Australia’s CW Stoneking grew up in a remote part of the Northern Territory, but he fell in love early with gospel music, blues and ragtime and those first loves have been with him ever since. Stoneking notes that when he first heard blues he “thought it was kinda funny music because it was so deconstructed and not really adhering to any rules that I’d been told music [should] fit into.” Robert Johnson and Son House are among Stoneking’s influences, which makes sense given Stoneking’s raw, unvarnished, passionate form of the blues. That rawness has always been a part of country blues at least and it melds well with Stoneking’s somwehat punk sensibility.
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Emmanuel Elone: For a comeback song, “All For One” is extremely solid. The descending chord progression feels vibrant and full thanks to some fantastic guitar tone, and the drums are crisp and steady. Ian Brown’s vocals are relaxed yet prominent as he croons a catchy melody and chorus. The only issues is the guitar solo on the bridge; while sweet, it feels out of place on the song. Still, it’s been two decades since the band broke up, yet they’ve returned to form as if it’s been only a couple of years. For that alone, they’ve solidified their position as one of the better British jangle pop bands of the ‘90s, right alongside the likes of the Smiths. [8/10]
Grammy-winning Bonnie Bishop had left music behind when she got a call from Americana producer Dave Cobb (Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell). After 13 years in the music business, Bishop had an awakening one night at 3rd and Lindsley in Nashville as she realized all of her long hard work had been for naught, slowly going broke with no manager or agent. So she headed home to Texas to reassess and ended up applying and getting accepted into the prestigious the University of the South creative writing graduate program. It was while focusing on her writing that Cobb made that fateful calling, praising her for the honesty in her music. Cobb was intrigued and wanted to make an album with Bishop.
Ruby Friedman came up with an intriguing concept for her new album Gem: “What would it sound like if a band from 200 years in the future wanted to do music from the 20th century? What would that sound like? So that’s what it sounds like: It’s an orchestra from the future, doing the past.” The 20th century sound she represents is roots rock, bluesy soul, which suits her deep, textured, rich voice to a tee. Friedman really is one hell of a frontwoman, with a completely unique and transfixing voice laden with passion. Meanwhile, her band storms through a song like “I’m Not Your Friend” with monster riffs and exciting guitar lines that totally make Gem a necessary addition to your music collection.
Pryor Stroud: Marrying the high-intensity sensuality of FKA Twigs with the ambient-soul minimalism of Movement, “Flatline” is an agonized indie-R&B pulse-racer that drops a miniature apocalypse between two lovers’ bodies. This is a high-stakes romantic drama; someone’s life is in jeopardy, a kind of sexually-fraught destruction looms. With economy and great expressiveness, Oyinda’s voice communicates this drama through vivid notes of desire and heart-rent desperation, climbing in the chorus to a reverberating zenith that seems to teeter closer to collapse than recovery. [8/10]