Archives For Album Reviews

The CO

LarryKloess —  March 1, 2013 — Leave a comment


If you listen to The CO’s second and most recent full-length album, Keep It Together, you may feel yourself being rapidly sucked into your car stereo by the pulsing beat that jump starts the opening track, “Frequency.” Don’t worry. This is a good thing, because The CO is nothing short of awesome! The dramatic thumping beat is quickly accompanied by the soft, yet powerful and distinctive vocals of front man Colin Brace and the song swiftly culminates to an anthemic chorus that is driven by drummer Nate Fleming’s rhythm section and Troy Akers’ melodic keys. Together they produce a sound that resonates with the soul and remains consistent throughout the entire album without any sense of wear or tire. With an expertly polished sound that lies somewhere in the vast musical galaxy between catchy pop and edgy indie, The CO create a sound that sticks with you.

“Frequency” is perfect sample of what Keep It Together is as a whole bodied piece of work. Throughout the compellation, Brace’s vocals are soulful and tender and helm a sound that consistently tows the line between emotive ballad and catchy, head nod inducing choruses, often blending the two seamlessly from one song to the next creating a fluidity and cohesiveness that is seldom found even in some of the most seasoned artist’s work.

The collaborative approach that the band takes to songwriting is a large contributing factor to The CO’s diverse sound and also yields each songs lyrical depth and emotional variance. Each song is product of an exposed vulnerability, from the hopeful and inspiring title track “Keep It Together,” to the deep and introspective “How To Say Goodbye.”  It is quickly evident to anyone who may choose to listen, that this is what The CO is all about. It’s not just the fantastic production on the album, but the soul of each song that sets them apart.

I was fortunate enough to experience this first hand a couple of weeks ago at one of Cause A Scene’s most recent house shows. It was my first time seeing the band live, and it also happened to be my first time hearing the band at all, and that was what stuck with me. Sure, I was struck by Brace’s vocals and Akers’ soaring harmonies, as well as every other aspect that makes them a pleasure to listen to. However, there was something else that couldn’t be put into words, something that resonated on a personal level. At first, I thought it was due to the stripped down semi-unplugged set and the intimate atmosphere of a living room house show, but it wasn’t. That personal connection was just as apparent plugged-in on the album. That is what makes a band great. The ability to connect with listeners, no matter the medium. And that is exactly what The CO does.

– Christian Lerchenfeld

Drew Holcomb

One of my favorite things about living in Nashville is hearing so many amazing artists making great music and thinking, “just wait til the rest of the world hears this”. For those of us here in Nashville who are fans of Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, we’ve been waiting a long time. With Chasing Someday, that breakthrough began to happen. Last Tuesday, that it hit like a whirlwind as the band’s newest effort Good Light, found it’s way into the iTunes Top 10.

Good Light is the record we’ve always wanted from Drew and his neighborly posse. Sonically, they’ve departed from the big production of Chasing Someday to a more sparse sound. Bluesy guitar, pedal steel, and melodic piano parts blend together nicely. Embracing this Americana/alt-country vibe leaves so much more room for Drew and Ellie’s vocal chemistry, which, if you’ve seen them live, you know that’s an amazing thing!

More importantly though, it draws your attention to the songwriting. The Holcombs have always been gifted at writing hopeful songs. In Good Light, it seems that they’ve mastered that, with songs that are so very true to the human experience, but taking that pain and sorrow and creating a place where light can seep through the cracks. “Is it possible to be happy and be human?” Holcomb asks, and then immediately follows with “certainly, but not without the pain”. It’s this unromanticized optimism and dreaming that makes this record so inspiring. Yes, there will be hardship, yes there will be sorrow, but you can still find joy within that. And coming from someone who has worked so hard to be where he is now, these songs carry a weight. They’re more than just words crafted together, and it’s spectacular.

There’s nothing better than watching good people, who make good music, succeed. It’s been fun to see these guys do that!

– Jameson Elder

Here’s a brilliant acoustic version of “Tennessee” off of ‘Good Light’. Can’t wait to see the band perform this at Bonnaroo this year!

Songbird. No other word so easily comes to mind when thinking about Rebecca Roubion. I went to look up the word itself, as if the very word didn’t provide its own meaning. The dictionary was kind enough to offer “a bird having a melodious song or call.” Too obvious. Then I stumbled upon Urban Dictionary of all places which provided this definition: “Anyone who consciously looks for the best in all people, places, and things; who has acknowledged and released the pains of their soul. And who entergetically help all others release the pain of their souls.” For Rebecca, or “Ruby” as she is affectionally known by many of her friends, this definition could not be any more spot on. It’s her conscious looking for the best in everything and everyone and in her grappling so deftly with the longings in her own soul and those so prevalent in the human condition that make her proper debut release, “Fields” so immediate, and so necessary.

The album lives up to its name of “Fields” as an escape from the normal, everyday routines that we so easily get entangled in. It’s an escape to a place where life is light, high-spirited, playful, whimsical, and dare I say frolicsome. Over the course of it’s 4 tracks, Rebecca’s personality shines through in the best ways possible, inviting the listener into her 12-minute study of love and the human condition. She will inevitably be compared to a young Sara Bareilles, Norah Jones or Regina Spektor, but her music has a more classic feel to it, reflecting her roots in Mobile and New Orleans, with her smoky/jazzy/”bayou” flair mixing with a bit of her childhood idol, Carole King. With all the comparisons, however, her voice and her music stands on its own as a beautifully unique creation.

Each track touches on a different aspect of love: either realized or hoped for, and any of them would sound right at home on the soundtrack of a popular indie romantic comedy. (Just listen to “Love Me Now” and tell us that it wouldn’t have been perfect on (500) Days of Summer). In Rebecca’s words the song is a “playful pursuit”, one lover trying to reach another. “It’s a flirty song; the very beginnings of a relationship.” Rebecca sings of her grandparent’s love in “Vacherie Girl” but puts a modern twist on it that makes it sound just as likely to be about madly-in-love newlyweds straight out of undergrad, with their clever back-and-forth (from Rebecca and the talented Steven Fiore.

“Here Lies My Pulse” is a “window into the soul” for Rebecca and is the track most likely to pull on the listener’s heartstrings with the expertly executed string arrangement buoying Rebecca’s delicate vocals. It’s a story, more than a song, that is sure to become a fan favorite as people find their own ways to identify with the lyrics. “Doorway” closes the album peering into the future with the fulfillment of a forever love. And throughout this album and true to the definition of a “songbird”, Rebecca’s music is a catharsis, allowing the listener to release their held-onto pain in order to chase after a greater joy. As Rebecca told us once, “I didn’t choose music; music chose me.” We’re really glad it did, as we get to peer into the soul of a dynamic talent and celebrate the inherent joy in each and every melody with her.

Tonight marks a special evening for us Nashvillians, as Rebecca is hosting her “Fields” EP Release at The Basement. Local favorites Carolina Story and CherryCase open  the night, beginning at 7pm for just $5. You don’t want to miss this momentous occasion. And while we’re mentioning her EP release, we be remiss if we didn’t mention this little fact: Once 1,000 copies of “Fields” are purchased, Rebecca will release the equally remarkable sister EP, “Forests”. It’s a breathtakingly exquisite album that needs to be heard. So let’s help her get to 1,000 by purchasing on Bandcamp, Amazon, or directly from Rebecca’s website.

– Larry Kloess

Erin Rae & The Meanwhiles

LarryKloess —  November 19, 2012 — 1 Comment

Nashville is so full of female singer/songwriters that it’s a rare day when one of them is able to come in and completely take your breath away. We first saw Erin Rae perform at the second Cause A Scene Collective show in July. She played 2 songs. We were hooked from the start. She and her band, the Meanwhiles, just released their new EP “Crazy Talk”. It’s simply beautiful. “Crazy Talk” likes somewhere between the folk/pop that has emerged from Nashville and across the pond with London’s “new folk” scene and a classic Americana sound.

Growing up, Erin Rae would listen to her parents sing and play music together after family dinners, playing folkier versions of Mississippi John Hurt, Doc Watson and John Prine. As she grew up and began playing at county fairs ‘before she got too old to be shy”, Erin Rae looked up to the legends of Joni Mitchell, Patty Griffin and Gillian Welch, and their influence can be felt on her debut. She shares Brandi Carlile’s immaculate sense of melody blended with lyrics that are both extremely personal, but make you feel right at home in the story. It’s an intimate album that makes an instant connection with the listener. When she sings, it’s as if you’re the only one in the room. It’s an album of transition, coming to terms with the truth that life isn’t exactly the way you thought it would be and coming to terms with reality, and being content with that.

In the title track, Erin Rae’s voice dances elegantly over a soft bed of strings and piano melodies. “I know that your life can feel threatened, it makes it hard to come alive,” she sings, and you immediately feel a sense of both comfort and wonder. It’s this sincere thought that instills a hopefulness that is present throughout each of the EP’s five songs.

In “I Hope You Get What You Need”, Erin Rae sings about the common story of lost love. But rather than the angry wails we’ve come to know and love from other female artists like Adele, Erin Rae swings the pendulum the other way to a melancholy conclusion that “it’s probably better than I don’t join you for this journey / I hope you have a wonderful ride.” Throughout Erin Rae and the Meanwhile’s debut EP there remains a soothing reminder that we’re all in this together and everything is going to be just fine in the end, no matter the route we take to get there. As her first step out into the Nashville music scene, it’s a joy to witness Erin Rae coming into her own voice and growing by leaps and bounds with every show. We had the pleasure of catching her album release show (video below) and can’t wait to see her next Thursday the 29th with Andrew Combs at the High Watt. If you want to catch one of Nashville’s brightest young talents, we highly recommend you be there.

– Jameson Elder & Larry Kloess

Levi Weaver: CAS Preview

Jameson —  November 13, 2012 — Leave a comment

Levi Weaver

Let me start with a very bold statement: Levi might beone of the best lyricists of this generation of musicians. I’ll stand by that as long as I have to.

Levi also has one of the most entertaining Twitter accounts out there.

If those 2 things haven’t caught your attention then I don’t know what will…

The first time I saw Levi perform was at a house show near Little 5 Points in Atlanta. We were acquaintances, and he had asked me to come open up the night. I knew very little of Levi’s music other than what I had heard from friends who knew him. From the moment Levi took the stage, I was completely captivated. He does this whole looping thing that’s pretty incredible, but what struck me most was the songs! Levi has the gift, or curse, of telling the story of the heart of humanity. He’s a philosopher poet, bringing intelligent commentary on existential thought and the human experience.

Levi’s most recent full length record, The Letters of Dr. Kurt Godel, is a hefty 15 tracks deep. Intricately crafted to highlight the lyrics and characters that Levi has created, this album delves into a great search for truth and purpose. Whether it’s wrestling with a struggle for morality in “Good and Evil”, or running away from the past in “I Am Certain I’m A Train”, Levi

His most recent release, I Am Only a Tiny Noise, is more bare, bringing forward the raw honesty that makes Levi so captivating in the first place. The EP kicks off with a beautifully soft-spoken line “I’ve never told a lie I didn’t wish was true” in “Never Want You Back”. It concludes with the Johnny Cash-esque “Dark Clay”,

    I am dark, dark clay 

    I’m all made up of earth and ugly rain

    But even when I twist myself to sad and awful shapes

    You find a way to love me anyway

    You keep finding ways to love me anyway

Just think on that one for a minute… And then come see Levi at 12th and Porter on Saturday, Nov. 17th With Seryn, Caleb, and Julia Sinclair

Levi is currently working on a new record that will drop sometime in 2013! Be on the lookout!