Tag Archives: Review

Belgium Review: Lindsay Bellows “Wake To Dream”

12 Dec

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Belgium review translated:


Five self-composed songs that were recorded in a recording studio in Nevada City, California together with a number of local top instrumentalists. That is briefly summarized in what you can expect from the epic “Wake To Dream” by Californian singer-songwriter Lindsay Bellows from Grass Valley.

This young lady has soul music flowing through her veins, especially through the influence that her parents’ records have had on her youth and her musical development. They played all those beautiful R & B and soul songs by artists such as Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and Smokey Robinson, in short songs from those artists who also still regularly ring through the living room with the undersigned.

It is her first roll on record, but it will certainly not be her last, because she will undoubtedly very quickly come up with a full-fledged studio album, we are firmly convinced after listening to “Wake To Dream”. Her sense of melody, vocal harmony and emotions in the songs is special and genuine.

We can already see that when we hear the groovy song “Slow Steady”, the first song on this cd and also to listen to via the video added here. Lindsay Bellows often makes use of her voice and a ‘loop pedal’ that takes care of the repetitive sounds. This is also the case with the songs “Wake Up” and “Wild And Free”. As a result, these songs are often sober and minimal instrumental, which makes them even more attractive. Hardly more orchestrated are the two songs “Part Life” and the cheerful sounding poppy closing “Simple Gifts”.

Lindsay Bellows had an ‘8 to 5’ office job as a management consultant for many years, but if she can sit down with her for a bit, she will spend her time on some stage just outside those ‘8 to 5’ hours in the following years. songs are allowed to sing. We may not need to clarify that an unlikely dream would come true for this young woman.




US Review: Jennier Saran “Soulful Christmas”

12 Dec

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Jennifer Saran

Soulful Christmas

Review by Gary Hill
When it comes to jazzy, adult contemporary type music, Jennifer Saran’s vocals are just about the best around these days. She seems to have an affinity for Christmas music because I previously reviewed another holiday set from her (in addition to other music of hers I’ve reviewed). This is her brand new set of holiday music, and it is so strong. This will likely be part of my holiday festivities for years to come. The Temptations are featured on the opening song, Narada Michael Walden is a big part of this production, too.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Christmas Lover (featuring The Temptations)
This has a cool, slow soulful groove. It’s all class.
Sleigh Ride
I love the classy jazz arrangement on this tune. The holiday classic gets a great telling here, really.
Long Road Home for Christmas
This balladic number is interesting. It makes me think of some of the pop rock that was so popular in the 1960s. The harmonica adds a lot to the piece.
Swingin’ at Christmas Time
A bouncy and fun piece, this is another winner. It’s more modern in texture than a lot of the rest here.
Some Children See Him
Harp starts this cut. It works out with a slow moving and rather symphonic texture. The beautiful vocals are the real selling factor of this piece. There are mellow jazz elements at play.
Coventry Carol
Even more symphonic than the previous number, this is so pretty. It is a short instrumental.
Soulful Christmas
An old-styled soulful vibe really does shine brightly on this piece. This has a timeless, classic quality to it. It’s very effective. The horn soloing on this lends some magic to the number. It was a great move to make this the title track. It’s one of the strongest pieces here.
Soul Cake
This is so cool. It has a great Celtic folk vibe to it. Yet, it also has plenty of jazz in the mix. There are bits of traditional Christmas music added to the arrangement. This is another highlight of the set.
Where Are You Christmas
A particularly pretty song, this is another standout. It’s slow and a bit jazzy. It’s mellow and quite effective.
I Have My Own Reindeer
Jazz and adult contemporary music seem to merge on this. It’s a pretty cut that is entertaining. It’s just not on the same level of the last few.
Hark the Herald Angels Sing
Only a minute and a half long, this is an instrumental on classical strings. It’s a pretty interlude.
Come Home for Christmas
A piano based ballad at the start, this is another pretty song. It’s a slow moving number with a lot of jazz in mix.
Merry Christmas to You
Jazz, pop and more merge on this cut. It has a bit of an electronic edge to it, but not enough to take the more organic vibe from it. This is a fun cut with a lot of energy. It’s one of the standouts here, really.
One More Christmas Together
A pretty, jazzy piece, this is another winner. It has such a great classic vibe to it. It’s packed with emotion, too.
Christmas Delight
A bouncy and fun number, this has a great soulful vibe to it. It’s not one of my favorites, but it’s still very strong. There is a short rap mid-track on this.
You Are My Christmas Star
A bit more modern in texture, this has a real soaring kind of vibe to it.
Frosty the Snow Man
There is a cool haunting vibe to this short version of the holiday classic. Saran’s voice is accompanied by only the sounds of winter and some chiming bells. It is incredibly effective.


US Review: Jennifer Saran “Wake Up”

11 Dec


Saran, Jennifer: Wake Up

Jennifer Saran is a Hong Kong based singer songwriter with a new album titled Wake Up, the follow up to her holiday album Merry Christmas, You Are Loved released in 2015. First things first. If you are solely into progressive rock you might as well stop reading this immediately as this is adult contemporary pop music with the occasional nod to jazz and soul. To prove my point the first time I put this in the player my wife replied, “this is nice.” She is not the biggest prog rock fan if you get my drift although she does like the occasional helping of Floyd and Rush. The album recording is top notch with the instruments and vocals very clear. On the plus side Saran does have a beautiful voice and she also gets help from the African vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo on three tracks including the lead off title tune which also includes lead guitar from Carlos Santana. Here is playing is reserved and mostly set back in the mix although it is always a treat to hear the man play. The rest of the songs are mostly slow to mid-tempo balladic fair with ear candy choruses and lush strings.

My favourite song is the Billy Paul tribute “Me and Mr. Jones”, a nicely crafted soulful ballad and a real throwback to a bygone era. The synth solo in the infectious “Look At Me Fly” is also quite nice. The heartwarming “Old Cape Cod” is another nod to old time pop music.Being that I mostly listen to much heavier music I probably won’t play this much but over the holiday season this just might hit the spot when wanting something light and airy. And hey, my better half will likely appreciate it.Track Listing:
1. Wake Up (4:36)
2. Jesus To A Child Tribute to George Michael (5:11)
3. Really (4:10)
4. Me and Mr. Jones – Tribute to Billy Paul (4:50)
5. You Are My Star (4:25)
6. Too Young To Know (4:16)
7. Better Than Me – ‘for anjali’ (3:23)
8. Look At Me Fly (4:02)
9. Old Cape Cod – Tribute to Patti Page (3:30)
10. Try To Forgive (But I Cannot Forget) (4:24)
11. Lean On Me – Tribute to Bill Withers (4:42)
12. Grace Is The Champion (3:32)
13. I Will Always Be Your Home (4:16)
14. My Love and Devotion – Tribute to Doris Day (4:18)
15. Aad Guray (5:42)

Added: November 27th 2017
Reviewer: Jon Neudorf
Related Link: Artist’s Official Site
Hits: 28
Language: english

Belgium Review: Acting Natural “Acting Natural”

6 Dec

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1967 was the highlight of The Beatles. Exactly half a century later, from New York sounds the same sound over the ocean. What inspires a young trio from Tampa Florida to conquer the world from the big Apple with a nostalgic retrospective? Love for quality music of course.
Three Americans, dressed up with badgers, undeniably fan of the British super band and the London Led Zeppelin, released their first EP last month. Acting Natural shines on this with six authentic pop songs. (For the Americans, of course pure rock & roll.). Literally you should not take the group name ‘Natural Acting’ either. Even the haircut reminds us of John or George.
As you might suspect, Acting Natural catapults itself in the 60′-70 ‘past.
Opener ‘The One’ can be confused with a Beatles song for my part. In ‘Nicole’ they can not hide their American roots. Singing together, elongated end notes and a catchy melody à la Todd Rundgren point to their natural musical behavior. Also in ‘Missed The Train’ is that Liverpool ghost popping up. The later full album will show whether British DNA is ‘acting’.
Acting Natural delivers beautiful work that will delight both young and old. The trio leaves no opportunity to spread their sweet revival message. From hip-hop clubs to hardcore metal venues, positive reactions followed everywhere. Also mine!
Line up:
Eric Carnevale (Lead Vocals, Guitar, Piano, Organ)
James David Maney (Bass, Vocals)
Jesse Leonard (Drummer, Vocals)



US Track-by-Track Review: Indubious “From Zero”

4 Dec

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From Zero

Review by Gary Hill
If you like reggae but feel rather adventurous, this might be for you. On the one hand this is well rooted in traditional reggae music. The thing is, they bring in electronic and modern pop sounds to round things out and update that sound. Everything here works quite well, and there are some real shining stars on this set, too.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2017  Volume 6 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
He Who Has Ears
The opening section of this is dominated by the vocals. The reggae meets modern pop music vibe on this is solid. This is clearly more along the lines of the pure reggae end of the spectrum, though.
Keyboards are prominent on the introduction section to this. The cut shifts out to more of a well-rounded arrangement. This cut is more pure reggae than the opener was. It still has some modern elements at play, though. I love the fast paced section. It’s so cool and has some great vocals.
Golden Ones (feat. Sizzla Kalonji)
With a bit of hip hop and some electronic music built into it, this cut is just so cool. It has a great vibe and sound. It’s catchy and feels very empowering.
Free Up
The opening here feels a bit jazzy, but the cut turns more toward pure reggae from there. This is a catchy tune that reminds of the most accessible Bob Marley stuff.
Don’t Lose Sleep (feat. Vaughn Benjamin)
There some parts in the middle of this that have a non-lyrical vocal approach that almost makes me think of throat singing. Still, this cut overall is another effective and credible reggae tune. You really can’t beat it.
See Sharp
The keyboard textures that bring this into being align it with electronic music. The cut shifts toward the reggae direction but has a definite modern pop music element at play. I don’t like this as much I do the rest.
If You Follow
There is some bouncy piano built into the opening of this. The cut works out from there to an electronic pop driven reggae sound to carry onward. This is fun, and not as pop oriented as the previous number was.
Sheep of Conformity
We’re back into more pure reggae territory here. I love this song. It’s one of my favorites of the album.
I love the vibe and groove of this piece. It’s a pretty tune with a great classic reggae sound. Yet there is still a modern electronic edge to it.
Another classy reggae tune, this isn’t all that different. That said, it’s quite effective.
School Again
This might be the best tune here. It has this meaty, powerhouse electronic music vibe delivered in the midst of a classic reggae tune. It’s a killer.
Root Down (feat. Zahira)
I like the rap in the middle of this cut quite a bit. The whole tune is a classy mid-tempo number. There are some bits of funky soulful guitar at points. This is just so classy. There are some great female vocals later in the track. They bring a real R&B element to the tune.
We Got Vibes
A run reggae tune, this is strong. It is quite percussive in nature. I love the piano and organ work on this number, too. Those bring an old school rock and roll thing to it.
Sky High
Reggae and electronic music merge nicely on this energetic, bouncy little tune. It seems like a remix kind of thing. While it’s not my favorite thing here, it represents some definite variety. It’s also fun and entertaining.


US Review: Jennifer Saran “Soulful Christmas”

1 Dec
Title – ‘Soulful Christmas’
Artist – Jennifer Saran
For those not in the know, Jennifer Saran is a North American alt-pop/adult contemporary artist, songwriter and vocalist based in Hong Kong. Her first full-length album, Merry Christmas, You Are Loved (2015), was a worldwide smash and quickly put Saran on the map; let alone on the radar of some very big names within the business.

Indeed, that debut album was created with legendary producer Narada Michael Walden, and released through his very own uber successful label, Tarpan Records. Luckily for us all, that partnership continued onward with her sophomore album, Walk With Me (2016) and her quite stunning follow up, Wake Up.

Coming full circle on her newest release, Jennifer’s latest album is yet another Christmas collection. Featuring guests The Temptations, and yet again produced by the legendary Narada Michael Walden, Soulful Christmas is out November 24th, 2017 via Tarpan Records.

During the holiday season of 2016, Jennifer released a double-single including the tracks “Merry Christmas To You” and “Soulful Christmas”, and now that latter track has spread its wings and blossomed into an incredible, heartwarming new album of holiday tracks.

1. “Christmas Lover” – Featuring The Temptations
2. “Sleigh Ride”
3. “Long Road Home For Christmas”
4. “Swingin’ Art Christmas Time”
5. “Some Children See Him”
6. “Coventry Carol”
7. “Soulful Christmas”
8. “Soul Cake”
9. “Where Are U Christmas”
10. “I Have My Own Reindeer”
11. “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”
12. “Come Home For Christmas”
13. “Merry Christmas to You”
14. “One More Christmas Together”
15. “Christmas Delight”
16. “You Are My Christmas Star”
17. “Frosty The Snow Man”

Containing, and kicking off with, the new single “Christmas Lover” featuring The Temptations, as the sax leads us in, it’s baritone singer Dr. Otis Williams who verbally introduces the song. The trumpets sound aplenty on “Sleight Ride”, before everything is slowed down for a Jennifer Saran original, the harmonica driven “Long Road Home For Christmas”.

The finger-snappin’ “Swingin’ Art Christmas Time” is one of the highlights of this joyous album for me, and that’s backed by the lush harp flow of “Some Children See Him”, the stirring violins of “Coventry Carol”, and then the jingle bells of the title track, “Soulful Christmas”.

The funky, banjo-pickin’ vibe of “Soul Cake” is new and highly original, and that’s backed by the soulful “Where Are U Christmas” (“This is for all the people with blue lights on their Christmas tree. Always know someone is thinking of you”), the beautiful storytelling of “I Have My Own Reindeer”, and then the vibrant “Hark The Herald Angels Sing”.

Jingle bells sound once more as they introduce us to both the piano-led “Come Home For Christmas” and then the ode to children all over the world, “Merry Christmas to You”. The ballad “One More Christmas Together” is a saxophone beauty, and that’s followed by the soul funk of “Christmas Delight”. The album then rounds out with the unexpected EDM sounds of “You Are My Christmas Star”, before the Wintry “Frosty The Snow Man” is upon us.

There are 17 tracks on this holiday album and each one is delightful to hear. Indeed, even where Jennifer covers a classic, she strives to make it her own; and for the most part, does just that. Having incorporated soul, R&B, funk and even EDM into her Christmas spirit, Jennifer’s vocals are magnificent on this quite outstanding new seasonal album.

Chock full of some inspired Christmas covers, along with some aforementioned delightfully inspiring originals (which, in this business, to create just one new Christmas song of any worth from scratch is a miracle unto its own), Soulful Christmas is primed and ready to be your musical accompaniment this holiday season.

In closing, each of the 17 tracks are genuine, enduring, and as festively heartwarming as each other and even her originals sound like they’ve been around as long as the chosen classics. So once you’ve purchased this CD for your holiday celebrations, I urge you to then journey through her back catalog and take in all Jennifer’s other work. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed and for that deed alone, I’m sure Santa will add you to his Nice List!

Russell A. Trunk

Check out the music video of Jennifer and Narada doing their original holiday song “Christmas is Really My Thang,” released on her 2015 album Merry Christmas, You Are Loved:

“Christmas is Really My Thang” – Music Video

CD Purchase Link







1 Dec


Acting Natural

Well they look like nice boys. My Mum would approve.

She’d also approve of the music as they’ve decided to go for a sixties throwback pop rock sound with nods to the Kinks and pre-rubbish Beatles.

Eric Carnevale on vocals, guitar, piano, organ and percussion; James David Maney on bass and vocals; and Jesse Leonard on drums and vocals, for it is they, are actually from Tampa, Florida, not Muswell Hill although they’ve relocated to New York to bring their sounds to the world.

And they’re very good at what they do. It’s very melodic, there are some lovely harmonies and on numbers like ‘Pairadice’ they show an inventiveness and flair that should serve them well. It’s well produced and presented and is a fun EP for all the family.


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