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Album Review

Dianña is Back with New Christmas Single

With the graceful demeanor of a classic country crooner, Dianña draws us into her inescapable melodic web in the new single “Missing You Underneath the Mistletoe,” an ode to the holiday season and a tribute to the sumptuous sounds of winter. “Missing You Underneath the Mistletoe” has the feel of something straight out of the classic American songbook, and yet its foundations aren’t marred in a lot of familiar themes we’ve heard a hundred times before.

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/diannacountry/?hl=en

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Undaunted by the notion of having to live up to all of those other recording artists who took a crack at this genre every December, Dianña decadently adds a country nuance to this composition’s boxy beat and makes it feel not only like a taste of the holidays akin to eggnog but also like a glimpse into her artistic palate as we’ve never heard it before. She doesn’t hold anything back from us in this new single, and if you love Christmas as much as I do you can consider this track required listening all month long.

Dianña is so patient in the execution of her verses that her musical profile has much more in common with the vocal standards singers of the early 20th century than it does with many of her peers. She’s decidedly more restrained than anyone in contemporary pop, yet she has this intrepid nature as a performer that makes her ambitious goals seem a little easier to reach.

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“Missing You Underneath the Mistletoe” demands a certain amount of nimbleness from the singer of its tender words, but rather than trying to cross the finer points of the song with a lot of vibrato-filled showing off, she glides through the prose without ever attacking its more difficult twists and turns. For someone with the skillset that Dianña has there’s no need to embellish the melody with unneeded bells and whistles. She’s letting the groove of this piece do all the work for her and merely adding her vocal stylings as a finishing touch.

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There’s so much color and rich texture to this recording that I could spend hours trying to analyze its deeper intricacies. Dianña is very good at sewing more minute details together in the fabric of her songs, and though she could have gone with something more streamlined, she put just as much effort into making these ridges feel larger than life.

https://open.spotify.com/artist/20NnRfrCe5FZXWL84lxVzz

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We’re nudged closer to the flame in her heart with the utterance of each syllable, and instead of feeling like we’re hearing a tired old Christmas song that’s been played at one too many parties, it’s like we’re experiencing the same joy that children feel when they come dashing towards the tree on Christmas morning.

If you haven’t already done so, I highly recommend securing a copy of “Missing You Underneath the Mistletoe” this December; Dianña offers us one of the best songs of the holiday season without wrapping it in all the commercial ribbons we’re used to. For what I look for in this genre, she’s hit the spot and then some.

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Babette Cook

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Album Review

Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number: Lolly Lee Delivers Debut Self-Titled LP

Lolly Lee’s self-titled LP kicks off with an energetic and infectious anthem, “Satellite,” setting the stage for what’s to come on this vibrant and dynamic album. With its driving guitar riffs, pulsating percussion, and Lee’s spirited vocals, the song immediately captures listeners’ attention and leaves them hungry for more.

Throughout the album’s 11 tracks, Lee showcases her incredible musicality and unwavering passion for storytelling through music. Her songs are a vibrant tapestry of rock ‘n’ roll infused with light Americana elements, creating a sound that is uniquely her own. From the upbeat and catchy “Great Crusade” to  “Ave Mario Grotto,” each track on the album stands out on its own while still maintaining a cohesive sound.

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What makes this album truly special is Lee’s ability to craft compelling narratives through her lyrics. It’s evident that each song is deeply personal to her, drawing on her own experiences of love, loss, and life in rural Alabama. In “Shot at the Devil,” the album’s closing track, Lee reflects on the uncertainties of life and the struggle to find inner peace. With her emotive vocals and haunting melody, she captures the bittersweet feeling of acceptance and letting go. As a listener, it’s hard not to be deeply moved by her vulnerability and honesty.

Collaborating with long-time friend and producer Anthony Crawford, Lee has created a mesmerizing sound that perfectly complements her songwriting. Crawford’s production expertise shines through on each track, adding layers of depth and texture to Lee’s already dynamic songs. Lee’s decision to also enlist the vocal powerhouse Savana Lee, Crawford’s wife and bandmate in Sugarcane Jane, adds an extra layer of richness and diversity to the album.

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The standout single, “Great Crusade,” is a perfect example of the magic that happens when Lee and Crawford collaborate. The song is a rousing anthem that is equal parts fun and inspiring, with its kickass riffs and battle-inspired lyrics. It’s impossible not to feel empowered and ready to conquer the world after listening to this song.

Recorded at the renowned Admiral Bean Studio, the production on this album is top-notch. Each instrument and vocal is expertly mixed, creating a balanced and polished sound that perfectly captures the energy of Lee’s live performances. As a listener, it’s easy to get lost in the music and feel like you’re right there in the studio with Lee and her band.

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In conclusion, Lolly Lee’s self-titled LP is a must-listen for fans of rock ‘n’ roll, Americana, and great music in general. Lee’s talent and creativity shine through on every track, making this album a true gem in the world of independent music. With its infectious energy, inspiring melodies, and thought-provoking lyrics, this album is sure to leave a lasting impression on listeners and solidify Lolly Lee as a force to be reckoned with in the music industry.

http://www.lollyleemusic.com

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-Chuck Rainey

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Album Review

Veteran Singer Songwriter James Mastro Releases Album for the Ages, “Dawn of a New Error”

James Mastro is a veteran songwriter and guitarist with an impressive career spanning several decades. He made a name for himself as a teenager in the iconic CBGB scene as part of The Richard Lloyd Group. As a member of The Bongos, Mastro achieved mainstream success with the release of three acclaimed albums. He went on to front Americana band The Health & Happiness Show, releasing three highly praised albums. Mastro has opened for a diverse range of artists including Wilco, Johnny Cash, and Barenaked Ladies. He has also collaborated with renowned musicians such as Patti Smith and John Cale. Additionally, Mastro has been a longtime member of Ian Hunter’s band, playing guitar on Hunter’s last seven albums. With an impressive list of credits, including production work for artists like Steve Wynn and Jill Sobule, Mastro is a highly sought-after musician in the industry. His latest project, the upcoming album Dawn of a New Error, is set to be released on February 21, 2024 on MPress Records.

Produced by Tony Shanahan, bassist and co-producer for Patti Smith, Dawn of a New Error is a masterful showcase of Mastro’s musicianship. From the soaring guitar riffs to the clever lyrics, each of the 11 tracks on the album is a testament to his artistic vision and musical prowess.

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The album kicks off with the energetic and infectious “Right Words, Wrong Song,” featuring guest vocals from the legendary Ian Hunter. With its driving guitar riffs and catchy chorus, it’s a perfect introduction to Mastro’s musical world. The hopeful “The Face of the Sun” and the fast-paced “Three Words” continue the trend of earworm-worthy hooks and powerful vocals.

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But it’s not all about the rock and roll on this album. Mastro shows his range with the introspective “My god,” a song about belief in oneself and others. It’s a beautiful track that sets the tone for the rest of the album with its poignant lyrics and engaging melody.

“River Runs Forever” takes listeners on a journey through lost loves and the end of days. The mandolin-driven “Everywhere” conjures up images of old photographs, while the gospel-tinged “Someday Someone Will Turn Your Head Around” is a message of perseverance and hope.

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One of the highlights of the album is “Here Beside Me,” a hauntingly beautiful track that showcases Mastro’s vocals and songwriting skills. The dreamy “Never Die” features the high backing vocals of legendary drummer Steve Goulding and a more than memorable groove that lets Mastro’s guitar skills shine.

The album features many high notes, including “Trouble,” a lively track that features guest vocals from The Jersey City New Heights Gospel Group, adding a touch of soul and gospel to the mix. Overall, Dawn of a New Error is a rich and diverse album that showcases Mastro’s talents as a musician, songwriter, and producer.

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What sets Mastro apart from other musicians is his ability to seamlessly blend genres, from Americana to Art Rock to Gospel. His diverse influences are evident throughout the album, creating a unique and engaging sound that will appeal to a wide range of music lovers.

The production of the album is top-notch, with a team of talented musicians and engineers bringing Mastro’s songs to life. Tony Shanahan’s contributions as producer, bassist, and backing vocalist add an extra layer of depth to the album, while the guest appearances from Ian Hunter and The Jersey City New Heights Gospel Group add even more dimension to the tracks.

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In a world where many artists are chasing trends and trying to fit into a specific genre, James Mastro stands out as a true original. Dawn of a New Error is a testament to his talent and his ability to create music that is both timeless and timely. With this album, Mastro steps out of the shadows and into the spotlight, proving that he is a force to be reckoned with in the music world. Fans of Elvis Costello, Tom Petty, and Wilco will not want to miss this album. Dawn of a New Error is a must-listen for any music lover.

–Felix Crosse

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Album Pre-save/order link: https://mpress.lnk.to/DawnOfANewError

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