Friday, 22 October 2021

Album Review: Dwight + Nicole - Further (EP)

Dwight + Nicole start off as Dwight Ritcher and Nicole Nelson expanding into a band with Ezra Oklan on drums before hitting the airwaves via a high impactful five track EP brimming with a sound sunk deep into the American roots of soul and blues. FURTHER is a record short, sharp and sweet. It wastes no space in hitting its mark whilst dipping deep into the cavernous and heartfelt canyons of artists sensing a sound destiny. 

Hailed by Mavis Staples as her 'favourite new band' is no mean accolade to at least make heads turn before pressing the play button. Across the seventeen minutes of playing time, it is not difficult to get a sense of the hyperbole as the core duo swap vocals to deliver a set of songs crafted to appeal.

'The Next Go Round' kicks things off with Nelson taking vocal lead in a sensuous and impassioned almost plea-induced style. It echoes one of those late night cool songs where an interlude of twangy guitar melds alongside the most expressive of vocals. Title track 'Further' digs deep into the retro soul vaults with Ritcher this time leading off before being joined on harmonised chorus. It is a punchy number that raises the heat a little from the temperate opener. 'Into the Shadows' jags back into Nelson's vocal domain and a return to a more restful place. This song has a slightly haunting backdrop to add to the theme hinted in the title. 

The final two tracks of yet another record afflicted, affected or moulded by the lockdown sees Nelson raise her own vocal tempo on 'Time' which brings the sound right up to date in a contemporary sphere. Polished soul for the 2020s where a classic sheen is brushed up and a deeper inner core preserved. 'Heart is Home' closes the show and allows more airing of Ritcher's prowess of wrapping his chops around a song that ebbs and flows along. Another one sparkling with a gleam of modernity, yet brandishing its roots with transparent clarity. 

FURTHER can double up as a short sampler to this melding of the old and new in respect to a soulful sound bridging a wide expanse. Dwight + Nicole know the ropes and assemble a showcase capable of being a launch pad to a wider and more populous output. 

Album Review: Katie Callahan - The Water Comes Back

This brand new album from Katie Callahan is certainly one that leads rather than follows. It is an intriguing box of tricks from start to finish toying with your senses, while not quite settling within sought parameters of definition. From a patchwork of styles and tone, THE WATER COMES BACK continually invites you to check back in creating an alluring engagement between artist and listener.

This is the second album from a Baltimore based artist seizing a welcome chance to create waves in a music community inhabited by those curious of newly discovered acts making a valued stab of adding a fresh spin to music that can fall into the cracks. Just listening to the opening three tracks from a twelve strong collection we are induced into a secular spiritual state with the spine tingling opener 'In a Garden', engulfed in a luscious pop infused effort  going by the name of 'One Sided Sea' and suitably toned down in the lighter airier sound of 'Lullaby'.

Faith from a multitude of angles plays its part in the music of Katie Callahan. Implicitly the track 'Sri Lanka' recalls the terrorist attack on the church and draws the mood into one of choral chamber pop. 'Baptism' is more explicit in title and reflects Callahan's glacial vocals at their best. On a similar theme, 'I Miss God' asks questions and evolves as a grower.

While the aforementioned 'One Sided Sea' accrues most appeal from the album's early stages, the deep realm of the record sees the appealing 'I Won't Give Up' emerge as the pick. Here, things get a little stubborn but wholly uplifting. Plenty will make a valid case for the conclusive closer where 'Low Tide' ceremoniously bring the curtain down with repeated lines of the album title. A fitting moment to hand over ownership to the listener.

The term genre bending gets tossed around these days. More accurately the term genre gets shelved here as Katie Callahan just follows her whims courting listeners on the premise that they just wish to tag along. Yet tagging along in the jet stream of THE WATER COMES BACK is not a bad place to be. There is much to be discovered in the depth of the writing and ample to be enjoyed in an undulating journey that the music guides you on. Sometimes being lead by an artist following their sixth sense is right on the mark especially when the wares are as inviting as what is served up here.