All it takes is 3 chords and a dream!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Wildy's World Artist of the Year for 2010

Just as with Song of the Year, the Artist of the Year is a difficult pick.  This competion was actually a lot closer than the song category as there are several artists in this year's countdown with valid arguments both for their albums and their accomplishments beyond the recording studio.  While not a requirement to be named Artist of the Year, our pick was a Wildy's World Artist of the Month in 2010 and is the only artist to place two albums in this year's Top 60 Albums.  With an entry at #32, her live album Stages, and this year's #3 album After Dark, as well as her breakthrough success in Japan and a stunning voice, Halie Loren rose above a very talented pack during 2010. Congratulations, Halie Loren.  You are the Wildy's World Artist Of The Year for 2010.

Wildy's World Song Of The Year - 2010

900+ albums and it becomes difficult to pick just one song as the standout for an entire year of reviews.  But there is one song in particular, reviewed back in January of 2010 that continues as a playlist regular here at Wildy's World, often invoking repeat plays.  Shayna Zaid And The Catch's "Fireflies" is more than worth of the honor of Wildy's World Song Of The Year for 2010.  Below is a YouTube video of Zaid performing "Fireflies" at New York City's Rockwood Hall from 2009...

Wildy's World Top 60 Albums of 2010: #1

And here we are.  365 days, 960 submissions and 533 reviews later and we're done to the top album reviewed by Wildy's World in 2010.  It's been a long road with some great new music.  This year's #1 is a sleeper; one of those albums that will impress you the first time you hear but will keep growing on you.  Congratulations to D.B. Rielly for creating one of the most complete works of musical art to come across this desk in the past few years.  Love Potions And Snake Oil is the Wildy's World #1 album of 2010.

...but we're not done!  Keep checking back to find out who comes out on top with the Wildy's World Song Of The Year and Artist Of The Year!

Wildy's World Top 60 Albums of 2010: #2


2. Shayna Zaid & The Catch – Shayna Zaid & The Catch

Zaid has one of those voices that gets inside your head and stays there; combine that with an ability to write songs that grab you by the shirt and yell "listen to me" and you have a winning combination.

Come back in one hour for the #1 album of 2010, as reviewed by Wildy's World!

Wildy's World Top 60 Albums of 2010: #3


3. Halie Loren – After Dark

Halie Loren is already a star in Japan; it's only a matter of time before she recreates such success in the US and Europe.  Loren has a voice that is right at home amongst the Great Ladies of Song, and an ease of delivery that marks her as a natural.  After Dark is her finest effort to date.

Wildy's World Top 60 Albums of 2010: #4


4. Bess Rogers – Bess Rogers Presents Bess Rogers
Bess Rogers is the sort of songwriter who turns your expecations upside down, creating gem stones out of the emotional grist of life.  This is just the beginning for Rogers; expect big things from her in the future, particularly if Bess Rogers Presents Bess Rogers is any indication.

Wildy's World Top 60 Albums of 2010: #5

The final five...  we'll be revealing one per hour until 1:00 PM EST today.

5. Mark Knopfler – Get Lucky
What do you say about Mark Knopfler?  He's among the greatest guitarist of his own or any generation.  Get Lucky is among Knopfler's most subtle and intriguing work to date.  The fact that it doesn't place higher on this list is a tribute to some of the great music that's crossed this desk in 2010.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Wildy's World Top 60 Albums of 2010: 10-6

We're down to the top 10 albums of the year!  Today we'll get down to #6.  Tomorrow, we'll unveil the top 5, one an hour between 9:00 AM EST and 1:00 PM EST.  Without further adieu...

10. Treasa Levasseur – Low Fidelity

Levasseur is a glorious throwback full of the vitality of youth.  With a voice that could melt butter and a talent for songwriting that's a step above the rest, Low Fidelity is one of the true treats of the year.

9. Lucy Wainwright-Roche – Lucy

Wainwright-Roche shows a subtlety and grace on Lucy that is incomparable.  Her ability to find beauty in mundane moments sets her apart.

8. Skyler – Long Gone
Rock music with a distinctive pop sensibility inspired by pure joy.  Irresistible. 

7. Amy MacDonald – A Curious Thing

MacDonald followed a top-ten, multi-platinum selling album with a more complex and incredibly mature song cycle that will make you forget she's all but 22 years old.

6. Cosmo Jarvis – HumAsYouHitch/SonOfAB!tch
A no holds barred musical assault that's well written, driven and full of the unabashed energy of punk rock.  Jarvis is a tour-de-force.

Stay tuned.  Tomorrow we'll reveal the top 5, hour by hour, starting at 9:00 AM EST.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wildy's World Top 60 Albums of 2010: 20-11

 Today we work ourselves down to the brink of the top-10.  The great music keeps rolling!  I know we're all excited to get to 2011, but this is one last chance to remember the great albums we talked about in the past year.  Let's roll...

20. Social Code – Rock N Roll
The Edmonton rockers pack a punch while retaining a distinct pop sense in their US debut, a big rock album that manages to be commercial without sounding like that was the point.

19. Steven Page – Page One
The former Barenaked Ladies co-front man proves he can make it on his own, bring his own special blend of darkness and pop sensibility to Page One.

18. Sami.The.Great – Nothing Left To See
Sami.The.Great is going to be a star someday.  Nothing Left To See is perhaps a reference to Sami's heart, which she wears on her sleeve.  It's certainly not representative of her songwriting.  You'll want a long musical relationship with Sami.The.Great.

17. Alexis Foxe – To Have And Want More
Alexis Foxe is over the top, ala Lady Gaga and Madonna.  Luckily she has the singing and songwriting talent to back up her musical hubris.  To Have And Want More is a brilliant start that will appeal to music fans of all ilks.

16. JD Eicher & The Goodnights – The Shape Of Things
Perhaps one of the most understated pop efforts of 2010, The Shape Of Things sneaks up on you, settles into your brain and takes you on a ride you won't soon forget.

15. Barenaked Ladies – All In Good Time
No one knew what to expect from Barenaked Ladies after the departure of co-founder Steven Page, but it's safe to say that the band surprised fans and critics alike with their most mature and musically satisfying album to date.

14. Scarlitt – Hope Unseen
Scarlitt avoids the comic-book character quality of many new pop/metal bands to deliver an old-school, wall shaking collection of songs so well constructed musically you won't quite believe what you're hearing.

13. Laura Roppé – I’m Still Here
Roppé  is the comeback kid; not only kicking cancer to the curb but remaking herself as an artist in one of the most brilliant and emotionally naked artistic turns of 2010.  Roppé jettison's the glitz and polish of her debut album for a depth of emotional honesty that is startling and welcome.

12. Trout Fishing In America – Lookin’ At Lucky
Trout Fishing In America returned in 2010 with their first album for adults in more than a decade, an amazing collection of songs that show maturity and nuance blended with an ear for melody that is incomparable.

11. Gunnar Madsen – Two Hands
While you might not think of Madsen as a piano virtuoso from his work with The Bobs, Two Hands is by far the most impressive instrumental album of 2010.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Wildy's World Top 60 Albums of 2010: 30-21

 We're moving quickly toward our number one album of the year.  Today we're counting down numbers 30 through 21 in our top Albums and EPs of the year.  Let's get to it!

30. Hans York – Young Amelia
York is a singer-songwriter thoroughly in his element on Amelia, and is one of the best folk songwriters working.

29. Phil Ayoub – Arrivals And Departures
A captivating singer, songwriter and performer. 

28. Carrie Rodriguez – Love And Circumstance
Rodriguez a dervish with a voice that could melt butter and a fiddle fit to cut the world in half.  Love And Circumstance is among her best work to date.

27. Eliza Blue – The Road Home
Eliza Blue proves the richness of recording at home with The Road Home, pouring her heart and soul into every song with a richness and depth that is rare in popular music.

26. The John Byrne Band – After The Wake
One of the finest Celtic-influenced albums of 2010.

25. Syzygy – Realms Of Eternity
Deep theological concerns and a modern take on classic progressive rock make Realms Of Eternity the sort of album you can't let go of.

24. Isabel Rose – Swingin’ From The Hip
Rose will one day be a legend.

23. Wes Weddell – By The Side Of The Lake
By The Side Of The Lake shows a master craftsman at the top of his game.

22. Annie Fitzgerald – In Good Time
In Good Time is absolutely captivating.  Annie Fitzgerald has you from hello.

21. The Chapin Sisters – Two
The daughters of Tom Chapin and nieces of Harry Chapin show that their musical blood lines run deep on Two, an a haunting collection you won't be able to get out of your head.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Wildy's World Top 60 Albums of 2010: 40-31

We're back for another day of the Wildy's World Top-60 of 2010.  We're moving quickly to crown the top album of the year on New Year's Eve, as well as the Artist of the Year and Song of the Year.
40. Dana Wells – The Evergreen EP
Brilliant debut EP from the Washington D.C. based singer/songwriter with a bright future.
39. Alesa Lajana – Secret Garden
Lajana is an amazing songwriter who creates magic with her voice and on guitar.  Perhaps one of the best all around-talents in Indie music.
38. The White Ravens – Gargoyles And Weather Vanes
Brother and sister Amy and Will Bennett are a duo on the rise.  The chemistry and sound here are unforgettable.
The former Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies front man continues to impress with a mix of Americana and Gospel in an inspired performance given in the wake of the great flood in Nashville.
36. Darius Rucker – Charleston, SC 1966
Rucker's seemingly improbably rise as a country music star continues with perhaps his most poignant and subtle songwriting to date.
35. Kate Rusby – Make The Light
Rusby's voice is the fabric of dreams.
34. Fozzy – Chasing The Grail
Chris Jericho and Fozzy bring the muscle on a heavy hitting album full of distinctive pop sensibility.
33. The Flutterbies feat. Maureen Davis – The Flutterbies
Broadway diva Maureen Davis shows she can rock.
32. Halie Loren – Stages
The first (likely of many) live album from the engaging voice of Halie Loren.  The best live album of the year.
31. Kate Miller-Heidke – Curiouser
Yes, this album was first released in 2008, but it took until 2010 for Curiouser to drop in the Western Hemisphere.  A brilliant mix of songwriting, dance beats and kitsch.  Miller-Heidke has an operatic voice and a saucy tongue, a combination that has icon written all over it.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Wildy's World Top 60 Albums/EPs of 2010

We're back!  I hope you all had a great Christmas, Hannukah, Winter Solstice of whatever else you may celebrate.  And of course, Happy Kwanzaa!  It's time for the Wildy's World Top-60 albums or EPs of 2010.  This list is compiled from albums reviewed on Wildy's World during 2010 and may occasionally include an album from late 2009 as well. This is a proprietary list, meaning it's generated entirely by me.  You may disagree with some of the choices or the placement, and I invite respectful discussions of opinions in response to the postings.  Anything rude or unintelligent will be zapped ASAP. 

Today we have numbers 60-41.  Click on the album name to link back to the original Wildy's World review.  Original reviews include artwork and links to artist sites and purchase points.  Without further adieu...

60. Anna Kaelin – Anna Kaelin
59. Hugh Morrison – Robert Burns Rocks
58. Colin Gilmore – Goodnight Lane
57. Sufjan Stevens – All Delighted People
56. Rooney – Eureka
55. Joy Ike – Rumors
54. Anna Coogan – The Nocturnal Among Us
53. Jon Troast – Living Room
52. Dropkick Murphys – Live On Lansdowne, Boston MA
51. Waking Ugly – Waking Ugly
50. Jason D. Williams – Killer Instinct
49. Billion Dollar Babies - Die For Diamonds
48. James Hurley – Tempest In A Teacup
47. Corinne Bailey Rae – The Sea
46. Original Cast Recording – Ordinary Days
45. Maidens IV – Celtic Fire
44. Rachael Sage – Delancey St.
43. Never Shout Never – Harmony
41. Chip Taylor & Carrie Rodriguez – The New Bye & Bye

We'll be back tomorrow with numbers 40-31.  See you then!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Wildy's World Year End Countdown

Hello folks!  The holiday are upon us (quite literally).  We'll be starting our year-end countdown on December 26th in a slightly more compressed format that in past years, and will reveal our album, artist and song of the year on December 31st!  In the meantime, Merry Christmas or a joyous holiday season, however it applies to you!

Many blessings,


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Laura Roppé – I’m Still Here

Laura Roppé – I’m Still Here
2010, Laura Roppé
When Laura Roppé broke out in 2008 with her debut album, Girl Like This, it looked like nothing could stop her.  Grand reviews, a record deal in the UK and the sort of personal reactions from fans that build a lasting impression with a nascent fan base made it look like Laura Roppé was on top of the world.  Then cancer came calling.  The rare diagnosis of a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer might have appeared to have been a potentially cruel ending to a promising career path, but Roppé has never been the sort to give in.  Just two years later, Roppé is healthy, happy and inspired.  Her sophomore album, I’m Still Here, shows an artist reborn into her most primal self.  I’m Still Here finds Roppé taking a step back to make a leap forward.  The polish and power of Girl Like This is gone, but Roppé finds her inner voice on I’m Still Here.  With the assistance of producer, cousin and Rx Bandits front-man Matthew Embree, Laura Roppé has created her most honest and personal work to date.
I’m Still Here opens with “Bail Yourself Out”, a catchy folk/rock/funk/soul number that’s part Bonnie Raitt.  Roppé urges self-reliance in an urgently catchy tune that will get stuck in your noggin for days.  “Heart Inside Your Palm” is an unusually honest and childlike song about the responsibility of holding another’s heart in your hands.  There’s a cute quality to this song that’s almost trite, but that quality is overcome by the childlike simplicity of the song.  “Little Stick Of Dynamite” is a song Roppé wrote about her youngest daughter; both a loving ode and a warning to the world at large, “Little Stick Of Wonder” is full of the blend of mother’s love and utter awe at the unfolding of a personality born from her own but so thoroughly distinct.  “Woobie” is a simple love song using a child’s security blanket as the archetype for protection from the troubles of the world around us. 
“Making A Living” is a catchy pop tune about living life in the moment and rising above the norm.  “Daddy’s Little Angels” is an insightful tune about the push and pull between fathers and daughters, particularly once boys come into the milieu.  Interestingly, Roppé seems to be writing about her husband and daughters while imprinting her own experiences as a daughter within the subtext of the song.  This is among the best songwriting on the album.  “She’s Gonna Change The World” finds Roppé opining on her oldest daughter and her serious, purposeful way of approaching the world around her.  Full of a mother’s love, the song is a moving tribute.
Roppé’s battle with cancer helped produce her own personal “bucket list”, a concept playfully treated with in “George Clooney”.  This smarmy little number is about living in the moment and having the audacity to dream your dreams no matter how outlandish they may seem.  While not Roppé’s most polished songwriting, she gets points for honesty and for letting the song be what it wants to be.  “I’m So Sorry” is a tongue-in-cheek instructional tune on the proper way to apologize to a woman.  This is destined to be a crowd favorite in Roppé’s live shows, particularly for current and prospective Bunco girls.    “No Place I’d Rather Be” is a simple, feel-good love song that’s in love and in the moment.  This is one of the best pure melodies on I’m Still Here, and stands out for its uncomplicated approach to an honest and simple message that is too often glitzed and glossed to death. 
“Butterfly Girl” is a song of love and support that’s heartfelt and warm.  Mothers, sisters and others of that ilk will be touched by a tune both simple and deep in its truths.  “Wage Peace” finds Roppé kicking tail in a soul-filled 1960’s rocker that delivers an aggressively pacifist message with attitude and oomph that’s sultry and powerful.  Roppé is entirely in her element here, and shines like the sun.  Roppé closes I’m Still Here with the raw and powerful title track.  “I’m Still Here” is certain to be a cancer survivor’s anthem, and not surprisingly is Roppé’s most inspired performance on the album.  It’s a kiss off song with an edge that’s unaffected but full of the power and grace of one who has persevered.
There will be those who listen to I’m Still Here and not get it.  The album is not as musically consistent as Roppé’s debut Girl Like This, but there’s more to the story than that.  Girl Like This was an explosion caused by the long-standing pressure of someone in their fourth decade who has finally found what they are meant to be doing.  I’m Still Here takes that initial burst of enthusiasm and begins the process of channeling the creative energies that have always been there.  This process was both complicated and catalyzed by Roppé’s battle with cancer.  The end result is a startlingly honest and personal album from someone who has been quite literally ripped from her status quo and has subsequently given herself the freedom to dream.  So while you may make the argument that Roppé;s songwriting isn’t as consistent on I’m Still Here, that isn’t so much a criticism as it is an observation.  Roppé’s development as a songwriter has been given a mighty goose by circumstances beyond her control, and she is meeting the challenges of Becoming quite nicely.  I’m Still Here is a celebration of life, of art and of a self newly-discovered.  In it, Roppé is magically and musically human, bringing beauty and truth out of the darkness for all to see.
Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Laura Roppé at or  I'm Still Here is available on CD directly from Roppé's website.  Digital versions of the album are available from and iTunes.

Book Review: Laura Roppé – Woobie

Laura Roppé – Woobie
Laura Roppé was a lawyer, wife, mother and nascent singer/songwriter when the call came.  It was her surgeon on the phone, and the diagnosis was a rare and aggressive form of triple negative breast cancer.  It was a sucker punch from life to a woman to whom nothing bad had ever happened.  Laura Roppé documents her experience with cancer in a new book in 2011 entitled Woobie.  While Roppé certainly shares her path to what she hopes will be remission, she alternates these stories with stories of family, friends and an engaging personal history that not only details the steps to a life-altering disease and the sort of semi-charmed life of which movies (and certainly) books, are made.
Roppé isn’t afraid to name drop along the way, detailing life experiences that include contact with the likes of Troy Aikman, Val Kilmer, Oliver Stone, Pooh Richardson, Jack Black, Meatloaf and Jon Anderson (Yes).  What is most striking about Woobie, however, is the utter lack of pretention to the entire book.  Roppé writes with the sort of giddy self-awareness of someone who has stared death in the face and lived to tell the tale, but avoids the sort of gamey narcissism that can overtake such projects.  Roppé finds strength in family, friendship and her newly born career in music, developing a new understanding of what in life is important in the process. 
Woobie is a reference to a child’s ward of protection, and the title is well chosen.  In Roppé’s case her Woobie is her husband Brad, who stands by her throughout the entire process of surgery, chemotherapy and radiation treatments.  Appropriately, Woobie is a love story.  It’s a story of survival and rebirth.  It’s story of the magic of small truths.  Roppé shows us that even in the midst of tragedy; it’s never too late to become the person we’re meant to be.  Woobie is nothing less than inspirational.  While the book starts a bit slowly as Roppé finds her voice as an author, she quickly owns her medium and becomes the sort of animated and personable story-teller that that draws readers in. 
Woobie is a must-read for anyone who has lived through or been diagnosed with Breast Cancer or most any other type of cancer.  Roppé inspires even in her darkest moments by holding on to truths both great and small.  In the end, as a survivor, Roppé maintains those truths and she resumes the chase for her dreams.  Like many before her, Roppé is empowered by her experiences, but Woobie serves to empower others.  Roppé spins a tale that takes into account the magic and misery of her diagnosis, treatment and ultimate survival of the darkest nemesis she’s faced.  Roppé infuses her epic story with tales of friends, acquaintances and experiences that shaped her into someone who could look cancer in the face and not blink.  Woobie ultimately transcends its genre in much the way Laura Roppé has transcended Cancer; with grit, charm, humor and a little bit of magic.
Rating: 4.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Laura Roppé at or  Woobie will be published sometime in 2011.  Keep checking Roppé's website for additional information.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Kasey Lansdale – Never Say Never

Kasey Lansdale – Never Say Never
2010, Kasey Lansdale
Kasey Lansdale is a little Texas gal with big dreams.  At the age of 23 she already writes songs for one of the largest Music Row song factories, tours the world and is on the verge of dropping her third EP, Never Say Never.  Lansdale has the looks and voice to make it in Nashville and beyond, but also has brains galore.  A published writer, Lansdale wrote a story at the tender age of eight that is currently being shopped as a Hollywood screenplay.  Music is the force that turns Lansdale’s world however, and with Never Say Never she’s elevated her game to a level that tends to garner national or even international attention.
Never Say Never opens with “Half As Much”, a mature and literate kiss-off song that’s full of the sorrow of a classic country heartbreaker, but takes the type of positive turn that Garth Brooks was known for.  “Why Can’t I” rues her inability to just wall off her emotions for a former love when he has simply walked away like nothing has ever happened.  “Just Another Guy” is an uncomfortable blend of 1970’s pop and country.  This song simply doesn’t work well, although Lansdale’s voice saves it from being a total washout.  Lansdale is inspired by Bonnie Raitt on the title track.  “Never Say Never” explores the idea of romantic returns, justifying them at times and even allowing that sometimes we just can’t help ourselves.  “Hard To Be A Lady” is the best overall track on the album, and the one most likely to land Lansdale on the country charts.  The concept is a classic one, that a particular man is so irresistible that it makes it hard for her to behave.  Lansdale owns this one as if she’s in the middle of the emotional/hormonal tornado the song implies.
Kasey Lansdale isn’t just a vocalist, she’s a performer.  Never Say Never confirms Lansdale’s place among some of the bright young stars in country music.  The EP should, in a perfect world, land Lansdale on the charts and in the hearts of country music fans everywhere. 
Rating: 4 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Kasey Lansdale at or  Never Say Never should see the light of day in early 2011.  Keep checking Kasey Lansdale's website for availability.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds – Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds

Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds – Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds
2010, Modern Vintage Recordings
Brother and sister Arleigh (lead vocals) and Jason Kincheloe grew up in the Catskill Mountains of New York as part of a musical family.  Jam sessions of family and friends that ran deep into the night weren’t uncommon, so it’s not surprising the pair grew up with a desire to make music.  Now based in Brooklyn, the Kincheloes are the heart and soul of Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds.  The nine-member group recently released their self-titled debut album to rave reviews.  Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds mixes funk, soul and rock n roll with the dynamic lead vocals of Arleigh Kincheloe in an explosive mix that rocks the house, big or small.
Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds is an under-achieving record with a lot of great points going for it.  Perhaps the great boon for Sister Sparrow is the dynamic voice of Arleigh Kincheloe; a near-perfect interest for the bluesy-rock n roll sound that Sister Sparrow seems to prefer.  The band is solid musically, matching Kincheloe step for step and note for note.  That being said, the energy that Sister Sparrow and The Dirty Birds have gained a reputation for in their live shows does not carry over to the album.  Whether its production style or just a distinct disconnection in performance styles between the studio and the stage, Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds is less than it might be.  Sister Sparrow works their way through bluesy rock (“Untie My Shoelaces”, “Freight Train”); old school R&B (“Quicksand”); dance-infused Reggae (“Boom Boom”) and even old-school country with a soulful twist (“Just My Eyes”).  All are nice, but the wow moment you crave as a listener just never quite materializes.  The closest Sister Sparrow gets is “Rock On It”, which might be the ultimate come-on song.  Kincheloe in particular is on fire here.  The other high point on the album is “Who Are You?” which borrows its main melody line from Grieg’s “In The Hall Of The Mountain King”.  It’s an intriguing listen that works in Stax-style horns.
At the end of the day, Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds is an enjoyable listening experience that seems like it could have been so much more.  Arleigh Kincheloe is going to be a star, but the songwriting here is inconsistent and the energy the band achieves on stage just never quite materializes here.  Nevertheless, Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds is all about a band finding its footing in the studio.  Even if their first steps are a bit wobbly, this is a band that’s set to run hard and run free.
Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds at or  Sister Sparrow And The Dirty Birds is available from as a CD or Download.  The album is also available via iTunes.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Antonia Bennett – Natural EP

Antonia Bennett – Natural EP
2010, MesaBlueMoonRecordings
Antonia Bennett practically grew up on stage.  The native of Beverly Hills is the daughter of singing legend Tony Bennett and actress Sharon Grant.  Bennett grew up performing with her famous dad, including stints on stage with Count Basie and his orchestra.  Bennett also grew up with advice and praise from such family friends as Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Dean Martin, Gene Kelly, Rosemary Clooney and Les Paul.   Bennett has studied at The Berklee College Of Music and the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, and has performed all over the world.  This fall Bennett released her debut EP, Natural.
Natural opens with “Soon”, a slow reflective number from the Gershwins that shows off Bennett’s sweet voice in fine form.  It’s a light but solid start.  The piano work on this number is exquisite and actually outshines Bennett.  Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ On The Ritz” is also done in a slow, mellow arrangement that is not the best presentation for the song.  It does, however, allow Bennett to show off her gorgeous vocal tone.  Still this version of the song drags, and Bennett doesn’t bring a presence to carry it.  “The Thrill Is Gone” is in much the same ilk, pretty but bland.  “I Wish I Were In Love Again” is a Rodgers & Hart number (Babes In Arms) popularized by Judy Garland, and finds Bennett picking up the pace a bit in a solid performance.  “I Fall To Pieces” shows some improvement, but you’re left with the impression that Bennett’s heart isn’t really in the jazz material.  Natural closes with “Love Is A Battlefield”, a jazzified take on the Pat Benatar hit.  Bennett comes alive here on the vocal even as the arrangement essentially neuters the energy and edge of the original. 
The thing is that Natural simply isn’t.  There’s an air of pretense to the EP that just doesn’t fly, as if Antonia Bennett is starting with an EP of staid material because that’s what she grew up with.  There’s a higher level of commitment to the one rock tune on the disc even if it is watered down in a non-threatening arrangement.  Bennett has a beautiful voice, but her heart just doesn’t seem to be in it here.  Bennett has already moved on, and is currently working on an album of original pop tunes to be released sometime in 2011.  One might suspect that project will show a lot more life while continuing to feature a voice that truly is worth listening to.
Rating: 2.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Antonia Bennett at or  Natural is available as a download from and iTunes.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Joy Autumn - Scarlett EP

Joy Autumn – Scarlett EP
2010, Oscar Records
Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter Joy Autumn discovered her love for writing songs at the age of five, making up lyrics while playing and recording piano parts on her cassette recorder.  The Olympia, Washington native gave out cassettes as a young child to cheer up friends and family.  Her experiences in a chamber group in her early 20’s led to Joy Autumn writing pop/rock tunes in the chamber style and discovering a new writing voice she hadn’t known she possessed.  Now on her own, Joy Autumn continues in her highly personal approach to songwriting; a style on display on Autumn’s debut EP, Scarlett.
Scarlett opens with “Over”, a catchy pop kiss-off song delivered in a reserved arrangement and style.  There’s no bombast here, allowing the simple but comely melody to shine in conjunction with Joy Autumn’s affable voice.  “Cobble Stone” details the wake of a relationship and has a dark, baroque feel.  The melody is a thing of beauty, displaying the continuance of light even in the darkness of heartache.  You’ll leave knowing the story-teller will be all right in spite of the pain.  “Back Off” takes on a ‘friend’ who is trying to pry her away from her love for himself.  The jazzy pop arrangement is catchy and well-related and sounds like something you might hear on a TV or movie soundtrack.  “Numb” warns off a potential suitor saying she’ll likely destroy him.  It’s a song written from the depths of depression and seems more about self-protection than an honest warning.  Scarlett closes with “Tears” is a mournful epitaph for a relationship or a phase of life.
Joy Autumn delivers a compact and personal breakup EP in the form of Scarlett, perhaps a reference to the emotional blood-letting of a relationship gone sour.  Autumn’s style is a sort of reserved pop that calls on her baroque background for inspiration, allowing melodies and movement to take the fore instead of electronics and percussion.  Scarlett is a breath of fresh air, a highly enjoyable side-trip into the heart and mind of Joy Autumn.
Rating: 3.5 Stars (Out of 5)
Learn more about Joy Autumn at or  Scarlett is available through