Patti Witten, Sycamore Tryst, 2003

patti witten - sycamore trystThe name Patti Witten I was already familiar with for a few years. But it wasn´t until TJR played some samples from recent album Tell The Wind, that I convinced myself to buy some of her albums.  And yes, normally I would not consider folk music, but the samples were interesting enough to make me change my mind. And if that folk tag puts you off also, wait a minute and read on.

To me, this music has little to do with what I call folk music. This is very intense stuff which, albeit based on acoustic guitar, has been arranged to fit seamlessly into popular music. Call it pop, call it soft rock, whatever. This has a quality that transcends tagging. At least that is how I feel after listening to this.

Patti not only is a singer with an identity of her own, she also is a competent guitar player. Both talents are used to write songs that stick, without sounding like something you have heard a million times before. The recommendation of Rosanne Cash on the CD artwork comes as no surprise if you ask me.

First song  What I Don´t Tell You deserves to be a timeless classic every home should know and own. A fantastic melody and depth. I am very impressed with the music which is simply intelligent without sounding clever. Most songs that follow have an edge that gets to you. A lot of slow and medium tempo’s, but somehow it makes me listen and enjoy it all very much. Besides the song-writing skills of Patti, producer Rick DePaolo has done a great job as well as the rest of the musicians. A lot of detail in the playing. And some awesome heartfelt guitar solo’s as well.

For all you rockers, this is no hard rocking affair as you will understand. But for anybody with an open mind, I strongly suggest you listen to the samples (try CD Baby) and get a taste of it yourself. Impressive!

Personal play tips: just start it up!

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Classic: Simple Minds, Sparkle In The Rain, 1983

Simple Minds - Sparkle In The RainSo now on for something completely different; one of my favourite eighties albums by the Simple Minds. I can still vividly remember them playing that famous bass line opening of Waterfront. And then after 7 or 8 seconds the drums kick in with the rest of the band.. Play it LOUD! A magnificent way to get a crowd going if you ask me. Paired with Up On The Catwalk, you have two hammer songs at hand that still bring back a lot of fond memories of that time period. I can safely say that this album is responsible for me still buying almost all of their output, even to this very day. Also special is that 3 members are still on board (I think), besides singer Jim Kerr that would be Charles Burchill on guitars and Mel Gaynor on drums.

But don´t let my first paragraph fool you into thinking that there are only two worth while songs on offer. No, a lot of songs have that drive that hooks you to them, like Speed Your Love To Me or Book Of Brilliant Things. But also a track like East At Easter has that spell binding quality because of that mysterious arrangement with the guitar strumming through the keyboards and bass line, and with a drum focussing on the arrangement rather that the beat.
And yes, the production from Steve Lillywhite sounds like the timeframe this was released in. With a lot of keyboards and guitars being a little blurred, making it hard to hear what is which. But do I care when a record brings a smile to my face every time I hear it?
Great stuff!

Classic: Jellyfish, Bellybutton, 1990

jellyfish - bellybuttonToday´s Classic is this wonderful pop rock album by Jellyfish. Alas a band that lasted for 2 albums only I believe. Ah, where have they gone?

It is rare that you hear an album on which every track has the potency to become a huge hit. That this didn´t happen for this band still puzzles me to this day. Is it the over dramatized flower power imagery?
I mean, whether it is the pop genius of That Is Why or I Wanna Stay Home, the humour of The King Is Half Undressed, or whatever other track you play, this is beautifully crafted music that to this day sounds fresh and mouth watering (…”oh, if only they would still make this kind a music today” …).

Okay, I may be biased because of my love for Beatlesque melodies and vocal arrangements, but it sounds easier than it actually is.

Definitely worth buying (second hand probably) if you don´t already have it!

Cher, Heart Of Stone, 1989

cher - heart of stoneGuess y´all must be thinking “huh, whatzupp?” Yeah I know, this is strange. But to explain myself, somewhere I read that this was actually a good rocking album by la Cher.

So when a chance popped up to buy this for a few euro, I just had to buy it in order to listen to it. And does it rock? Naaah, in a safe and smooth 80ties kind of way, it actually does.
Nothing wrong with the songwriting here. No wonder with people like Diane Warren, Michael Bolton or Desmond Child on board.

The opening song (If I Could Turn Back time) was a big hit in the day, and actually represents the album quite well. So this is decent pop rock. with melodies that stick in your ears like child candy sticks to clothes. Some songs better than others, but nothing really shocking. In both ways that is. Nevertheless, I can see why fans of rock in that decade own this.

Personal play tips: If I Could Turn Back Time, Heart Of Stone, Emotional Fire.

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Freestone, The Temple Of Humanity, 2008

Freestone - The Temple of HumanityThis album by fellow countrymen Freestone is the first, at least to my knowledge, dealing with the Freemasonry. All art and lyrics form a concept about this perhaps mystical theme.

But as we are here for the music, how about that? I think of this as symphonic pop / rock. It has a constant vibe and a lot of medium tempos, but that may also be considered a flaw. This is a beautiful album in many ways, but musically it is on the safe side. Little hard rocking here. But if quality is your thing, you can´t go wrong with this.

From start to finish this album tries to put a spell on you with it´s melodies and arrangements. The clever use of sax and other instruments here and there, adds to the atmosphere. I think the project (don´t know if this is an actual band, as all music and lyrics are written by Harm Timmerman, who also plays a lot of instruments) was created with a lot of labour and love.  The lead singer is by no means bad, but could benefit from a little more bite. On the other hand, as this also applies to the music, it must be a conscious choice. So very classy, but not very ballsy. Nevertheless, I recommend it, as all is done with style.

Personal play tips: Turn The Key, Children Of The Widow, Documentum Intellige,

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