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May & June 2015 Short Takes

Cécile Doo-Kingué "Anybody Listening" 2015 This talented Montreal based singer-songwriter-guitarist offers intense and to-the-point lyrics propelled with a rich alto voice that grabs you with the first note. Each song is packed with great groove-oriented picking so tasty you’ll smack your lips. She shows her sexy side in "Animal Kingdom" and "Make Me." With "Third World Child" and "Six Letters," she calls it like she sees it; telling us in the latter, "Six letters that’ll make you smile / When you’re joking with your friends / Six letters spelt from an evil / I will never comprehend." Powerful. "Bloodstained Vodka" is a protest song about the Olympics in Russia. In "Anybody Listening," she wonders if anybody in this busy crowded world cares. If you like Ruthie Foster and Joan Armatrading and want to try someone rawer, try this brilliant artist. © Jamie Anderson

Alice DiMicele "Swim" 2015 Spanning several octaves, her beautiful and powerful voice ranges from rattle-your-bones low notes to a soaring high that’ll remind you of a young Joni Mitchell. Her groove-oriented folk employs a lot of different styles without feeling scattered, from jazz to soul. And her band! They’ve worked with everyone from Leftover Salmon to Ray Charles and it’s easy to see why. DiMicele is no slouch herself, with a career that spans almost 30 years of touring and 13 recordings. "Soul Fly Free" is an uplifting acoustic cut with a heart of R&B. There’s a cool banjo and a moving story in "Old Life Back." The title cut features a funkified bass and an expressive B3 organ. It has a great message, too – if your ship doesn’t come in, don’t despair, swim. "Open Road" has some right-on fiddle from Darol Anger. There’s a great horn section in the upbeat "When Jane Rides Scout." The album has some thoughtful ballads, too, like "This Love," a beautiful piece presented with a delicately fingerpicked guitar and soothing cello. I love this album. You will too. © Jamie Anderson

Charlie Parr "Stumpjumper" 2015 This artist lives his art! Charlie Parr eschews such modern amenities such as a proper recording studio and assorted vices that we guitarists oft indulge in for the sake of one's songs. And what songs they are! Parr, akin to such storied blues and roots men as John Mayall and Gary Clark Jr. - to cite the senior and junior - sings of the universal truths of life on this mortal coil. Parr and his cohorts: Ryan Gustafson, James Wallace, Phil Cook, and Emily Parr expertly render endless rhythms and layered harmonies on a myriad of stringed instruments including 12 string, fretless banjo, steel guitar, fiddle, and electric bass with the fervor of a band on the run following a bank heist! Stumpjumper resonates archaic and modern at the same time - and on the final track "Delia," which the artist remarks as "the finest murder ballad" - Parr's pathos is transcendent. Got to pay your dues if you wanna sing the blues.... © Tom Semioli

Cosimo Erario "The Diamond Quarter" 2015 I suppose Don Ross is one of the best known acoustic guitar players who has recorded solely on a baritone guitar; Andy McKee has also gone there recently. And Italain Cosimo Erario has produced "The Diamond Quarter," his take on the lowered tones of a baritone. The longer scale length produces rumbling bass lines that set off treble-based melodies, making for some interesting aural combinations. This is Erario's sixth CD, though he is known primarily as a singer-songwriter, making "The Diamond Quarter" his first foray into solo acoustic guitar. Many of the songs demonstrate a keen sense of melody, dynamic chord arrangements, with good use of counterpoint and the occasional flurry of dashing arpeggios. You can find Erario on YouTube playing electric guitar with some impressive jazz and fusion chops. The songs on "The Diamond Quarter" are all relatively brief, so they don't drift into the ramblings of some solo guitar music that is labeled "New Age." "Areia Branca" is a sunny piece that still contains a few dark clouds for interest, Erario demonstrating some chops with tapping and harmonic slaps. "Sconfinato" takes the listener in some diverse diections with just enough musical tension to draw us in; Erario does much the same to good effect on "Severin's Days." All in all, "The Diamond Qurater" is a disc of fine acoustic guitar work that shows off some of Cosimo Erario's borad musical background. © Kirk Albrecht

Ross Hammond "Flight" 2015 As DIY projects go Ross Hammond's Flight is clean and straightforward and the essence of simplicity. Apparently the entire CD was recorded on a portable Zoom recorder on porches, in basements and at the Gold Lion Arts, a music school, art space and creative studio in Sacramento, CA. Hammond presents an interesting collection of traditional tunes, hymns, and originals. Throughout Flight there is enough ambient sound, fret squeaks and string buzz and overall sonic character to convey an honesty to this music that is inviting. Most of the ten originals are groove oriented, sometimes repetitive, but full to the brim with the kind of character that embodies the best creative improvisational music. Highlights include "The Ballad of Red Cloud" and a sweet and melancholy version of "On the Rock Where Moses Stood". © James Filkins

Here's some other great music we received this month:

Mark Brine - All Alone & Blue
Thomas Aaron Garlow - That's the Way it Goes
Fernwood - Arcadia
Eli & Bill Perras - Two Voices, One Guitar
Barwick & Siegfried - The Trestle

Indiana Fingerstyle Guitar Festival July 31 - August 2, 2015: Competitions, Concerts, Workshops and more!

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