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Non-Prog CD Reviews

J.D. Malone and the Experts

Avalon

Review by Gary Hill

What a cool album this is! It just exudes an American vibe. The sounds move from country to blues to rock to folk and singer songwriter. The most commonly recurring part of the music, though, is the slide guitar, which is impressive. The CD includes a companion DVD and a number of the tracks from that DVD (which are billed as “live” in this review, but are actually live in the studio) are included as bonus cuts on the CD. The DVD is cool, but the CD itself is the real meat and potatoes, and it’s a great meal.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2011  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Silver From

This cut is some bluesy music with a lot of country built into it. In some ways it’s close to jam band sounds.

Still Love You
As this comes in, it feels more like the Americana side of things. However, as the vocals enter, it’s obvious the country elements are going to dominate. The vocals have a real yodel kind of approach. This is very down home styled country music. There’s certainly a health dosage of blues in the musical arrangement.
Leave Us Alone
The central song structure here falls closer to a pop rock end of the spectrum, but the slide guitar solo brings more country to the table. This is an accessible number that really works well.
She Likes
There’s almost a roots rock goes punk element to this bluesy rocker. It’s a real screamer and a major change of pace. The slide guitar soloing on this is extremely tasty.
Sweet Evil Things
We get blues, country and Americana on this killer ballad. It’s slow moving, heartfelt and very tasty. It includes some tasty guitar work.
Just Like New
The mix is the same as on the previous tune, but this one rocks out a lot more.
Avalon
There’s a real dramatic singer songwriter rock sound to this. Yes, it’s still got some country in the mix, but overall this one’s more of a rock song. It’s also very strong. It makes me think of John Flynn quite a bit.
Ballad Of Mr. Barbo
This one’s more along the lines of bluesy hard rock. It’s got a cool vocal delivery and some tasty slide guitar.
Black Yodel
This slow moving, balladic number seems similar to something from Chris Isaak. It’s got some yodeling, as per the title. It’s a sad tune that works quite well. In fact, it’s one of my favorites on the set.
Fortunate Son
They give us a cover of the Creedence Clearwater Revival song. In some ways this rocks out harder than the original, but there’s also a more country edge to it. I’d consider it something like the kind of cover Travis Tritt might do of this piece. There’s a killer guitar solo segment that serves as the outro.
Do What You Can Do
There’s a lot of folk music built into this, but it’s still quite country. In some ways I hear Arlo Guthrie. In other ways Bob Dylan comes to mind. Still, country is the dominant musical element on display. It’s bouncy and fun.
Emerald Lake
Here’s a tasty, slow moving country music ballad that’s quite cool. There’s a killer instrumental segment mid-track that includes some great guitar interplay.
Emmit Meets A Demon
It’s obvious from the crunchy guitar sounds that lead this out that we’re in for more of a rocking tune. It builds gradually up after that introduction. The vocals bring it more into a country or Southern rock direction. This thing is very tasty. It’s got some killer slide guitar, a bluesy vocal performance and some dramatic textures. Without question, they saved the best for last (at least in terms of the album proper). As this extends out for some killer jamming, it really takes on a blues band meets hard rock jam band element.
Just Like New (Radio Edit)
As advertised, this is a shorter version of the previous tune. It’s a good one, but perhaps redundant.
Silver From (Live)
Here’s a live version of the previous track. This is the first of several bonus tracks that are audio recordings of the songs included on the DVD.
I Think It Was a Monday (Live)
Another cut from the DVD, this is a rock song with some great slide guitar. It’s almost like Tom Petty in some ways.
She Likes (Live)
Here’s another killer jam from the DVD. This is definitely a lot more pure rock and blues than the official version on the main part of the album.
I Should Have Known It (Live)
The final DVD track (and bonus cut), this is another that wasn’t represented on the main part of the disc. It’s definitely a blues rocker and a real killer.
 
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