Crestwood is the new vehicle for former Yorkton musician Steven Maier, and I must say it's an impressive effort.
The music is sort of soft rock/folk-inspired, with most of the songs delving into relationships. It's a cloudy, dull Tuesday afternoon as I write this, and the music sort of fits the day. There is a sort of loneliness to the lyrics Maier has created, and the sadness of the music certainly carries the ability to bring out such emotions in the listener. A songwriter should be rightfully proud of their ability to do that.
Joining Maier in Crestwood are Christian Kongawi, originally from the Congo who plays with Saskatoon band The Rebellion, on drums, Finn Day-Wiggins, a classical and jazz trained keyboardist from Elrose, Paul Kuzbik, originally from Prince Albert also played some lead guitar on a few tracks on the album, while Kamila Martel from Big River, SK, who leads the band The Ne'erdowells sang backup vocals on the title track of the album.
Maier has made a wise choice in keeping the instrumentation rather simple here. I say that for a couple of reasons. On one hand it suits the sadder mood of the lyrics, and just as importantly, it fits with Maier's approach, which included recording most of the album at home, doing the work himself. Keeping things simple made that a more achievable process.
While a true musical ear might point out a soft spot, or two, based on the recording approach, they are not issues which affect the overall sound of a truly enjoyable, albeit sad mood, CD.
While Maier has a folk heart in his writing, many of the arrangements move closer to soft jazz, in particular on songs such as Take, The Convincing of You, and Thorns of Another Rose.
This is one local music lovers will definitely want to add to their collection. A very nice effort.
Check out Crestwood's webpage at myspace.com/crestwoodmusic
- CALVIN DANIELS
FOR THE NIGHTJen LaneIndie8.5-out-of-10
It was more than three years ago when I reviewed Jen Lane's self-titled release. The 2007 disk scored a 7-out-of-10, but will still memorable enough that when I was contacted about reviewing For The Night, I was excited by the prospect.
Lane is from Saskatoon, and is an artist who falls in that somewhat hard to classify crossroads area where country, pop, and folk all converge. While as a reviewer it is hard to slap a label on the music, you shouldn't worry, Lane is just a fine musician.
Grey Skies with its pedal steel should be country radio bound, not that it's Nashville enough for most stations, which is what makes it good.
Election Day holds to the country stylings, but lyrically it's more folk-oriented. There is a message here, and Lane wants you to hear it, and pay attention to it.
In general Lane is a bit more country here, although she has not completely passed over yet.
A song such a I Got You falls closer to Sarah McLachlan than Michelle Wright, and that's just fine, since it is my pick as the best cut on the disk.
I liked Lane three years ago, I like her even better after For the Night.Check her out at www.jenlane.com
- CALVIN DANIELSPast reviews are archived online at http://calmardan.blogspot.com/