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Low-Country Seduction

Coles Whalen
Coles Whalen is a woman who makes things happen. When she wanted to jumpstart her music career she bought a pickup truck, toured the country and sold CDs out of the back. Then, when opportunity knocked and kept knocking, she picked up her guitar to open for artists like Joan Jett, Pat Benatar, Rufus Wainwright, and yes, even Akon in Montreal, Nashville, Denver, and all points in between. But it isn’t just sheer will that’s gotten Whalen to where she is today. Her homespun blend of bluesy, swampy folk has something to do with it. On Wake Up Easy Whalen breezily sings, You’re making coffee, making the bed / I kind of feel like making something else instead. A languorous piano, creaking washboard and softly shaken percussion help create a mood of sleepy-eyed seduction. Those coy turns-of-phrases continue in The Getting Side, a bluesy mid-tempo strut where Whalen warns, If you’re giving your love, make sure it’s me on the getting side. A backwoods coquette, Whalen knows how to woo her listeners. Make sure you stay on the getting side with this one.

“Wake Up Easy” – Coles Whalen

The Great Escape

Jordyn Mallory

Jordyn Mallory was so gung-ho about starting her singing career she convinced her parents to let her double up on her schoolwork and graduate one year early. Once free from the shackles of high school, the Oklahoma native wasted no time moving to Nashville and jumping in to her new profession. Already Mallory has opened for Loretta Lynn, Crystal Gayle, Emerson Drive and many more salient country acts. Credit her success to her strong songwriting chops and powerful voice”like Taylor Swift, if Taylor Swift could really belt it out. Ready is pop country terrain with a swelling chorus that sounds similar to Demi Lovato’s Skyscraper. Summertime Song and I Don’t Want It Again both follow the downward trajectory of love gone wrong, building the pathos with shuffling beats, keening fiddles and pretty falsettos. Mallory may have been done dirty by a past paramour, but she’s kicked the dust off her boots and has moved on to greener pastures.  Sometimes success is the sweetest revenge.

“Ready” – Jordyn Mallory

 

 

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Silk and Steel

Sarah Cripps

Sarah Cripps is just entering her twenties, but she’s already got more than a decade of experience under her belt. The Canadian songstress has been playing since the age of nine, and has shared the stage with famous countrymen like The Barenaked Ladies, Johnny Reid, Doc Walker and Jason McCoy. Cripps delivers polished folk-county marked by steel guitar and the singer’s silken vocals. Practice is a lazy love song with a coy proposition. Just think how good we’ll get if we practice, Cripps sings. Just Sing is another flawless country ballad, just acoustic guitars and Cripps’ easy vibrato. If slow dancing’s not your style, skip to Getaway Car, a bluesy caveat where electric guitars lash out and the tambourine shakes like a rattlesnake. Cripps is already a pro, and she’s just getting started. Then again, practice makes perfect.

“Getaway Car” – Sarah Cripps

South By Saskatoon

WYATT

Country rock may have gotten its start in the American South, but over the years it’s ambled north of the border into new lands, taking root in Canada from sea to shining sea. Manitoba’s got Doc Walker. Alberta’s got Emerson Drive. And now, Saskatchewan’s got WYATT. Like Mr. Earp himself, Ride On is about kicking the dust off your boots and getting out of Dodge. Over the whinny of electric guitars, frontman Scott Patrick sings about white lines, blue skies and holding on tight for one helluva ride. WYATT’s melodies are big and meaty, primed for radio play. All the proof you need is in the cocksure strut of Next to You, or the junky guitars and squealing organ of If I Had A Dollar. There’s a lot of great music coming out of the new heartland. WYATT’s Saskatonian country rock is some of the best of it.

Running On Full

Jesse Terry

If you’re an artist looking for a break in Nashville, chances are you’ll play at least once at the Bluebird Café, the city’s unofficial woodshed for raw country talent. Jesse Terry has performed his fair share of showcases at the Bluebird, which has helped to establish him as one of Nashville’s most promising up-and-comers. The singer-songwriter crafts big, soulful country music polished to a shine in the studio. The Runner is a tale of restlessness, where yawning guitar riffs, piano pangs and the mournful warble of lap steel bear the chorus up. Dark and sultry, Devil May Dance explores infidelity and the bottle. AM static on the radio / Looking for last night’s clothes, Terry sings over the wail of an organ and electric guitar. Trading alcohol-fueled fire for a more contemplative sobriety, Edges takes the production down a notch, letting a poignant guitar and dusty percussion do the talking. Terry’s got a lot of material, and the talent to become one of country’s great storytellers.

New Dawn, New Day

Katelyn Dawn

Katelyn Dawn may not have won Canadian Idol, but she placed high enough to give her a taste of musical stardom, and encourage her to keep going. The Manitoba-born singer-songwriter (and Canada’s Top Model semifinalist) certainly has the singing chops and the good looks to get a boot in the door. Though we prefer her with just a guitar, singing soulful acoustic numbers like Hallelujah”which she played on a showcase for the Discovery Channel”her own style leans more towards Taylor Swift than the great Leonard Cohen. Rescue Me is as mainstream pop as it gets”soaring, airbrushed, and just a little cloying. We recommend sultrier, minor-key fare like There You Go Again. Best of Me is as catchy as it is sly”Dawn’s breathy coo entrances while guitars thrust like daggers. Although the singer is prone to sweetness (if you think you heard the words cocoa kisses in her song Puzzle Pieces, you are correct), she’s best when she saunters in with a bad attitude.

Running Down A Dream

Shane Gamble

Singer-songwriter Shane Gamble confesses that sometimes songs come to him in dreams. This might explain the sleepy, shuffling quality of his single, Turn My Way. The Fredericksburg, Maryland, native is just south of the Mason Dixon, and his country-tinged songwriting style stays within that cultural demarcation. Turn My Way begins with a simple, strummed guitar and bright organ blooms. Dusty drums kick in on the second verse, building to the sweet hook of the song’s chorus. Add some female harmonies, piano and tambourine shimmers and you’ve got yourself folk-rock par excellence. Baby, I’m love sick / Baby you’re sick of it, he sings, lending his dusty drawl to a tale of unrequited love. If songs like this one come to Gamble in dreams, let him sleep in.

Discourse & Dischord

The Good

Kanye’s Monster gets the Muppets treatment

Watching the Muppets rap Kanye West’s Monster is both hilarious and distressing. Count Von Count opening with Bitch I’m a monster / No good bloodsucker is entirely apropos, but then when Beaker delivers the line about the you-know-what in a sarcophagus you can almost feel your entire childhood imploding. Watch at your own risk.

Josh Groban sings Kanye’s tweets

It’s a very Kanye Friday everyone. Before you cry Enough! be sure to watch this one last clip. GRAMMY-winning singer Josh Groban put all of Mr. West’s tweets to music for a bit on the Jimmy Kimmel Show. If you thought they sounded ridiculous in cyberspace, just wait. Our favorite aria has to be I make awesome decisions in bike stores. Find out what yours is by watching the clip below.

Love is in the air ¦ so is anti-love

The celebrity musician zeitgeist got a workout this week with multiple hook-ups and break-ups. In one corner we have Kelly Pickler and Carlos Santana getting hitched (not to each other) and Selena Gomez getting with the Biebs. In the other corner, John Mellencamp announced his divorce from Elaine Irwin and Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal split. Love wins by a hair (a Bieber hair, the most powerful kind).

The Bad

Chuck Berry collapses onstage during Chicago concert

Chuck Berry

Chuck Berry collapsed onstage in Chicago on New Year’s Day as his guitar was being tuned before the show started. After being rushed off stage, the 84-year-old legend returned 15 minutes later and tried to pick up his guitar to play. A man approached Berry and escorted him back offstage. Finally Berry returned to apologize to fans for being too weak to perform. They’re afraid I’ll do my scoot, he explained. Berry’s rep later reported that the singer was suffering from exhaustion.

The Ugly

Will Oldham attacks Bill and Melinda Gates Charity Foundation

Will Oldham

Bonnie Prince Billy wasn’t so bonny in an interview with Fogged Clarity this week. The man behind the alternative folk act, Will Oldham, had a lot to say about the ulterior motives behind Mr. and Mrs. Gates charity efforts. His take on Bill Gates thought process went thusly: I want to eradicate cholera, so I can get another motherfucker to buy my computer. We’re not sure that third-world kids will be rushing to the nearest Best Buy to buy a Dell, but what do we know?

Courtney Love’s tweets lead to defamation lawsuit

Courtney Love

After Courtney Love was asked to pay up for custom clothing made for her by designer Dawn Simorangkir, the singer reacted with her characteristic grace, calling the designer a drug-pushing prostitute on her Twitter page. Now Love is being sued for defamation of character. The trial is set for February. Hope one of those bespoke garments is proper courtroom attire.

Miscellany

Byrne, Baby, Byrne

Shawn Byrne

No one said you can’t write a good country song living in the urban Northeast, but it may be true that you’ll find more fodder on Southern terrain. Singer-songwriter Shawn Byrne make the pilgrimage from Boston to Nashville in pursuit of a career as a country artist, writing songs for the bright stars of Nashvegas and earning a SESAC award along the way. His music is canny, upbeat and polished to perfection. Tough As This Town celebrates the quiet nobility of small town life with big hooks and a vivid, visceral chorus you’ll want to sing along to. Simpleton is another romp and roll. Harmonicas wheeze and basses thump like a jug band that’s just getting warmed up. We happen to like the moodier stuff, from the driving, full-tilt gallop of That Train Keeps Me Up All Night to the dusty blues shuffle of Ol’ Cook Pot. Byrne’s a great songwriter ¦ it’s only a matter of time before his rep spreads beyond Nashville city limits.

The Old Soul

Hannah Thomas

Hannah Thomas may be a fresh-faced 21-year-old, but she’s got a seasoned voice that sounds like it’s seen it all already. And maybe it has seen a good bit. Thomas made her debut at an open mic night at Atlanta’s songwriter haunt, Eddie’s Attic back in 2006. From there, it was full-steam ahead”taking first place in competitions, appearing on local TV and radio shows and releasing a record. The Rest is Yet to Come is Thomas’ first offering, a low country, bluesy, coming-of-age anthem that sounds like it could have been written by KT Tunstall. Will I get married settle down and have some babies? Or spend my whole life searching and never find love? the singer muses. Thomas’ deep, smoldering drawl is her calling card. The electric guitars may whinny, the bass and drums may thump, but it’s Thomas’ voice that will thrill you to your country-lovin’ core.