Album Reviews

              About UsFilm & Theatre ArchiveConcert ReviewsAlbum Reviews

Katie Slaney's New Album: Rise

Kate Slaney cover art front pageKatie Slaney from Melbourne Australia lures you in with her unique vocal style and songs that play before you like a film. “Daddy’s Shoes,” from her new album Rise, co-produced by Michael Oliphant and Slaney is a gorgeous song. The guitar playing of Michael Doyle is fabulous and Michael Oliphant’s keyboards set a velvety mood. Drummer Gerry Pantazis’s is subtle and the hi-hats provide percussion. The story is told through the eyes of a child and with Katie Slaney writing this song, one can easily imagine these are words about her life “When I was a kid it was an easy gig / People smiled and talked on the main street / Even the butcher gave you these bag of sweets / And made my mum blush talking cuts of meats.” The song recalls the memories of her mother telling her stories and dancing with her father with her tiny feet riding on the tops of his shoes.  “Daddy’s Shoes,” is a song filled with warm memories, but the magic is seeing it through the eyes of a little girl.

“Little Notes,” the second song on this terrific album by Katie Slaney is a modern love song with lyrics like “I clutch my phone like I’m holding your hand and I hope you forget / Some little thing you need me to do /Something that excuses you got me.” The song is filled with anticipation, as the singer tells about butterflies and “bouncing from room to room like a kid on Christmas morning.” There is a knock at the door and her loved one is home and it is time  Read More

Willis and Robison - Our Year

Poetry set to music would be the best way to describe the new album Our Year from Kelly Willis and Bruce Robison and none prettier than the third song “Carousel,” written by Robison and Darden Smith. Willis and Robison, who are also husband and wife, sing a beautiful duet that talks about the carousel of life and how sometimes it is time to step off of the carousel of relationships and to say goodbye.  The tempo is laid back and the mood is reflective, as Robison accompanies himself on acoustic guitar, while Eamon McLaughlin is on fiddle, John Ludwick on bass fiddle, the drummer and percussionist is Fred Eltringham and Geoff Queen plays exquisitely on steel guitar.

The cover of Tom T. Hall’s “Harper Valley PTA,” which was turned into a # 1 hit by Jeannie C. Riley, is not as up-tempo as Riley’s rendition, but as we thought about this what is the point in covering a song if you are going to try to emulate the original? Given that Our Year is a laid back album that has the smell of swamp music, Kelly Willis’ interpretation of “Harper Valley PTA,” still packs a punch and that is owed to her splendid phrasing and her ability to bring this ballad to life.  Kelly Willis brings the right degree of sarcasm to the words that tell a story of a mother and a widow who calls out the town’s hypocrites at a meeting of the PTA. The story is told through the daughter’s eyes and ears. Read More

Mike Stern and Eric Johnson

Eclectic cover artEclectic is one of the more aptly titled albums out there today as it combines the guitar wizardry of two of music’s best, Eric Johnson and Mike Stern, the former known more for his presence in the Rock world and latter known for his Jazz career. When you take a Grammy Award winner (Johnson) who has also been nominated for several more Grammy Awards and you combine him with multiple Grammy Awards nominee Stern, you expect lots of sizzle and that is exactly what the listener experiences right from the opening track “Roll With It,” a funky Blues Rock marathon written by Stern and which features some scintillating guitar solos. Malford Milligan delivers an incredible vocal performance.

The second song “Remember,”  gives the musical scales a workout and as the two guitar aficionados take the listener on an adventure that seems quite innocent enough in the beginning with a very airy section, featuring lots of cymbals and backed by bassist Chris Maresh who tours with Johnson, as well as drummer Anton Fig (the Paul Shaffer band on Late Night With Letterman).  There is a lot to listen for in this song, but with it being 6:26 in length you never are left with the impression that it is too busy. There is still lots of room for the musicians to shine.

Eric Johnson’s “Benny Man Blues,” is a quick temp song that might be described as Benny Goodman meets Brian Setzer. The next song is the exquisite “Wishing Well,” on which Read More

Georgia's Erica Sunshine Lee

Erica Sunshine Lee Cover for The South Shall Rise Again front pageErica Sunshine Lee’s star is rising quickly, because she has matured as an artist. She still writes the fun songs such as, “All My Bucks Go To Starbucks,” and “”How ‘Bout Them Dawgs,” but she also writes and sings heartfelt and vulnerable songs like “Train Wreck,” and “The South Will Rise Again,” the title song from her new album. Lee is one of the hardest working artists in America today, relentlessly touring coast to coast and internationally and one gets the sense that she stands on the precipice of suddenly being thrust into the national spotlight, as she breathes new life into America’s somewhat cloned Country Music scene. Listeners feel the urge to dance to her songs and to sing along to them, but most of all they have fun with the up-temp ones and they identify with the vulnerability of the duet “You Saved Me.” All of the songs on the new recording The South Will Rise Again are original tunes.

The first three songs on the current album, “Girls Night Out,” “Georgia For This,” and “Everyone Loves A Country, Girl,” are very quick moving and get the party started early. The opening track “Girls Night Out,” is a party song, about the ladies having fun, dancing, turning heads and closing down the club. “Georgia For This,” this writer’s personal favorite from the record, good naturedly pokes fun at the California lifestyle, while reminiscing about what the singer-songwriter truly cherishes about her Georgia roots. Eamon McLaughlin’s fiddle spices up the guitar driven tune. Read More


Cynthia Basinet - Flirts with Santa Baby

Santa Baby ThumbnailEartha Kitt had success with the song "Santa Baby," way back when, because she made it a tease, but in a tasteful manner and she made it warm. Cynthia Basinet’s presentation in both her singing of this classic Christmas song and in her video makes the phrasing of "Santa honey," warm and inviting, while "Santa cutie," is flirtatious, but not overtly sexual. The song "Santa Baby," was never a song that was meant to wow the listener with power, nor was it intended to be an up-tempo, sing-along. The song was always meant to tastefully seduce the listener and to evoke the desire to be that Santa Baby, as the singer flirts with her audience, whether it is an audience of one or thousands or millions. Cynthia Basinet has accomplished what so many singers after Eartha Kitt failed to do and that is she has retained the essence of the song, while making it her own and not merely serving up a do over or a copy. There have been many pretenders since Eartha Kitt and many pretenders since Cynthia Basinet first recorded her version in 1997. She pays homage to Eartha Kitt, while adding her own twist to the song.

What makes precious gems valuable is they are rare and unique and Cynthia Basinet's singing of "Santa Baby," is indeed both rare and unique.

In addition to the single “Santa Baby,” Cynthia Basinet has released the full length album The Standard (2012), the EP For You With Love (2001), the 2008 EP Uncovered, a cover of the John Legend single “All Of Me,” (2015) and the singles Read More

Kelley Mickwee Debuts Solo Album

Kelley Mickwee cover art front pageKelley Mickwee’s solo debut album You Used To Live Here, may only have seven songs, but all of them are gems, as the singer-songwriter-musician, who until now was better known as one of the Americana trio The Trishas a Texas based all female band, leans to R&B and Soul influenced tunes, while retaining an Americana feel on this album.

When late in 2013 The Trishas decided to take a break from recording and performing without any end date in sight to reunite, Mickwee confessed to panic setting in and, “I realized I was basically going to be out of a job, so I needed to start getting self sufficient!” To say that she has done a good job of proving that she can stand on her own would be a big understatement, as You Used To Live Here showcases her fabulous vocals, excellent phrasing, solid songwriting with the ability to paint a lyrical videoscape against the canvas of some great melodies, rhythms and beats and she surrounded herself with some good musicians.

The centerpiece of Kelley Mickwee’s new album You Used To Live Here is the sixth of seven tracks, the sultry “Hotel Jackson,” co-written with Jonny Burke.  The retro sounding song has lyrics that are steamy to say the least, as the singer sets her sights on   Read More

All written material, all photographs and all designs are protected by copyright © and patents by the writers, photographers, editors, designers, musicians, songwriters musicians and filmmakers who contribute to Riveting Riffs Magazine or have by consent allowed their work to be exhibited in Riveting Riffs Magazine, and / or Riveting Riffs Magazine and Joe Montague. Use of any material that appears in Riveting Riffs Magazine, without the written permission of the publisher and where applicable other rights holders, is strictly prohibited and is subject to legal action. This includes the reprinting, in whole or in part on the internet, by photocoping, reposting on blogs or other websites or magazines or newspapers that appear in print or quoting more than 200 words of any one composition, on terrestrial radio, internet radio, satellite radio, webcasts or television.