The Furious Seasons – My Love Is Strong

The Furious Seasons – My Love Is Strong
Stonegarden Records – SGN-626
Not sure why these guys have sort of flown under the radar for three albums, as they should be on the scope of anyone who loves edgy, hooky, folk-pop. David Steinhardt is the main songwriting brainchild behind this SoCal outfit that really fires up music that is eclectically catchy on this, their fourth effort. The lead track “€œSouthern Night”€ had me thinking, “I hear Elvis Costello, I hear the Beach Boys, I hear Tom Petty….”, but in reality, even though you can hear influences from them and other diverse acts throughout the thirteen songs, I really just hear The Furious Seasons. David’€™s husky but melodic vocals are dusted with adept backing harmonies, augmented by musical passages that seem to feel like a more organic E Street band. The songs can be haunting or joyous, or can scream in your face or let you kick back and let your soul get caressed by what is. Whoever influenced them, their main influence in songwriting is being unafraid – not merely pushing the envelope, but shredding it. “Bad Man” is a great example – the story of a tortured soul told with a gritty folk grove. That song is sandwiched between the dramatically edgy oldies punk of “Summer Rain”€ and the tongue-in-cheek joy of the jazzy-fueled “€œFull Discloser”. This is one of those types of bands who makes refreshing music by having a broad palette in musical, lyrical, genre, and influential tastes, and manages to weave it into a mosaic that is undeniably, uniquely their own sound. – MW


Dwayna Litz – I’m The Girl I Used To Know Again

Dwayna Litz – I’m The Girl I Used To Know Again
Sometimes when you have a wonderful voice, that is all you truly need to touch people with your music. Dwayna Litz has a wonderful voice, and while she does have enjoyable music backing her, the subtle power and stunning emotion she can produce would no doubt enthrall listeners if she just did this acapella. Most of the backdrop is piano with wafts of guitar, bass and even trumpet at one point, but you know from the first strains of€œ “Yes I Would”€ what you are meant to hear. She makes you think a bit of Tori Amos but with the dramatics of some of the great country ladies like Tammy Wynette, and maybe a slight touch of Bette Midler’€™s jazzy power. The mid-ground of jazz, country, pop and folk feelings is comforting, and also helps you experience the emotion and honesty of her thoughtful lyrics. Some of the stand-out tracks include the atmospheric but folksy “€œCry Like a Baby”,€ the gracefully potent “Takin’€™ It a Day at a Time”,€ and the operatic-tinged country of the title track. Dwayna shows a different side at the end of the CD with a foot-stomping take on the classic “This Train Is Bound For Glory” that makes you think in another life she may have actually ridden the rails with Woody. If you enjoy vocal and songwriting talent it it€™s purest form, then this beautiful sophomore effort is a must for you. – MW


Evan – New Folk

Evan – New Folk
Wisconsin born and raised Evan Meulemans may call his third release “New Soul”,€ but you can tell he follows closer to the footsteps of classic folk artists. The current folk music revival though does pay due respect to the forefathers of the genre, and when those influences meet story telling prowess, musical talent and vocals that snare your soul from the get-go, you have something special. Evan is one of those special artists, his mesmerizing voice harkening to Cat Stevens with just a touch of twang ala Townes Van Zandt. Songs like the title track and “Sticks & Stones”€ have uptempo feel good grooves with Evan displaying both vocal range and masterful control of emotive power. “Wishing Well” and “Sun & Water”€ are great examples of his adept handling of mellower vibes while “Blow Me Away”€ has a breezy island tilt. Evan is one of those singer-songwriters with a knack for creating songs that are both catchy and edgy. He creates somewhat bare-bones, but still delectable musical backdrops from a talented back up band, often interjecting changes in both rhythm and power that add to the intrigue of many of the tunes. Lyrically, you can tell he is speaking plainly from his hear – intelligent words without being pretentious. Evan’s music may not be totally new folk, but it is very, very good folk. – MW