Apr 022010

This post complements my article on Examiner.com.

Denver-based singer/songwriter Gabrielle Louise is an indie musician; but whatever sound or image that classification puts in your mind, don’t trust it.  Even if you’re correct in your assumptions about her music, you probably won’t be correct for long.

Although Gabrielle has a distinct sense of identity as a folk/Americana musician, she doesn’t stay corralled there.  Her songs also carry pop and jazz sensibilities, and even a Latin vibe on occasion (she’s been known to include tango dancers in her live performances). She’s performed solo and with several band configurations, and always seems to be reinventing herself.  I don’t mean she reinvents herself in the sense that U2 reinvented themselves after 10 years; I mean Gabrielle is still young, has released 4 indie records since 2006 (and is beginning work on a fifth), and has ventured into more diverse musical territory in that time than most artists do in an entire career. 

When you peer into Gabrielle’s history, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she is so prone to wander.  Music and wanderlust are both inherent in her background; her parents were “musical gypsies” who, in her words, “were playing gigs six nights a week right up until the evening of my birth, so I suppose I was hearing all sorts of messages from the womb that said something like ‘in the future you will suck at math, have ugly calloused fingers and hum incessantly.”‘ 

That gypsy spirit not only carries over into Gabrielle’s chosen career as a musical troubadour–it also explains the wanderings of her musical style.  She has a definite artistic “center”, but locking into one form of musical expression for too long–that’s something her insatiable curiosity just can’t allow.  She’s a musical gypsy–not in the sense that she plays gypsy music (yet), but in the sense that she’s as much a musical wanderer as she is a traveling musician.

To some, this might be a negative, as though Gabrielle doesn’t know who she is, and needs to “find herself.” Gabrielle possesses a songwriting depth and vocal abilities that could easily land her a record deal–but knowing the industry, they’d want her to pin her down into a predictable genre.  The irony is, if she did that, she would actually lose herself, rather than find herself–because musical wanderlust is part of who she is. The gypsy spirit is the very thing that keeps her fresh as a musician; without it, she’d likely lose the creative spark that makes us want to listen in the first place. 

The beauty of being an indie musician, though, is that it gives Gabrielle the freedom to keep exploring, to keep expanding her horizons. And so she continues to make her music, to keep wandering–and to keep inviting us into her journey.

If you’re in the Denver area this weekend and want to hear for yourself, Gabrielle Louise will be doing a show Sunday, April 4, at Dazzle Restaurant and Loungeat 930 Lincoln, beginning at 6:45 PM. Cover charge is $7.  During part of the evening, she’ll be playing the entire tracklist planned for her next recording (she goes into the studio this month).

Gabrielle Louise: “Strange Summer Snow”

Mar 312010
City and Colour

City and Colour: Bring Me Your Love

I love when a song so stirs (haunts?) me that I’m compelled to play it over and over.

City and Colour is the solo moniker for Dallas Green, lead singer for Canadian band Alexisonfire.  The song below, “Sleeping Sickness”, is off the solo effort Bring Me Your Love.  I first heard it as background music in a venue, waiting for a live act to start, and I was so taken with the melody I had to go ask the sound guy who it was. I love the strong acoustic guitar, raw rhythm and passionate chorus.  The whole record is worth a spin–great artistry.

City and Colour: “Sleeping Sickness”

Mar 232010
Andrea Ball

Photo: Christopher Kuehl.

I first heard Andrea Ball play as one of the opening acts for Elin Palmer during her CD release party.  Now, she’s got a CD release party of her own.

Dial Tone–both the record and the title track–carry the distinction to me of being both eclectic and catchy, a feat not easily attained. The album drops today, and is already available on iTunes.  The CD release party is Friday at the Hi-Dive in Denver.  Click here for more details.  And check out the title track below.

Andrea Ball: “Dial Tone”

Buy the record on Andrea Ball - Dial Tone

Feb 192010


I’d been planning for a solid month to catch this guy live in Denver.  Joe Pug.  He’s opening tonight for Justin Townes Earle, and weather and circumstances prevented me from going.

So I guess the next best thing is to share some of his stuff with you.

The first song below, “The Sharpest Crown”, is from Joe’s first full-length CD, available this week.  The second, “Black-Eyed Susan”, is from a free EP he made available on his site.

Actually, Joe Pug is notorious for giving songs away, at www.joepugmusic.com. You just need to sign up for his email list.  But if you like his stuff, support this artist.  Buy his new record at the links below.

Maybe next time, Joe.

Joe Pug — The Sharpest Crown
Joe Pug–Black Eyed Susan

Buy Joe Pug’s CD “Messenger” from Amazon.

Feb 152010

"It Ain't Love" by Megan Burtt

This post is supplementary to my article on Examiner.com.

I’m definitely a fan of local talent, and always appreciate the opportunity to check out new material.  But to be honest, now that pretty much everyone and their uncle can make a record, I usually start out not expecting too much.  Even among the stuff that isn’t “bad”, there’s so much to compete with that it all sort of blends into a sea of “okay” material, and it takes a little more oomph to rise above the noise.

So when Denver roots-rock singer Megan Burtt‘s new release It Ain’t Love showed up in my mailbox, I put the CD in the car stereo (yes, I’m still early ’90s that way) and drove around, running my errands, half-listening and half-thinking about my errands, to see if anything would arrest my attention.

I got out of the car and went into the store…and I noticed the song I’d been was listening to was still playing in my head.  Good sign.

I kept listening.  While style-wise there wasn’t much I hadn’t heard before, still these moments of promise kept happening–a powerful lyric, a captivating vocal, an interesting guitar riff.  I’d put the CD back on and listen some more.  And some more.  It wasn’t a lightning-bolt-from-heaven kind of thing; it was more like a slow burn that grew on me…enough to keep me listening, drawing me in.  I kept finding these treasure-moments, and I’d go back and listen to those moments again.  Yeah, she’s got it, I thought.  There’s definitely something there.

It really is a solid recording, well-engineered, musically consistent, good arrangements of the tunes–and it doesn’t sound like it was recorded in someone’s closet.  Burtt shows a lot of range, both as a vocalist and a songwriter. Dealing mainly with the darker aspects of love and relationships, the album has a bit of a brooding tone, sometimes angry, sometimes reflective, sometimes cyncial.  It plays like a coming-to-grips record, an honest processing of disappointment and pain.

For me, personally, the second half of the record is stronger than the first.  The early cuts aren’t turn-offs or anything…just not as much there to hook you, just enough to maybe keep you listening.  It’s like the record really starts taking off around the fourth song; and from that point on, you start seeing a lot more of what Megan Burtt is capable of.  Surprisingly, the standout moment of the record for me is the middle ballad, “Moves.”  Sparse arrangements, passionate-yet-controlled vocals, and a memorable lyric come together and create this sort of magical moment. If all the tracks captured this combination of artistry and passion, the record could easily be a Grammy contender. More, please.

All told, I think It Ain’t Love is a strong showing for a singer-songwriter with lots of promise.  Take a listen for yourself, go buy the record, and sit with it awhile, like I did. It will make you a fan.  It will be exciting to watch and see what Megan Burtt does next.

Oomph scale: 8.5

Megan Burtt: “It Ain’t Love”
Megan Burtt: “Moves”

Download the album on Amazon

or on Megan Burtt - It Ain't Love