Friday, September 21, 2012

Sophie Madeleine "The Rhythm You Started"

Hello dear readers.  All of you long-time friends of Merry and Bright know that Sophie Madeleine is my favorite artist of the decade.  You can check the archives for my posts about Sophie and her music, and my opportunity to meet her last December in NYC.

Such a lovely and talented artist deserves lots of good publicity, so I thought I'd create a quick post to let you all know that her CD "The Rhythm You Started" is now available in the U.S. on Amazon and iTunes.  The U.S. release contains a new song, previously unavailable, called "Poltergeist".

Sophie is an amazingly talented singer/songwriter/ukuleleist, with a *beautiful* voice.  Check out her videos on Youtube, then head on over to Amazon or iTunes and buy her CD.  Oh yeah, she has a cool website, too, and you can find her on Facebook and Twitter.

"The Rhythm You Started" on Amazon

Sophie Madeleine website

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Cavalcade of Sports

Here's an interesting little record I found recently.  It appears to be a promotional 7" 33RPM record for a larger set of recordings.  This is called "Cavalcade of Sports", and features narration by the great Mel Allen.  Who else grew up just waiting each week for "This Week in Baseball" and the voice of Mel?

For sports buffs, this is a very interesting record.  You'll hear the voices of many sports greats from years past, including Jesse Owens talking about the Berlin Olympics, Lou Gherig speaking on his retirement day, and Babe Ruth, both at his retirement and just before his death.

One of the most interesting sound clips is from Knute Rockne.  There is an extended clip of Knute addressing his Notre Dame team before a game.  Trivia time:  Knute Rockne died in a plane crash near tiny Matfield Green, Kansas, in 1931.  Matfield Green is in Chase County, KS, one of the most beautiful counties in the state.  The 60ish miles on K-177 from Cassoday, KS North to Council Grove is one of the most scenic drives in the state.  Northbound, you can see the Knute Rockne memorial off to the right on top of the hill where the plane crashed.  The memorial in on private land, so is not accessible to the public.  I used to drive by there on my college travels, from my home in South-Central Kansas to Kansas State University in Manhattan.

Anyway, here it is, of interest to sports fans, probably not so much for others.  A final note:  the record was a little rough, so there are a couple skips in the recording.


download link

Friday, September 7, 2012

Album Review: "Brighter Than The Blues" by Kelley McRae

The road was good to Kelley McRae.
Mississippi native and recent Brooklyn resident Kelley McRae and her husband/guitarist Matt Castelein left the security of jobs and apartment in February 2011 and embarked on the “Great VW Camper Van Tour”, criss-crossing the country performing in venues of all shapes and sizes, including many, many house shows, where Kelley and Matt would perform in a living room, a hallway, out on a deck, or wherever the host provided space for the performers and a gathering of friends.  After over 150 shows and 35,000 miles logged in their VW camper van, Kelley and Matt settled for a while in Tennessee to write and record a new album, with songs inspired by their travels across the country.

Yes, the road was good to Kelley, as an inspiration for this collection of songs, and as a way to practice and perfect her art.  Kelley’s new album, “Brighter Than The Blues” is beautiful.  Kelley’s vocals are stronger than ever before, and the musicality is tremendous.  Following her earlier albums “Never Be” and “Highrises in Brooklyn”, “Brighter Than The Blues” features eleven new songs written and performed by Kelley and Matt.  Their travels and experiences over the past year, and the closeness they felt as they toured together, all come through in this amazing collection of songs.
Kelley has long been a gifted songwriter.  “Sparrow”, “Time”, and “More of Nothin’” from her previous releases highlight her songwriting talent.  “Johnny Cash”, from her debut album “Never Be”, is as fine a song as anyone has written, ever.  Let me mention it here, in the same sentence as “Mona Lisa” and “Summer Wind”.  It’s *that* good.  The songs on “Brighter Than The Blues” are as strong as ever, and show that she continues to grow as a songwriter.  These songs are heartfelt, moving, and deeply intimate.  Kelley does not write superficial or fluffy.  Her songs come from deep within the heart of a true artist.
The arrangements, guitar accompaniment, and vocal performances on “Brighter Than The Blues” show Kelley’s true growth as a musician.  Her singing shows amazing strength and maturity, finely honed from her time on road.  The performances are rich and full, enveloping the listener, surrounding you and drawing you into an incredible musical experience.
The title song, “Brighter Than The Blues” opens the album and immediately sets the stage for the record with a superbly strong vocal performance and reminiscences of their long time on the road and their closeness as a couple.  These themes are revisited throughout the record, from the haunting melody of “Keeper of the Light” to the personal “When the Evening Comes”.  My favorite song is “25,000 Miles”, about the trials and tribulations and joys and stresses and growth that came from their tour.  In this one song, Kelley masterfully gives us a glimpse of their experiences.  In retrospect, what a glorious artistic journey this must have been.
Performing so many shows in such intimate venues has truly fostered Kelley’s growth as a musician.  On her website, Kelley says “I really wanted to capture the spirit of the live show” when creating “Brighter Than The Blues”.  As a house-show host who got to hear Kelley and Matt perform from about three feet away, I can attest that she succeeded.  Her new album has all the energy and warmth of a living room show.  By the way, let me tell you, Kelley and Matt performing in your living room is really cool.
“Brighter Than The Blues” is an amazing recording by a truly gifted singer/songwriter.  And, although Kelley is the name on the record, let me give a shout-out to Matt, whose vocal harmonies and excellent guitar work bring completion to this collection of songs.
If you hurry (by September 15, 2012) you can get a free download of “Brighter Than The Blues”!  Details are on Kelley’s website.  But wait, there’s more – join Kelley’s mailing list and you’ll get a free download of “Johnny Cash”.   It’s worth it, believe me.
I was a backer of the production of “Brighter Than The Blues” on Kickstarter, receiving a pre-release copy of the CD and a darned cool T-Shirt for my contributions to the album production.  No other compensation was received.