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Artist of the Week CD Reviews

Artist of the Week: Brooke Fraser

New Zealand’s Brooke Fraser has been readying the release of her stand-out third album, Flags. With angelic vocals reminiscent to singer-songwriters Ingrid Michaelson and Colbie Caillat, Fraser’s 11-track LP combines descriptive songwriting with remarkable musical accompaniment.

Flags begins with the energetic “Something In the Water.” With a catchy beat and a chorus that is bound to stay stuck in your head long after the last verse is sung, Fraser kicks of the album strongly. Next track, “Betty,” co-written by Fraser, Switchfoot’s Jon Foreman and The Real Efforts of Real People’s Ben West, segues nicely with horn features, a driving percussion beat and Fraser’s relentless vocals.

Of Flags, Fraser says, “I’ve never used as many characters or as much narrative in my songwriting as I have on this record. On my previous albums, I was singing completely as myself, which is why I think I got so burnt out from touring.”

Last album, Albertine, Fraser says was inspired by “incredibly significant events and people and every time I’d sing I’d go back to that moment where my heart was ripped open. So singing such heavy songs nearly every night for three years took a toll … On Flags, it’s still me speaking, but it’s me speaking the voices of different characters and their stories. It’s more survivable.”

A new character is woven into each of Fraser’s 11 songs while her angelic voice captivates on all. “Orphans, Kingdoms” impresses with a steadfast drumbeat underneath her slower singing style while “Ice on Her Lashes,” a beautiful ballad, introduces soaring string features for the first time.

Continuously showcasing her versatility, on “Jack Kerouac” soulful electric guitar accompanies the Caribbean folk influenced track while moving ballad “Sailboats” displays Fraser’s more serious side. With a release this strong, Americans can expect to hear much more from the New Zealand native.

Watch Brooke’s video for “Something In the Water” below and be sure to visit her Web site to download “May Waltz.”

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Categories
Artist of the Week

Artist of the Week: Joy Ike

Pennsylvania based singer-songwriter Joy Ike has been making a name for herself. After releasing her second album independently, she won an opening slot performing at this summer’s reinstated Lilith Fair through a fan voted contest on OurStage. Since then, she has continued her grassroots approach to music to stay true to her values.

With vocals that recall popular singer-songwriters Sara Bareilles and Regina Spektor, Ike’s soulful singing style and breathtaking piano accompaniment impress. What is most striking of Ike is that she embodies a timeless and familiar quality. Songs like opening track, “Sweeter” draw the listener in with her upbeat singing style while the nearly one minute piano intro on “Give Me Truth” relaxes.

Beautiful title track, “Rumors” leaves an impact on the listener with Ike’s slow and powerful vocals accompanied by the light strokes of the piano and fitting string features. Despite the impressive music, it is Ike’s hopeful and introspective lyrics that allow her to stand out from popular singer-songwriters.

In fact, in an interview with OurStage.com, she touched upon the importance of creating memorable music.

“What a person says reflects who they are. I want to make music that’s purposeful and I want to create music that people can hold onto for a long time.”

With a release as strong as Rumors, Ike is well on her way.

For more on Joy Ike, be sure to visit her on MySpace and watch the interview below. You can download her track, “Sweeter” here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smC4Gb80NE8?fs=1]

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Categories
Concert Reviews

Bob DiPiero, Jamey Johnson Tell Tales Behind Hits in New York

“How y’all doin? Welcome to Nashville,” Bob DiPiero joked before introducing fellow celebrated songwriters Jamey Johnson, Buddy Cannon and Kendell Marvel at the CMA Songwriter Series at Joe’s Pub in New York City Wednesday night.

Now in its sixth year, the CMA series brings country to the city every few months, recruiting some of Nashville’s finest songwriters to the Big Apple to tell the stories behind their biggest hits. “This is our country hillbilly outpost up here in Manhattan,” continued Bob, whose laundry list of country hits include Tim McGraw’s ‘Southern Voice,’ George Strait’s ‘Blue Clear Sky’ and Vince Gill’s ‘Worlds Apart.’

“They make fun of rednecks. What about ‘Jersey Shore’? You’ve gotta be kidding me. No wonder Bruce Springsteen wants to get the hell out of there in every song he sings. Makes me embarrassed for being Italian, and I’m Italian! Good God in heaven. This is as far from New Jersey as you can get. This is down in Apalachicola,” Bob said before he introduced ‘Southern Voice.’

For the complete review, visit The Boot and be sure to catch Jamey Johnson tonight on the “Late Show with David Letterman.”

Categories
Artist of the Week

Artist of the Week: Amy Regan

Two years ago, I introduced you to Amy Regan as an artist to watch. Since then, the New York singer-songwriter has continued to record new material, tour and have her music featured in a national Hertz commercial. (Watch video below).

In fact, it was at a gig playing Rockwood Music Hall in New York that art director Haley Fulop witnessed Regan live and later brought her on with the idea for the Hertz campaign. While she’s been compared to Norah Jones and Joni Mitchell, Regan continues to make a name for herself with latest EP, Gonna Get Better.

The four-track EP kicks off with energetic title track, “Gonna Get Better.” Complete with edgy guitar and percussion accentuated by her soulful vocals, Regan quickly grabs the listener’s attention. Next song,
“Keep You Warm” is a ballad with fitting piano accompaniment. With her deep and powerful singing style, the song strikes a chord.

Though only four tracks, Gonna Get Better demonstrates Regan’s versatility as a singer. Effortlessly jumping from a sultry ballad to a more energetic number, she manages to keep the listener intrigued.  “Crazy” is just one example. The track showcases Regan’s more playful side and is a surprising transition from “Keep You Warm.” With piano and vocals that bring to mind Sara Bareilles, one can only expect to hear more from Regan in the near future.

For more on Amy Regan, be sure to visit her MySpace or Web site. Stay tuned for a full album release later this year.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UN39rkphWqQ?fs=1]

Categories
Song of the Week Videos

Song of the Week: “Helium Hearts”

A few weeks ago I recommended Jason Reeves as an artist to watch. I’ve interviewed him and covered his live show a few times and can’t get enough of him! Check out his latest music video for “Helium Hearts,” the first single off his upcoming album.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhXjjccn0aQ?fs=1]

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Categories
Features

Artists You Should Know: Jason Reeves, Matt Hires

I’ve been listening to phenomenal singer-songwriters lately. Although I’ve already featured and interviewed both Jason Reeves and Matt Hires previously on You Sing I Write, since both have new music released today I figured I’d reintroduce them to you.

Jason Reeves is one of my favorite artists. His name may sound familiar because he’s co-written on both of Colbie Caillats’ albums. Reeves described himself as a hopeful romantic when I interviewed him last year at SXSW, and this can easily be seen in the emotional tales in his songs. You can preview the first track off his upcoming album, “Helium Hearts” on his Web site as well as purchase it on iTunes.

Watch a video of Jason performing “Droplets,” a track he wrote with Colbie below.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_aAMGl8rEA?fs=1]

I first witnessed Matt Hires live when he opened for Tyrone Wells last year. Since then, his music has been featured on numerous television dramas including “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Private Practice.” About to embark on a headlining tour promoting latest EP,  A to B, Hires’ wavering vocals and acoustic guitar are sure to impress concertgoers. To stream his EP on AOL click here.

To learn more, watch CNN’s video interview with Matt below.

http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/.element/apps/cvp/3.0/swf/cnn_416x234_embed.swf?context=embed&videoId=showbiz/2010/04/08/cook.matt.hires.cnn

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Categories
Q&A Videos

Video Interview: Graham Colton

I chatted with Graham Colton  back in April after his show at Maxwell’s in Hoboken. He filled me in on his songwriting process, upcoming release and what it’s like touring with his musical heroes. You can watch the video below and read the complete interview on Hoboken Patch here.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xR3TomRuWA4]

Video Credit: Wendy Hu

Categories
Q&A Videos

Video Interview: Colbie Caillat

I sat down with Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter Colbie Caillat a few months ago before her performance for VH1 Save the Music. She filled me in on co-writing, dealing with stage fright and her two Grammy wins. For the complete article, visit Hoboken Patch.

Watch the video below.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4MHl1HDTe3s]

Video credit: Wendy Hu

Categories
Concert Reviews

Ryan Bingham Showcases Songs From Upcoming LP

Ryan Bingham performed to a packed crowd at New York’s famed Living Room venue on Wednesday night. The private event featured the Oscar winner alone onstage with nothing but his acoustic guitar, harmonica and powerful vocals. For those in attendance, that was enough.

Before his set began, a pamphlet of lyrics to the songs from his upcoming September 7 release, Junky Star, was passed out. Artist Kiki Smith then introduced Ryan with immense praise.

“We’re here to celebrate Ryan Bingham. The wounded part of him that he sings about gives me the opportunity to heal myself. For me, that is very powerful,” she said.

For my complete review, visit The Boot.

Categories
Concert Reviews

Cary Brothers and Greg Laswell Kick off Co-Headlining Tour

Cary Brothers and Greg Laswell showcased their emotion-filled songs and onstage banter last night at Maxwell’s while Harper Blynn provided a fitting backing band throughout each set. The first night of their summer tour, Tuesday was just a glimpse of what is to come.

“I’m originally from Nashville, but I hated country music and I always listened to British music,” Brothers said. “That’s why when I sing I sound British.”

Though he dislikes country, he said his song, “Blue Eyes,” is the closest he came to writing a country song. Well known for being featured on the Grammy Award-winning soundtrack to the film “Garden State,” the track was definitely a crowd favorite.

For the complete review on Hoboken Patch, click here.

Watch Cary Brothers’ new music video for “Ghost Town” below.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ch-0xVRfh4g]

You can see Greg Laswell’s video for “Take Everything” below. Fun fact: he’s actually singing the words backwards so it appears accurate in the video.

http://vimeo.com/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=11173400&server=vimeo.com&show_title=1&show_byline=1&show_portrait=0&color=&fullscreen=1
Greg Laswell “Take Everything” from Vanguard Records on Vimeo.