Thursday, September 24, 2015

CD Review: Kimie Miner's New Self-Titled Release

Kimie Miner
Kimie Miner

Hawaii's Kimie Miner is a singer-songwriter of Hawaiian and Portuguese descent. The rousing tunes on her self-titled release are in English; except for "Kumulau." The melodies retain a slight R&B presence and lounge jazz sensibility that is refreshing, urban, and pop-focused. There are some danceable tunes with vocals not too unlike Nelly Furtado. A bouncy piano rhythm makes an appearance (along with Caleb Keolanui) on "Love's In The Melody." "Trouble" is a nod to South American alternative pop and electronica with a sassy reggae edge. While, "Make It To Morning," "Fallin' Again," "Lullabies," and "Shine" resemble the harmonic structures of The Beu Sisters' early work. Kimie's album contains equal parts of dance, electronica, guitar pop, reggae, and alternative genres for a great musical journey. ~ Matthew Forss

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

CD Review: Ozere's 'Anyplace'

Finding Anyplace

The Canadian folk-roots-group, Ozere, tackles beautiful melodies, breezy rhythms, and rootsy vocals with engaging instrumentals mixed in for added pleasure on their latest release, Finding Anyplace. This is mostly an original effort with only two songs attributed to other artists, such as "Wayfaring Stranger" and "MacArthur Road." The instrumental gem on the album, "Anyplace," weaves a tapestry of sonic sounds ranging from Celtic to Nordic and even the Middle East in a seamless fashion. However, the vocals are great on "Keeper" and "Someday Soon." Ozere does not fit into a specific genre very well, but anyone with a passion for folk, roots, neo-classical, new age, and world fusion will find love at first note with this one. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Mara Measor's 'Naked Prayers'

Mara Measor
Naked Prayers

Chinese-American songstress, writer, and actor, Mara Measor, brings us a lively mix of personal songs with quaint instrumentation, sweet vocals, and spiritual undertones. Naked Prayers is a nine-track album under forty-minutes in length that contains several uplifting songs. In fact, all of the songs are really good with varying aural textures, melodies, and light rhythms bordering on new age-pop or alternative pop. Mara's sweet vocals resemble the Canadian group, Dala, as well as the U.K.'s Katie Melua, with similar instrumental set-ups akin to the former. The final number, "Love Will Find You," seems like a throwback to the funky, jazz standards of the 1970's. The calming and essentially word-less song, "Ooh," is a spiritual wonder with only Mara's voice leading the song and a distant thud of a drum. "You Saw Me" is a pensive, piano-driven song with guitars and percussion that are truly beautiful. All in all, Mara succeeds in creating a gorgeous album with memorable melodies, sweet vocals, and an underlying message of "good" without sacrificing anything. ~ Matthew Forss

Friday, September 18, 2015

CD Review: Francesca Blanchard's 'Deux Visions'

Francesca Blanchard
Deux Visions
Vis-A-Vis Records

Deux Visions is translated as "two visions." In this case, the double references pertain to a French upbringing and current residence in Vermont. The songs are pop, folk, and rock oriented with both English and French lyrics. The melodies are pure heaven, as anyone with a familiarity with Carla Bruni, Francois Hardy, and Souad Massi. The tender vocal sound is intimate, poignant, and emotive. The light, contemplative ballad, "The Sea," is a fitting ending to a wonderful album, but the pop-rock brilliance of "Empty House,"  "Save A Different Way," and "Rame" showcase Francesca's innate ability to convey musical emotion with great melodies and rhythms in the same vein as the above-mentioned artists. Nevertheless, Francesca makes her mark in a very good way. Anyone with an interest in French pop and rock will love Deux Visions...and probably everything she releases in the future. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Zedashe's 'Our Earth And Water'

Our Earth And Water
Living Roots Music

Georgia (the country) is well-known for it's polyphonic vocal traditions. Zedashe continues the country's past with lively vocal tunes with some containing instruments. The twenty-six tunes represent a wide-breadth of music with accompanying panduri, chonguri, doli, diplipito, chiboni, garmoni, lute, bagpipe, clay drum, hand drum, and accordion. There are both male and vocal singers. The back of the CD case contains the track list with a few words about each song's origin, translation, and owner's rights. There are no in-depth liner notes and the song titles are in both Cyrillic and Roman Georgian. Some of the light instrumental accompaniment is indicative of other Central Asian and Caucasus music. Still, anyone interested in folk music from the region will love the instrumental accompaniment, as well the intriguing and somewhat meditative vocal style. ~ Matthew Forss