Review: Chet O’Keefe – Game Bird

Chet O’Keefe: Game Bird

Another great singer-songwriter Otis Gibbs turned me to Nashville-based Chet O’Keefe with his guest post on the wonderful ninebullets blog. A big thank you goes to Otis for this. Chet O’Keefe is amazing country singer-songwriter and his album Game Bird is utterly wonderful. Listening to this album makes it pretty hard to understand why this man isn’t world famous. At the very least he should get a lot of love in every country, folk, americana orientated blog, webzine and magazine, but that doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment. Surely that’s got to change as soon as the word about this beautiful album starts to spread. I’ll make my tiny contribution here. Chet O’Keefe is a great guitarist, a wonderful songwriter and has a beautiful voice. The album brings to mind all kinds of great country troubadours like Blaze Foley, Townes Van Zandt and John Prine, but he isn’t copying any of them. There’s no need to, because Chet is such a damn good songwriter. The album ranges from deep, dark and moving songs all the way to upbeat and light numbers and everything works really well. That early trio Good Friends, Econoline Van and Game Bird for example is just so bloody marvelous that you keep thinking that you must be listening to some lost country classic from the 70s. Game Bird just fits on pretty much every occasion. The sound is very pleasant and easily approachable if you are just looking to lay your head on the shoulder of a beautiful country album, but it also has the quality and depth to really move you if you are ready to completely introduce your heart to a great singer-songwriter. Game Bird gets extremely close to full amount of hearts and I probably will regret for not giving them all as soon as I’ve hit the publish button.

Listen to Econoline Van.

Buy/stream the whole album on his bandcamp page.

Chet O’Keefe at Bandcamp

At the moment Game Bird is (probably) only available as a digital download. At least I couldn’t find any physical copies and therefore bought the download from his bandcamp page (maybe the first time I ever bought a full digital album, if I don’t count my one month long emusic subscription year or two ago).

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Review: Snowbirds – Snowbirds

Snowbirds: Snowbirds (Self-released, 2011)

This was one of those instant love affairs. Great power pop blog Absolute Powerpop reviewed this the other week. I red the review, checked out a couple of song samples I found and instantly knew this is my kind of band and my kind of music.

Snowbirds comes from Wisconsin and just released their self-titled debut album. It’s a fabulous album full of pop melodies, mellow country sounds and beautiful singing. The music reminds me of such fantastic heroes like The Jayhawks and Grand Drive (and the verse of the song Lila Nae sounds like Jellyfish going country). Especially The Jayhawks comes to mind a couple of times and one could certainly picture Gary Louris & Mark Olson singing the chorus of Dirty Streets Of Downtown. The song material is strong throughout the record and there’s only a couple of songs that I’m not that thrilled about. The last track Shakedown is the weakest one for me. That’s an ok rocker, but nothing earth-shattering especially when compared to their wonderful americana songs that are heavy on the pedal steel and light on useless nonsense. The lyrics wouldn’t win a poetry competition, but when they are wrapped around warm country-tinged pop melodies and are injected into your veins with such a beautiful voice, they are bound to find the core of your heart. A cynical mind probably could find some kind of minor flaws, but my romantic heart loves the sound, the style and the songs. A really strong debut.

Snowbirds Website
Snowbirds at Facebook

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Review: Malcolm Holcombe – To Drink The Rain

Malcolm Holcombe: To Drink The Rain (Music Road Records, 2011)

To Drink The Rain is Malcolm Holcombe’s eight album, but the first one that I’ve heard. Well better late than never (if we start to celebrate the cliche), because this is pretty amazing stuff. Some of the rawest country-blues of the record might slide out of pop fan’s comfort zone, but this is only an issue with a couple of the songs. On most parts, To Drink The Rain easily floats into the core of my heart and songs like Becky’s Blessed (Backporch Flowers) and One Man Singin’ also finds a place to stay there. Especially Becky’s Blessed is one of the best songs of the year so far. This man is definitely a hardcore troubadour and able to write extremely captivating country, folk & blues songs and the album is full of down-to-earth & rough beauty. Maybe the album is not stylewise my closest companion, but Malcolm sounds so convincing all the time that I just have to throw all the prejudices away and just listen to one man singing.

Malcolm Holcombe Website
To Drink The Rain at Spotify

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Review: Daniel Romano – Sleep Beneath The Willow

Daniel Romano: Sleep Beneath The Willow (You’ve Changed Records, 2011)

I got Daniel Romano’s new album Sleep Beneath The Willow through reviewshine, but it’s such a fabulous album that I really should buy a physical copy as well. Daniel Romano is a country singer-songwriter from Welland, ON, Canada and he has written a wonderful traditional country & folk album. Press release namedrops Glen Campbell and Lee Hazlewood, but it should have mentioned solo Gram Parsons as well, because some of the songs like Lost (For As Long As I Live) sounds a lot like Gram’s solo country balladry. While the focus seem to be on the 60’s and early 70’s influenced old-fashioned country songs, there’s definitely some variation. For example the opening track Time Forgot (To Change My Heart) throws some darker (and almost gothic) americana sounds into the picture.

This is really good stuff altogether and the greatest moments like Hard On You and Lost (For As Long As I Live) are just brilliant. Daniel should tour with another amazing troubadour Pete Molinari. They are both so wonderful at updating old country & folk sounds and making them sound as fresh and beautiful as they did back in the day. Plus they both have a fantastic song about a girl named Louise.

Listen to Time Forgot (To Change My Heart)

Daniel Romano at myspace

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