly, vaguely sinister stage. The guitar carries a lot of the weight, which makes sense knowing that guitar and drums were laid down first, upon which Hostetter begins to slowly recite, sing and pontificate. Though he’s got Jimbo’s attitude, on this track Hostetter reminds me of scenester Kim Fowley in one of his darker incarnations. Structurally the track recalls early Patti Smith. The song runs close to eight minutes, and concludes with a classic rock descending motif like Cream’s “White Room.”
“Falling” has a similar sound to the previous track, though Hostetter’s poetry is even darker, almost like Black Mass incantations. “Oh Superman! In Lucifer!” Musically the band follows more of a Black Sabbath template, which is certainly appropriate. “Mushrooms” starts with surprisingly tender guitar trills with lots of reverb. Hostetter’s vocals are more like movie narration, though it might be a horror movie you’re afraid to watch. “People make love on the streets / Mushrooms make love to the corpses they turn into brains.” Eventually the simple guitar chords take on the kind of jazz flavor that Doors guitarist Robby Krieger is famous for, including a middle section where the notes seem to be searching for a lost melody.
Based on the title of the two-minute track “2020: The Man on the Internet (Interlude)” I was expecting a short instrumental, but it was here that I realized who Hostetter really sounds like: Denver’s Peter Tonks, a longtime musical gadfly with his band Cowtown who’s known for just this kind of Dylan-Morrison-Lou Reed style poetry set to music. It’s an acquired taste but one that’s hard to shake once you get it.
“Holy Lights” is the one song with a true hard rock structure, though Hostetter’s continued ranting of “Holy lights light up” really sounds like “Who’d I sign up?” which works just as well for me! Hostetter really digs into this one, as evidence by his increasingly frantic speech-singing that soon reveals hoarse and ripped vocal chords in a sea of endless reverb. Musically this one gets almost Hendrix-crazy toward the end.
The final two tracks both come from “The Grimsby Sessions” that the band says were exploratory jams to gather song ideas. As such they are essentially “bonus tracks” though that’s maybe a bit early for a brand new band! “Drywall” is an uncredited remake of Link Wray’s “The Rumble” while Hostetter creates a full-throated performance out of an angry letter or journal entry about - I kid you not - floor tiles not matching the drywall patterns! It’s a wild journey but maybe meant just for hardcore fans of the group. It also features one of the widest reverbs I’ve ever heard. The second Grimsby session is called “Final Story” which features a mellow, cyclical guitar pattern over which Hostetter recites a few lines. Eventually the drums kick in and Woolaver’s guitar becomes almost painfully distorted, leading to a huge, loud ending.
This is an interesting and diverse start for this band. If I were the producer I might have honed these tracks a bit, but what’s here certainly rocks and shows great promise for things to come!
Not only can the wearing of high heels shorten one’s calf muscles and lead to a thicker, stiffer Achilles tendon but it also alters the center of gravity, causing pain across knees, hips and back. That said, if you’re a multi-instrumentalist with navigational urges in the trans identity sphere, these warnings may prove moot. Just ask B. Gartenberg (minding a newly professed curiosity for pumps). The artist’s orthopedist might not be thrilled, but then, he might not have listened to the record at hand. Not Here – the second serving under the Toy Stilettos moniker – releases the pressure of newfound identity via the alternating poles of euphoria and dissociation. In other words, it ain’t easy shifting genders, particularly if it leads to sciatica.
Amid crisp instrumentation and skilled production, Gartenberg crafts a welcome appetizer for audiophiles. Namely, each track exports its own branded texture. That heavy thematics color between the lines is an added indulgence. This is gin and tonic for sober poets; a compendium of pop flirtation that operates on a deeper level.
The opening track, “Not In The Mood For You” melds C&W twang with nickelodeon piano, as psychopathic vocalisms drone over both. Think of it as a perfect 1930’s kiss-off in song; the anti-Gershwin, if there existed such a genre. In a similar mode, “Sunset Baby” adopts a vampiric cadence to its intravenous groove, slow-dripping alongside string and key accompaniment. Plus, the line "counting all the chemicals you pour down the silver sink / but the estrogen is floating in my crimson drink" contains so much baggage, that charging an airline overage premium doesn’t begin to chip at the surface. And the closing “you know better than me" is crooned with such dismissal, as to wrench all emotion from its delivery. There is no act behind the curtain. This is real and raw, up front; a scab re-picked with impunity.
“Shadows on the Lake” leans menacingly toward The Handsome Family, the latter's work having been used for the True Detective season one theme. Here – trading lyrics with Lee Fenyes atop a legitimate plinking of the ivories – an undercurrent of malice slinks at arm’s (or ear’s) length.
“Fruit Flies,” on the other hand, stakes claim in tender balladry; gliding neither on sugar nor cliche, but rather, a polished trust in the helm of Stephin Merritt. Its poppy hooks are gratifyingly catchy. As are the delicate harmonies, courtesy of Jake Perla Schwartz. Likewise, “Heard Back” plays like an easy tribute to the mellower side of John Cale (who, by definition, is a difficult target to mime). Yet, the reach toward these higher quarters of art, accidental or otherwise, scores a respectful near bullseye.
Toy Stilettos taps into the equivalent of high sonic posture, a metaphorical uprightness that confronts ideas of autonomy and individualism. And while the pieces may not always join cleanly, the result is an organic work-through. In time, Gartenberg may even be strutting confidently in the band’s namesake. Small steps, heel to toe.
Ron Smith (vocals) Jack Nykilchyk (guitar) Jaelyn Voz (bass) and Sarah Bazinet (drums) are Restored. The band formed in 2020 and recently released their first full length entitled Steppin Out. They mention “We wanted to create an album that resembled a raw, unproduced demo. We would describe our album's sound as hard rock with relatable lyrics and a lot of attitude. We hope that people can relate to us and connect with us.” After listening to the album I would say that they achieved what they intended.
They get going with “Living It Up” which definitely has a good amount of attitude. Right off the bat the lyrics are about partying, girls and a general sense of debauchery. The guitars are distorted, the drums hit hard and the vocals are delivered with authority. It reminded me of things bands would sing about in the ’70s and ’80s.
Next up is “Keep On Riding” which starts with a sense of mystery. The guitar creates an ominous atmosphere with feedback and the toms fit the sense of tension perfectly. Without much notice the chorus comes and the band delivers an explosive hook that contains a memorable vocal melody. They get a great sound as well. The guitar solo absolutely wails around the two-and-a-half-minute mark.
The energy increases with the fast and furious “Waste Management.” This song rocks hard and has a little more punk rock vibe to my ears. Kudos to the drummer for keeping the energy up. “Devil's Wish” is dark and more metal infused. Alice Cooper and early Metallica came to mind. This song felt like a flashback to when rock was dangerous. There’s a great breakdown section around the two-minute mark.
“Needle” is the first song you might consider a ballad. It’s certainly more subdued and the first half of the song revolves melodic guitar picking, a buoyant bass and a steady beat. Smith sounds great here. As the song progresses it does expand and gets more epic. The guitars get a little more grit and there’s a sense of urgency to the vocals.
“Unrequited (M)” is a pretty but short interlude that revolves around solo guitar work that leads into “Kill The King” which is arguably the most rocking song on the album.”Now You Know” is a good one as well which begins with acoustic guitar and vocals and then gets moving with the whole band. “Now You Know” is one of the more single-worthy songs on the album - great hook. They close with a boot slapping good time song entitled “Steppin' Out” which is a fast moving track with a boatload of energy.
Restored isn’t reinventing the wheel here but they are keeping the rock n’ roll flame alive. The music is dangerous and contains some attitude but is also a fun time. I for one appreciate that combo. Take a listen.
What I really like about Young Bloods is its energy, despite the fact that it was recorded, in the words of the band Mercy Terrace, “through the anxiety of the pandemic.” There isn’t a hint of anxiety on the opening self-titled track, “Young Bloods.” In fact, it’s a jubilant intro with a Brit-pop rock aesthetic. They sound, at times, a bit like an American version of Blur, and that’s a great thing for somebody who craves more of that sound. The guitar and bouncy vocals are so catchy and dance-worthy. This song sounds like a lost anthem from the ‘90s or ‘00s, but that’s no bad thing. I’d love to see a sound like this come back. What a feel-good and electrifying opening track from Mercy Terrace. The first song on an album is so important, and the band definitely got that memo.
“The Cat Stays Home” surprised me, as the band does a complete U-turn and churns out an absolute banger but in a completely different style. This is a grungy, garage-rock anthem with a hint of influence from bands like Weezer and The Offspring. There’s a great melody to this one; I love the stop-start power chords in the chorus. The vocals have such a great tone, too; the deep, mellow vibe in the verses is perfect for the style. There is still a very upbeat feel to the style, so there’s definitely consistency to their sound.
“Miss Memory” is driven by a heavily-distorted, finger-picked melody and punchy drums. Joyous? Absolutely. No matter how many genres they utilize, Mercy Terrace maintains the same feel in each and every track. They’re consistent in that sense. That’s what ties the album together. I love the bold and powerful guitar in the choruses on this track. “Living With Dread” definitely marks a return to the poppy ‘90s feel of the opening track. I love the explosive drum-work on this song, and the vocals are great. Are these guys incapable of writing a bad melody? I think so.
“I Don’t Believe in Coincidence” adopts a gentler instrumental aesthetic, and it’s an unexpected but beautiful change of pace. The bass rhythm is so silky-smooth. The melody is gorgeous, as well, but it’s the singing that really steals the show on this one. The vocal tone on this track might be my favorite style of the entire album. The chord progression has a soothing quality to it, too. The descending chords just sound so perfectly placed. And it transitions into the happiest song on the album, “Too Many Cigarettes.” This is definitely tied with the previous track for the title of favorite vocal performance. Another wonderful chord progression on the acoustic guitar, too.
“Here, Now, Forever” is the perfect final track for this album. The guitar and warbling synth strings gel so well. The electric guitar note bends add little drops of beauty to an already-stunning song. This song is so beautiful. The second half of this album is so different from the first. I love the versatility of this band. I can’t wait to hear what they do next. This album is definitely worth your time.
Dynasty Four is a five-piece indie rock band out of Toronto, just recently back together. Originally founded in 2012, their debut album titled Anachronisms came out in 2015 but the band members parted ways shortly thereafter. Weirdly, the pandemic happened to bring all the players back to Toronto where they reunited for this three-song EP titled Revivals. They describe themselves as having a “fun-first approach to reviving garage rock for the ages” and hope this EP is just the first step to more releases and stage performances.
The band describe their songs as “hooky, high-energy ear worms that deftly blend pop, punk, surf and garage rock with dynamic lyrics and an electric live presence. Revivals is a rollicking three-song EP brimming with garage guitars and pop punk sing-alongs. These are the songs that got our band back together.” The band also admits this set began as a collection of demos on SoundCloud, “but they turned out so well, we had to share.”
Now weirdly - despite all this talk about a band “revival” - most of the players are not even listed! Dynasty Four is certainly not the only band I’ve reviewed that does this, but I never understand why some bands don’t list performer names. From Instagram snooping I gather that Nikkole Couture (lead vocals/guitar) and her husband Andrew (guitar) are the leaders, backed by Fabio Cappucio (bass?), Christi Konto (keys) and Dirty Rick (drums). Recording took place at Nikkole’s home studio using Logic, and they mention that Andrew is “one of the best pop-rock producers in the biz. “
The band calls the opening “Champions of Breakfast” a “pure punk call to arms.” It’s certainly anthemic, with its triple-time beat and repeated chorus of “We’re gonna win!” The vocals sound female in the hardcore Patti Smith tradition, with the choruses always at a hair’s breadth of drifting out of tune. A short but bracing trip.
“For The Cats” is about “keeping it together for the ones who need you.” Here I’ll note that the guitar arrangement is basically a two-tracked streamlined fuzz attack, with the bass very much in the pocket. Really love Nikkole’s lead vocals here, though the backing choruses are again right on the verge of disharmony (which may be the point!).
“Lord of Feuds” has the most interesting two-guitar arrangements, with the second axe playing harmonically higher voicings or following along with the root note of each chord. Way in back I can hear a synth that has hopped aboard. Nikkole’s vocals remind me of early punk Debbie Harry, and the band’s energy can’t be faulted. They call this song “a snotty tribute to the selfish and self-centered, the unaffected and aloof we find so irresistible.”
As mentioned, this is a very short EP that started out as song demos. All three tracks together are barely longer than a standard song, but the mechanics and strengths all seem to be in place for some great music in the future.
All Except Fear is an artist, composer, musician and sound designer from the UK. He has been steadily crafting an original sound that expertly combines a deep and cinematic atmosphere, emotional reflection and forward-thinking production. You can hear this on his recent release Broken Edges.
The artist mentions “The Sound I was going for is otherworldly, I am a huge soundtrack fan and always want to create a Trilogy of Sci-fi sounds/music.” That’s definitely the feeling I was getting when listening to the compositions.
The EP is relatively short for this type of music that comes to about an eleven- minute time length. That being said, it was enough to give me an impression of what the artist is capable of.
The EP starts with “Breakdown” which begins with an ominous feeling. There are multiple long pads intersecting with each other and what sounds like some sort of being occasionally breathing. I was imagining a starship arriving on a mysterious planet not exactly sure what to expect. There’s a strong sense of tension throughout which sort of ends within the last couple of seconds in the composition almost as if you are letting go into space.
“Remove the System” is a piano led song but still contains a lot of the same aesthetics as the previous songs. The composition sounds huge and epic especially as it progresses. It’s very pensive and the sense of tension and loneliness in the song is haunting yet beautiful. A little before the three-minute mark light beams shatter the atmosphere as some sort of cosmic event unfolds.
“No Defence” starts with an ambient cloud of textures and tones. There’s no surface to land on here. It’s misty and ephemeral as it morphs and evolves. The song has crescendos but they are unique. It’s around the three-minute mark that the more ominous low end combines with the misty and airy high end sounds.
The music is unequivocally ripe for sci-fi movies. On that note, even without any visual, I found this music does contain a lot of imagery that will pop up in your mind’s eye. Recommended.
For Travis Charles Hagan, his experiences with his daughter, as well as teaching middle school, in Leander, TX, bleeds into his musical side project entitled Painter Fingers. Incorporating an indie folk and chamber folk sound reminiscent of Elliott Smith and Sufjan Stevens within his songwriting, Hagan describes himself as a “lifelong music maker,” and you can tell that he takes music very seriously. Hagan’s uncanny ability to craft meaningful lyrical messages sung over acoustic backing translates to six (seven if you count his cover of “Michael (Row the Boat Ashore)”) brand new tracks as part of his newest EP, How Summer Flies.
Without a doubt, Hagan is the main creative force behind Painter Fingers, but the EP would never have been possible without the help of some remote collaborations. While it was still recorded and mixed on Mixcraft 9 Pro Studio, four other people from around the world offered their talents: cellist Polina Faustova (Ukraine), trombonist Michael Fortunato (Italy), flutist Hanna Danets (also Ukraine) and fiddle player Rita Torrens (Turkey). These international collaborations are a perfect fit for How Summer Flies, since its content revolves around a push for societal change.
Said content begins with “World’s Best Army.” “I keep coming back / To what’s haunting me,” Hagan croons over a cleanly produced acoustic guitar. There are far too many potent lines here as well as across the EP that will really resonate with people, but generally speaking, this opener’s otherwise carefree tone is juxtaposed with serious lyrics addressing gun violence. There’s also a harmonica solo in it, too, for good measure. In contrast to the first track’s minimalism is “Waiting To Make Something Happen.” Featuring more of a full band approach definitely amplifies Hagan’s frustrations towards the state of the world.
“I Only Laugh” is an elegiac moment that once again discusses the issue of gun violence over plucked acoustics and cello notes. One particular line, “We can’t count the deaths / Of children / If we are not allowed / To blame the gun,” stood out to me as a crucial part of How Summer Flies’ narrative. It’s an interesting look into why we can’t just talk about effects and not their causes, which ultimately links back to mass shootings. If there’s one critique that I have for Painter Fingers, it’s that Hagan tends to repeat his points on political matters. Luckily, we get a break from talking about tragedy with “It Makes Her Happy,” shifting the focus to his daughter instead. The song may not offer a hook as strong as the first two cuts, but its introspection is genuinely sweet, and the trombones are welcome attachments, sonically. Additionally, Hagan states that “Umbrella Song,” is another song inspired by his daughter, Lucy.
Last of all is How Summer Flies’ fiddle-heavy title track. With this one being the sole number to crack the five-minute mark, I expected this to tie everything together with a neat little bow. Those expectations were certainly met, although Hagan’s juxtaposition of people’s warm perception of time with the cold reality that tomorrow, someone’s life could be snatched away “by some right-wing insurrectionist” is anything but neat. It’s very messy, which also explains its sudden expletives, and that messiness gives Painter Fingers’ latest EP even more strength. As Mr. Hagan says himself before the final part of the song, “I know you swear by these documents / Though they were written when / The government owned slaves / I only ask, what to you is more important? / Your right to own / A killing machine / Or your brother’s right to breathe?” That message is repeated several times throughout How Summer Flies, which makes it much more than just your standard indie folk EP. Highly recommended.
Born in Jakarta, Indonesia, Retini was raised in Queens, NY before going on to settle permanently in Bristol, UK. From early on, music has captured her. Having spent much of her adult life either at the piano or guitar, the artist is now more than happy to share her debut album Hear me now to the world. Once you hit play, you will immediately get the sense that Retini wears her influences on her sleeve. Growing up in New York in the ‘70s, she listened to a wide range of folk music that included Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Carol King, Laura Nyro as well as Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Jim Croce, Gordon Lightfoot, Simon & Garfunkel and more. In more recent years, Retini became enraptured by jazz sounds and all the great jazz artists both past and present such as Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Holiday, Sara Vaughan and incredible musicians like John Coltrane and Miles Davis just to name some. You can hear these artists in her sound. But don’t me wrong, Retini also adds something distinctively her own to these folk/acoustic takes. Her warm vocals and up-close-and-personal performances engulf audiences in a welcoming listening experience. At ten tracks, there’s tons to appreciate here.
Hear me now begins with “Streets of Paris,” where pensive strumming from the acoustic guitar comes in as well as Retini’s warm vocals. The vibe of this track was very introspective and relaxing all at once. The layers of electric and acoustic guitar made for a great sound. The mellow vibe of this track reminded me of what I would hear in a coffee shop environment. Synthetic strings, some lively percussion and piano reels us in for a sizzling jazz vibe on “Tu Es Libre.” Here Retini sings entirely in French. I was immediately drawn to the cool blend of flavors and sounds. On the title track “Hear Me Now,” some meandering piano melody arrives alongside some atmospheric synths. On this piano ballad, Retini’s emotive vocals take flight for a soaring sound. The instruments come together for an ambient sound.
Some finger-picking on the guitar adds a bluesy riff to the sounds on “C’est L’amour.” Some piano also lights up the vibes. Next, Retini’s croons in French on this moving piano ballad. Strumming on the guitar reels in a warm acoustic vibe right away. Next, Retini’s folksy vocal harmonies carry on the sounds. Here, it really seems like Retini is wearing her heart on her sleeve as she throws herself into the music, singing in a very confessional vein. More piano arrives here for a lounge vibe on “My Town.” Retini’s vocals come across with a powerful and enigmatic quality. She includes tons of feeling here as her vocals create a moving vibe. I was reminded of Adele’s “Hometown Glory.”
“Milo’s Song” is another in the piano ballad vein. The tune is meandering here. As the sound builds, Retini’s vocals arrive and this track has a very lullaby vibe. It definitely feels like she’s singing to a little child as the soft and soothing vibes grabs hold of listeners. On “Believe In Love,” piano, drums and guitars arrive for a jaunty and rollicking rock sound. Add in Retini’s catchy and upbeat vocals and you get a fantastic performance that was a pleasure to listen to. More moody piano comes in for a riveting vibe on “Remember You.” Some synths also enter for an atmospheric sound. Retini sings with high-tail emotion. She reels you in with her moving vocal harmonies. This seemed to be a fitting way for the artist to close the album.
The sound on this record is filled with pensive guitar and piano melodies and emotive vocals. There’s no doubt about it, upon first listen, you’ll immediately get the sense that Retini’s singer/songwriter vibe is the type of music that you’d usually find at a coffee shop or open mic night. Her folksy acoustic music has just the right amount of intimacy and warmth that will immediately make you feel like she’s performing these songs right in front of you. Moving and haunting all at once, this is a good intro to Retini’s sound and I definitely look forward to hearing more soon!
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