DAVID BERKELEY “The Faded Red And Blue”, A Peaceful Protest

The United States is going through troubled times. It doesn’t matter what side of the aisle you sit; the US is fighting many cancers. One of the most significant ailments facing the nation right now is division.

This division runs deep, from disagreeing over policies to human rights, many Americans find themselves willingly huddled in a corner without room to budge. Many artists have spoken out on this harsh reality, yet David Berkeley does it differently in his newest EP, The Faded Red and Blue.

Check out the full article here on HAUS Music + Sound. 

ALBUM REVIEW: Jenna Nicholl’s, Radio Parade

Some albums take you back in time, while others make time irrelevant. Radio Parade by Jenna Nicholls is one of those albums.

Released in 2018, Radio Parade consists of seven songs. Each song has a distinct narrative, yet they are cohesive. The album’s orchestrations range from ukuleles to steel guitar all mixed with jazz undertones. It takes you back in time while standing staunchly in 2019.

For the full article check out Haus Music + Sound Spotlight.

ALBUM REVIEW: Justin Townes Earle, Harlem River Blues

Google defines country music as a form of popular music originating in the rural southern US. It is traditionally a mixture of ballads and dance tunes played characteristically on fiddle, guitar, steel guitar, drums, and keyboard.

May I also add its contents include whiskey, women, cheating, drinking, and the occasional loss of a dog.

Google defines soul music as a kind of music incorporating elements of rhythm and blues and gospel music, popularized by African-Americans. Characterized by an emphasis on vocals and an impassioned improvisatory delivery.

May I also add that it often gives you those dancing feet and you may occasionally utter a positive “mmm” or “come on.”

Lastly, since this is not a test study sheet, Google defines folk music as music that originates in traditional popular culture or that is written in such a style.

May I also add it usually has a heavy guitar influence and imagery.

Now add them all together.

Country+Soul+Folk= Justin Townes Earle

My first encounter with Earle was through Wanda Jackson. He produced her latest studio album, Unfinished Business. He duets with Jackson on “Am I Even a Memory.” That became my favorite song off the album, and it spurred my interest in Earle. This album was produced to pristine detail.

Justin Townes Earle is the son of famed country musician Steve Earle. He has released 1 etownEP and 5 albums. I recently found his fourth album Harlem City Blues at Guestroom Records in OKC. I wasn’t exactly expecting what I heard. The album touches a wide array of subjects including suicide, breakups, loneliness, the need to leave, and coming back.

The album opens with its title’s namesake, “Harlem City Blues.” This song envokes every genre I discussed previously. The music is distinctly country, the tempo is folksy, and Earle’s voice contains the soul. This song makes me think it is touching suicide, for he states “dirty water is going to cover me over and I’m not gonna make a sound.” Although dark in content, this song possesses a positive sense of spirituality.

The album then goes into “One More Night in Brooklyn.” He talks about leaving town with his woman. I love the beat to this one. It’s almost “island-like.” This is an addictive tune. You then have a hoe down with “Move Over Mama.” Next is the song “Workin for the MTA.” This song especially evokes the essence of folk music, it’s about hard work in what I believe would either be mines or the building of train tracks. It has a purpose and mission. I see a man walking lonely through a desolate area dragging a sledgehammer when I listen to this song. It’s a great slow down moment for the album.

The last song on Side A is “Wanderin.” This is one of my top two favorites off the album. For this song’s face value, it talks about wandering over areas and personal situations, but deeper than that, it’s about reflecting on life and spirituality. It is a modern day “Poor Wayfaring Stranger.” You have to wonder to find home.

My second favorite on this album is “Christchurch Woman.” The song talks about waiting for a woman. He talks of how he is waiting for a “Christchurch woman in the rain, and the rain keeps comin, but it ain’t enough to cover the pain.” You can feel pain in Earle’s voice as he is wanting that certain someone, yet even he admits he’ll probably get tired of her later in the song. This song could be comforting to those who are waiting. Waiting gets easier with each passing day, and you might even realize it’s not the right thing after all.

The closing song, besides a choir reprise of “Harlem City Blues,” is “Rogers Park.” The songs opens up with a beautiful piano arrangement and it carries throughout. It is like Earle is walking through a small town park, reminiscing on his life and what could and can be. This shows the genius of Earle’s songwriting. My favorite lyric: “There ain’t no hope in leaving them. There ain’t no prayer for the poor and all that’s lost in stealing. She can’t hold me anymore.” and a choral line of “Punching holes in the dark.” Let the interpretations begin…

In the end, this record is not of any genre. The country musical influence is dominant, thebloodshot records storytelling of folk is there, and Earle’s voice is extremely soulful. I find this album to be remarkable. Earle is multitalented, being able to produce, perform, and write: a musical triple threat.

Although I’m not ready to let that ol’ dirty water run over me, I am ready for my Christchurch woman in the rain, and more importantly, I can’t wait to purchase another Justin Townes Earle album.

ALBUM REVIEW: Wanda Jackson – An Unfinished Party

I am going to go a little rogue on this post. Instead of posting about one album, I am going to post about two that were made in the last 3 years. But do not worry, I have both of these exceptional albums on vinyl and that’s where I heard them first.

As one who frequents the record stores in the OKC area, I have seen a lot of hype and advertisement for Wanda Jackson. I am not sure how I had not heard of this legendary songstress before seeing her records in these stores, but I always love finding new favorites. Now that I have embarked on her material, I haven’t been able to stop listening to it.

Jackson’s career is wide and vast. She is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee for early influence. She has sung rockabilly, country, rock, and gospel. She is the Queen of Rockabilly and many artists, including Adele, have cited her as an inspiration. Then, to top all the interesting facts I have learned, she is also a fellow Oklahoman.

Now in her mid-70s, Jackson has not slowed down. In 2010 Jackson worked with Jack White for her album The Party Ain’t Over. This album will probably run out of spins. Her vocals encompass wisdom, a vibrant youth, a little party, harshness, and delicateness. I am not sure there is an exact word to describe them.

This is an album of covers. The album opens with “Shakin’ All Over,” a number originally performed by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates in 1965. It’s a perfect beginning to this album, especially with it’s “shaky” sounds during the chorus. The song reminisces 1960s pop and rockabilly.

My next favorite is “Busted.” At first, it was hard for me to listen to a song about an older lady with a child being broke, but that’s when I saw the wisdom. Her voice expresses experience. It is both in the past, the present, and the future. At the end of side one, she goes into the Bob Dylan penned “Thunder on the Mountain.” This song possesses all qualities of a typical Dylan song, genius lyrics, storytelling, and unending interpretations. Jackson’s voice is so well suited for this song that it’s hard to not declare her the queen.

Side two holds all the same promises from side one. One of the best songs on the whole album is “You Know I’m No Good.” At first, I didn’t think it could be the Amy Winehouse version, but it was, and Jackson brought a new dimension to the song. You can see her sitting on a stool crooning this song from years of life experiences. The song, and better yet the whole album, comes from deep within her inner complexion.

These are just a few outlines of some of the songs, but in reality, each song is amazing.

Jackson then followed up with 2012’s, Unfinished Business. From the cover this album is unique. As I was reading the notes on the back of the album, I realized they were written by the famed author Stephen King. She truly touches all across every realm. This album opens up with “Tore Down,” a song about hitting rock bottom, yet her voice gives it hope. It’s one that every age group can relate to.

My favorite tune on this album is “Am I Even a Memory?” a duet with her producer Justin Townes Earle. This song does not have an age. It brings tears as you hear it. Jackson swoons over the lyrics, wondering if she meant anything to a past lover. Then Earle comes in and brings a very naive feel to the song. It’s pure musical genius. The song shows heartache at different times, decades apart. It’s the telling of a 40-year-old relationship, to a fresh one.

On side two there are many highlights, including “Two Hands” and “California Stars.” The first reaches back to her gospel years, declaring praises to the Father. “California Stars” is lyrically short, and professes that she would like to lay her weary bones on the California stars, yet I find that ironic because I just saw her releasing tour dates last week.

These two albums are really touching me in a poignant part of my life. I find comfort in the lyrics and vocals. I feel lifted by a party of unsurpassed emotion. Without getting to musically “ooey-gooey,” these albums are giving me strength at a tough time in my life to remember the world never stops spinning. I’ll survive.

All in all, I really hope to one day run into Miss Jackson at Wal-Mart or a local 7-11. I’d love to just thank her for her music and what it means to me and her contributions to the music world. I am sure she hears this every day, but it’s always nice to get things off your chest. I guess I am going to have to carry a sharpie and my album covers everywhere in my car just in case.

Jackson’s whole career is a party of rockabilly, salvation, and tremendous influence, but most parties don’t last nearly 60 years. I believe Wanda Jackson is going to continue to party for years to come and the invitations keep coming. This is one party you won’t find your self asleep on the couch, hung over the next morning, or begging for a ride home from.