Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Comeback Kid - Marina Rocks - New Release Review - Ellis James Guest Writer

The cuts on Marina Rocks' latest release ‘The Comeback Kid’ are a wonderful mix of passionate, emphatically energetic vocals and skillful musicianship. Marina’s vocals remind me of the throatiness of Kim Carnes/Melissa Etheridge and the brass-in-pocket of a Lucinda Williams. This CD is one that continues to improve as it marches through the cuts. It would be easy for the first time listener to initially pigeon-hole this as a Country release-but would be mistaken to do so. Some reviewers in the music industry bemoan the demise of ‘real Country.’ This may be a release which is helping to redefine and save it. Fans of the Blues are encouraged to put their ears on and accept a rare treat. Do not expect a cliché’ rehash of Chicago, Texas or West Coast Blues. This is an opportunity to hear a refreshing difference. The first single ‘Stuck in the Mud’ is now playing in 13 Countries; Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, England, Italy, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark, Switzerland and Sweden. ‘Stuck in The Mud’ was a finalist at the 2013 Kerrville New Folk Songwriter’s competition. The title track, ‘Comeback Kid’ was also a finalist. Lyrics especially in the title namesake ‘Comeback Kid’ evoke a declaration of personal and patriotic positioning. Some of the passion of the songs, especially in the stand out hit single, ‘Stuck in the Mud’ and the reflective ‘Mother’s Daughter’ would please feminists but also will challenge the men in the crowd to identify with the strength and victory of having overcome obstacles in all of our lives and moving past what may have detoured, derailed or slowed us down in our histories. The CD is a mix of mostly originals and a couple of covers that demonstrate proficient picking, playing and vocals both in structure and execution. The production is top notch including some tricks in the mix such as compression on the acoustic guitar(s) and judiciously restrained vocal reverb effects. All said, the songs are well done- with passion and tons of energy. My personal favorite is the contrastingly stripped-down and raw ‘The Roses’. Slower than the showy first few songs, this one showcases impressive finger-work and skill on the nylon stringed frets. This is where I can clearly hear the ‘Americana’ genre kick in. My hope is that Ms. Rocks continues to explore this path as I see it as a hidden gem amongst the collection. Continuing with the straightforward, a very pleasing cover of the Dylan classic, “All Along the Watchtower” is played in refreshing arrangement and curiously entitled “All Alone in the Watch Tower” in the press materials. Regardless of the label, this provides a killer spotlight for excellent nylon string performance with hints of Flamenco and aggressive Spanish/Mexican work of the likes of Rodrigo Y Gabriela. An excellent cut. ‘The Last Goodbye’ is melodic and pleasing quieter piece perhaps emoting thoughts of the loss of a loved one to either relationship or demise. The set kicks back into higher spirits with strong encouragement to ‘Believe in Love.’ Country flavored with mandolin and pedal steel this song begs national airplay and jukebox revenue! The musical question flies as ‘Where Are Your Wings’ again demonstrates a clear case of professional musicianship and the confident vocals of a road veteran. A spirited rock ‘John Wayne’ kicks the dust off of any doubt that this gal can play the Blues. This is one barroom brawler of a song with lyrics that are easy to overlook due to the driven and wonderful electric guitar work. Gary Moore, Gary Howe, Bonamassa-esque kick-ass run of a song that is sure to wake you up. ‘Heroes and Villains’ and ‘Price of Love’ end the release with additional one-two punch. Kudos to Marina Rocks and crew for a surprisingly wonderful release which is one that I personally would be pleased to listen to again and again. Marina Rock’s ‘The Comeback Kid’ is slated for a cross-over smash between Blues, Country Blues, Country or Americana. Whatever you call it- I call it good music.

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1 comment:

  1. One of the best female artists of the decade!!!!