Single Review: Bridget Davis and the Viking Kings – “Highways”

Bridget Davis & the Viking Kings – "Highways"

image courtesy of Bridget Davis

Single Review of Bridget Davis and the Viking Kings: “Highways”

We at the Blog are big fans of the unique, original, memorable style of Bridget Davis and the Viking Kings. They have an easily identifiable, pleasant, rolling, laid-back Americana style but with a constantly-present, persistent rhythm that varies from song to song yet makes even the most mellow song seem energized. Bridget Davis and the Viking Kings are the perpetual motion machine of Americana. And their songwriting and delivery style is such that, if you heard them on the radio, you’d say to yourself, “Self, it’s Bridget Davis and the Viking Kings.”

Well, it has been a while since BD and the VKs graced our headphones with something new, nearly five and a half years between I Wasn’t Planning on the End and the new single “Highways,” released earlier this year. In all that time, the band hasn’t missed a beat.

Bridget Davis & the Viking Kings

photo courtesy of Bridget Davis

Opening with a warm texture and bass-guitar interplay (cool to listen to on headphones, since they reside in different ears), “Highways” utilizes many of the ingenuities in the band’s familiar, favorite bag of tricks to support Bridget’s soft, sweet, yet surprisingly dynamic vocal style. Those familiar with the band’s previous work will find the tempo most similar to that of “Transient,” as “Highways” differs from much of the band’s song catalog in that it’s actually as slow-tempoed as its music makes it seem, though it’s sonically more kindred to the faster-paced “Elizabeth” or the slower-paced “I Wasn’t Planning on the End.”

In the end, “Highways” is a welcome reintroduction to Bridget Davis and the Vikings Kings’ easily recognizable, original, trademark sound. If you’re unfamiliar with the band, let this be your introduction. There’s a hint of folk styling and country-leaning Americana energy in Bridget Davis and the Viking Kings’ music, an energy built on and originality, tempo, detailed songwriting, and deliberate performance structure that will appeal to a broad swath of musical tastes. To the band: Welcome back to our playlists. We’ve missed you.

Looking Back

Those who have been with us here at the Blog from the beginning will remember our other two Bridget Davis and the Viking Kings reviews. First, I reviewed one of their live Rockwood Music Hall shows as item #8 in my 9-part “Road Back to Music Journalism” series, in which I chronicled events that led me back to writing – and starting this blog – after a dozen years away. A few weeks later, I reviewed their album I Wasn’t Planning on the End. So if my review of this song interests you, be sure to check out the other words I’ve written about this talented ensemble.

Looking Ahead

Bridget Davis and the Viking Kings hinted in this Facebook post this spring and confirmed with me just recently via e-mail that there is more music coming; “Highways” was just one of several songs recorded live at the Figure 8 Recording studio in Brooklyn. They’ll likely be released one at a time in advance of an eventual EP release. Whether the songs are released individually or all at once, we can’t wait to hear them!

Single Review: Kristian Montgomery & The Winterkill Band – “Secret Watering Hole”

by Eric Harabadian, Contributing Blogger

Single Review of Kristian Montgomery & The Winterkill Band: “Secret Watering Hole”

Boston-area singer-songwriter Kristian Montgomery is not one to let grass grow under his feet. When the pandemic hit in full swing last year he dove into his inner psyche and soul, coming up with enough fresh material for an album’s worthy triumvirate of creative output. The result of that labor resulted in 2020’s The Gravel Church, 2021’s Prince of Poverty, and the soon-to-be-released A Heaven for Heretics in January 2022.

Kristian Montgomery & the Winterkill Band – "Secret Watering Hole"

photo courtesy of Kristian Montgomery

Surely, Montgomery’s blend of reflective blues and country rock songs combined with his rich, slightly worn and emotive voice is starting to catch fire with fans and critics alike. Montgomery was recently nominated by the prestigious New England Music Awards on the strength of his Prince of Poverty release. “Secret Watering Hole” is a brand new single from the aforementioned upcoming A Heaven for Heretics and continues his blend of an Americana aesthetic, mixed with vivid imagery and detailed storytelling. The song is draped in southern gothic charm and Cajun-laced magic. References to New Orleans and Mardi Gras are supported by a soothing bed of layered guitars and a relaxed, swampy back beat. It’s kind of a meeting of classic styles that match the melodic poetry of The Band, with the groovy laid back sounds of The Allman Brothers Band.

“Another crawling out of the American gutter record” is a quote, found on Montgomery’s own bandcamp page, in response to his last full-length release. Other references to his current single and his previous catalog suggest the slightly outsider world view of like-minded compadres such as The Highwaymen, Sturgill Simpson, Steve Earle, Townes Van Zandt, and Chris Stapleton.

The current single “Secret Watering Hole” was produced by Joe Clapp at Ultrasound Studios and captures a sound and mood that is contemporary, yet intimate and timeless.

Looking Ahead

Of course, the album A Heaven for Heretics, which contains “Secret Watering Hole,” is scheduled for a January release. [I’ll be writing that review on or after the album’s release date. -GW] Also keep an eye on the “Events” page of the band’s website for future performances and on the band’s Facebook page for the latest news about Kristian Montgomery & the Winterkill Band.

Single Review: Eliza Neals – “Sugar Daddy”

Eliza Neals w King Solomon Hicks

photo courtesy of E-H Records LLC

by Eric Harabadian, Contributing Blogger

Single Review of Eliza Neals: “Sugar Daddy” feat. King Solomon Hicks (E-H Records)

They call her the “Detroit Diva.” And, indeed, blues rock singer-songwriter/keyboardist Eliza Neals proudly wears that title as a badge of honor. The opera-trained blonde bombshell has been on the international music scene for more than two decades. She is a true independent artist, with a series of critically-acclaimed R&B-flavored albums to her credit. Neals has shared the stage and collaborated with such luminaries as Buddy Guy, Kenny Olson, Joe Louis Walker, Popa Chubby, Howard Glazer, and a host of blues and rock greats.

No doubt, however, perhaps her biggest influence can be found in frequent co-writer and mentor Barrett Strong. Strong, of course, is a legendary singer-songwriter that made his mark, first at Berry Gordy’s Tamla Records. His iconic “Money (That’s What I Want)” was the company’s first big breakout hit. The prolific tunesmith went on to write a series of songs for Gordy’s subsequent landmark enterprise Motown Records. “ I Heard it Through the Grapevine,” “War,” “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and “Ball of Confusion (That’s What the World is Today)” are just some of the chart toppers he and fellow composer/producer Norman Whitfield conceived within those hallowed studio walls.

Eliza Neals – "Sugar Daddy" feat. King Solomon Hicks

image courtesy of E-H Records LLC

That little history lesson brings us to today’s single at hand; the feel good summer of 2021 smash entitled “Sugar Daddy.” The tune was originally written by Strong, but re-arranged, with additional lyrics by Neals herself. The song features young NYC jazz/blues guitar sensation King Solomon Hicks on backing vocals. Michael Puwal (tremolo guitar/additional drums), Chris Vega (bass), Michael Galante (drums), and Tyrone Smith (Hammond B3/saxophone) round out this first rate band. It’s a light-hearted kind of tale that focuses on a relationship from an, appropriately, female perspective. In it Neals sings: “Well, I’m just a girl, and you know that I look real fine. But I love that man, he drive me outta my mind. He puts his lips to my ear, said what I love to hear… I’ll be your sugar daddy, you’s my man!” It carries on with that pseudo-romantic track for a minute, but then, when Neals finds her man fooling around with someone else, the tables get turned quickly in the bridge. She exudes gritty comeuppance, with the lines, “I take his money and I go and I play the town, and he knows my love ain’t true. People all say he should put me down. He’s a fool, he’s a fool, he’s a doggone fool!”

“Sugar Daddy” has a lot of bite and bluesy bravado, thanks to Neals’ raw, soulful vocals and Hicks’ stinging Robert Cray-like riffs. He lays the groundwork for the song’s balance of good-natured free-spirited fun and serious house rockin’ street cred. The tune has been a staple on Sirius XM’s BB King’s Bluesville channel since this past July. But that’s nothing new for the “Detroit Diva.” She’s been in consistent rotation on that pivotal blues network since her seminal Breaking and Entering album hit the charts in 2015. “Sugar Daddy” simply continues that groovy path of excellence for the incomparable Eliza Neals!

Looking Ahead

Eliza has a few upcoming shows listed on the “Shows” page of her website. On Saturday, December 18th, she’ll be at the South Orange Performing Arts Center in South Orange, NJ. On Saturday, February 12th, she’ll be performing at the Cincinnati Winter Blues Experience II in Cincinnati, OH. On Tuesday, April 26th, she’s scheduled to perform at the iconic 100 Club in London [where I saw Bob Malone in 2015 – GW]. And on Saturday, April 30th, she’s be at Jamey’s House of Music in Lansdowne, PA. Be sure to check Eliza’s website for more details on those shows and others as they’re scheduled.

Single Review: Lina Cooper – “What I Gave to You”

Lina Cooper

photo by Joe Welkie; photo courtesy of Lina Cooper


Lina Cooper initially reached out to me back in the summer of 2020 during a period when I wasn’t writing many reviews (and had a years-long backlog) in advance of the release of her single “This Time,” and I was blown away by her vocals and songwriting. It was a catchy, poppy, memorable song structured much like you’d expect from Taylor Swift, well-suited to Lina’s sweet, high vocals. Of course, I didn’t review that song, but when I was on a bit of a writing spree and was churning through my review backlog this spring, I reached out to inquire about what she was working on now (at the time). The answer was, of course, “What I Gave to You.”

Single Review of Lina Cooper: “What I Gave to You”

Lina Cooper – What I Gave to You

image courtesy of Lina Cooper

Lina’s exceptional talent shines again on “What I Gave to You.” Softer than the song that initially hooked me, “What I Gave to You” leans into Lina’s high, emotionally expressive voice. Storytelling verses serve as a tempo-changing, volume-varying canvas, all leading to “What you gonna do when all you have is what I gave to you.”

Simple guitar-picking and thin vocals open the song, with additional orchestration and a fuller music bed joining as the vocals and lyrics intensify. For the vocal structure, well-placed, emotionally cracking lead vocals are paired with full background harmonies as the music soars. The song is a musical journey with a key, memorable line for listeners to sing along with during the chorus. That’s the formula for a sneaky earworm of a song, one that’ll grow on you more and more with each successive listen.

Lina Cooper

photo by Joe Welkie; photo courtesy of Lina Cooper

Other Singles

“What I Gave to You” was preceded by “Ethereal,” more stylistically similar to “This Time,” and the rather more disturbing, musically aggressive, almost noir-ish “If You Ever Leave Me” (which has an accompanying horror-style music video).

Other 2021 releases have been an acoustic version of Lina’s “Here to Stay” and the latest single, groovy, punkish, garage rockin’ “AFANASY.” You’ll find a long-form “short musical film” featuring/leading into “AFANASY” here on YouTube.

Lina’s a versatile talent. A good singer and songwriter whose range covers a lot of musical ground, tying it well to her very specific, mainstream radio-friendly voice. It’s time to climb aboard the Lina Cooper bandwagon now while there are still a few prime seats available.

Looking Ahead

There are currently no upcoming shows listed on the “Shows” page of Lina’s website, but check back periodically to find out when you can catch a live performance.

Album Review: Richard X. Heyman – Copious Notes

Richard X. Heyman – Copious Notes

image courtesy of Howlin’ Wuelf Media

Album Review of Richard X. Heyman: Copious Notes

Richard X. Heyman is an American pop-rock songwriter. And, of course, a great performer of his own songs. I’ve reviewed Richard’s music a couple of times already here at the blog. I reviewed Incognito, a couple albums removed from his new release, and I reviewed the first single from Copious Notes, “Choices We Make.”

He starts the disc with the echoing angelic church-like harmonies that kick off “Nearly There,” a typically RXH uptempo, cheerful number steeped in timeless pop harmonies and hooks. Drawing from the fifties and sixties for his rock ‘n roll song base, Richard’s songs are melody-driven and fun to listen to.

The second song on Copious Notes is “Choices We Make,” which I previously reviewed, with its big hook in the chorus. It’s a hopeful song, released just ahead of the 2020 U.S. election, with its election theme apparent from the accompanying images in its YouTube video, though the underlying message could easily be applied across broad subject matter.

Richard X. Heyman

photo by Nancy Heyman; photo courtesy of Howlin’ Wuelf Media

You can tell a great pop song by the way it grabs you from the very first note, and the next track, “Tell Me When,” does just that. Very sixties-styled almost folk-influenced – or maybe in parts Irish folk song-like – in its stylings, the song is a cheerful, extra-uptempo number that’s fun to bounce along to.

Richard slows things down and mellows at times, too. The next song, “Cedarbrook Park,” for example, flows, floats, and soars, but it all feels a bit intentionally off-kilter, like a melancholically haunted memory.

“Sink or Swim” follows. It’s at least partially horn-powered and energetic, like you’d expect on an old-time dance party TV show, with the dancers doing a swim move during the chorus, at least.

Next up, “Oval” brings back the mellow, before “The Truth,” while still with a softer edge, is a rare Copious Notes song that pushes the tempo and level consistently throughout without catching its breath.

“But Our Love” is a soaring song as if a folk-styled, mellow number pulled straight from the early ’70s airwaves… or a love-in concert in the park from the same era.

“One and All” adds a psychedelic vibe that’s there throughout but most prominent in the bridge, while fun and catchy “Return to You” brings back the old-fashioned rock and roll bounce and harmonies, replete with background “oooohs” and “ahhhhhs.” I also dig the cool organ noodling at the end, leading to the fade-out.

Penultimate track “Ransom” sports that early ’70s rich, plush vibe and songwriting style, while ’50s/’60s-style, swingin’ rock horns open the timeless rock ‘n roll number “Greater Good” with its early ’70s message, melding three decades of rock ‘n roll influences to close the disc.

It’s sometimes hard to review a Richard X. Heyman album because there are only so many ways you can write “this is a catchy, timeless, song-driven pop-rock song,” but that description would fit virtually every song on Copious Notes, though different tempos, influences, and songwriting styles give each song an individual identity among this cohesive whole.

Richard X. Heyman is a consistently good songwriter who delivers dependably enjoyable, timeless pop-rock albums. So give Copious Notes a listen and then dig into some of his prior releases, which you’ll likely dig, as well.


Album Review: Jesse Terry – When We Wander

Jesse Terry

photo by Alex Berger; photo courtesy of Michael J. Media Group

Album Review of Jesse Terry: When We Wander

His voice. His delivery. His lyrics. But oh, my god, that voice. With When We Wander, Jesse Terry has delivered a timeless, relatable, emotionally connecting album, varied in style, that’s an instant classic. At least, it’ll be an instant classic if you hear it, so give it a listen.

Jesse Terry – When We Wander

image courtesy of Michael J. Media Group

An appealing mix of folk, country, and rich, warm soft rock, When We Wander sits on the radio-friendly edge of singer-songwriter fare. And there’s something everyman about Jesse’s voice, at times recalling John Mellencamp, Tom Petty, perhaps a hint of Bob Dylan, and just about any other singer with a bit of hoarse gravel in his voice, though Jesse’s songwriting about the experiences of everyday life more often bring forth comparisons to Mellencamp.

The title track, “When We Wander,” kicks things off with a folky strum, but you’ll soon discover that’s just one of many influences, as this, like most of the album, are a meaty folk-rock-country mix, falling my onto the soft rock side of Americana. There’s a rich tone, a hint of scratch – not exactly gravel – and a time-worn knowing lilt to Jesse’s voice. There’s also an attention to detail – on this song and on the album throughout – that distinguish this as a major-league recording. Little guitar flourishes, weepy slides, the extra drum beat. Jesse Terry is big-time, with a voice and delivery expansive enough to fill a concert hall with intimate, reflective, storytelling songs.

Jesse Terry

photo by Alex Berger; photo courtesy of Michael J. Media Group

“Strangers in Our Town” is one of those mid-tempo numbers that brings on a strong Mellencamp comparison. Stylistically, Jesse has his own unique spin, leaning a little more country but still a solid hometown pride number that’ll reach you deep inside, right where you live, and make you feel good.

“Ghost Stories” follows, bringing the melancholy, with a sad tone of remembrance, fittingly haunting to this slow number.

The mood doesn’t stay low long, though, as “Hymn of a Summer Night” has a playfully energetic bounce. Like “Ghost Stories” before it, it’s a look back, but this is a tale wrapped around fondness, affection, and complicatedly warm memories of a hometown. One of the neater verses recalls “All of us met on the banks when we got older, figured it was time to get out. But one by one, we came crawling back. There’s something about this simple river town.” It’s a song that’ll make you remember where you’re from, whether you stayed, left and returned, or exited for good.

Jesse Terry

photo by Jess Terry; photo courtesy of Michael J. Media Group

Jesse weaves in and out of uptempo happiness, slow sadness, and melancholy in-between though tales of recollection and stories of times gone by and yet to come remain a familiar theme.

One of the other standouts on this album is “Little Fires,” a mid-tempo tune full of real-life strength and struggles: “There’s little fires outside my window, little fires out of the corner of my eyes, little fires beneath the surface. I can’t put out these little fires.” Of course that’s mid-song. There’s set-up before, and more noodling and a bit of resolution afterwards. Of course. That’s Jesse’s strength… and, maybe, burden. He’s a storyteller.

Jesse Terry

photo by Neilson Hubbard; photo courtesy of Michael J. Media Group

It’s followed by an uplifting number, one that’ll help the listener – and it seems to help Jess – appreciate life, with lyrics that culminate in the chorus’ key phrase: “I’ve got somebody who understands, and that’s a pretty good hand.” The song has a nice country rhythm, what I sometimes refer to as a “git-along beat,” just bouncing along throughout, keeping the mood up, signaling that the guitar-slide is more reminiscent than melancholy, one of my favorite little tricks in this sort of mid-tempo, country-flavored song.

Jesse gives the album a soft, sweet, warm landing with the thoughtful “Just Out of Your Sight,” a both the album and the listener sway the disc to a close.

The rest of the songs are also worthy of mention, but they’re all within the themes and styles I’ve discussed already, so I’d just be repeating myself. Throughout, though, When We Wander is stylistically cohesive yet varied enough and sequenced well, making for an enjoyable beginning-to-end listen.

Looking Ahead

You can catch Jesse live in the Northeast in December – in Plymouth, MA, Stroudsburg, PA, Cortlandt Manor, NY, and Stonington and Middletown, CT. He’ll be in Mobile, AL on January 6th before spending the next few weeks in Florida. He has dates spanning from coast to coast in 2022, and some European dates in October and November 2022. So be sure to check the “Tour Dates” page of Jesse’s website for dates, times, locations, and ticket links for performances near you.

Single Review: Eliza & the Delusionals – “You”

Eliza & the Delusionals

photo by Kurt Skuse; photo courtesy of Reybee Inc.

Single Review of Eliza & the Delusionals: “You”

“You” is a terrific example of catchy, hooky, sunshine-drenched alt-pop well-suited to a summer day in the sun but versatile enough to serve the purpose of adding joy to a gloomy day.

From a songwriting perspective, it’s stylistically along the lines Taylor Swift, very much about the emotions of relatable romantic life issues. Sonically, it’s bright, shiny, cheerful, guitar-intstrumented vocal pop with an almost pop-punk vibe but more of a laid-back energy, kind of a mix of Paramore and Liz Phair’s more mainstream, crossover hits.

Eliza & the Delusionals - You

image courtesy of Reybee Inc.

Early this year, I wrote about the band’s fall 2020 single, “Sentimental.” Also this year, Eliza & the Delusionals released their current single, “Save Me,” and perhaps I should dig in and review that song, too, but “You” is the one in my review queue, and it’s a delicious bit of pop music, a pleasant addition to any playlist. (For the record, so is “Save Me,” with its slightly different, dreamier vibe and richer, more rock guitar-driven rhythm.)

Looking Ahead

Eliza & the Delusionals doesn’t have any remaining shows in 2021, but they have four January 2022 shows listed, all in Australia, in Sydney, Richmond, Brisbane, and Miami. You can find more information about those performances and others, as they’re added, on the “Tour” page of the band’s website.

Album Review: DarWin – DarWin 3: Unplugged


photo courtesy of Glass Onyon PR

Album Review of DarWin: DarWin 3: Unplugged

DarWin has followed critically acclaimed albums Origin of Species and DarWin 2: A Frozen War with this album, DarWin 3: Unplugged, a collection of orchestral and stripped back versions of songs from those first two discs.

Starting with album one, DarWin has been on the rich, powerful, orchestral side of progressive rock, but DarWin 3: Unplugged takes this a step beyond. As a result, listening to this album while doing other activities makes it seem as if your life has a surround sound movie soundtrack.

DarWin 3: Unplugged

image courtesy of Glass Onyon PR

This 8-song album contains five tracks listed as “orchestral,” two as “unplugged,” and one as “a capella,” so there are vocals and lyrics on three of the eight cuts.

The orchestral track that opens the disc, “Escape the Maze,” starts meanderingly, as if setting a scenescape within which one might imagine a stream running through the woods or maybe an eagle gliding, perhaps over the sort of frozen tundra depicted on the album cover. In the woods scene, it brings up visions of calmness at times and rapids and perhaps waterfalls at others. When focusing more on the song’s soaring aspects, I’d picture calm floating interspersed with conflict, perhaps the eagle hunting and swooping to attack or maybe trying to escape danger itself. Anyway, it is like all of the other orchestral tracks in that they are truly symphonic, largely string-heavy pieces that surge and sway powerfully as if telling a story. I’d gladly spend an evening at the local symphony to hear compositions of my favorite past-century classical composers and these DarWin songs, maybe with a sip of champagne during the intermission in-between.

The earlier of the “unplugged” songs in the album sequence, “Slowly Melting,” uses its light instrumentation to direct the focus to the intensely emotional vocals. The other, “One Horizon,” is driven by its rhythm, with the vocals and all of the instruments following along, supporting the thumping power.

The disc closes with the a capella track, “Another Year,” with smoky vocal verses leading up to vocal-heavy, rich, mainstream progressive rock choruses. This is the most radio-friendly song on DarWin 3: Unplugged and great way to end it.

I very nearly reviewed DarWin 2: A Frozen War, and I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t except that I was catching up on a laundry list of overdue reviews and trying to move to more recent albums at the time. DarWin 3: Unplugged is a great companion to DarWin’s earlier pieces, but it’s also presented so originally that I simply had to share it, even though I find myself again in catch-up mode. However, as cool as this album is, if you’re into top-shelf progressive rock and aren’t familiar with DarWin’s music, you’ll also want to check out his earlier albums.

EP Review: Public Library Commute – 1000 Summers

Public Library Commute

photo courtesy of DRPR

EP Review of Public Library Commute: 1000 Summers

Public Library Commute is the professional nom de plume of singer/songwriter/producer Conrad Hsiang. His sound on 1000 Summers is that of warm, open, smooth indie pop. Light and airy like a California summer afternoon with the top down, the music is a little jazzy, a little dream poppy, and at times borrows from the pop radio end of hip-hop, particularly in its muted rhythmic vibe.

In fact, it’s this consistent, almost dreamy summer vibe that makes 1000 Summers a perfect beginning-to-end play. Its six songs total less than 18 minutes, but they’re a smooth, cool journey.

Public Library Commute – 1000 Summers

image courtesy of DRPR

“25 MPH” opens the collection exactly with that slow driving, groovy vibe, with the overlapping sounds providing the audio version of a grainy black and white movie atop a colorful mural, drawing your attention in multiple directions at once, yet still leaving you with an unstoppable grin. A cool summertime cruising tune.

“Summertime” continues the same laid-back, soak-up-the-summer vibe but focuses more on Public Library Commute’s vocals, ending with what seems like it might be going to be a dreamy bridge, but on an EP full of songs with short run-times, it’s more of a fadeout.

The songs keeping on getting catchier without sacrificing the EP’s consistent vibe. with the more prominent hip-hop rhythm of “City Love” providing a tempo more amenable to radio play.

“You Been On My Mind,” next, sports an almost pop boy band vibe. Something you might expect from Nick Jonas. The tempo picks up a bit more yet again, not enough to dance to it, exactly, but you’ll find yourself quite significantly bouncing and swaying.

“Moonlight” is the most obvious potential hit on the disc, taking that one more step toward pop, as 1000 Summers continues its trajectory of increasing hookiness and energy. Lyrically and stylistically, it’s the sort of tune you’d croon to your baby: “All that I say, all that I do, I’m over the moon thinking of you.” On this song, the groove isn’t the only thing that’s smooth.

And all-too-soon, you’ve reached the last track, the title track of 1000 Summers. I swear there’s almost a country-meets-the-beach quality to the sound bed, at least at the beginning of the song. Or maybe it’s just the relaxed, almost slack-key styled strumming of the guitar. The feeling presented by “1000 Summers” is one part sunset falling on the beach in the summer, one part slow drive off into the sunset in a convertible with the top down before it ends all too suddenly.

It’s a tough album to describe – and I’m sure I’ve done an insufficient job, but it’s music I just had to share with you. It’s a true original but still oh-so-familiar. You’ll find 1000 Summers a quick favorite, a great summertime EP (that I’ve taken too long to review that I missed the summer). I can’t wait to hear what Public Library Commute creates next.

Album Review: Judy Collins – White Bird

Judy Collins – White Bird: Anthology of Favorites

image courtesy of Glass Onyon PR

Album Review of Judy Collins: White Bird – Anthology Of Favorites (Cleopatra Records)

Folk legend Judy Collins has released a disc right out of the sixties, White Bird. You know these songs. You love these songs. Your mother (or maybe your grandmother) loved these songs. Judy Collins was a voice from a certain time, but she’s also a timeless voice.

OK, you might not know all of these songs, but you know most of them. While White Bird includes longtime favorites, the title track (and first single) “White Bird” is a never-before-released cover of a 1969 song from the band It’s a Beautiful Day.

Beyond that, though, this collection is packed with most of Judy’s best, most memorable numbers. And, since she was before my time, though I know many of these songs from the radio, this is the first time they’ve been part of my music collection, and it’s the first time I’ve given them the repeated listens that allow me to truly appreciate the songs’ nuances and Judy’s amazing vocal talent.

Probably the most ubiquitous Judy Collins hit is “Both Sides Now,” her highest-charting song in the U.S. Judy has a subtle, sweet edge to her vocals, and they serve the melancholy tone of this song’s lyrics well, building to power at the end. But you know the song, so you already knew that.

The album also includes “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There is a Season).” Before it was a hit for The Byrds, it was a Judy Collins tune, and she sings it beautifully.

Seemingly always my favorite song on the collection after most listens, “Chelsea Morning” is coolly energetic and warm, with Judy’s sweet high vocals serving as a cheerful call to greeting a beautiful day.

The never-before-released cover of “White Bird,” though, is also exceptionally impressive. It has that ’60s piano-organ sound and a kind of intense energy for such a sweetly sung song. It serves as a powerful first and title song to kick off this collection.

“I Think It’s Going to Rain Today” is another powerful number, despite its slow tempo and the fact that it really doesn’t build significantly in vocal volume. It’s more the tone of Judy’s voice and of the piano and some of the other instrumentation, as well as the song’s subject matter, that give it its gravitas.

There are a couple duets in the collection. The combination of Judy’s voice with Willie Nelson’s on the soaringly haunting “When I Go” is truly special. And she’s joined by Stephen Stills on “Last Thing On My Mind,” a pleasantly strummed song, and the vocal combo provides a slight – and I do mean slight – rock and roll-ish folk flavor.

The disc closes with “Send in the Clowns,” ending a largely cheerful disc with a powerful heaviness.

It seems odd to even review a Judy Collins album, packed with songs you already know so well. So I guess the message is that this album is available. And, though you know many of the songs, I can attest that this is a great assemblage of them, including at least one – the title track – that you’ve certainly not heard on a record before.

On the Road

Judy Collins is currently on tour. She has a couple November dates remaining in the Midwest – tonight in Chicago and tomorrow night in Three Oaks, Michigan, down near the Indiana border – but you can see her all over the U.S. during the next half-year or so. (December’s dates are in the Northeast, January’s in the Southeast, etc.) You can find dates and locations on the “Concerts” page of Judy’s website. In Europe, you’ll find a single November 5, 2022 show listed in Borgerhout, Belgium, but, of course, be sure to check Judy’s website periodically for more dates to be added, wherever you live.