A truly random omnibus review from Peter Massey

Lucie Idlout’s E5-770, My Mother’s Name;
Liza Garelik’s Liza Garelik and The Wonderwheels
Benjammin’s Shining From Inside
Dave Rowe’s By The Way

cover, My Mother's NameFor this review I decided to pick, purely at random, four CDs from the Green Man Review mailroom’s “orphans pile” and see what they have to offer. None of these artists are known to me, so with a virgin ear and a blank canvas, I set out.

Lucie Idlout’s E5-770, My Mothers Name is the first album to grace my player. The album nestles clearly in the heavy rock mode, and as such rocks along in the usual pop music fashion, with a loud, full-on “in your face” sound. All the songs are written by Lucie Idlout except ‘Roll the Bone,” which was written by Lucie but arranged by Matt Dematteo and Chris Shreenan-Dyck, who also produced the album. The album’s title song is explained in the sleeve notes: “In the 1930’s and 40’s Canadian government administrators began using disc numbers intermittently as a way of registering individual Inuit who’s [sic] Inuktitut names made them difficult for administrators to identify. With the passing of the family allowance act in 1944, and the incorporation of Inuit into the Canadian Welfare system, payment of allowances became based on the registration of children. A Federal proposal was passed at this time to register the entire Inuit population with disc numbers. The Canadian artic [sic] was divided between east (E) and west (W) and into 12 regions with corresponding numbers. Disc numbers in the Igloolik/North Baffin region began with E5.” Lucie dedicates this album to her mother Leah Idlout-Paulson.

Lucie sings very well and, much to her credit, has a slightly unusual voice that grows on you. The lyrics are unimportant with this kind of music, as it is the kind of thing usually playing in the background in the student bar at universities. The band overall plays very well and the album has been well cover, Shining From Insideproduced. Unfortunately, they do sound very much like hundreds of other bands. However, I suspect the album would be very popular with students of progressive rock.

You can read about Lucie on Wikipedia.

Benjammin’s Shining From Inside was the next album and is as different as chalk ‘n’ cheese to Lucie Idlout. Benjammin is an eco-spiritual singer-songwriter from Canada. To quote from the sleeve notes again, “Benjammin, A genre-jumping singer/songwriter. Full of heart, humour, life-affirming energy and mystical beauty” is pretty well what you get. Benjammin’s songs are all sung well with a pure, trained voice. If someone told me he was a born-again Christian who has found some kind of inner peace with his belief, I would be inclined to believe him. This may or may not be the case for Benjammin, but his songs and performance certainly purvey this theme. His tunes are not exactly folk music; more the kind of thing a Broadway musical writer might come up with. Unfortunately, not all the lyrics held my attention as cover, The Wonderwheelsmuch as they are supposed to, but I did find the album had a calming effect. Which is maybe what Benjammin is aiming for.

Liza Garelik and The Wonder Wheels features Liza Garelik as a singer-songwriter heading the band. They come out as a lightweight pop rock band. Overall the album sounds good, even if a lot of the tunes do sound like something you have heard many times before (which is a pity). Liza and her band have picked a hard road to travel, but they will always find a gig to play, and they sound like they are enjoying it. Liza wrote all the songs and handles all the vocals. Born in Jacksonville, Florida, Liza Garelik has lived in many different locations, but now resides in Brooklyn, New York. Working under the belief that ‘real musicians have day jobs’ has funded her debut album. I don’t think this album will make her a superstar, but Liza definitely has got talent and may be one to watch in the future. I liked the last track on the album best. The lyrics of the song ‘Glam Jacket’ says it all for Liza and The Wonder Wheels — all they need is a little promotion, exposure, and listening to. When I checked out their Web site,  I was surprised to read that ‘Liza Garelik “gives permission for you to copy her CD as long as it is only for your friends.” Could Liza Garelik and The Wonder Wheels end up being a cult band?

cover, By The WayDave Rowe’s By The Way is the final album in my selection. This one is firmly in the field of folk music. Dave Rowe may not be known to many on this side of the ocean, but in the U.S.A, people certainly may know Dave as a member of the Maine-based trio Turkey Hollow (formerly Rowe by Rowe), when he sang with his dad (the late Tom Rowe of Schooner Fare) in the early ’90s. These days, Dave Rowe is in high demand with audiences on Maine’s music scene. This is Dave’s first solo album and I am reminded again why I like acoustic folk music so much. It’s really a very good album. Dave is a nice singer with a soft melodic voice that delivers excellent clarity and diction. Accompaniment is provided by a nice acoustic guitar style with some superb solos when needed. These are very American ballads with an occasional touch of bluegrass, which gives the album a well balanced feel that is easy on the ear. Dave and his wife Kimberly run Cheshire Moon Studios, so it’s here Dave recorded, mixed and mastered all the songs he wrote. As far as I can tell, Dave double-tracks the vocal harmonises and maybe plays some of the other instruments, bass, piano, and banjo himself. The songs are well crafted and show shades of Gordon Lightfoot and Tom Paxton.

Dave Rowe’s songs are “By The Way” and he “Happy Will Be” if he finds a “Rose of Another Kind” down by the “Lovers Tree” in the “Springtime Love” that made him a “Lucky Fool” and shows “Signs” that “Someday” he “Can’t Stop” and is “Gonna Miss You” when you’re gone. So he is “Howling At The Moon” making a “Lonesome Sound.” But he still has “Fences To Mend” and reminds you that you’re “Not Forgotten.”

Dave Rowe has a Web site with details of his new band; check it out. I can certainly recommend you get this album. It’s worth listening to.

Once again, here are albums from singers unheard of on my side of the pond. Each one is working in a different field of music and hoping for your attention, and as such, the albums are well worth searching for.

(Heart Wreck Records,2002)
(Liza Garelik, 2003)
(Inner Flow Music, 2003)
(Outer Green Records, 2002)

Peter Massey

Born in 1945, Peter Massey, Senior Writer, is now living in the city of Chester, England with his wife Sandra. Now medically retired he worked for 35 years in the shoe business. He has been a semi-professional musician and singer performing mainly traditional / contemporary folk songs for over 38 years as part of the duo (and sometimes trio) 'The Marrowbones'. His musical interest started at the age of 14 with Rock 'n' Roll and by the time his seventeenth birthday came along he was already playing rock 'n' roll and R&B in and around the local dance venues and clubs such as the Cavern in Liverpool. Thankfully he was saved from the evils of rock 'n' roll when he discovered real music and folk clubs. His collection of recordings houses over 3500 folk songs alone. Other interests and hobbies include Computers and Amateur Radio (he has a class A G4 call sign) His latest project is 'The Little Room Studio' dedicated to making 'live' recordings of folk artists and producing their work on to CD using a portable digital recording studio. To date he has written and composed over 12 folk songs and co-wrote with Gordon Morris another 10 that have been recorded on CD. The song writing has continued and they have another 10 songs in the pipeline not yet recorded to CD. Favourite music / bands at the moment are Steeleye Span, The Battlefield Band, Little Johnny England and Fairport Convention, (in that order), and much admires the work of Martin Carthy, Martin Simpson, Roy Bailey, Vin Garbutt, and Bob Fox, to name but a few! You can visit the crummy Web site here and read about The Marrowbones and how to get your free songbook.

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