Joyann Parker- Tom Heyman- Austin Gilliam- Jeshua Marshall

More exciting roots music releases from Joyann Parker, Tom Heyman, Austin Gilliam and Jeshua Marshall.

Joyann Parker - Roots

Singer, guitarist and keys player Joyann Parker kicks off Roots in a rockin' mood with the album's title cut, a buzzing guitar groove about overcoming adversity and digging in for life's long ride. There's a reason that the song is at the beginning of the album --- it is extremely catchy and will be an earworm for many. Parker's oeuvre touches on lots of genres here; "Faintly Optimistic" moves to a funky Southern rock melody, "Wash It Away" recalls the soulful work of Allison Moorer, "What's Good for You" is a buoyant jangle rocker and "Juxtaposition" bounces along to a reggae beat. What ties it all together nicely is Parker's voice, whether it's tempered in regret as in "Old Flame," calling to the heavens in the acoustic blues of "Forsaken" or kicking up some bluegrass hay on the barn burner "Miss Evangeline." The baker's dozen of original tunes here make for a very satisfying listen.

Tom Heyman -

24th Street Blues

Heyman shows his folkie pedigree on the title cut of this album, playing both gently-picked acoustic guitar and haunting pedal steel on a track that's a candid observation of a less than satisfying life in San Francisco. At its heart the song is not really a complaint; it's more an advisement not to get stuck in the seamier side of city life (junkies, the homeless and the generally downtrodden are mentioned.) Oddly enough the John Prine-recalling "Desperate" is upbeat and positive while "Barbara Jean" lopes along to a gentle country rock beat. "Hidden History," with more pedal steel flavoring the cut, is about feeling invincible while dealing dope as a teen (although the dealer in question gets caught), "Like a Lion" is the album's most rollicking cut while "Searching for the Holy Ghost" is a twang-
infused mid-tempo rocker. Hardship is the recurring theme here and the story of a down-on-his-luck laborer that plays out in "White Econoline" is perhaps the most relatable tale on 24st Street Blues. A second version of "Desperate" with a bit of a gospel feeling closes the album.

Austin Gilliam - I'm Sorry, I'm Fine

Here's a five-song EP from native Texan Austin Gilliam offering a brief but potent taste of what the singer and guitarist is all about. "A Little Dirt" is a loping honky-tonk number that's suitable for dancing but also with lyrics that can be sung along to. Two of the effort's songs have titles that combine to make the EP title; "I'm Sorry" is an apology for a failing relationship and a plea for more time to make it work, set to a downbeat melody where weepy guitar parts enhance Gilliam's earnest words. On the other side of the coin, "I'm Fine" proclaims undying devotion to a lover while simultaneously acknowledging that the definition of "fine" may be stretched a bit. While you may expect the Texan to work strictly in the Americana vein, "I'm Fine" has a definite pop or alt rock bent to it. Rounding out the effort are the rocker "Never Gonna Die" while "Runnin'" is a soaring heartland rock number with a good dose of remorse within.

Jeshua Marshall - The Flood

Here's a real nice set of mostly self-penned songs from singer and guitarist Jeshua Marshall. He begins the album with "Water," a soulful groove that has a gospel feel to it, but with its sassy horn section and hot guitar solos the cut lives in a more secular place. Title cut "The Flood" dances along to a reggae beat and features a catchy chorus; again the horns play a big part in the sound. A highlight of the album is "Agua Es Vida," another reggae-flavored cut that features guest vocalist Yanin Saavedra; the Mexican singer wrote the song's lyrics and she performs many of them in her native Spanish, almost rapping at times. The Spanish flavor continues with a Latin horn flourish at the beginning of "Closed Doors" but the song overall is a country punk rocker. Marshall has a voice that's relaxed, friendly and easy to get cozy with; not to get lost here is his incredible talent on electric guitar.

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