CD Capsule Reviews by Mark E. Waterbury

Louie Ludwig with the Moss Pickers – Elevation 13
ZZI Music – zzi 042115
A south Louisiana boy cranks up some serious Appalachian roots music. Bluegrass, folk, and country is melded in a pure organic fashion with wonderful musicianship. The lyrics are heartfelt and occasionally slyly humorous, perfectly portrayed by Louie’s rich, emotive vocal timbre. A great storyteller with excellent music backing him, this is modern-infused, old-timey music at its finest.

Jim Singleton – 8 O’Clock in the Afternoon
Blues guitar/vocal wiz Jim Singleton pays a high octane homage to his influences with this collection of seven covers and three originals. Reminiscent of Cactus in how he cranks up the smoky power in covering tracks by artists as diverse as Peter Green, Rory Gallagher, Whitesnake, and Chris Isaak. The covers are infused with his own personality and his originals showcase that he is adept at writing as well.

Soul Suga’ & Diane Durrett
Veteran vocalist Diane Durrett will absolutely knock you out with this wonderful effort. Soulful, bluesy, sassy and sultry, she has one of those voices that could enthrall you acapella. The music is made even more delectable by the contributions of the cream of the crop of musicians from Diane’s native Georgia. The songwriting is comfortingly familiar, but also just edgy enough to really catch your ears, ranging from mellower grooves to wild romps. This disc purely sizzles.

Mississippi Fever – 300 Miles to Memphis
This St. Louis blues-rock trio has immense shoes to fill if you think of the greats like Johnny Winter and Jeff Healey who have passed recently. They make a beyond noble effort to accomplish that with this fiery effort. This is music that feels electrified even when the song may be mellow, bone-crunching rhythms, wicked guitar licks and throaty vocals. With a solid mix of originals and a few choice covers, these guys really put the “power” into power trio.

Hyperbubble – Dee Dee Rocks the Galaxy
Pure Pop For Now People – FOR06
Mind-bending Texas-based electropop duo Hyperbubble have once again produced a mosaic of often innovative, often wild and genre defying music that feels like something from some distant galaxy. They can go from frenetic cyber intensity to darkly humorous space blues to prog influenced bombast at the drop of a synth key. Sure, this may not be for everyone but a lot of talent and deep thought goes into the music, so if you really want to stretch your musical mind, check them out.

Michael Oosten – Jump In
Way Gone Music – WG1006
Madison, Wisconsin singer/songwriter Michael Oosten has been around a long time, and has not lost a nanogram of his passion or talents. Seemingly having a soul in the Dylan school but unafraid to not just open the envelope but to kick it open, Michael gifts us with styles ranging from folk and barrelhouse blues to reggae, from jazz to Celtic. His lyrics are stories that will enthrall, make you cry, laugh and sometimes nod in agreement. An extremely pure songwriter with a talent pool for innovation as big as lake Michigan

Matt Lax and Nearly Beloved – This House is Mine
Attaboy Records – #4
From northern California, Matt Lax is a singer-songwriter sort of a mix of James Taylor and Jim Croce. Comforting vocal timbre that can subtly convey emotions, while telling stores that are simple but thought-provoking and straight from the heart. The music is beautifully organic with folk, country and bluegrass touches, and just the right intricate flourishes to give delicious spice. Very ear-catching music where you can really feel the stories that he is telling.

Slamm Allen – Feel These Blues
American Showplace Music
It is the name of his CD, and then he backs it up and then some throughout the dozen tracks. Honing his chops as the frontman for legendary James Cotton, Slamm Allen takes the standard blues songs and lights a conflagration under them. He is just one of those players whose guitar solo work never gets old, and has a voice that guarantees you that, well, you see the CD title. He makes sure that the listeners feel it, too, and even if it is the blues, it sure feels great!

Joe Newtz – Crossing Over
Pennsylvania singer-songwriter seems to have a lot of diverse musical influences and he manages to fuse them into a signature sound. This speaks well for his songwriting talent as you can hear influences ranging from Gregg Allman to Pearl Jam, from Chris Isaak to R.E.M. The music tends towards rock with side excursions to folk and showcases a love for making music which translates into well-crafted and very enjoyable music.

Chris Norwood – Year of the Bear
Dallas singer/songwriter Chris Norwood is an indie folk rock artist with a knack for writing songs that are both hooky, catchy, and thought provoking. He is one I would call a pure songwriter in that he comes up with heartfelt, but also brash and topical stories, and finds just the right musical ways to convey them to the listener. With enough interesting folksy twist and turns and some excellent back up musicians, this guy will catch your ears, snag your soul and touch your heart simultaneously.

John Ginty – No Filter
American Showplace Music
Veteran touring organist John Ginty has now created his own music, and absolutely kills it on this disc. Weaving blues, jazz, funk and other styles, John proves to have a smoky, soulful voice to complement his wonderful keyboard work. He also is an adept songwriter and knows how to take comforting tried-and-true styles and turn them into something special. Not just for organ fans, but anyone who loves good blistering bluesy songs with an edge, this is also for you.

Slackjaw – It’s Always Something
New Jersey has been known as a breeding ground for great music, and this power blues-rock trio is keeping that tradition up, with a loud electrified exclamation point. Smoking blues of the type you would think would come out of Chicago or Memphis, these guys none the less fill this CD to the brim with blistering guitar licks, potent rhythm grooves and gritty vocals. With moderns twists to the usual lyrical themes, this is the type of blues you can rock out to…hard, and get into their stories as well.

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