Joni Mitchell ‘Shine’ review

Joni Mitchell - Shine

Joni Mitchell’s latest album ‘Shine’ has thankfully fallen into my hands and I’ve been taking my time, savoring her songs for this review […]

Joni Mitchell - Shine

Joni Mitchell’s latest album ‘Shine’ has thankfully fallen into my hands and I’ve been taking my time, savoring her songs for this review. ‘Shine’ is an emotional album. The lyrics and the messages within may be harsh for the optimistic listener, but as a Joni Mitchell fan, it’s fortunate to be able to join her on her lyrical and instrumental journey in the year 2007.

‘Shine’ opens with “One Week Last Summer”, a gorgeous instrumental track that includes a wonderfully mixed piano, sax solo and full harmonies sure to make mouths water. I wondered why she may have chosen to open the album with an instrumental song, but after digging around found the explanation on her website.

On “This Place”, the sweet cries of a pedal steel guitar, one of my favorite instruments, is a welcome addition to Joni Mitchell’s eclectic use of instrumentation. It intertwines with the sadness of the lyrics, about the beauty and the destruction of “this land”.

I can see how difficult it would be for Joni Mitchell not to write about what’s going on around her in today’s world. “If I Had A Heart” is a song that songwriters are made for. Mitchell sings about the state of the planet with a message of despair.

One thing I really love about Joni Mitchell’s singing is not only her recognizable voice, but it’s her phrasing within a song. She has one of the most percussive voices out there and “Hana” is a perfect example of trademark Joni along with calypso beats and harmonies.

Her voice in “Bad Dreams Are Good” is reminiscent of Billie Holiday and throughout the album I had thoughts of Joan Armatrading. It’s great to hear the new version of “Big Yellow Taxi” which, once again, features her brilliant vocal phrasing along with beautiful harmonies, a cool rhythmic guitar and sparse, staccato instruments.

‘Shine’ is a daring and honest piece of art produced and shared by Joni Mitchell. Whether the lyrics are read alone or along with the album, her talent shines through as a true poet, singer, musician and storyteller.

Buy Joni Mitchell – ‘Shine’ on

‘Shine’ lyrics on Joni Mitchell’s website
Joni Mitchell Official Website

By: Jenny May – Band Weblogs

Related: Watch Joni Mitchell performing “California” on the BBC

Steve Cole – True album review

True is Steve Cole’s fifth album. I like the title because the feel of the entire recording is that Cole is being True to his own musical self-portrait throughout the run of this CD.

There are nine tracks in total and I loved every one. This music reminded me of when I first got into David Sanborn in the early 80s. It has that funky smooth vibe running through every track.

The first track is befitting of its name “Bounce.” It is full of chunks of funk and gets you in a nonstop groove. “Cole Seine” maintains the momentum then “Curtis” steps back the pace, coming at you like a soulful slow burner, giving you a taste of the other side of Cole’s repertoire. The rest of album has the same flow, consistently offering a similar tones and atmospheres in equal measure.

I try to refrain from sounding over the top when an entire album pulls me in like this but I have to give credit where it is due, this is a rock solid presentation of instrumental jazz and it displays how Steve Cole has complete command of the tenor sax, not to mention keys, acoustic guitar, and programming. Cole is a very talented individual. He gets some help from his friends and the credits are quite extensive, indicated on each track in the CD booklet. This approach never hurts the ongoing development of a project, and the chances of success get a shot in the arm when you bring in the best in the business to help you out.

All of the sub genres get exposure on this CD-smooth jazz, crossover, contemporary, and funk. Cole covers a lot of ground in a very pleasing way, and I would be willing to bet that he finds a large group of listeners for True.

Artist: Steve Cole
Title: True
Genre: Instrumental-Jazz
Label: Narada Jazz
Amazon Link

1. Bounce (4:28)
2. Cote Seine (4:36)
3. Curtis (3:52)
4. Just A Natural Thang (5:35)
5. Take Me (4:02)
6. Something About You (3:36)
7. Metro (4:20)
8. Closer (4:14)
9. Come With Me (5:22)


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

Lance Reegan-Diehl Chasing My Reflection review

Lance Reegan-DiehlLance Reegan-Diehl gave me what I have been asking for, an entire album of instrumental tracks. Chasing My Reflection is a compilation of tracks dating back to 1992 all the way through 2006.

What I like about this recording is that you can focus in on the pure talent of this man. There are no vocals to take you somewhere else; it is all instrumentation coming at you from every angle, sometimes right in your face and in other instances very subtly. Any way you look at it, the diverse talent of LRD gets the spotlight from start to finish.

The 13 tracks encompassing this incredible compilation are a mixture of rockin’ riffs, jazz tones, hypnotic blues, and a fusion of all those elements. I looked at the credits for all the tracks and on nearly every one Lance plays guitar, drums, bass, and keys. In some instances, he does not get any help whatsoever, he just cuts loose on every instrument solo and proves that his adeptness and understanding of every instrument is exceptional.

“Drivin Heaven” is great kickoff track, it gets you all warmed up and ready to rock, and that feeling stays with you because the energy level is maintained even though the styles switch up frequently. I am particularly fond of “Limey Blues,” it proves unequivocally why rock music came into being in the first place. “Frenzy” comes packed with high energy riffing, well the title says it all-enough said. Another giveaway by the title alone is “Freestyle,” which really puts an artist like LRD into proper perspective. He is all about doing it freestyle and having the confidence to let it rip, knowing that it is going to come out sounding fantastic. I have no doubt at this point after getting to know the man and his music that he is capable of incredible things with the six-string or any other instrument he picks up. He is humble and spiritually centered and that in and of itself is a recipe for success regardless of what life path you take. As listeners, we are blessed with an angel of music.

This is great compilation and I highly recommend checking out the LRD catalog so you can experience the awesome talent and diversity this indie artist offers. Dr. Diehl Music Doctor has a prescription for you, and it guarantees full-blown addiction after just one listen.

Artist: Lance Reegan-Diehl
Title: Chasing My Reflection
Genre: Instrumental Rock-Blues-Jazz-Fusion
Label: LRD Music
CD Baby Link

01. Drivin Heaven
02. Much Too Crazy
03. The Doctor is in (Dr.Diehl M.D.)
04. Green Fingers
05. Ode To Mr.Happy
06. Rok Climb
07. Freestyle
08. Rise in the West
09. Am in Love
10. Limey Blues
11. Dad’s Song
12. Frenzy
13. My Blue Shoes


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

Patrick Yandall releases New York Blues

Patrick YandallI had a feeling this was going to happen. Patrick Yandall has decided to play the blues after releasing a series of outstanding jazz releases. New York Blues is a welcome change for the guitarist and as I would expect, a fine recording straight on through.

Jazz and blues are kissin’ cousins and nobody knows that better than Yandall, in fact he does a great job of combining both genres at times during the run of this CD.

Although I am not accustomed to hearing any vocals on a Yandall release, I found it to be a refreshing switch of the gears and he did not disappoint, offering a bevy of fine instrumental cuts as usual.

“People Get Ready” the Curtis Mayfield classic, came as a pleasant surprise, probably because I have never heard an entirely instrumental version of it. Yandall plays it beautifully and I found myself singing the words anyway so my hat is off to him for pulling that off in such a convincing fashion. I have noticed over the last several months that guitar virtuosos that lean towards playing all instrumental recordings are playing a lot of Jeff Beck material from the groundbreaking albums Blow By Blow and Wired. Both albums were light-years ahead of their time and proof that what Beck did still leaves people with their jaw dropping to floor, particularly musicians with a penchant for jazz-rock-fusion.

Yandall pulls out all the stops on “Cause We Ended As Lovers,” and strangely enough I find myself listening to the original version as I write this now. Music provides passionate inspiration and a great album like New York Blues had me reaching into my archives for more music of the same, not to mention having the desire to hear this album repeatedly. Another barn burner is an Allman Brothers favorite “In Memory of Elizabeth Reed,” one of the best sessions Dicky Betts ever produced. Again, Yandall does it justice.

I think the one track that really shows off his chops is “Deception Point.” It runs just shy of five minutes, but every second of it is a crescendo of instruments assaulting your senses, albeit in very pleasing way. Yandall peels of some licks that are amazing on this track; he plays with style and grace and rocks the house all at the same time. Not an easy task for any player worth their salt. My favorite out of the entire lot is the mellow front porch toe tapping acoustic blues of “So Low.” That one really grabbed me because of its clean playing and live feel. You can hear Patrick’s fingers squeaking up and down the fret board.

This recording has a good mixture of vocal tracks and instrumentals; it is the kind of blues, rock, and jazz that offers it all for the listener. This is primarily blues however the rudiments of jazz and rock cannot be understated here, they provide plenty of juice for Mr. Yandall to do his thing, and does he ever do it well.

Artist: Patrick Yandall
Title: New York Blues
Genre: Blues-Rock
Label: Zangi Records
New York Blues

01. Wrap It Up (3:43)
02. New York Blues (4:23)
03. Blues For Buddy (4:36)
04. So Low (3:32)
05. People Get Ready (4:23)
06. Fire In The Hole (3:59)
07. The Blue Room (5:24)
08. There’s Blues In This House (4:05)
09. In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed (4:41)
10. Shakeys Blues (4:20)
11. Deception Point (4:58)
12. Cause We’ve Ended As Lovers (4:25)


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

Sebastian Lorefice – Short Stories Infinite Corridors

S LoreficeShort Stories Infinite Corridors is a reference to several points of time during the history of film. It could also apply to music because in both cases the art forms have infinite corridors of time that you can relive because of their ability to be preserved infinitely with technology and remastering techniques.

Sebastian Lorefice is a self sufficient indie musician that has his own interpretations of time and space regarding the world of music and film. He takes an interesting and atmospheric instrumental view of the corridors he walks down. Notice the Hollywood walk of fame path inviting you into his world on the cover? Be careful how far you walk though as you may fall off the edge and be lost forever in the universe and its black hole of short stories.

I like to look at the covers of CDs to see what the messages are and then try to unlock the answers while listening to the music. The music of Lorefice allowed me to go through that enjoyable process. There is plenty of variety offered on this CD. The talented artist composes and performs everything using a Fatar master keyboard (STUDIO 1100) plugged into a Korg Trinity Plus. “You’re Inviting Eyes” is the only cover on the album. The only help he gets musically is from Peter Pistevos (electric guitar on “Soldier” and “Street Gangs”) and Adam Calaitzis (drum programming). Through nine cinematic tracks, Lorefice brings you contemporary jazz sliced up with parts of electronic keyboards and an occasional odd sound or tweak for the desired and necessary effect. “Lugosi’s Lullaby” is a good example of this method. It makes you feel there is a vampire lurking around the corner, along with the things that go bump in the night, to make Bela stalking you believable.

While listening, my son got bits and pieces of this along the way and he kept asking me “You already listened to this right?” And my reply would be, “Yes, several times.” This is a typical scenario in the room I listen to my music and go through my process to write about it. This time the comment I heard from the young man was “This reminds me of music on some of my games.” Soundtracks for video games are big business these days and I have to agree with him, I heard plenty that could fit into that area.

This is an interesting combination of jazz and world fusion that rocks you with some punch and also has its share of moments where it sounds quirky and futuristic. It keeps you on your toes wondering what the next track is about to bring. For my varied tastes and judicious ears this was a pleasure to listen to. When the music stops the stories end but they don’t have to, just play it all again.

Artist: Sebastian Lorefice
Title: Short Stories Infinite Corridors
Genre: Jazz-World-Fusion
Label: Arc Sound Limited
CD Baby Link

1. Soldier (4:57)
2. Street Gangs (5:40)
3. Your Inviting Eyes (7:58)
4. Espionage (9:04)
5. Shaolin Temple (7:39)
6. Lugosi’s Lullaby (2:48)
7. Ufo File (4:56)
8. Hostile Planet (7:17)
9. Water Slide (4:29)


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

Donna Sammarco Flys On Eagles Wings

Donna SammarcoAlthough On Eagles Wings was released in 2004 the music remains bright and relevant at any time, simply because what the intent and meaning was behind producing it the first place. This kind of Christian new age instrumental sound is for ears that want some relief of daily demands.

Donna Sammarco goes solo with her piano covering timeless spirituals flying on the wings of time and space (and eagles) through the ivory keys.

This was a nice experience for me. Music such as this engages you and allows a meditative state to take hold. This is not a normal state of mind for any sentient being, particular in this world we live in now, with all the constant activity around us. It takes something powerful and aurally seductive to make us stop and listen so we turn inward and recharge our link to a higher power. I should do this on a daily basis but I do not, music like this reminds me what a strong connection I have to the spiritual world and how easy it is to tap into that source if I choose. Quite simply that is it in a nutshell; it is all about making the right choices on daily basis. Every track is crystal clear with its message and certainly because of its foundation within each composition, words are not needed. As I said, this is not something I put on the stereo every day but I am comforted to know there is something I can reach for when I want to center my energy and feel good about being alive.

Artist: Donna Sammarco
Title: On Eagles Wings
Genre: Christian-Instrumental
Label: P & J Records

01. How Beautiful (3:41)
02. Oh, How He Loves You and Me (2:56)
03. Near to the Heart of God/Heart of Worship (2:48)
04. Lamb of God (2:57)
05. I Exalt Thee (3:22)
06. El Shaddai (3:42)
07. Alleluia/The Majesty and Glory of Your Name (4:00)
08. Change My Heart, Oh God (3:01)
09. Give Thanks (3:01)
10 .Spirit Song (3:16)
11. On Eagle’s Wings (3:28)


Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck

Hill Briggs is one man show on Solo Album

Hill BriggsHill Briggs is a one man show on his simply and fittingly titled Solo Album. I find it difficult to begin to articulate all the feelings and complete satisfaction I felt listening to this music. Briggs is an outstanding musician. He spent two years putting this amazing project together. What I find astonishing is the fact that Hill composed all 16 tracks and then played all the instruments, live off the floor, except the saxophone on “Jez G.” He is currently rehearsing a band to play the project live. Too bad I am not in UK to see this event unfold, I would find it very interesting after listening to this CD several times, knowing that he played everything himself except one sax part. It is hard for me to fathom this but every time I hear it, it becomes more real and that much more incredible.

Briggs walks you through his worlds of music one track at a time effortlessly like the polished pro that he is. Someone that can paint such a textured palette of colors and grace as this must be totally in touch with his innermost feelings. I may be getting a little too deep here but I tend to enjoy music totally in every way. I process everything I am hearing on a personal level, which actually feels like another plane of existence entirely from my everyday life. Tracks like “Latino Dance” take me to that special place in seconds, with its soothing rhythms and gentle overtones that seem to blow right through you like the warmth of a July breeze.

I have said this frequently but could never stress it enough…instrumental music offers something entirely different than music with lyrics; you have the opportunity to create your own story, which is why I have had this love affair that continues to this day with music like this. Jazz, rock, world, and fusion are a great combination that can take you places you have never been before and Briggs has that ability to do that without difficulty. Within his eclectic mix of genres all molded into one final sound, I consistently found gratification. I heard modern and contemporary jazz, rocking guitar licks, smooth and inviting layers of keyboards, and the essential foundation that drives it all along steadily, bass and drums.

I could go on forever and break down every track but that would be too long and boring, and it would be also an unfair assessment of an album that was too good to discuss just a few tracks, so to give it justice I would have to say I enjoyed in its entirety. Every track gave me something to enjoy in a different way and that is the beauty of this recording. You can tell that Briggs was meticulous about his choice of tracks and they way it was produced.

All of the effort paid off in a big way as Solo Album has the kind of music you are bound to be hearing all over internet radio stations where you tune into jazz, smooth jazz, and fusion. Too bad the brick and mortar stations will never hear this. We are the lucky ones that get to enjoy it, knowing that the mainstream big label backed music is for those that don’t want to dig down deep and get something more than just a tune playing in the background that brings about nothing more than superficial feelings.

Artist: Hill Briggs
Title: Solo Album
Genre: Jazz-Rock-Fusion-Instrumental
Label: Blue Pie Records

01. Yes Please (3:50)
02. Bristol Bay (4:02)
03. Dawn Til Dusk (4.52)
04. Latino Dance (4:44)
05. Ballardos (4:48)
06. Crusin (4:22)
07. Who And When (5:24)
08. Jez G (5:16)
09. No Way Out (3:40)
10. Lazy Days(4:05)
11. Smell The View (3:44)
12. The Girl From Notradamas (4:25)
13. Walk On The Wilderbeast (5:14)
14. Leg End (4:20)
15. Heart Felt (5:15)
16. Yellow Jack (2:44)

Keith “MuzikMan” Hannaleck