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James Lee Stanley

Without Susie

Review by Gary Hill

You can always count on James Lee Stanley to deliver great music. This album is no exception. I have one big complaint about the disc, though. It's very hard to tell it's a James Lee Stanley album. His name is hardly on the cover at all, only as a credit on the back. I have been looking at this disc for over a year thinking it was a self-titled disc by an artist named Without Susie. Since I wasn't all that captured by the cover, and I thought it was an artist I didn't know, when I had to pull stuff from the review list because there wasn't room in an issue, off it went. I would have probably gotten to reviewing it sooner if Stanley's name was more prominent on the cover. All that said, this is exactly the kind of strong set I have come to expect from Stanley. His blend of folk and soft rock music is always effective. It may have taken me a while to get to this, but the music is well worth the wait.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2021  Volume 5. More information and purchase links can be found at: garyhillauthor.com/Music-Street-Journal-2021.

Track by Track Review
Every Highway
I dig this song a lot. It makes me think of Gordon Lightfoot in a lot of ways. It has a good energy in a mid-tempo folk rock arrangement.
Dark Road
I really like the vibe and groove of this track so much. The hooks and whole arrangement is just so classy.
Redwood Landing
As good as the first two were, this is even stronger. It has a mellow 1970s rock vibe to it. I love the guitar fills, and the whole tune is just so effective.
We're Not Alone
I love the instrumental interplay on this tune, but the vocal lines are great, too. This is more purely folk music oriented, but still has some of that rock concept at play, too.
Burt's Tune
With a lot more rock in the mix, this is dramatic and catchy. It has a real classic rock vibe and energy.
Live It Up Now
The hooks on this are positively infectious. This is an energized soft rock piece that is among the highlights of this set.
Hey Look At You
With a great energy, some killer guitar fills and a lot of strong melodies, this is another effective piece of music.
Still Crazy Over You
I like the mellower folk mode of this piece.
Never Say Never Again
This wastes no time jumping out into a bluesy, soulful rocking sound. There is so much classic texture to this. It's a fun cut that's another standout here.
I'm All In
Another highlight, this has a nice progression from more folk based mellower sounds to a more soft rock based arrangement. It's packed with emotion and has some great guitar work and vocal harmonies.
Hang Up and Drive
Bouncy and driving, this has a cool rock sound to it. It also features some killer hooks. It's a very timely tune.
Ripples In the Dance Floor

This is another that's definitely a rocker. It has a great vocal arrangement and some cool tones to it. The female vocals in the mix are a particularly nice touch. This is another highlight and a great choice for closer.

 
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