Exit 22 Music: “Last Goodbye” – one of the finest musical acts in the pop-rock underground

It seems almost impossible that an artist that has been around this long – 20 years in Chris Calamera’s case, can keep making records that stand up among the best that he has ever done. Let’s be clear: “Last Goodbye” is a great song. It’s poppy, with a big melody and an insistent rock rhythm, and it’s catchy as hell. Sounds like authentic Exit 22 Music to me. This is pure Calamera from his pop-rock songwriting style standpoint, and pure Exit 22 Music, considering the breathtaking vocals and high production-value quotient. The perfect, power-pop formula. Exit 22 Music has been keeping

Lake of the Lion embodies embody emotive sounds and textures

Lake of the Lion is the brand name and moniker for Luxembourg music composer and producer, Daniel Kohnen, who is steadily building up his catalog and increasing his fan-base with regular new releases. In recent years, ambient instrumental and soundtrack scores have been following a certain trend. Composers seem to have this motif of creating overblown pieces with harsh lead instruments blasting out from the blue and background strings creating suspense with their melodies. Sure it was fun for a while, but within that little span of time listeners were just begging for it to stop because composers had this

Natalie Jean and Levi Moore: “The Letting Go” speaks the language of the ordinary person

A good duet, in our modern age, is a rare thing. There are plenty of features, guest verses and co-writes, and the cameo drop-in is a dime a dozen. The number of genuine duets, where vocalists share verses and tell a story together in the space of a song, is very small. If your optimism fails you, as you wonder whether there are enough great acts to keep hit radio stocked with worthy pop music duets, it’s reassuring to find that Natalie Jean and Levi Moore have a first-rate single to carry us through the next few months, all by itself. The

MAKI: ‘Waking Up With The World On Fire’ – truly majestic — grandiose, slowly unfolding, and extremely cinematic

The world is a fragmented place, with fear and hate giving rise to isolationist movements around the globe and huge portions of the population turning inward rather than outward towards each other. As such waves of bigotry spread like wildfire, the music scene becomes extremely important, not just because it means more great music, but because it connects us all together on a wavelength that hits the human heart, soul and mind even harder, faster and deeper than anger can. A creative constant in the field of communicative contemporary Instrumental music, is MAKI who focuses his ample talents on a

3 Phase – ready for genre domination!

The names Chirag Shah, Prasham Deliwala and Melvin Saldana may in themselves not ring a familiar bell in your ear right now. Probably, neither will the moniker ‘3 Phase’, nor their 6 track self-titled EP. It’s logical, it’s the law of the industry’s hype machine – cast a light on the big label clones, and leave the independent creatives in the shadows. Luckily the internet has a different set of rules.  On hearing the 3 Phase EP, the lofty ambition, the focus and dedication of this creative collective of producers, songwriters and vocal talent, makes sense – its six tracks

Sy: “Get Out Of My Dreams” – grab this R&B and Soul extravaganza

The singer, songwriter and author, Sy, releases a brand new single produced by Rueben Wood. The track “Get Out Of My Dreams” is the first single release written by the artist in 2018, since writing two self-help books, “A Swan Among Ducks” and “Saying Yes to (No): Learning the Power of (No) before the end of 2017. This track soulfully captures the spirit and feel of the emotional journey of grown womanhood. It is juicy, dynamic, soulful, gorgeous, and it is nourishment for the soul…and mind, as it examines the intricacies of a relationship built on want and lust. As

IJK: “Johnny & June” – sounds invigorated!

Alternative rock artist Imad Jack Karam, known by his initials and stage name IJK, is a Dubai-based, Lebanese singer-songwriter, who has released critically acclaimed songs and recorded with internationally known music producers in prestigious London studios. Both his singles “Space Odyssey” and “Dancing Shadows” garnered a positive reception from fans and critics alike. IJK has a style that can move between edgy modern-day alt-rock and sixties rock n’ roll crooning.  He recently published his latest single and supporting, fully animated video, for the song “Johnny & June”. So, how does this new offering cope? Very well, in truth. “Johnny &

TRVP HIPPI3Z: “On Lock” – no lack of muscular skill-flexing!

TRVP HIPPI3Z is a Canadian rap duo who just dropped their latest single entitled, “On Lock”.  Listeners beware. This product has been known to blow up and cause fires in a variety of stereo systems, due to the super-hot fire provided by this crew. TRVP HIPPI3Z is a team-up that has risen as great exemplars of righteous chaos. Their supersonic sound and hard-nosed imagery gives them a mysterious sheen, but the duo have grounded themselves via booming production, and a sonorous verbal presence, coupled with their willingness to fuck you up. Their chest-beating bravado is explosive on “IDGAF (Prod. THZ)”,

Eddy Mann: “Simple Things” will leave you breathless and in a state of euphoria

At first as a musician, I created music, then as an A&R executive I challenged it, now as a music reviewer, I explore it.  Of the three, the latter is the most difficult. Criticizing or appraising somebody else’s creation is no easy task. Enjoying it is one thing, understanding it another, and translating it is even more arduous. The funny thing is, I’ve always hated describing music. It’s such a volatile and subjective art, that nobody should really have the authority or the presumptuous audacity to judge the level of enjoyment or emotion any one piece of music is capable

Kitson Lau: “Be By Your Side” – an expressive paean to love’s transformative powers

Kitson Lau wears many hats – a musician, songwriter, singer and graphic designer, he is also a medical graduate. Initially without any musical background, Kitson became inspired by Norwegian record producer and DJ, Alan Walker. This passion drove him to learn music and song production. And soon, with dedication and focus Kitson Lau hit the top of the China Kanjian ING 10 Charts with his Mandopop albums. Since signing to Sony Music Entertainment Malaysia, Kitson has been encouraged to record English songs, so now he is making his official debut via Sony, with the song “Be By Your Side”, which

Grant Maloy Smith: “DUST BOWL – AMERICAN STORIES” – musical snapshots of real life

When we listen to award-winning Americana singer-songwriter, Grant Maloy Smith, we often hear a shrug, a battered heart, and the steely reason of hard-earned wisdom all bundled into a single powerfully ragged voice that resonates rather extraordinarily with the plight of mankind. Smith has a gift for articulating the predicament of the downtrodden and misunderstood. A knack for stepping inside his fellow man’s shoes and feeling the wear on the sole, the dirt between the treads, and the awkwardness of the fit. Explaining the making of the album “DUST BOWL – AMERICAN STORIES”, Smith stated: “The songs spell out an arc from the pastoral beginning, when wheat prices were high and times were good, through the darkest days of suffering and struggle, and ultimately to redemption – when finally the rain came down.  Dust Bowl has been a labor of love for most of three years now. As much as I created these songs, they have changed me, too.” 

I’m beginning to think Grant Maloy Smith is a genius. It’s one of the ironies of the music business that he is not hugely, enormously, grandiosely big. Smith is every bit as talented a songwriter as any latter-half-of-the-20th-century roots music composers I can think of.

Smith is one of the few who makes you understand, appreciate and enjoy the undeniable link between music, people and nature. “DUST BOWL – AMERICAN STORIES” makes a clear case for this link without ever sounding like any other singer-songwriter I know of; another testament to his outstanding songwriting and performing talents.

Grant Maloy Smith’s songs are like musical snapshots of real life. The songs run the gauntlet of emotions, from anger to joy, from melancholy to heartened, from love to loss. “DUST BOWL – AMERICAN STORIES” has it all.

It amazes me how Smith can blend the various song styles into a recording that flows so effortlessly, as he moves though Bluegrass, Country and Folk themes – All naturally held together by his extraordinary voice and range.

From the moment I put on the first cut, “Old Black Roller”, I couldn’t believe how the music saturated me, and how I wanted to hear it again, catching the words, and the intonations before going on to the second cut, “Lily Of The Valley”, which was even more addictive than the first.

Though Grant Maloy Smith is brilliant on just about everything he does on this album, to my mind, he is exceptional when it comes to the slower songs. His voice has that heartrending broken tone that squeezes every bit of emotion out of the lyrics.

Hence my fervent attraction to songs like “Isht A Lhampko (Have Strength)” – probably one of the most captivating tunes on the entire album for me.  But he is just as moving on “All The Long Way”, “Daddy, If You Have To Go” and “And The Rain Comes Down”. It helps of course that the list of instrumentation and players on this album is almost endless. Injecting a warm luscious sound into the recordings.

If you have a predilection for rhythmic, upbeat numbers to stomp to, then “So Far Away”, “Me Time” and “I Come From America”, will do nicely for you. All the songs on “DUST BOWL – AMERICAN STORIES”, however, are skillfully written and instrumented, crossing roots genres and throwing a healthy bite of social commentary in your face to remind you that Smith is nobody’s top 40 wimp.

There are only a small handful of artists on this planet at any given time worth listening to musically. Grant Maloy Smith is definitely one of them.

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