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Posts Tagged ‘soul’

Little Kim & the Alley Apple 3 – Riding The Rails
March 1, 2010

From the moment you press play “Riding The Rails” takes you back to forgotten times. Combining western swing, hot jazz, bluegrass, a touch of blues and some very early rock & roll and you have a sound that hasn’t been popular for decades. Through the first half of the 20th century however, this was the proverbial ‘it’.

And while it all sounds very vintage it doesn’t sound outdated. Not for a second. It’s an hommage to an almost forgotten era in music and on top of that it’s a reminder. A reminder that this mix of rootsy genres isn’t dead at all. Little Kim & the Alley Apple 3 prove that throughout 15 very strong  songs.

You might not say it when you hear the music, but this band hails from the beautiful country of Belgium. Where, I hear you say. Yes, Belgium. There is a lot of musical talent in Belgium, but the better known names (K’s Choice, dEUS, Soulwax) are in a completely different genre. Even other acts like Jacques Brel, Hooverphonic and Vaya Con Dios aren’t close musical neighbours. If there’s one other well-known musician from Belgium that you could tie this band to it’s jazz musician Django Reinhardt who was popular in the thirties and fourties.

So yeah, that’s what you should know Belgium from. But lets get back to Little Kim & the Alley Apple 3. As I mentioned before, they bring an almost forgotten genre back to life. The combination of excellent songwriting, technically very strong musicians and a female lead singer that not just has that classic beautiful look but also a classic beautiful voice that gives this bands all the facets they need to be successful in this genre. “Riding The Rails” is only the band’s debut full-length but this world would be very unfair if there wouldn’t be many more albums to follow in the future.

It would be almost unfair to say certain songs are highlights because the level of the CD is extremely high. But if I’d have to pick a couple songs I would say the title track Riding The Rails, Who Walks In When I Walk Out, Before The Storm, Ballad of the Old Oak Tree and Lou Ella Brown are tracks that you should at the very, very least listen to. Tom de Poorter is a very skilled guitar player and his fingerpicking skills are quite astonishing, combined with the iconic lapsteel playing of Pat Cattoir, Slappin’ Slim’s impeccable timing on the double bass and Kimberly Claes’ pure, clear vocals (with excellent range), make Little Kim & the Alley Apple 3 one of the most surprising, intriguing and one of the most impressing bands I’ve come across in the last 5 years.

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The Right Now – Carry Me Home

Carry Me Home by The Right Now

Previously known as Eli Jones, The Right Now releases a new album by the name of ‘Carry Me Home’. The funky, uptempo soul songs are mixed with seductive soulful ballads, and all mixed in an interesting mainstream jacket. The CD has a very pleasant feel to it and sends a message across. However it doesn’t leave the impressive impact that I was hoping for.

While the album leaves me with a feeling of satisfaction it doesn’t overwhelm me. The songs are all solid and some of the tracks might even be called impressive. But the real oustanding class stays just out of reach. I would imagine this is an incredible live band, but on CD it misses that last bit of excitement, last touch of energy and mystery, the little things that do you in completely.

The album starts with the solid Ain’t Going Back, which is probably one of the album’s most interesting songs. The funky yet soulful vocals and the captivating instrumentals fuse together seemingly effortless and give you a song that could very well be used as a radio single because it is very appealing. Nobody however nice it may be doesn’t really stand out or leave a very lasting impression. The vocals are good and musically it’s sound, but it doesn’t really stick in your head and it also doesn’t really show anything that’s really new and exciting.

The uptempo and even festive You Will Know is the one of the few tracks on this album that really stands out for me. It has a seductive groove to it and it draws you in, makes you move and gets you involved. Which is what you really need with this genre. You need to get a real connection with the listener in a sense where you can captivate the listener and You Will Know is a track that succeeds in doing that. The more urban feel on I Could Really Hold On isn’t working for me at all. It feels like a forced attempt that doesn’t quite do what it was intended to do. This also reflects on the vocals that don’t come out as naturally in this mix.

The more infectious Before I Know Your Name is another very good song and a very good choice to release to the radio. It is catchy and it has a very playful and at times even sexy sound. It’s fun, it’s solid, it’s challenging. It’s a very fine song! Probably my favorite on this album. Too bad that the production and arrangement on Better Way To Live is a little too dark and heavy, which doesn’t really do justice to the potential of this song. With some brass instruments and a more lively approach this could’ve been an interesting song with a cool build up but now it’s just a little too melancholic/depressing musically.

Doing Nothing is a pretty decent track, but it doesn’t really stand out. It has a pretty cool melody and the vocals are really good, and it is a nice addition to the album, but it isn’t quite as memorable as Before I Know Your Name or You Will Know. The chorus is really fun though. With the infectious drum rhythm, I’ll Get Down mixes the funky, soulful style with some rock & roll, which does wonders for the song’s energy and spirit. At first I wasn’t too excited about this track, but it’s growing on me and at the moment I would even say it might be one of my favorite tracks on the album. Just because it does a good job at getting you involved and the energy is infectious. Pretty cool to sing and move along to!

Then The One You Love, which is very fit for radio, even though it’s only a mid-tempo ballad-like song. It’s just a very sweet song and has very impressive vocals. The accents in the song are subtle but very tasteful and well arranged. Musically it is probably the song that stands out most for me. The album then ends with the title track Carry Me Home. It’s another softer song, another ballad. Not the most impressive ballad I heard lately, but it’s a very nice way to end the album. It has an empathic feel and soulful vocals that can really speak to you. Not great, but definitely good.

As you can see, I’ve been quite critical about this album, but I want to state that I actually really enjoyed it. And while it does leave me feeling satisfied, I do feel that there’s so much more to explore for this band, both musically and in the songwriting. They are definitely on the right track and I would be very curious to hear what happens next. ‘Carry Me Home’ is a good stop along the way, but it’s not the final destination. But if The Right Now keeps at it, they could grow out to be a pretty big name eventually.

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