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L.A. Beat

CD Reviews

Roly Platt's debut is all about the harp

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Two time Maple Blues Award winning harmonica player Roly Platt makes an auspicious recording debut on his  CD of, well, lots of harp on “Inside Out.”

 He has performed on  numerous albums for a lot of country players like  Terri Clark,  Rita MacNeil  and even Sharon, Lois and Bram plus several blues icons like Jack Semple. You may have heard him playing on corporate jingles or seen him on tour with people like Ronnie Hawkins, Dutch Mason and Suzie Vinnick, but on “Inside Out,” it is all about showing what he can do on the harp.

There are only a few songs with vocals on them, which allows Platt’s harp to shine.Click here to hear Roly Platt

 He plays some boogie woogie with pianist/ organist Lance Anderson on several excellent tracks and borrows Steve Strongman’s prodigeous guitar chops on   “Good Mind To Wander ” and  “Ocean of Tears.”

 So that means Platt gets to blow and sqeeze every ounce of his emotion out  of his instrument.

He plays beautiful covers of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and  “Georgia On My Mind” and even sings on a song.
 The songs with vocals make a nice departure from  all of the harp playing which is perfect background music for those who like lots of harp. Not that there's anything wrong with a whole lot of harp. Because that’s what you get ” Inside and Out.”

— by Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
Cd: Inside Out
Artist: Roly Platt
Genre: blues

Sinead O’Connor sings heartfelt pop and rock on “I’m Not Bossy , I’m The Boss”

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It has been a few years since we heard from Irish songstress Sinead O’Connor, who came to prominence with a heartfelt cover of the Prince penned song“ Nothing Compares 2 U,”  back in 1990 then rose to infamy  by tearing up a picture of the Pope on Saturday Night Live, which basically sent her underground and pretty much ended her mainstream music career.Click here to hear Sinead O’Connor
 She‘s back with a new CD  “ I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss” which she has dedicated to herself. It’s a good one, it has been stuck in my CD player for months.

 She is the boss on this CD as she wrote or co wrote all of the songs on the CD and explores a variety of themes, mostly, love, lust, growing up, looking back and even sings about religion on “ Take Me To Church.” O’Connor still sounds like a tortured soul looking back on a lifetime of regrets.

 She shows her angry side on “ Harbour.”  But for the most part there is also a lot of love throughout the CD and a lot of love songs.
 She also explores several different musical styles from pop, synth pop, ’80s pop on the last couple tracks of the CD and even a touch of Jefferson Airplane style psychedelic rock full of loud guitars like on  “Take Me To Church” and  “ The Voice of My Doctor”.
 O’ Connor has a distinctively wavering voice that is immediately appealing.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
 CD: I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss
Sinead O’Connor
 Genre: Pop
 Record company: Nettwerk

JW Jones plays raunchy blues on Belmont Boulevard

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It is always a good day when I get a new CD from Ottawa bluesman JW Jones and his band. Click here to hear JW Jones

When his debut CD “ Defibrillating” took off back in 2000 when he was just shy of 20, I described him as a kid so talented you want to smack him. His new CD “Belmont Boulevard”  which is officially released  Oct. 7, gives me no reason to change that opinion, though after 14 years playing professionally, touring 19 countries and releasing seven albums, he is no longer a kid.

He’s already looking back on his life and feeling a little nostalgic, though he is barely 30.

 He is a hell of a guitar player as you can hear on “Blue Jean Jacket.” He’s reined in his talent for a more soulful, tasteful feel on songs such as on “Coming After Me.”

He sounds similar to Saskatchewan bluesman Colin James both in voice and guitar sound.
 He is also experimenting more like on the raunchy delay laded psychedelic jam “Cocaine  Boy.” which is one of a  few songs on the CD he wrote with his Grammy Award winning producer Tom Hambridge.

 But it is not just about crazy guitar playing, though there is plenty of that.
 The very catchy, singalong“ If It Feels This Good Tomorrow,” could be a bona fide hit country single which features one of his most beautiful guitar solos.

The CD begins with a raunchy blues rocker “Love Times Ten,” one of many on the CD.
  Another Hound Dog Tayloresque raunchy blues number is the rockabilly tinged instrumental “Magic West Side Boogie” which allows  Jones to show off just a few of his substantial guitar chops.

“Never Worth it” is a straight ahead mid tempo blues rocker. One of the highlights is the toe tapping vintage blues rocker “Watch Your Step, featuring a catchy country tinged riff which sounds like it is being played on a baritone guitar.

 There is a lot of excellent organ playing on the CD, especially on “What’s Inside of You,” giving the tunes a vintage blues sound.
 It's great to hear new music from JW Jones who continues to improve.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
 CD:  Belmont Boulevard
Artist: JW Jones
Genre: blues
Record label: Stony Plain Records

Joal Kamps tells touching tales on Heads is East, Tails is West

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Calgary based songwriter Joal Kamps tells some beautiful stories and sings addictively beautiful melodies on his new CD “ Heads is East, Tails is West.”

 He kicks things off on a high note with “Heads or Tails” a song about the freedom of hitting the road.
His voice isClick Here to Hear Joal Kamps reminiscent of Toronto based folk/ pop songwriters Peter Katz and Rob Szabo with a touch of classic rock band  Styx’s lead singer Dennis DeYoung.

There is a strong historical bent to much of his the music. Especially on the hair raisingly catchy “Coal Miner” a song about the survivor of a mine disaster and one of many songs reflecting a wistfully nostalgic peek into the past.
 The CD ends with one of the most touching tracks on the CD is “Accept Me”  which has a gorgeous violin solo from David Dufresne and some emotional piano playing from Craig Learmont.

 Dufresne's violin marks most of the best songs on the CD including “Coal Miner.” He also plays a hot mandolin solo on “Time Stands Still.”

 The wistful “ Be Gentle” is another highlight about unrequited love between a young farmer and his crush.
 There are a lot of wistful songs about home and family farms like “From The Start ” and  a lot of songs about leaving home. The Celtic tinged folk number “ Years From Now” sounds like a B side  from country stars Rascal Flatts.

” Kamps is also a very talented guitarist, which comes through on tracks like “Hemel Kom” which features a beautiful guitar solo from Lethbridge's own Evan Uschenko who plays lead guitar on most of the CD and bass on several tracks as well.

 Kamps plays some beautiful guitar on “Thief” the stunningly beautiful classical music inspired instrumental “Winter 1906-07” and the lilting “ Time Stands Still,” a sweet song about the love of family.

— By Richard Amery, L.A. Beat Editor
CD: Heads is East, Tails is West
Artist: Joal Kamps
Genre: folk/ pop
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