REVIEW: GRANT MALOY SMITH – ‘DUST BOWL: AMERICAN STORIES’ 181

Having been working on the album for more than 2 years, every moment of effort Grant Maloy Smith put into creating this new collection, Dust Bowl: American Stories, comes through on every track, though some fare much better than others.

“Old Black Roller” kicks off the collection with a simple guitar rhythm – so simple in fact that when put with the few lyrics the song features it may be skipped over entirely – it doesn’t get things off to a great start. “Lily Of The Valley” fares better, helped by the use of more instrumentation and the vocal has more passion behind it, which is always a great way of drawing in an audience.

“So Far Away” is perhaps the stand-out track on the album. With a great drum beat and uplifting, toe-tapping percussion, the track blends musicianship, lyrics and a superb vocal performance almost effortlessly to create a number which, if there’s any justice, will be played time and time again by those who hear it. “Ride That Train” is also a strong inclusion on the collection, working hard to match the upbeat tempo if its predecessor, so it’s a little disappointing to find that “Isht a Lhampko (Have Strength) slows things down and ruins the momentum the album had just started to pick up.

There’s a real country twang to “Me Time” that those who aren’t die-hard country fans might not like, but I dare anyone who hears it to try and not grin or tap their toes once the rhythm kicks in. The emotion contained within “Pushing Back The Wind” makes the track ideal for anyone wanting something to reflect on a moment or event in their life to, and “Never Seen The Rain” is lyrically simplistic but the return of an uptempo rhythm more than makes up for it.

Maloy tends to swing from one extreme to the other and does so again on “All The Long Way”, cutting short the building energy of some tracks and replacing them with sombre, stripped back numbers- like this one – which risk being overlooked. Fortunately, he swings the slow-fast pendulum quite often and so while “ATLW” is sure to be skipped over by some, the same most likely won’t be said of “I Come From America” – give it a listen and you’ll see and hear why.

The most emotive number on the album, “Daddy If You Have To Go”, held particular resonance with me, and, for those who have lost a loved one, it will surely do the same. “And The Rain Comes Down” meanwhile doesn’t hit as hard, but there’s something about the lyrics such as “I’ve been known to sit and watch the starlight turn to dawn” that makes it one of the most reflective and thoughtful songs Smith’s ever written.

Quite why Grant Maloy Smith included a reprise of “Old Black Roller” to close out the collection I personally don’t know, and the reality it doesn’t work, but nevertheless, the 12 diverse tracks that preceded it cement his place as a country staple with a twist. His songs might not get the airplay that the likes of Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum do, but certain ones certainly pack a punch, reconnecting the listener with aspects of reality in a way few artists in today’s day and age can do.

 

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REVIEW: EMILY FAYE – ‘HERE I AM’ EP 37

Championed by Rolling Stone last year and named one of their ‘Ten New Country Artists You Need To Know’, Emily Faye’s passion for music stretches far beyond the short time she’s been in the spotlight as a star in her own right. Having gone from writing songs in her bedroom and studying at the British and Irish Modern Music Institute, she’s now released her debut EP called Here I Am.

Opening with “Open Road”, the collection gets off to a great and upbeat start, thanks to Faye’s soft, almost innocent vocal perfectly being perfectly paired with a toe-tapping country rhythm. “Giving In” is much slower, but maintains the EP’s focus on Faye’s vocal talents as she delivers the tracks’ strong, emotive lyrics that hold a a hint of defiance and rebellion in them.

“Game Over” is the kind of track that deserves to be played when listeners are taking a summer’s day drive with their friends. There’s an unmistakable ‘freedom and exploration’ vibe to the song – a perfect accompaniment to the upcoming summer break – that is sure to have the piece put on repeat.

Written about being comfortable with someone; a boyfriend, girlfriend, partner, or friend, who loves you for you, no matter what, there’s a reflective, deeply emotive and connective feel to closing number “Me For Me”, and as someone who has always struggled with self-confidence, the song reminded me that I have people in my life who wouldn’t and don’t want me to change who or how I am.

The EP as a whole has a very almost old-school, traditional feel to it, making it stand out from the many other releases of recent weeks and months that have focused more on the modern music styles which dominate the charts and the industry in general. The collection is a fantastic introduction to one of the hottest names in country music right now and will certainly have fans eager to see where Emily Faye goes and what she creates with her talent next.

THE SUMMER SEASON KICKS INTO GEAR WITH THE IBIZA BURLESQUE FESTIVAL 60

As summer approaches and the festival season slowly gets into full-swing, one of the hottest upcoming events is the second annual Ibiza Burlesque festival, which takes place Friday 25th – Sunday 27th May.

Founded by singer-songwriter Sapphira, who has found the music of the white isle a lifeline during her struggles with bipolar, this years’ event, organised by the globally established company Sapphira’s Showgirls which champions self-expression and fundraises in support of mental health, includes a tribute of her debut single Money$hot as well as a special guest appearance by Billboard Top 20 and Grammy Award winning artist, Kim Cameron with DJ Halo.

Other highlights of the festival include performances from several world class artists, hailing from seven different countries, with Innocence Bliss and Jamilia Wardknott, both from the UK, and Italy’s Scarlet Lovelace among those confirmed to entertain those in attendance. There’s also a swimwear parade, a couple of pool parties and, if you fancy learning a little bit of burlesque yourself, you can take a beginner class in Sex A Peel with Sheila Starr Siani or Fantastic Fans with Sapphira.

The festival works in partnership with premium venues on the island, with the premier event – the Bass & Tease gala – taking place at the distinguished Heart Ibiza, a state-of-the-art restaurant come nightclub. From the first day to the last, the festival is set to delight and excite all those who attend.

For a full programme of events and to purchase tickets, visit the festival website.