Style : Folk Rock
Rating : 4 / 5
Summary : Singer / songwriter ballads that recall a lifetime of world travels
Progressive music aficionados know that good music exists in more than one dimension, and leaves it to its audience to decide where to focus its attention with each listen. This album isn’t necessarily prog, but it has that multi-faceted quality that will rank it among the best in the singer / songwriter genre.
On the surface, Lou Black’s City Of No Winters is straight ahead song-oriented folk rock with ballads, light rockers occasional bluesy sounds, some subtly jazzy segments, and a rhythm section that introduces a pop flavor to some tracks.
Listen again, follow the lyrics inspired by a life of international travel, and concentrate on the subtle tonal variances that hint at the nations referenced in each song, and you may be inclined to think of this CD as poetry expressed through music. Each track is expressive and heartfelt, the songs have catchy melodies, and the sprinklings of afro-cuban latin rhythms add an interesting texture.
For these 13 songs played over 45 minutes, each lasting a radio-friendly 3 to 4 minutes, Black has surrounded himself with a capable group of musicians and lyricists. The resulting tone, the international flavor, the lyrics and the vocal quality will variously recall such luminaries as Peter Sarstedt, Aaron English, Chris Rhea, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed and Chris De Burgh. These are all singer songwriters with real-life experiences and artistic vision that extend beyond the limits of their own shores, and whose music and poetry successfully narrate their rich experiences with the triumphs and the hardships of the world’s people.
On one level, this is music that demands your attention. Listen to guest lyricist Enid Holden’s prose in the title track – it is a deeply personal and thought provoking ballad about a once beautiful city in southern Africa that she had to leave. Yet on another level it has an even, relaxing tone, and could comfortably be played in the background at a cocktail party. All in all, this CD is a pleasant change in pace.
Click here to read our story about the launch party for City Of No Winters