Monday, November 17, 2014

CD Review: Torsha Lynn's 'Inappropriate'

Torsha Lynn

Links: Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud

Dallas, Texas singer, Torsha Lynn, knows how to create edgy, urban beats and flowing verbage that does anything but stay grounded. The new album, Inappropriate, contains some 'super' hits with the dance-friendly, "Supa Badd." This is a contrast from other songs, such as, "So Wrong," "Down South," "Keep Me," "Space Age," and others. These songs are more urban, R&B beats with some dance elements, but the main gist of the songs stems from a deep, urban influence. Torsha's vocals are rather fluid and edgy with a sound akin to Rihanna, Tamia, or Aaliyah. "Super Human" begins with a little piano introduction and Torsha's emotive vocals with neo-classical string accompaniment for an urban ballad result. "Lady Sings The Blues" also begins with a piano intro, but there are some electronic dance elements that set this track apart from the previously-mentioned song. There is a dance element to the song, but the entire song flows with a slower tempo and more electronic embellishments. "Down South" is a frenzied, electronic display of dance and urban R&B elements, which provides an awe-inspiring chorus with a male, backup vocal that is a little distracting in a deep, vocal register. Still, Torsha amazes listeners with a solid and mature release. 4.5 Stars (out of 5 Stars). ~ Matthew Forss

Friday, November 14, 2014

CD Review: Amira Medunjanin's 'Silk & Stone'

Amira Medunjanin
Silk & Stone
World Village

Hailing from Sarajevo, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Amira Medunjanin is a sensational singer that brings a neo-operatic tone to the mix. The folk songs are punctuated by jazzy stlyings, world travels, and relaxing vocal elements. The breezy songs are emotive and full of beauty. The nine tracks contain scintillating guitars with oud, piano, kanun, and double bass for a truly delectable release. The poignant vocals are clear, powerful, and mature. The plaintive ensemble instruments are very moving with instrumental sections that abound throughout the album. Fans of Balkan opera, folk music, and European music will love Silk & Stone. The music is smooth like silk and solid as a stone without any deficiencies. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: TriBeCastan's 'Coal, Again!'

Coal, Again!
Evergreene Music

Christmastime will never be the same once this is released. The folks of TriBeCastan continue to amaze us with a world fusion of sorts, but this time it revolves around a holiday. There are some basic Christmas favorites here with some tongue-in-cheek stuff going on, including "Silver Bells," "Little Drummer Boychik," "Good King What's His Name?," "Carol Of The Bells," "Jingle Bells," and "O Little Town Of Bethlemayhem." The instrumental tunes might have a few spoken words throughout the entire album. The music is loosely based on the Christmas classics, but the main melodies and rhythms are all there. In this case, the group brings together a world presence with a multitude of gifts, including instruments as diverse as a royal benju, fujara, citera, khomak, yayli tambur, and others. The lilting melodies capture a bit of a South Pacific or Hawaiian feel on some of the tunes, while jazzy and layered elements create dizzying possibilities on others. Who knew 'coal' could be this fun? This is an excellent stocking stuffer for the eclectic music fan. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: King Ayisoba's 'Wicked Leaders'

King Ayisoba
Wicked Leaders
Makkum Records

Born in Ghana, King Ayisoba is an accomplished kologo player and vocalist. The kologo is a two-stringed lute with a very organic sound somewhat aligned with a n'goni. The ten-track release features a few guest artists, including Ayuune Sulley, Solomon Abusoro, Zea, Mbo, Banasko, and Isaac. Besides the kologo, the music incorporates other indigenous instruments, including the sinyaka, gulugo drum, doo (horn), xylophone, dondo drum, and djembe drum. The rhythmic vocals and diverse instrumentation produces an entrancing result that is akin to gnawa music. The scintillating kologo is plaintive, energetic, and emotive--all on the same recording. Some of the vocals are similar to some of the Mongolian and Siberian utterances, but that is where the similarities end. This is a distinctly African release that is refreshing and contemporary. Fans of Ghanaian music, North African tunes, and percussion instruments will love Wicked Leaders. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: The Nile Project's 'Aswan'

The Nile Project

The Nile Project brings together eighteen musicians from several countries, including Egypt, Eritrea, Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and South Sudan, that present traditional music with contemporary rhythms. The North African instrumentation is rather indigenous and vibrant, which stems from the rustic masinko, traditional drums, some strings, a sax, and numerous voices. This recording is a live album recorded at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts that captures the energy and life-force of the music in all its splendor. Heady rhythms, wild vocals, and swirling melodies entrance listeners from around the world throughout the fifteen tracks. Fans of North African, Ethiopian, Egyptian, and Middle Eastern music will love Aswan. It's accessible for young and old listeners alike. Head over to Africa with The Nile Project as your guide. You will definitely not be disappointed. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Syre & Fresko's 'Gonna See Miracles'

Syre & Fresko
Gonna See Miracles

Links: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Soundcloud

The husband and wife duo, Syre & Fresko, hail from Melbourne, Australia and present us with an excellent five-track EP, Gonna See Miracles. The contemporary release encompasses a slight rock feel with anthemic sounds of pop and alternative leanings throughout. "Broken Fragments" is a rock anthem of intelligent lyrics, great guitar hooks, and full-on vocals with bass, guitar, percussion, and electronic effects. "Gonna See Miracles" opens with spacious sounds of guitar, swishy percussion, and a classic, almost Western vocal arrangement. However, the chorus is purely rock and pop-driven with both male and female vocals. "Plastic Dreams" possesses an electronic sound with a full sound that is rock-laden with vocals that are all-encompassing and memorable. "Ruth" begins as a more laid-back guitar and vocal tune void of any percussion. The folksy melody is a bit country-esque with the whining dobro-like instrument. Syre & Fresko both lend locals on this tune. "Tightrope" begins with swishy sounds and female vocals with electronic bell tones. The airy vocals and lack of much percussion throughout the first half of the song gives way to a more robust rock sound with a stellar chorus and climax. 5 Stars (out of 5). ~ Matthew Forss

Monday, November 3, 2014

CD Review: Atlas Maior's Double Release 'Palindrome'

Atlas Maior
Palindrome [2-CD]

Texas-based, world music fusion group, Atlas Maior, releases a double-album, Palindrome, which an improvisatinoal journey on the wilder side of fusion. The band is comprised of Charlie Lockwood on oud, Joshua Thomson on alto sax and flute, and Ted Camat on percussion. The result is very complex, yet laid-back release, with loads of aural textures that weave in and out of consciousness. The entrancing release arouses North African, Middle Eastern, European, and North American musical elements on the jazz, avant-garde, and new age sides of the spectrum. There are fourteen tracks in all with names as diverse as the song elements, such as "ouduo," "Booted and Looted," "Half-pipe Blowhole," and "oodaqq." The instrumental release is perfect for fans of adventurous world music. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Emma Donovan & The Putbacks' 'Dawn'

Emma Donovan & The Putbacks
Hope Street Recordings

Australian vocalist, Emma Donovan, joins her rhythm section, The Pubacks, on her latest release of bluesy, jazzy, and funk-infused concoctions on Dawn. The opening song, Black Woman, is a punchy, funk-filled anthem that sounds like a classic American hit from the 1970's, but this is completely Australian and filled with innovative funk elements. The swaying melodies and vocals of "My Goodness" showcases Emma's talent. The musical abilities are boundless and timeless here. The entire album is full of funk, roots, and pop elements that are unforgettable and highly-recommended. Emma Donovan & The Putbacks are not something you want to 'put back' on the shelf. These musicians are not to be missed. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Spokfrevo Orquestra's 'Ninho de Vespa'

Spokfrevo Orquestra
Ninho de Vespa

The seventeen-piece, Brazilian band, Spokfrevo Orquestra, pens its name from an old carnival style of Brazilian music that includes a feverishly-played jazz foundation that is akin to New Orleans jazz and Balkan jazz. There is a tambourine, drums, and loads of brass horns on this instrumental release. Thirteen songs comprise the album and they definitely fit into a jazzy vein with South American vigor. The fluid keyboards and swishy percussion are danceable and fueled by an unmistakable and unrelenting passion for creative tunes. The music is punchy, jazzy, swing-like, and classic with loads of rhythms and melodies to satisfy everyone that is within earshot. Fans of Brazilian jazz will love it. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Ireesh Lal's 'Ethnotronica'

Ireesh Lal

Ireesh Lal is an innovative electro-fusion musician with a knack for South Asian influences, jazz infused concoctions, and electronic music that is deliciously wrapped around a world music core. The six-song EP contains lush electronic blurbs, atmospheric washes, bubbly dance elements, and punchy trumpet sounds. The diverse instrumentation and song palettes are immensely addictive and enjoyable. The programmed grooves, trip-hop percussion, and contemporary beats elicit favorable responses from all who listen or move to the music. The pulsating sounds ebb-and-flow with such ease and adventure that nothing is the same here. There are hints of 1960's and 70's spy film scores, too. At any rate, Ireesh produces a beautiful recording with cover art inspired by the sounds of the album. This is a great project that is a must-have this year. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Eleonor's 'Erros'

Music & Words

Belgium's Eleonor mixes folk, roots, jazz, neo-classical, fado, and pop and weaves it into beautiful delicacies lead by her emotive vocals. The ten-track album features a variety of instruments, including the double-bass, bass, guitar, piano, drums, oud, accordion, and cello. The soulful, "Salve," is a ballad with strong ties to French jazz and neo-classical influences. The piano adds a nostalgic ambiance to most of the songs. However, Eleonor's voice moves the songs into greater dimensions with such ease and fluidity. As a whole, there are plenty  of calming grooves here. Anyone into great music with great vocals will like it. Everything comes together in just the right proportions for it to be a highly-recommended work of musical art. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Muha's 'Reka'


With roots in British, Indian, Latvian, and Ukrainian music, Muha is an interesting folk and roots group that transcends borders and genres. The edgy folk stylings of "Kateryna" bring an essence that is unsurpassed in folk music. "Reka" is another great tune with excellent vocals and a meandering rhythm that brings to mind Russian folk elements. The percussion is really laid-back, too. Even though the group is based in the U.K., there are elements that extend far beyond the country's borders. The bluesy "Sketches" contains a little jazz and folk. "NY Talk" is actually a flamenco-tinged tune with stellar guitar work and great vocals. There are nine total tracks that are all diverse and deeply-rooted in folk music styles of Europe. Anyone interested in folk, vocal, European, and world music will find true happiness within the tracks of Reka. ~ Matthew Forss

CD Review: Maya Kamaty's 'Santie Papang'

Maya Kamaty
Santie Papang
Sakifo Records/Atmospheriques

Reunion is an island primarily known for the music of international sensation Danyel Waro, but another Reunion-native, Maya Kamaty, who is a very beautiful and talented songstress that sings in French and Reunion Creole, makes the island known on the female side of music. The new album, Santie Papang, is a hearty mix of world music songs that incorporate a bit of French pop blends, Madagascar pop rhythms, and Brazilian melodies. The diverse cultural attributes are only fitting for a diverse island nation located off the east coast of Madagascar in the Indian Ocean. The breezy sounds are ripe with light rhythms that are catchy and airy. "Comme Un Refrain" is one of the best songs on the album--noted for its splendid arrangements of ukulele inclusions, sensual vocals, and sparkling percussion that connotes a light French style with a hint of Brazilian charm. "Move Rev" is a bluesy, French tune with emotive vocals in a storytelling delivery. "Veli" is a sweet, neo-classical song with plaintive guitar and evocative vocalizations. "Dernie Viraz" is a punchy, guitar tune that is a bit of French rock in a lighter setting, but the vocals are akin to Patricia Kaas. Overall, Maya Kamaty is one of the best new artists to grace this blog. Fans of great, female world music with French, Brazil, African, and pop qualities will love it. In fact, everyone will love this one. ~ Matthew Forss