Layla Frankel- Randy Lee Riviere- Bob Bradshaw- Joyann Parker

We spin new roots music releases from Layla Frankel, Randy Lee Riviere, Bob Bradshaw and Joyann Parker.

Layla Frankel - Postcard from the Moon

If 'postcard from the moon' is a euphemism for that part of human nature that causes people to seek what may never be found, something so distant it may as well be in outer space, then this EP's opening cut "TLC" exemplifies the notion perfectly. With references to "a reckoning in sight" and a hopeful but clearly unrealized "all we're looking for is tender loving care," Frankel sings about humanity's lack of a grasp on some seemingly simple things. Don't expect a dirge here though; "TLC" moves to a loping beat, giving it a vaguely Western flavor, and the vocals are delivered in a bright manner that offer an opportunity to sing along. "Dear Jennie" and "Josephine" are both about friends or lovers who are no longer around; the difference between the two is that "Dear Jennie" rocks a bit while "Josephine" is slow and subdued. Also slow and reflective is closing cut "Without Suffering," a hopeful song about finding a love that doesn't hurt.

Randy Lee Riviere - Wyoming

Singer and guitarist Riviere begins this effort with "Lots to Say," an attention-getting country rocker that nods to southern rock and is a good introduction to this 13-song album. The cut is followed by "Our Town," a pedal steel-infused and dramatic song about being connected to a particular place; Riviere wisely refrains from giving 'our town' a name, likely because he is singing about a universal concern. Riviere has a knack for creating ominous overtones in his songs; a good example is "Keep Your Eyes on Your Station" where his voice and the song's melody bode of something upsetting that lurks. Riviere has an endearing quavering quality to his vocal style and it gives his tales here a certain gravitas, whether he's working a straight country vibe like on "Eighth Wonder" or rocking out on "Break My Heart." The instrumental title cut closes out this very impressive album.

Bob Bradshaw - The Ghost Light

Bradshaw is not tuning into the supernatural here by referencing a ghost light; a ghost light is a light that is kept burning when a theater is otherwise dark, a tradition that goes back to Shakespearean times. If you apply that to a musician's career it could mean a time of inactivity if the ghost light is on. In Bradshaw's case, all the lights are burning brightly with the release of his new album, a compendium of easy going Americana tunes like the hopeful "Dreams," the slide guitar enhanced, Randy Newman-recalling "Gone" and the high lonesome of "Blue." Amusingly, the apologetic "Come Back Baby" is followed by "She's Gone for Good," indicating that the amends didn't have the desired effect. Just about everything here is laid back but "21st Century Blues" rocks out as it chronicles a hurricane, or metaphorically the mental equivalent of such a storm. The set ends with "Niagara Barrel Ride Blues," a tale of daredevil behavior that includes the line "I trust my cooper knows his trade." Bradshaw certainly knows his.

Joyann Parker - Out of the Dark

Singer, guitarist and keyboards player Parker begins Out of the Dark with "Gone So Long," a cut that is still lurking in the darkness thanks to spooky Dobro riffs and Parker's ominous lyrics about not being able to find her way back home. "Carry On" is completely the opposite with its bubbly melody and gospel-esque advice on how to get out of that blue mood. "Bad Version of Myself" recalls singers like Bonnie Raitt (and includes Stevie Wonder-like harmonica playing from Rory Hoffman) while "Predator" moves to a Latin groove. Contrary to the mood of "Predator," on "Dirty Rotten Guy" Parker sings joyfully about a woman who's tired of being a goody-goody and is ready to go out and find a man to show her an unbridled good time. The psychobilly-informed "Fool for You" boogies like mad, complete with a bit of raunchy sax while "Out of the Dark" is slow and reflective and a great showcase for Parker's vocals which are impressive throughout.

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