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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Monday, April 7, 2014

Hale's Pleasure Railway - Southpaw Steel 'n' Twang - New Release Review

I just received a new release, Hale's Pleasure Railway from Southpaw Steel 'n' Twang and it's really an eclectic blast! Opening with Open Field, Ville Leppanen plays some distinctively American country style pedal steel guitar riffs over jazz grass riffs on guitar. Joined by Tero Mikkonen on drums and JP Monkkonen on bass, these guys have concocted a formula that really successfully blends country, jazz, blues and bluegrass sounds in an exciting way. Bayou, again with pedal steel lead has a bit of muted strings and jazz fusion funk sounds. This is a great track. Alternating between picking and slide is a cool effect for this all instrumental track. Secret Sunset has a distinctively Hawaiian sound even including ukulele. Ville breaks away from the solid Hawaiian slide work and picks a bit giving the track texture but this thing is all tropical. Bad Alley has a beautiful classical (electric) intro before entering into a modern take on swamp blues and gypsy jazz with tremelo chords (think Les Paul style). Ville plays harmonics on guitar over a nice bass lead by Monkkonen. This is an enchanting and tactile track. Excellent! Butterscotch breaks into straight bebop jazz (with hints of country riffs). Excellent lead work from Ville on electric guitar coasting along on the drum work of Mikkonen and Monkkonen on bass make this another must hear. Title track, Steel 'n' Twang, takes a venture away from this guitar laden for a track backed by handclaps (percussion) and vocals by Ville and Jukka Haikonen. Cool. Red is an extremely well composed guitar lullaby. With soothing guitar sounds and light drum work, Ville plays a very nice baritone guitar solo. This may not have the pyrotechnics of Jeff Beck (but it doesn't need it), one of my personal favorite fusion players, but this is really masterfully done. The Game has a twin guitar lead with 6 string and pedal steel. Over a rocky beat by Mikkonen and tight bass work by Monkkonen this track has a nice groove. Stepping up into the heavier zone but still maintaining the fusion feel Dark C is a hot track. It's hard to compare (appropriately) any of my favorite artists but when trying to describe what I hear, think J Beck, Pete Carr, Mahavishnu, King Crimson, Trey Gunn, with a new twist. Feather Weather shows a solid return to classic 40's style slide jazz work. Jukka Haikonen adds organ on this track keeping the track light and bouncy. Wrapping the release is Still, a quiet steel guitar led ballad with minor hints of progressiveness. If you are at all open minded and love guitar music, this is a release that I highly recommend. These guys have really put together a fine piece of work!  

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