Reviews roundup – Chantel McGregor vs. Leona Lewis vs. The Curly Wolf vs. Homewreckr vs. The Tirith

CHANTEL McGREGOR Lose ControlCHANTEL McGREGOR
Lose Control
Tis Rock Music

Four years on from her award winning debut album, and Chantel McGregor is back with a very enjoyable follow up.

And it is a follow up, mining the same seventies blues rock idiom as her debut, but with a stronger production.  She is a remarkably good guitarist,and when she hits a good riff, it really is a treat.  It’s less convincing when she slows things down, but this blues rock with an emphasis on the rock, and it’s all the better for it.

Songs like ‘Killing Time’,  ‘Burn Your Anger’ and ‘Southern Belle’ are the best she’s produced to date, so it’s good to hear that her writing has progressed over the last few years.  With some accomplished backing this will, doubtless, be adding some more awards to her mantelpiece come the next round of prizes.

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LEONA LEWIS I AmLEONA LEWIS
I Am
Island

I thought Leona was packing all this pop stuff in to become a classical / opera singer?  Well, that doesn’t seem to have worked out because her new record sounds a bit like her old records, even if she is now sans Cowell.

To be honest, along with Rebecca Ferguson, she’s the only real talent ever produced by the X Factor, and when she goes to work on a big ballad, then her talent really comes to the fore.  But she’s been generally ill served over the years, with the odd good song surrounded by a welter of lesser material.

Now, obviously, her new paymasters weren’t interested in a new direction, so they’ve gone the same route as before.  The one that was already showing rapidly diminishing returns.  So, there are a handful of power ballads, some uneasy dance oriented tunes and, horror of horrors, Autotune.  Really.  However, if ‘Power’ is ever released as a single, with a suitably moody video, then she could return to the top of the charts.  Great voice, shame about the songs.

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THE CURLY WOLF Calling Your BluffTHE CURLY WOLF
Calling Your Bluff
independent

Time for some country rock, with the emphasis firmly on the rock.  And if you’re old enough to remember cowpunk, then this may well be an album for you.

It’s the second release from the Southern Californian band, led by Grant Benziger, and with shared interest in old time country, outlaw country and the Bakersfield sound, they set about rocking it up.  However, they have managed to hold on to their country roots, which makes for a powerful combination.

For sure, not all the songs are out of the top drawer, but the intensity makes up for it, and when they do hit a good tune, as they do on ‘Calling Your Bluff’, ‘Grind It ‘Til You Find It’ and ‘Diesel Blood’, then it’s a mighty fine sound.

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HOMEWRECKR The WreckningHOMEWRECKR
The Wreckning
independent

And now it’s off to Clarkston, Washington to meet a US modern metal band, who are a bit too careless with the vowels.  It’s their debut EP, and one that shows a lot of promise.

They may be modern edged and aiming for the kids today, who’re shambling around, looking miserable and sporting asymmetrical haircuts, but there is a surprising amount of old school eighties hard rock about their sound as well.

That’s mainly down to vocalist, Kevin Black, who could make a tidy living in a Faster Pussycat tribute band, but musically they’re crunching away in a manner that would sit easily with Audioslave fans.  It’s not perfect, but for a first dip in the water, it’s well worth a listen.

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THE TIRITH Tales From The TowerTHE TIRITH
Tales From The Tower
Convergent Recordings

Old people alert!  Yes, daddio, The Tirith were first on the go, back around 1971, when I was still getting my free triangle-shaped tetra pack of milk at the primary school.

Fast forward 40 years, and two original members in the shape of Tim Cox on guitar and Dick Cory on vocals, bass and pedals got together with new drummer, Carl Nightingale to revisit their progressive rock on the world.

And as befits a bunch of old blokes, it’s very much seventies prog, with a helping of hard rock.  Which makes for an enjoyable release.  They’ve got some very good songs such as ‘Daughter From The Water’ and ‘Pioneers Of The Outer Arm’ (man), and they can move from rock rhythms to introspective spaces with ease.

There was a lot of competition back in the day, so it’s easy to see why they slipped through the cracks.  Hopefully, this will help make up for lost time.

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