Album Review: Ghalia & Mama’s Boys – Let the Demons Out

Ghalia & Mama's Boys

photo courtesy of Frank Roszak Promotions

by Eric Harabadian, Contributing Blogger

Album Review of Ghalia & Mama’s Boys: Let the Demons Out (Ruf Records)

Arguably, the blues is an American art form. But, having said that, one cannot simply compartmentalize it into such jingoist and provincial terms. A case in point is the marriage of bluesy Belgian street busker Ghalia Vauthier and New Orleans-based R&B rockers Mama’s Boys. Vauthier had been following her musical dreams all across the U.S. — from Chicago to Mississippi — and wound up in the great state of Louisiana. She met up with harmonica/vocalist Johnny Mastro and company, and the result is this album here.

Ghalia & Mama's Boys - Let the Demons Out

image courtesy of Frank Roszak Promotions

And what an album it is, too! It is a hot and spicy musical gumbo of rhythmic abandon and a hedonistic free-for-all. The album kicks off with an uptempo number called “4 AM Fried Chicken.” Basically it’s about after-hour juke joints where the drinks are flowing and the food is first rate. Vauthier sets things in motion, with a hard partying vibe that spotlights her expressive voice and guitarist Smokehouse Brown’s rough and ready sound.

Title track “Let the Demons Out” follows and has a moody, almost gospel-like feel to it. Vauthier’s vocals are eerie and are framed nicely by Brown’s atmospheric guitars and Mastro’s searing harmonica. “Press That Trigger” truly ties into the aforementioned “hedonistic” tag. This is a fun one, with thinly veiled wordplay like “c’mon babe, find the right tool to polish my jewel.”

Ghalia & Mama's Boys

photo courtesy of Frank Roszak Promotions

“Have You Seen My Woman” finds the chanteuse Vauthier singing from the perspective of a guy searching for his lady. The band chimes in collectively on backing vocals for the chorus as the rhythm section shuffles, the harmonica wails, and the guitar lays down some muscular crunch. “Hoodoo Evil Man” offers some of that swampy down-home-type blues this band is known for. It is an intoxicating and swinging standout.

There are some cool novelty type tracks that should be noted. “Waiting” is kind of a clever duet between Vauthier and Mastro where they claim themselves as king and queen of New Orleans. It’s a call and response thing that’s cute but gritty and hard-edged at the same time. The album closer, “Hiccup Boogie,” is a cool little story that Vauthier concocted about how she very well could’ve met the band in some Crescent City blues club. Brown’s blazing solo in the middle really ignites this piece and concludes the album with a crazy and full throttled exclamation point.

Ah, the universal language of some good ‘ol rockin’ blues! The marriage of Ghalia and Mama’s Boys is proof that music is the great unifier, as this stellar working class band blends seamlessly with the European vocal dynamo. Well worth checking out!

Album Review: Jane Getter Premonition – On Tour

Jane Getter

photo courtesy of Jane Getter

by Eric Harabadian, Contributing Blogger

Album Review of Jane Getter Premonition: On Tour (Big Fun Productions)

All you jazz and fusion fans out there who pine for the days of classic progressive jazz-rock like Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, Larry Coryell’s Eleventh House, UK, etc., etc., look no further. Guitarist-vocalist, bandleader, and composer Jane Getter will hook you right up. The former Saturday Night Live Band axewoman recently released On Tour, which is a compilation of performances from dates at the Outreach Festival in Schwaz, Austria, The Iridium nightclub in NYC, and a live jam at Avatar Studios, also in New York. And she’s got some of the best people in contemporary jazz and rock with her such as her keyboardist husband Adam Holzman (Miles Davis, Steven Wilson), guitarist Alex Skolnick (Trans-Siberian Orchestra, Testament), drummer Chad Wackerman (Frank Zappa, Allan Holdsworth), bassist Mark Egan (Pat Metheny), bassist Stu Hamm (Joe Satriani, Steve Vai), drummer John Mader (Jeff Berlin, Bernie Worrell), vocalist Corey Glover (Living Colour, Galactic), bassist Bryan Beller (Mike Keneally, The Aristocrats), saxophonist/flautist Theo Travis (David Gilmour, Steven Wilson), percussionist Mino Cinelu, and vocalist Chanda Rule. The recordings take place over a three year period from 2014-2016 and a number of the tracks are derived from her 2015 Madfish label studio release On.

Jane Getter Premontion - On Tour

image courtesy of Jane Getter

The first track, simply called “Opener,” sets the scene, with ambient and moody synthesized music by Holzman. That quickly leads into the very rhythmic and rock-oriented “Pressure Point.” Both Getter and Skolnick’s lead work blend and co-exist perfectly as Holzman’s graceful straight ahead piano passages infuse things with a romantic feel.

Getter sings lead on the following track, “Surprised,” and her voice floats ethereally above the tune’s off-kilter beats. She and Skolnick play some nice harmonized lines as Glover chimes in on vocals as well. The orchestral mid-section is haunting and provides an ample vehicle for inspired solos from everyone.

“Inversion Layer” has a catchy odd-time melody that, again, features some nice interplay between Getter and Skolnick. The band employs exceptional dynamics here as well.

“Falling” is a bit of a change in mood and pace. Getter picks up acoustic guitar and delivers a pensive vocal reminiscent of something off of Joni Mitchell’s more progressive jazz-oriented albums like Hejira or The Hissing of Summer Lawns. She really shines with this kind of thought-provoking material.

Jane Getter

photo courtesy of Jane Getter

“Diversion Intro” leads into the track “Diversion” where the tune has a real soaring quality. The band builds the track with each chorus and phrase until it drives the sonic threshold over the top. Getter proves to be a great bandleader in that she is astute enough to allow her counterparts to take center stage and blossom.

Corey Glover utilizes his storytelling skills and stellar pipes to tell the tale of a homeless person on “Train Man.” The mid-section has kind of a funky feel, with strong solos from the band as well as some key vocal hooks.

The hypnotic ambience of “Transparent” exudes rhythms that captivate and draw the listener in. This track features a nice harmonic exchange between Getter and Chanda Rule as well as some cool soloing from Mark Egan.

The album concludes with what sounds like an impromptu performance called “Somewhere Jam.” This is a live, in-the-studio bonus track and features some smooth and mellow solos from Theo Travis on woodwinds. It’s kind of a modal exploratory piece that also serves as a snapshot of the Jane Getter Premonition in 2014 as they were getting their unique ensemble vision underway.

This is a really strong record in the sense that you feel the empathy and interaction between Getter and the various musicians she’s working with. The performances from three different distinct locations and lineups are pretty consistent. With this live recording Getter continues to prove that she is a triple threat as guitarist, singer and composer.

Looking Ahead

The “upcoming dates” page of Jane’s website currently lists one scheduled show. On April 17th at The Iridium in New York City you can see Jane Getter Premonition featuring Vernon Reid. Be sure to check the website periodically for additional dates as they’re added.

Album Review: Bob Kulick – Skeletons in the Closet

Bob Kulick

photo courtesy of Head First Entertainment

Album Review of Bob Kulick: Skeletons in the Closet

It’s a Bob Kulick album, so you know it’s gonna be good. But this exceeds all expectations. Guitarist Bob Kulick is joined on Skeletons in the Closet by lead vocalists David Glen Eisley, Andrew Freeman, Todd Kerns, Robin McAuley, Dennis St. James, Dee Snider, and Vick Wright; bass players Kjell Benner, Bobby Ferrari, Bruce Kulick, Dennis St. James, Rudy Sarzo, and Chuck Wright; keyboardists Doug Katsaros and Jimmy Waldo; and drummers Vinnie Appice, Frankie Banali, Chuck Burgi, Scot Coogan, Brent Fitz, Bobby Rock, Jay Schellen, and Eric Singer. Talk about an all-star cast! Surrounded by this talented crew of iconic ’80s rock cohorts, Bob has delivered a great, catchy, engaging new ’80s-style rock album.

Bob Kulick - Skeletons in the Closet

image courtesy of Head First Entertainment

And that’s what really counts. Indeed, as I listen to my album review queue in preparation for writing these reviews, the pedigree of the band is unimportant; the music itself rises and falls on its merits. Needless to say, the music on this album rises.

Skeletons in the Closet is a mix of new songs and recordings of material from Bob’s rock ‘n roll past, including a couple songs each from Murderer’s Row and Skull.

I won’t pretend to be familiar with Murderer’s Row or Skull; I wouldn’t have known which songs were old vs. new if I hadn’t read the bio. As much as all hard rockers know Bob’s skill, I personally own only a few of the albums he played on. But that puts me in a position to hear all ten of these songs for the first time, like a kid in a candy store, and they’re an awesome collection of sweets.

The album kicks off its 10-tune journey with the five new tracks – well, four new tracks and an inspired cover.

First up is “Rich Man,” and it roars out of the box with power. Screaming guitar riffs, pounding, popping drums, and soaring vocals. Next up is “Not Before You”, and yes, we all know the swirling amazement that is a Robin McAuley vocal, so it should be no surprise that this was also a quick favorite, but I was more unexpectedly exceptionally impressed with the foreboding power of Dee Snider’s vox in “London,” with the booming, roaring guitars combining to form a theatrical, almost heavy metal Broadway (think Phantom of the Opera) all-encompassing wave of power. (I frequently underestimate Dee’s powerfully textured voice; you’d think I would know better by now.)

Bob Kulick

photo courtesy of Head First Entertainment

The included cover of “Goldfinger” is catchy and fun. Vick Wright brings just the right amount of snarl to the vocal, and the familiar guitar line eventually builds to an apex. “Player” follows, a solid number with swirling guitars in a style reminiscent of hair metal’s Sunset Strip heyday.

The Murderer’s Row songs are “India” and the title track. Of the two, “India” stands out as the more unique number for its House of Lords-esque soaring overtone (ironically, with David Glen Eisley providing the vocals), with crunchy guitars serving as the underpinning. “Skeletons in the Closet” is a more straightforward rocker, with the vocals more controlled, always almost-soaring but not quite; the result is the sort of building tension that’s the reason this style is frequented in the first place.

“Can’t Stop the Rock” is an old Bob Kulick-David Glen Eisley churning rocker that dates back to the pair’s work on “Sweet Victory” for SpongeBob.

And the last two songs are Skull numbers. The first is quite probably my favorite song on the disc, “Guitar Commandos.” Dennis St. James’ just-slightly-gritty, insistent vocals perfectly punctuate the dueling guitarwork of brothers Bruce and Bob Kulick on this energetic tune, the perfect melodic metal backdrop to a movie chase scene.

Bob Kulick

photo courtesy of Head First Entertainment

The disc’s last track, “Eyes of a Stranger,” reminds me of several ’80s bands, which is probably why I have such a hard time picking just one for comparison. The pounding beat, occasional screeching guitar dancing through the song’s pulsing rhythm, and the tuneful vocals that hint at depth but, when given a choice, choose melody over emotion, rendering the vox a fourth instrument alongside guitar, bass, and drums – hence the almost orchestrally-arranged feeling of this and similar songs. From a pure musical standpoint, this is as pure a representation of the melodic metal raunch and roll era as any; a great way to end the disc, especially for those of us who appreciate the subgenre.

In all, this is a great disc, but would you expect any less from Bob Kulick and the talent he assembled for it? Consistently amazing guitars from Bob, varied song styles, and top-shelf musicianship and powerful vocals served up a who’s who of heavy rock icons. So if this is your style, grab and enjoy Eyes of a Stranger. And, if you’re like me and don’t have parts of Bob’s back catalog, it’ll probably inspire you to dig around into his discography a little, too (starting with the discs from Murderer’s Row and Skull).


EP Review: Matt Westerman – Life Out Loud

Matt Westerman

photo courtesy of FARdigital PR

by James Morris, Contributing Blogger

EP Review of Matt Westerman: Life Out Loud

Reviewing new music can be a bit daunting. Expectations are high, and you always want to stumble upon something that you love. Personally, I like to be grabbed when I listen to something for the first time. It is not always obvious what it is that sparks that interest; it may be a melody or a clever lyric or a mood or the rhythm that sweeps you up.

It’s the same with a film or a book. The narrative is key. I want to be interested in the characters, intrigued by the story. I want to be drawn in so I stick around to find out how it turns out.

Matt Westerman - Life Out Loud

image courtesy of FARdigital PR

The big question is, does the new EP from Matt Westerman make me feel this way? Let’s see…

Matt Westerman is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and Life Out Loud is his debut EP. His website says that he “writes upbeat acoustic pop songs with a positive, compassionate message meant to uplift and inspire listeners everywhere”.

In the last few years, Westerman has been carving out his dreams on stage, with gigs all over the Southern California area, from clubs to bars and even busking on the Santa Monica pier.

The EP features 6 tracks happily sitting in the popular mainstream with an easy pop presence. Lots of people will love this music, even if there are many other contemporary singer-songwriters competing for the same listener’s ear.

The opening song, “Don’t Give Up On You,” and following track, “One Fine Day,” are clearly the best of the collection with a smooth acoustic pop delivery.

“Don’t Give Up On You” starts a bit like a modern-sounding twist on a Simon and Garfunkel song but then grows through its positive vibe chorus to something more akin to Damien Rice or James Blunt. Matt Westerman’s voice is very much in the style and range of these singers.

Matt Westerman - Don't Give Up On You

image courtesy of FARdigital PR

“One Fine Day” has a Jack Johnson groove which confirmed my feeling that the EP had one foot in 2005, when a lot of singer songwriters were making an impact on the charts. Given their success, it is not a bad vein to mine.

The EP benefits greatly from the production of Brad Swanson, whose tracks can be heard in popular shows like Smallville, CSI and Ghost Whisperer. Matt is also joined by many notable session players including pedal steel player Marty Rifkin, a longtime Bruce Springsteen collaborator, and session journeyman Sean Hurley on bass, who has performed on John Mayer’s records.

There is so much potential for this debut release, and in this streaming age it won’t cost you anything to check it out for yourself. It would be worth doing just that, and then if you like what you hear you can commit to buying yourself a copy.

So whilst you all go and make up your own mind by giving Matt a listen, I still have to answer that big question I set earlier. How did it make me feel?

Well, here we have beautifully made music, with crisp and clean production. The songs are successfully populist in their themes of hope and love and deliver a pleasant FM radio wash.

I could argue that I felt it lacked an original edge and maybe I would have liked more narrative in the lyrics, but should this style of easy going, light touch, acoustic pop, really need to trouble itself with such ambition? Probably not, and I see from looking at Matt’s profile on Spotify he has a great many plays and monthly listeners, so it would seem his approach is, as I already said, a very popular one and I guess, at the end of the day, if it works for the many, who am I to doubt it?

Anyway, after any misgivings I had on first listen when it didn’t instantly grab me, I am glad to say that after many more, Matt’s debut release is definitely and positively a grower and worthy of your attention, so go listen.

Looking Ahead

Matt’s website currently list just a single show, a February 6th, 2018 data at Bar Lubitsch in West Hollywood, CA. See the “shows” page on his website for additional details and future shows as they’re added.

Alternatively hook up with him on social media, Facebook or Twitter.

Publisher’s Addendum

“One Fine Day” has made its way onto my personal smartphone playlist, the one whose first several shuffled-up songs during a breakfast or lunch out I periodically share with my twitter followers, dubbing it a breakfast (or lunchtime) playlist. One fine day (pun intended), since I carry “One Fine Day” on my phone, it’ll shuffle up this song from Matt. – Geoff Wilbur

Live Review: Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli at Second Friday Sessions

Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli with Kim Jennings

photo by Geoff Wilbur

Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli

Second Friday Sessions, Unitarian Church of Marlborough and Hudson, Hudson, MA

December 8, 2017

You’ve read about Lori Diamond and Fred Abatelli here before – a live review and an album review. So I’ll keep this live review brief, since I’ve gone into great detail in the previous two reviews. Plus, I was out enjoying myself, so I barely took any notes beyond jotting down song titles.

The event was Second Friday Sessions, a monthly open mic night – built around a talented, well-known “featured performer” each month – at the local unitarian church. On this night, Lori and Fred were the featured performers.

Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli with Kim Jennings

photo by Geoff Wilbur

I arrived about an hour into the evening and caught the last couple songs of a band full of young musicians, Paradox, gaining some valuable on-stage experience. Next up were Lori and Fred, who were joined on stage by another well-known local musician, Kim Jennings. This was a real treat for me, since I hadn’t gotten out to hear Kim before. Though, vocally, she was limited to background harmony duty, what a crisp, clear, great voice she has!

Of course, I knew what to expect from Lori and Fred. Lori has a rich, warm powerful voice that’s also hits impressive high notes. Fred’s vocals, as well, are strong, and his guitar-playing is really something special. In fact, I’ve commented that Fred does things on his acoustic guitar you usually only hear attempted on electric guitars. And for good reason. Fred’s exceptional, understated talent – so obvious if you’re really paying attention – allows his wizardry to bring a liveliness and attention to detail to the duo’s adult contemporary repertoire that’s rarely heard in this musical subgenre, especially true outside the nationally-famous few.

The eight-song set opened with “Good Harbor,” a crowd favorite that evokes emotion. Then “The Outside,” the first to feature some of Fred’s special guitar-playing.

Lori Diamond & Fred Abatelli with Kim Jennings

photo by Geoff Wilbur

On the first two songs, Lori sang lead, but “All Comes Round” was sung more as a duet. It was followed by a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “River.”

Lori and Fred unveiled a brand new original, “The Good in You,” a song with a fun, light positive energy. It showcased a head-turning intricate guitar run by Fred and kind of an “Outside”-ish vocal vibe in some of Lori’s soaring vocals. This one’s a keeper!

Next came “True,” a song with soaring vocals that strikes me as very piano ballady even in spite of the guitar parts. And the duo’s very cool rendition of “Wayfaring Stranger,” a song that appears on Lori & Fred’s album Lifted, performed in such an original arrangement they really make it their won.

The evening closed with “Lifted,” a song featuring Fred’s vocals in the lead, supported by keyboards and allowing a chance to really showcase stunning backing vocal harmonies from Lori and Kim.

I’m glad I was able to get out to this show. It’s always fun see Lori and Fred perform. The music’s so mellow but performed with such energy; it’s always an evening you’ll walk away from smiling and glad you came.

Looking Ahead

I don’t see the next Second Friday Session listed, but keep an eye out for it, presumably around the second Friday of each month.

A house concert tonight, Saturday, is Lori & Fred’s last currently-scheduled performance of 2017, but they already have several shows scheduled for 2018. On January 13th, they’ll be at the Original Congregational Church in Wrentham, MA. On March 25th, they’re scheduled to perform at the Amazing Things Arts Center in Framingham, MA. On June 9th, they’ll be performing at the Newton Festival of the Arts in Newton, MA. And on July 21st,  they’ll be at the Shrewsbury Public Library in Shrewsbury, MA. See the “Tour” page of their website for details. And check back as they add more dates.

Album Review: Fernando Perdomo – The Golden Hour

Album Review of Fernando Perdomo: The Golden Hour

Fernando Perdomo is a modern manifestation of a ’70s/’80s soft rock reimagination of Tom Jones, crooning love songs with warm, fully orchestrated rock ‘n roll sound beds. Musically, he’s a ’70s/’80s slow rocker, someone whose music suggests influences from Moody Blues to John Lennon, his rolling soft rock numbers offering hints of the more piano-heavy numbers from the repertoires of Kansas or Styx.

The Golden Hour kicks off with “Sunset (Intro),” a piano intro that leads into a rich, lush, slow, Moody Blues-esque crooner, “Sleep.”

Fernando then picks up the tempo with “Spotlight Smile,” a familiarly comfortable, totally laid-back yet energetic ’70s guitar pop-rock-ish number, something well-suited to a concert on the beach. Perhaps the beach shown on the album cover.

Fernando Perdomo - The Golden Hour

image courtesy of ACR Management

Indeed, beaches, palm trees, and sunsets seem to be the perfect backdrop for most of The Golden Hour‘s songs. The next track, “Look At the Moon,” deploys some mild guitar hooks a bit reminiscent of Cheap Trick. Mellow Cheap Trick.

“Here With Me” is a nice ballad, its guitar hinting at a Hawaiian twang. “Sunset,” meanwhile, opens with a guitar sound and vocal intro relatively akin to Pink Floyd. The mellowest Pink Floyd you’ve ever heard.

“Love Loss Repeat” is one of my favorite songs on the album, lyrically a clever thought, with standard mid-tempo drumming, mellowly powerful melodic rises and falls, and interesting supplemental harmonies. Perhaps my very favorite is “I Feel (Therefore I Am),” with an interesting, classic guitar line, mid-tempo rock with a bit of an ’80s distorted axe flair.

A couple more songs are standouts, as well. “When You’re Here With Me” is a close-your-eyes, turn-out-the-lights slow rock swayer, suitable for an arena full of lighters held high, with a late-song guitar solo driving home that classic arena rock lineage. And album-ender “Gold,” even though it protests “I’m tired of sleeping/It’s time to live” sways and jangles almost as if it wants to put the listener to sleep. As such, it’s a great closing number, gently lifting the covers up on this engaging 13-song soft, classic, ’70s-era, lushly produced pop-rock album and putting it to bed.

Excellent musicianship, tight songwriting, and warm, precise production combine to deliver The Golden Hour, a disc that clearly showcases Fernando’s talent from the first listen and whose songs’ initially apparent strengths grow on you with repeated listens, as you start to notice the precision and interesting details.

Kansas, Cheap Trick, Moody Blues… Fernando Perdomo is a soft pop-rock version of a lot of my favorite old rock bands. And that’s pretty cool for whenever I want to hear good music with rich, lush, full production, but don’t want it too loud. Per Fernando’s website, The LA Weekly says he’s “The millennial answer to Todd Rundgren.” Yeah. I wish I had thought of that.

Looking Ahead

I don’t see any upcoming shows listed on the Events tab of Fernando’s Facebook page, but be sure to check back regularly to see, particularly if you’re in southern California, since he’s based in Los Angeles.

EP Review: Liz Bills – Liz Bills

Liz Bills

photo by Scott Bakal; photo courtesy of Liz Bills

EP Review of Liz Bills: Liz Bills

This brand new self-titled four-song EP – it’s scheduled to drop on Saturday, November 18th – is the first solo release by Analog Heart frontwoman Liz Bills. Liz has a voice you can recognize quickly. It’s powerful, versatile, original, and memorable.

When I first heard Liz with Analog Heart, I was impressed, but with each successive step, I’ve heard growth. In dynamic delivery, full utilization of her vocal tools, consistently strong songwriting and the ability to find unique hooks. Most of all, though, while conveying a confidence and feeling that she is exactly where she belongs. That has always been a strength of Liz’s (at least during the two-plus years since I first – and last – saw her perform); her presence just seems to get stronger with each recording.

Liz Bills EP cover

image courtesy of Liz Bills

You’ve seen reviews of Analog Heart’s Sun Here I Come album last year and, this past summer, the band’s “Not Good Enough” single here in the Blog. Those had a band vibe. Liz’s new, eponymous EP is still a rock album, but it really showcases her voice and personality within and beyond the music. And hits. It has hits. The first two tracks on the collection are immediate, smack-you-in-the-face with their catchiness kind of hits; the back end of the EP, meanwhile, is subtler in its hookiness, obviously good songs even at first, but they ultimately hit you sneaky-hard as you peel back their layers and discover their massive coolness.

The first half of the collection, which I’ll call the “instant favorites” half, begins with “Born to Wander,” a big song with energetic strumming and rhythm, monster hooky stop-gaps and tempo changes, big, powerful vocals that include Liz’s crystal clear highs, and plenty of engaging character.

It’s followed by “My Man,” another smack-you-in-the-face, memorable-from-the-first-listen, causes-music-journalists-to-overuse-hyphens tune. There’s a bit of a ’70s funky rhythm and some tempo-changing lyrical runs, but the most Liz Bills element of the song is a spoken word, conversational, encouraging/empowering-conversation-with-the-audience portion, something she does memorably well, a trick Analog Heart fans might recognize from “She’s Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Indeed, “My Man” is a song you won’t soon forget.

Liz Bills

photo by Jonathan Rummel; photo courtesy of Liz Bills

The “back half” of Liz’s EP contains a couple songs whose hooks are slightly more hidden but very certainly potent and likely with a more permanent impact. “Werewolf,” the first single from the disc, was released October 21st. It has a subtler, rhythmically nuanced vocal, a song that softly ratchets the intensity, punctuated by howls that are both appealing and a bit confusing, at least until you start to pay attention to the lyrics (or, at least the song title). Oh, the lyrics are well-crafted to tell the song’s tale, and they match the journey of the song as well as its vocalization and instrumentation, musically leaning on the rich texture and versatility of Liz’s voice while only hinting at its power. “Werewolf” is a thoughtfully-constructed, very cool rock ‘n roll song and quite possibly my favorite…

Unless my favorite is “Bomb Song.” It’s also lyrically clever. And, as with “Werewolf,” once you stop listening passively and pay attention to said lyrics, the unusual point of emphasis, “bang,” suddenly makes sense and becomes the lyric you sing along to the most, just as you start to howl after several listens to “Werewolf.” “Bomb Song” also sports a cool, rhythmic, not-quite-syncopated strum that, at the end, halts abruptly. Abruptly emphasizing the brevity of this four-song collection and making you want more. So, of course, this is an EP that has to be played on repeat.

In the end, yes, I’ve been in Liz Bills’ camp for a while now, intrigued the first time I heard her perform live. At the time, before I started blogging and just as “Merrimack Jane” was released, I thought Analog Heart had finally hit its songwriting groove, found its niche. The band rounded a corner with a strong album beginning to end with Sun Here I Come. And now Liz has managed to kick things up another notch with her eponymous solo EP. She’ll have to blow the roof off the proverbial joint to lift her game any higher, and I look forward to hearing her try. I bet she can. For now, though, I’ll just sing and howl along with her all-too-short solo EP, and I suggest you do the same. This rock ‘n roll singer-songwriter-bandleader is something special.

Looking Ahead

The “tour” section of Liz’s website lists her upcoming tour, kicking off with a Saturday, November 18th album release show at the Chit Chat Lounge in Haverhill, MA. The subsequent tour includes stops in Millvale, PA; Cincinnati, OH; Burns, TN; Nashville, TN; Louisville, KY; Richmond, VA; Lynchburg, VA; Baltimore, MD; and Brooklyn, NY before she returns to Massachusetts for a December 5th date at Atwood’s Tavern in Cambridge. Check Liz’s website for details and for additional dates as they’re added.