What makes Canada's East Coast a hot spot for home grown musical talent? I don't really know the answer to that and I'm not sure if anyone does, but it seems there is something in the water that equips everyone with some sort of ability. Musical families are plentiful and the culture is accepting of performance, maybe that's the key. Whatever it is, Linda Brooks was also born with the gift. This New Brunswick born singer-songwriter-actress has received nominations for "Best Female Artist" at the East Coast Music Awards as well as invites to perform with many musical acts like Ashley MacIssac, Natalie Macmaster, and John McDermott.
Her third studio album The Upside is a testament to her vocal talent, and the depth of her pockets. The credits of the studio musicians who played on this record reads like the billboard charts of the past 40 years. The guitar player for George Strait, the bassist for Elton John, drummer from Peter Frampton's band, the keys player for Alan Jackson, etc. Their credits take up half of her press kit. I'm not sure if I should be impressed by this, or thinking "well no wonder this album sounds so great."
Now, I'm not trying to knock Brooks' ability, but it would have been nice to see this album backed up by Halifax talent instead of the usual Nashville bunch.
The fact that she wrote every song on this record kind of redeems it for me. I always dislike it when songs are just chosen from a catalogue for some pretty face to sing. The Upside is the poster child for "Adult Contemporary Country", thanks largely to producer Chris Leuzinger (Trisha Yearwood, Garth Brooks) and the aforementioned troop of musicians. I mean, it's good. It's poppy and it sells and moms can bob their heads along with it. It's not my favorite thing, but the integrity is there. No one can deny that Linda has a serious talent in her own right.
I guess the upside is Linda will have no trouble selling copies and recouping the cost of hiring Nashville's top ten.
Sound The Drum
Oh, Southern California, what a free spirit you seem to be. Your expanding offspring of breezy beach bums, spawning an LA hippie revival, is astounding. Collectives and collaborations run rampant, spreading love and creating music so unique it has to be heard to be understood. Your newest child, The Mowgli's, flourish in the wake of elder brother Edward Sharp and the Magnetic Zero's (whom the reader should also look into).
Sound the Drum is the debut album by this San Fernando Valley octet. Made possible by donations through Kickstart.com, Sound the Drum sounds as if the Arcade Fire moved to SoCo and picked up surfing, and experimented with honky tonk and rock and roll. The Mowgli's mesh group vocals and chaos into a relatively clean package. Melodies are layered in thick and interesting ways and every song leaves you humming along and tapping your toes.
Laden with themes of togetherness, love and freedom, The Mowgli's definitely have a message they want to spread. I feel that it's an important message, considering the global squalor we currently find ourselves in. I find the last song "We Are Free" to carry this message most triumphantly; lyrically and instrumentally.
If you need a beach party record with undertones of empowerment, Sound The Drum is the album you're looking for.