POCKET FULLA NOTHIN'
Hailing from Edmonton Kyler Schogen hits a sweet spot musically, that area just where rock, blues and folk converge. It is a place which musically is almost ideal, at least to my ears, a devout blues lover, who appreciates a good rock song, and the lyrical strength of folk.
It's a crossover locale others have visited, some making it their musical home. Schogen should certainly make it his residence since he is clearly at home in this neighbourhood.
In Schogen's case the music has more blues to it than rock. It's not a smooth 50/50 mix, but he does use elements of both.
On a tune such as Ebb and Flow Schogen mixes in a bit more of an obvious rock flavour, whereas the title cut has more of a pure blues beat.
Just Got Eyes For Me is another driving blues cut that catches attention.
Musically the 13-cuts here are pleasing, although vocally Schogen might not make it to anyone's top-10. It's not that he is bad at the microphone, but he just never seems to quite punch it up to a higher gear to match the work of the bans.
The end result is a pleasing CD, but one you just feel he could have taken a notch, or two higher.
Still it's an effort worth lending an ear to, just maybe regularly.
Check it out at www.myspace.com/kylerschogen
- CALVIN DANIELS
LOVE SONGS FOR THE LAST 20
Del Barber's latest effort, Love Songs for the Last 20, is along this year's finalists at the Western Canadian Music Awards for Best Solo Roots Album.
Being among the six finalists for a major award such as those of the WCMA tells you something about the fine music you're going to get when you pop this disc into the player, and Barber does not disappoint. Of course the disc also earned Barber a Juno nomination, so the pedigree is in place.
Barber, who hails from Winnipeg, has a good handle on what it is to play roots music. The disk takes elements of folk and country and blends them seamlessly.
The title song is a perfect example of the idea of alternative country, a song that owes its roots to older music, yet lyrically holds its place in the current era of song writing. That can be said of the entire CD. Barber clearly has a poet's soul the way he writes a song, and there is certainly an element of a modern cowboy minstrel here too. Barber might not ride a horse like an old cowboy crooner, but you can tell he's at home singing story songs around a campfire just the same. You only need to listen to Miles and Years to know that.
Barber may not win the WCMA nod, but you will certainly be a winner if you buy this disk. It's a great effort.
Check it out at www.delbarber.com
- CALVIN DANIELS
Past reviews are archived online at http://calmardan.blogspot.com/