Kristi Kates 9/28/09
The Bihlman Bros. - What U Want
Scot Little Bihlman and Jeff Jabo Bihlman, along with Charlie Cornbread Short and Gary Worden, make up the Bihlman Bros., a grunge-country-rock quartet in the vein of a more rustic Stone Temple Pilots or a Pearl Jam light, although the echoes of many different bands can be heard within their range of songs. Opening with the aggressive I Wanna Fly, the album quickly takes a turn for the mellow by track three, Jubilee, a Southern-rock influenced number with well-arranged harmonies. Angels Wings is another slow tune, showcasing a slightly Hendrix feel, and is followed by Needle and Thread, which recollects the best of Hootie and the Blowfish. The brothers vocals do blend well together, especially on the aforementioned Angels Wings and later track Better Place, and the guitar work is adroit and well-mixed; the one real misstep on the set seems to be Shotgun, which is a little too gimmicky and unfinished sounding amidst the rest of the albums polished production values.
Barbara Faith Jordan - Passages
With her clean vocal lines and self-assured acoustic guitar work, Barbara Faith Jordans set shows off her thoughtful songwriting and narrative sensitivity, especially on songs like Theres a Friend, and See What You Made Me Do. A few of the songs here are slightly darker in tone, which makes for a nice change - especially Loose Ends, which features detailed characters, some interesting minor chords, and a shift into falsetto towards the end of the song thats reminiscent of Tori Amos. Speaking of Amos, the piano work of Dave Proulx on I Remembered to Forget You also falls into that similar sound, and the keyboard tones line up well with Jordans vocals - her voice almost seems to stand out better at times against the piano than the guitar. Elsewhere on the set, she channels the likes of a Mary Chapin Carpenter or a Shawn Colvin on Youre Too Much, and closes the collection fittingly with the thankful Blessed By It All.
Ron Harrison - River Rd.
Recorded and mixed in Copemish, Michigan, singer-guitarist Ron Harrison presents a half-dozen jazz-pop tracks on his new album, which opens appropriately with a drumroll. First track Cant Have It All features syncopated rhythms and plucked guitar, setting the stage for track twos continued guitar work and soulful organ. The title track, River Road, is nicely anchored by several stringed instruments and a traipsing rhythm thats well-suited to the road-trek feeling of the song, while the loungey When I Met You adds in piano and woodwinds for some added variety and texture. Harrison could use a little more soul in his vocals, though - while his tone is lucid and on-pitch, it seems he needs to summon up a little more emotion than whats displayed vocally here, as oftentimes he seems to be singing on top of the rest of the instruments, instead of interacting with them and with the song itself. But overall, these tracks are concisely written, and would be a perfect addition to any easy listening radio stations playlist.