The NBT Review 133

Kara McGraw – Kara McGraw (independent release)
Older reviews (1 – 123) can be found here
The story song is a difficult creature to tame; the writer has just a few minutes to show a lifetime, just a few verses to illuminate adventures and journeys. In many ways it is a skill that comic book writers share, they must distil the story down to its essential essence, move it along with graceful speed even while taking care to keep important details intact and hinting at others.

The story song is a beautiful thing because it allows the listener, (just as well crafted comic books do) to explore the spaces and add their own imaginative constructions, while still reaching the destination the creator wishes. So it is fitting that this collection opens with a song called ‘’ Comic Books and Flashlights’’ A track that has shape shifting magic designed into its DNA.

This set is a complicated undertaking, in which the artist strives to marry the multilayered strands of the show tune to the sensually skinny format of the folk pop missive. (As a side note, I have been listening to Tori Amos’s album ‘Night Of Hunters’ in which she attempts to achieve many of the things McGraw does here, and while finding many delightful parallels, I think Kara gets it right more often!)

The incredibly rich arrangements and orchestration never overwhelm the melodic drive, never move us too far from the girl and her piano, so we sit and listen and are not afraid to get emotionally involved, never feel that this is just music for Broadway aficionados, or Stephen Merritt fans.

McGraw has fashioned a pop album that feels timeless, it could have been dreamed up when ‘Singing In The Rain’ was huge, or selections from this could drive the latest episode of Glee with ease.

You can hear trax from this album spread all over the 24 hour stream that is the NBTMusicRadio, but specially during the hours of  9 PM New York Time and for the European Listeners 3 PM (Berlin Time) which is 9 AM New York Time.
http://nbtmusicradio.playtheradio.com/
iTunes/TuneIn (for blackberry and android):NBTMusicRadio
Stream thru yr media player: http://listen.radionomy.com/nbtmusicradio.m3u
Find out more here:
http://www.karamcgraw.com/

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The NBT Review 132

Living Your Dreams – Danika Holmes (Independent Release)

 

Older reviews (1 – 123) can be found here

It is fitting that this album is the first reviewed of the New Year; because it speaks about the need to pick yourself up and get fighting, get dreaming again, something that the artist needs to do a fair deal as their turbulent lives roll on. During the opening track, Holmes does not shout at us like a pumped cheerleader, all huge smiles and desperation, but rather quietly along a delicate groove, country soul subtle, no self help thing this but rather self aware and so much better for it.

The writer balances this on the title track and the track, ‘’How To Be Beautiful’’ with the realisation that dreams must be personal things as well, that each person must make his or her own way through, the former comes wrapped in a rich and romantic arrangement that should guarantee it a long and happy life on many a radio station.

With the single, ‘’Bluebird’’ Holmes goes all pop ballad stadium on us, the kind of song that the Taylor Swifts of this business would love to have on their next album. Again the restraint and subtle production is a joy ensuring that a grumpy alternative like myself can get into this, just as much as the housewife and the business man.

What we watch here with this second album, is an artist refining what makes her songs work, letting the musicians smoothly have their say, while never losing sight of what she wants to say and how she wants to say it.

This bodes incredibly well for her release after this one, as she leaves behind the internal and  starts to dive into the larger world, but this excellent set will more than suffice for now and will touch many a lucky listener who discovers it.

You can hear trax from this album spread all over the 24 hour stream that is the NBTMusicRadio, but specially during the hours of  9 PM New York Time and for the European Listeners 3 PM (Berlin Time) which is 9 AM New York Time.
http://nbtmusicradio.playtheradio.com/
iTunes/TuneIn (for blackberry and android):NBTMusicRadio
Stream thru yr media player: http://listen.radionomy.com/nbtmusicradio.m3u

Find out more about Ms Holmes here:
http://www.danikaholmes.com