Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 22

Welcome to Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 22, where we explore a raw, dusty, southern rock soul record that takes on a different road less traveled.  We “tune” in for a brilliant jazz record from an Argentinian composer that blends his technical talents at the keys immaculately with the accessible, if you are so in-Klein-ed.  Then we leave our comfort zone for an 80’s pop-rock superstar as he makes a twenty-song new album at the brilliant age of 74, against a catalog of over 20 records in his solo past!  Daunting task, yes!  However, this Album Review Saturdays is worth the road, the tune and the ride!

 

See our additional YouTube Version of Album Review Saturdays 2023 Episode 22, which features two additional album reviews and some audio files!  [Should Post before 9pm]

 

Grace Potter – Mother Road

Grace brings in a solo dusty gravel venture that revels in rawness, reach, and country-rock slinky delivery that entices and bewitches.  Here we are treated to a slightly different register from previous Nocturnal blues southern rock albums of her past.  Although, you do have the first track to keep you in the good-Grace(s) you might have been expecting, while it kind of hints at where she’s going.  And then we go!  The minute the car door opens (yes it’s there), we’re drawn to a Bonnie and Sheryl kind of frolic (I’m hoping I don’t have to use last names there — Raitt and Crow early albums – ). I’m certainly not saying that the subject matter is light and love, but when it’s heavy — it’s presented light, lovely and passionate so the connection lingers with her voice, lyrics, but also with the flow and musicianship surrounding it (hell even the background noises).

Here’s my basic take.  She’s not being clever.  She’s not trying to let the vocal be the coolest thing ever, or over-drive the lyricism.  What’s she’s doing is telling a story in personae and delivering it so true that it works, and it works so damn well!  So, if you’ve been missing an old-school southern-organ soul-filled-rock and roll duster, you should get on this road!  I could see her opening for Tedeschi Trucks or hittin’ the road with Duane Betts that would be a slam southern dunk!

The Band

  • Grace Potter – Vocals
  • Nick Bockrath – Guitar
  • Tim Deaux – Bass
  • Matt Musty – Drums
  • Dan Kalisher – Pedal steel guitar
  • Benmont Tench – Keyboards

Mother Road Tracklisting

  1. Mother Road
  2. Truck Stop Angels
  3. Ready Set Go
  4. Good Time
  5. Little Hitchhiker
  6. Lady Vagabond
  7. Rose-Colored Rearview
  8. All My Ghosts
  9. Futureland
  10. Masterpiece

 

Guillermo Klein – Telmo’s Tune

The calculated, complicated composer takes the piano into a beautiful, technical, but extremely accessible and enjoyable jazz ride! While you know by the sound and key changes that there is a superb technique and musicianship being applied by Guillermo and his four master band-mates, you don’t have to figure it out, nor are you so perplexed by it that it invades your thoughts.  Telmo’s Tune, which seems all interlaced by my ear (and it’s not trained), is packed full of jazz genre changes, odd meters (or at least that’s how I’m hearing it) that flirt with you but bring you back within the pieces.  Argentina’s proud composer doesn’t seem to linger in borders or roots.  Instead, he seems to focus on the music, the impression it can make or leave, and most importantly the tempo and flow to get you in and out of those impression. You’ll have your head bobbin’ then foot tappin, and in some cases your mind’s ear focusing keenly on that drum switch, electronic mephisto minutely messing with the music. While the piano is at the master’s hand, it’s not overly dominant (except the piano keyboard duelishness of the clever, ‘Camello’).  It can be eerie in a moment, gorgeous in another, commonly cool in an instant, or darn right dishin’ when it strikes.  A great record with groove, balance and appreciation for every instrument’s involvement in Telmo’s Tune. After your second listen, you are even going to pick up more!  You’ll start feeling Cheek all over (sax is so fun).  Then you’re trippin’ on Genovese space keyboarding, and busting out the fake drum hands trying to mimic what Pavolka is putting down!  Telmo’s Tune will tickle you in all the right jazz places, and it will sound unique, yet pure and accessible.

The Band

  • Guillermo Klein – Piano(s), Composition
  • Chris Cheek – Tenor and Soprano Saxophones
  • Leo Genovese – Fender Rhodes, Keyboards
  • Matt Pavolka – Bass; Allan Mednard: drums.

Telmo’s Tune Tracklisting

  1. Criolla
  2. Push Me Not
  3. Si vos me queres
  4. Telmo’s Tune
  5. Amor profundo
  6. Burrito Mirror
  7. Camello
  8. Quiero
  9. A Navarro

 

Rick Springfield – Automatic

I am reading the track listing, and I see the “Sha Do Wup,” and I’m wondering why I even thought about doing Automatic as a Album Review Saturdays album. I do not have an affinity for Rick Springfield, and I’m not sure if there’s a generational aspect of this singer that’s going to possibly relate to anything beyond the pop-rock culture from that 1980’s moment in time for him.  Hell, he even cashed in on looks for acting opportunities beyond the fact of his skills as guitarist and songwriter.  It was “Jessie’s Girl,” that I remember always gettin’ down to in my early listening years (1981).  So, let’s fast forward to 42 years later, and this his 21st or 22nd solo album (give or take)…and we’re treated to not a time warp, although that’s what the press docket is selling you, but an all out, no apologies, guitar singer-songwriter doing a bit of re-living and a return to non-adult rock with some 80s strength and those catchy (easy) guitar riffs!  His older-school vocal hooks and songs that deliver quickly and effectively with a heavy dose gloss-pop, too, are going to connect with everyone that knows, respects and loves Springfield.  Except thinking it’s going back to Working Class Dog.  No.  It’s not.  That’s a classic, and perhaps, the one album that can cross generations of smart musicians and listeners that truly appreciate the process and time.

I like the Automatic.  It has a lot of sounds and accomplishments within it.  I was cringing, remember.  Turns out that ‘Love Ain’t Cool’ actually held itself well, fitting into that catchiness I spoke of.  ‘Works For Me,’ which has that Carlos Santana – Matchbox Twenty feel, does a sexy job of playful lyrics and wonderful vocal delivery, which at 74, Mr. Springfield is still a great studio vocalist. I though twenty songs could have been a bit much, but having gone through three times now, I’m pretty sure it’s a nice mix, and why cut any of it.  There’s something for keyboard 80s lovers, and that drum-like machine pop, but what is missing is a genuine rock ballad, or a hint of rawness.  This is my only true complaint.  The only moment that might be construed as raw, would be ‘Make Your Move,’ but it’s a piano duet in honesty (it’s ok).  So, if you’re into the 80s synth and guitar Springfield you’re in that wheelhouse with new over-production and dance-2023 tendencies (which my opinion is there to reach newer audience over). His vocals and song writing are good, very good, in fact.  I don’t feel like he’s hanging on to a memory or trying to get back.

So, not only was I pleasantly surprised, I found a lot to like, and a genuine appreciation for what the artist here is working and doing.  He’s connecting with the songs, and the musicianship remains in tack from vocal to guitar to overall production, which should bring it all into a very favorable memory in the vast solo catalog of Rick Springfield.

The Band

  • Rick Springfield – Vocals, Guitar, Keyboards
  • At the time of writing this we did not have the album:  Horns and Background Vocalists – unknown at the time of posting.
  • Drums (or used machines), considering her does like to play as many of the instruments himself.

 

Automatic Tracklisting

  1. Exit Wound
  2. She Walks with the Angels
  3. Come Said the Girl
  4. Automatic
  5. Broke House
  6. This Town
  7. When God Forgets My Name
  8. Heroes
  9. Love Ain’t Cool (Sha Do Wup)
  10. Works for Me
  11. Fake It Til You Make It
  12. The Cure for Loneliness
  13. Invisible World
  14. Make Your Move
  15. In Case of Fire Break Glass
  16. Did I Just Say That Out Loud
  17. Someday I Will Fly
  18. Neutron Star
  19. Feed Your Soul
  20. We Are Eternal
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