I don’t often quote artist bios, but this was too good not to share:
They were raised on the Beatles and the Band, went to high school with Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, dated Miles Davis and Tom Waits in college and keep a Lightnin’ Hopkins, Kinks or Mama Cass record within arms reach at all times.
It’s a fitting description. While the band’s name conjures up a hearty serving of roots Americana, there is much more to be found here. One minute you’ll be lost in the smoky jazz of “Anything,” the next you’ll be grooving to the backwoods electric blues of “Devil in Your Smile.”
The trio produces music that has an earthy quality, organic and authentic. Many of the songs are built around just two guitars and a simple drum set, yet you’d hardly know from the rich and textured arrangements.
The plaintive “Sink and Swim” is simply exquisite. The haunting melody is made even more evocative by the rich harmonies of siblings Kate and Matt Lorenz. Guitarist Zak Trojano joins the vocal fray for the sinister “Devil in Your Smile.”
The electric guitars come out for “Change My Heart,” devolving into a feisty guitar dual. The song finds singer Kate talking about all that she can change — from her name to her fortune to her mind — before declaring, “I can never, never change my heart.”
“Light in the Tunnel” closes out the album in fine form, with a bit of blues, a taste of folk and a healthy dose of gospel.
From start to finish, Common Courtesy is a glorious and melodic racket.
Audio Download: Rusty Belle, “Change My Heart”
As Champagne tells it, he had a collection of songs with a shared sense of purpose. They were songs of a spiritual nature, absent any specific religious association.
With songs in hand he rounded up some friends and headed into the studio. These weren’t just any friends, but a veritable who’s who of the Boston Americana scene. Guest singers range from Session Americana’s Ry Cavanaugh and Jim Fitting to Twangville faves Amy Correia and Dennis Brennan. The results are outstanding, with performances as magical as Champagne’s songs.
Here’s a stand-out among many. The soulful Jess Tardy wraps her voice around “She Got The Call,” a song that Champagne wrote about the passing of his elderly grandmother.
Audio Download: David Champagne (featuring Jess Tardy), “She Got the Call”
The finest musicians don’t hesitate to take chances as the look to further their craft. Put Lyle Brewer in this category.
The New England Conservatory trained musician has spent many a year touring as a guitarist with Sarah Borges and, more recently, Ryan Montbleau. Taking a break from the road, Brewer sat down in a victorian house – just him and his guitar – to create an immensely satisfying album of instrumentals. The collection, a handful of originals tucked between some jazz and western swing classics, has a subtle elegance.
And bonus points for an album title to which we can certainly relate….
Audio Download: Lyle Brewer, “Deep River Blues”
Rusty Belle’s Matt Lorenz moonlights as the one-man band known as the Suitcase Junket. As one would expect, he plays a ragtag collection of instruments, including a guitar that he fished out of a dumpster. He complements this with a self-taught throat signing technique that he uses sparingly for dramatic effect. Bring this together with Lorenz’s magical songwriting and you’ve got something special.
Audio Download: The Suitcase Junket, “When We Land”
There are some artists who just radiate a love of playing. Greg Klyma is one of them, a guy who seems happiest when he’s got a stringed instrument in his hand. His latest release captures this feeling well. His latest release finds Klyma barreling through a collection of songs as spirited as they are enjoyable. This song is a good introduction, a relaxed and free-wheeling piece of Americana gold.
Be sure to seek out his version of the childhood classic “You Are My Sunshine.” He brilliantly transforms the song, making it dark and ominous.
Audio Download: Greg Klyma, “Signpost”
Drunk All the Time, The Rationales (from the forthcoming self-released ep Dream of Fire)
It’s been awhile since we last heard from the Rationales. They teased us last year with a lone single but are now back with a vengeance. They are about to release a five-song ep, the first of three promised eps over the next 18 months.
They band stretches themselves out with songs that, overall, are a bit heavier and more and intense than their earlier work. Yet their power pop heart still beats strong, as this powerhouse track demonstrates.
Audio Download: The Rationales, “Drunk All the Time”
Although she now resides in Brooklyn, Miss Tess spent many a year in the Boston area. Hence we’re claiming her as one of our own. She and the Talkbacks are back with an ep that showcases some of her favorite songwriters, from Willie Nelson to Randy Newman to Neil Young, alongside a lone original tune. All the covers are extremely satisfying but I’m most taken with this, um, feel-good take on Ted Hawkin’s “Sorry You’re Sick.”
About the author: Mild-mannered corporate executive by day, excitable Twangville denizen by night.