Brothers Egg: Bleeding Slow

Karmic Fury Records reviews Brothers Egg's release Bleeding Slow

Brothers Egg Bleeding SlowMy first listen of Bleeding Slow came as I was racing across the Arizona desert on my way back to the east coast from a meandering road trip. The thoroughfare of I-40 stretches from California all the way to Wilmington, NC and I thought it appropriate to pop in some music from home as I picked up the road that would lead me back. Indeed, I experienced a blend of travel euphoria and homesickness as the sun set at my back, driving drum beats countered by sweet melodies, a collection of songs that serves as a love letter of sorts, expressed with a distinctly North Carolina twang.

The core of Brothers Egg consists of brothers Jamie Eggleston (vocals, guitar, piano, banjo) and Hunter Eggleston (mandolin, vocals), and Suzanna Crist (violin, vocals). The three are joined by a cast of solid musicians, including their father Dave Eggleston on drums. Both Eggleston brothers began as drummers before leaning toward string instruments and expanding musical styles that lead to the founding of Brothers Egg.

The title track, “Bleeding Slow,” is probably my favorite track, featuring Hunter Eggleston’s steady mandolin riff weaving throughout, along with harmonica that sounds like a train whistle, driving bass, and banjo. Lead singer Jamie Eggleston delivers his lines with passionate urgency, assisted by some nice harmonies throughout. The instrumentation on “Bleeding Slow” is lush and as close to rock as one can come armed with mandolins and banjos.

“Moonbeat” highlights a catchy fiddle/mandolin melody and three part harmonies, with a lilting beat like ocean waves. The lyrics are based on a poem written by Jenny Eggleston, mother of the Eggleston brothers, who also did the album artwork.

“Dance With Me” is a sweet serenade that could be the first dance at a picture perfect North Carolina wedding. Jamie Eggleston’s voice is passionate even as he almost whispers some of the lines, sweet and earnest. The band’s musicianship really shows about halfway through, when violinist Suzanna Crist takes the lead and kicks the tempo into high gear with a full on bluegrass jam. If you aren’t convinced to dance by the five minute mark, you must really hate dancing. The song changes again at around the six minute mark, easing into 3/4 time. At first I thought it was the beginning of another song and I was a little bit disappointed that it wasn’t, because I would have loved to hear where that beautiful melody was going.

“After All”, the only song on which all three members of Brothers Egg share writing credits, addresses love within the context of mortality: “After all is said and done and washed away/We will fall back to mother earth from which we came.” The musical arrangement is a stark one, consisting only of two voices in harmony accompanied by guitar and violin. The stripped down nature really allows emotions to shine through, showing that sometimes simplicity is the right choice.

The band moves into a more creative and experimental space on “Dreamer,” which alternates between a dreamscape feel on the verses and a rockabilly groove on the choruses. Andy Blair steps in for some nice guitar licks, adding a different texture to the song without being overbearing.

“Take a Chance on Me” is straightforward, simple, and sweet, a heartfelt plea to convince a woman to take a chance on the “wild card,” a sort of bluegrass version of the Spin Doctors’ “Two Princes.” There is a great fiddle solo after the bridge, and a bonus banjo jam at the end by local folk/bluegrass legend Big Al Hall.

The final track on the album feels very much like a group of friends hanging out in a living room having fun and playing music, complete with a “1,2,3!” lead-in, a typically bluegrass bass line, a hoot/holler or two, and some call and answer harmonies. “Carolina Wren” is a short song, based on another Jenny Eggleston poem. The music itself ends abruptly just after the two-minute mark, and the CD ends with almost a full thirty seconds of an actual wren singing, which I appreciate as a nature lover as well as a lover of unconventional album endings.

Bleeding Slow is solid folk with some well-done creative embellishments, a showcase for Brothers Egg’s musical talent and ambitions, and a suitable choice for a Carolina-bound roadtrip. Learn more about Brothers Egg and get a copy of Bleeding Slow at http://brothersegg.com.

Brothers Egg

Vanessa Lynch: Walking Blind

Karmic Fury Records reviews Vanessa Lynch's debut album

Vanessa Lynch Walking BlindVanessa Lynch has been circling the spotlight for a few years now, surrounded by and performing with some of Wilmington’s brightest talents, while remaining somewhat under the radar. Until now. Lynch’s debut album Walking Blind is thoughtful, deliberate, and musically rich. Credit is due to her band, all accomplished musicians in their own right, who weave a rich tapestry around Lynch’s voice without overpowering her. Also noteworthy is the overall positive message, a theme of rising above adversity using the fuel of inner strength. Musically, most of the songs harken back to an earlier time, putting a modern spin on funk-spun soul.

The album opens with title track “Walking Blind.” The instrumentation is gorgeous, right from Luke Wilson’s first drum beat into Nicole Mancini’s violin intro. The song itself is catchy and Lynch’s voice is emotional but controlled, a task she makes seem easier than it is. The pop soul melody sets a nice tone for the rest of the album.

“Butterfly” starts with a slow jazz guitar riff from Michael Buckley and builds into chromatics that actually simulate the idea of flying. Lynch’s voice soars and benefits from backing vocals that invoke vintage girl groups like The Supremes. The butterfly imagery is effective in describing a relationship that continues to pull her back in, even as she pleads, “Give me the nerve to fly.”

Vanessa Lynch

Danny “Louis.” Thomas with Vanessa Lynch at the cd release show at Bourgie Nights

It’s probably appropriate that an album emphasizing self-worth and being true to yourself would follow an easy breezy song with the immediate sound of a rap verse. “Courage” works because the lyrical rhymes of Danny “Louis.” Thomas bring out the hip hop leanings in Lynch’s voice. The lyrics are a simple but effective homage to self-sabotage: “Courage won’t enter me and I know why, ’cause I won’t let it.”

“Glow” is the song that should appear in whatever happens to be the next girl power movie of the year, meaning that this is what young girls (or women, or really ANYONE) should be singing along to. “Girl, get your shine on…let your inner beauty show, and glow.” It doesn’t hurt that the song itself showcases some beautiful vocals, including some fantastic backing harmonies.

Lynch gives a nod to her adopted home in “Carolina.” The song is the most folky-sounding song on the album, an appropriate vehicle for ruminating on how moving to the south has changed her. As a fellow Yankee transplant, I can definitely relate to her lyrics expressing heartfelt love for her new home. “North Carolina has given so much to me,” indeed.

“My Flower” is adventurous musically in a way that seems to really bring out the rich emotion in Lynch’s voice, even as she navigates back and forth across a (very effective) time change. She flexes creatively on this song and her band follows suit. The motown sound throughout segues into a guitar solo at the end that downright blazes.

The ballad “Two Men” is so rife with sadness that the feeling of loss is palpable right from the beginning, thanks to a stirring piano intro by Dylan Linehan aided by some emotional violin playing from Mancini. When Lynch’s voice finally does float above the instruments, she allows herself to be vulnerable singing, “I’ve been told I’m a pillar of strength/ Well they don’t see me when I’m all alone.”

Vanessa Lynch

Crystal Fussell, Michael Buckley, Keith Butler Jr, Vanessa Lynch, and Taylor Lee performing at the cd release show

Nothing pulls a listener out of a sad funk like…funk. And the next two songs are downright funky. “Strange & New” has a beat and a bass line that, combined with Lynch’s outstanding vocals and harmonies, perfectly capture the lustful fun of a new love affair. The chorus really makes me want to dance, and there is a killer bass solo from Taylor Lee. “How Dare You” continues the dance trend while also revisiting the theme of empowerment. Lynch’s voice is powerful and full of feeling as she repeats the line “How dare you,” folding herself into what sounds like an old-school soul jam. Buckley swoops in at the end and delivers an exceptional guitar solo.

Lynch smartly ends on an upbeat note, but one that also showcases her creativity. “Shouldn’t Let Me Go” starts out on an upbeat note and then takes a turn into a dark and spooky bridge in the middle. Just when I think I’m going to get sucked into the piano-and-violin-heavy scary dark place, the sunny guitar and vocals rescue me and place me gently back into pop bliss. The song is catchy lyrically and melodically, and is a great finish to what is a strong debut album.

Vanessa Lynch has delivered some great music that is very much its own sound, a rarity in today’s over-homogenized market. After being up-and-coming for the past few years, Lynch has shown that she’s ready to arrive. Vanessa Lynch doesn’t just shine, she glows.

Walking Blind is available online on iTunes, Amazon, and all other major digital retailers, as well as locally in Wilmington, NC at Gravity Records and Steele Music Studios. You can keep up with Vanessa Lynch online at http://www.reverbnation.com/vanessalynch and https://www.facebook.com/vanessalynchmusic.

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Jude Eden: In the Key of J

Karmic Fury Records reviews Jude Eden's solo album In the Key of J

This Saturday, January 10th, is the much-anticipated release of cellist Jude Eden’s debut album In the Key of J. She will be performing live at Fermental at 7pm, at which time you can also pick up a copy of the album. For more details, check out the Facebook event.

Best known locally for being half of the duo Upstarts and Rogues (we talked about them in KFR Live #8), this is Eden’s first solo recording effort. The songs are mostly instrumental, usually with melodies layered over rhythmic plucking. The beauty of songs without lyrics is that the listener is free to go wherever she or he chooses, to interpret the music based on the emotion it invokes, with no verbal guidelines from the creator. I recommend listening to this album when you have time to let your mind wander and go on an adventure, undistracted by the “real” world.

Jude Eden In the Key of JIn the Key of J opens with “Cascades,” a good introduction to Eden’s style of sonorous melody layered over percussive plucking. The second track, “Spy vs. Spy,” might be my personal favorite. Eden cleverly utilizes her instrument for a variety of effects, from resonating knocks to sneaky slides in and out of some of the notes. I really got a sense of mystery, tiptoeing around, the possibility of danger. “Morning Glory” stands out as the brightest and most cheerful song on a largely brooding album, invoking images of gardens, meadows, and the fresh dew of a new day. “Faye’s Voyage” is another example of great effects, including some nice scratching noises. There’s a sense of symmetry, with effects at the beginning and the end, and dual melodies interlacing throughout the body of the song. I sort of felt like I was on a boat, which made the segue into “Whales” make a lot of sense. The plucking fades in and out like the pulsing of sonar, with a strong and smooth melody layered nicely over it. Eden gives this song space to breathe, with an easy melody that doesn’t feel forced to cover too much ground. “Witness” is a short and sinister-sounding track with no background plucking, implying a singular voice carrying a lot of emotion and possibly some trauma.

I suppose “Canon” might technically be considered to be a cover song, since it is based on Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” However, Eden gets a ton of points for creativity. I expected multiple layers of cello, which is what happens eventually. Totally unexpected was Eden’s sultry yet understated voice added into the mix, the only time she actually sings on the album. Her two instruments are layered like a musical lasagna: Cello, cello, vocals, vocals, cello, vocals, etc. The breathy vocal harmonies interwoven with the cello melodies really make this arrangement different from any heard before. By the time the song reaches its crescendo, the effect is that of a choir of singers on one side and a choir of cellos on the other. The wild ride wraps up with a solitary cello. You’ve heard this song before but you haven’t heard THIS song before.

“La Ramblas” sounds like the soundtrack to someone getting ready for a duel or a mission or at least walking down the street meaningfully, possibly on a hot day. “Something in the Way” is a brooding interlude that marches deliberately. In “The Seafarer” Eden uses reverb and delay to make the cello actually sound like water. When the dual high and low melodies kick in, I do feel like I’m on a journey on the sea.

The album ends with a cacophonous head trip of a song called “Catalyst.” This is the only other time Eden’s voice appears on the album, this time with spoken word. I’ve always enjoyed her lyrical freestyles performed live and don’t think a Jude Eden album would be complete without showing off her poetic prowess. There is so much going on in this song that I had a hard time deciding what to listen to. On the one hand, there is a whole toolbox of cello effects, from the sound of dripping water to a traffic jam of beautiful noise. And on the other hand there is Eden’s voice, both ominous and playful, echoing amid the futuristic orchestra. Among the lyrical gems are lines such as “Darkness is the catalyst for my creative catharsis.” The line she repeats as the song and album comes to a close could be a tagline for the album itself: “A new way into the same old day.”

Pick up a copy of In the Key of J at Eden’s live show or order online at inthekeyofj.com.

 

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