Reviews roundup – Rich Robinson vs. Trettioarica Kriget vs. Susan Aquila vs. Outerburst vs. Loveless Effect
Through A Crooked Sun / Woodstock Sessions Vol 3
Once and future Black Crowes brother, Rich Robinson continues his reissue programme with the arrival of “Through A Crooked Sun” and “Woddstock Sessions Vol 3.”. The former saw some guests of the calibre of Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule / Allman Brothers Band, as well as John Medeski and Karl Berge from the world of jazz. There are a couple of bonus tracks in the shape of alternative versions of ‘It’s Not Easy’ and ‘Falling Again’ to try and whet your appetite.
Like a lot of his solo work, it’s a case of almost but not quite. Bereft of his brothers voice, you get the feeling that these are unfinished sketches for something bigger. There are a few good tunes, and no-one can question the musical chops, but even on the best like ‘Follow You Forever’ and ‘Bye Bye Baby’, you want something to push it over the edge. Nice but not essential.
Much better is his installment of the Woodstock Sessions series, which sees him and his band in a live, intimate session, with tunes from across his band and solo career, as well as some covers.This is the one for Black Crowes, but skip the closing Lou Reed cover, which is more than grim.
Prog time now, and we’re off to Sweden to catch up with an unpronouncable band, who released their first album back in 1974. Which makes them older than me. A remarkable feat. If you want the short version, then think Pink Floyd. If you want a tad more, read on.
They are a band of their time, so expect plenty of melodic prog, with hints of Camel and Focus in there as well. They are very good at melodies, actually, and can spin an interesting motif seemingly at will. Interestingly, this is the first actual album they’ve released with English vocals, so they’re obviously making a late bid for some international fans.
Turns out, this is the follow-up to a trilogy, so the band are more relaxed and almost poppy in places, having got that heavy stuff (man) out of the way. Which is nice, because this is a relaxed, melodic and enjoyable listen. It’s the sort of thing that Summer days are made for, not that we get them up here in the frozen North. It’s my first encounter with their music, but I’ll be dipping backwards after hearing this.
Fiddler, Susan Aquila, has made a name for herself over the years, performing and recording with the likes of (deep breath), Metallica, Paul McCartney, Elton John, Billy Joel, Beyonce, Josh Groban, Steven Tyler, Barry Manilow, and literally, hundreds of others
A couple of years back she released an album called “Broken Angel”, which I reckoned saw her mixing up prog, rock and jazz. I reckoned it was half good / half not, with not all the songs and vocals being up to scratch. And now she’s back with another record, following on from performances with Lita Ford, Tantric and Soil, and her Broadway debut and cast album for the original musical “Amazing Grace”.
And it’s the same as before. It’s a bit more straight ahead rock than the last time, sometimes bordering on eighties metal. The production and musical performances are top notch, but for me, there is a really good EP in here, with a handful of really good tunes, which sometimes get a wee bit lost. The guitar work is as impressive as the fiddling, and when it all comes together on the likes of ‘Twisted’, ‘The Wall’ and ‘Ugly’, then it’s very enjoyable.
Phase A: Kaishi
An EP project from Italian bass player and producer Santo Clemenzi. Although he’s aided and abetted by Californian guitarist Erik Peabody and German singer Michael Gildner.
He’s working in the very crowded world of power metal. So you’ve got to be bang on the money to win over the legions of followers. But this isn’t it. Quite. It actually feels more like a demo than a ‘proper’ release, which is odd considering his studio experience. But a couple of the songs are out of the top drawer, so there is some hope.
‘Nightmare’ is a modern metal / power metal crossover, which actually works, before ‘Release The Brake’ ups the ante in fine eighties metal style. Elsewhere, it dosen’t really bowl you over, and there are a tad too many keyboards for comfort.
But it is promising, so fingers crossed.
Standing In The Rain
Lastly, we’re off to the delightfully named Buckeye, Arizona, to catch up with new roots cotenders Loveless Effect.
They’ve actually made a wee bit of a name for themselves in these here UK parts, after Seth Loveless was invited to play lead guitar for Sasha McVeigh at Country Jam USA in Wisconsin. This led to the band both opening for Ms McVeigh on her UK tour, as well as backing her on the main set. And here they are with a debut EP.
And there is a lot here to enjoy. If you were expecting country ballads, then the opening ‘Black Smoke Rising’ will take you by surprise, as it heads off into southern meets blues rock territory. Luckily, for the country fans out there ‘How Do You Feel Now’ follows it in fine country style.
They’ve even got a radio ballad to their name in the shape of ‘Standing In The Rain’, which would slot easily into a lot of station playlists. There isn’t actually a duff tune here, so the sooner they get that debut album done, the better.