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Superb hooky rhythms and in general, lots happening with Jim Zhivago (who also produced the album), Blake Fleming and Rich Hinman in support to his own acoustic, electric guitar, banjo and harp —the music is tight and such is the energy and creative flare of Gripka there are no holes or lack of fullness. Israel’s music and vocals have some John Fogerty tendencies as he swamps the listener with the likes of ‘Pray For Rain’. A particularly impressive piece that same wall to wall feel as he opens in fine style. Since the first cut, ‘Evening’ is likewise a strong track. Much credit must also go to the sidemen since Fleming (drums, percussion) and Zhivago (electric guitar, bass, organ, percussion, piano etc) pull in the same direction.
Born in the Mid-West, and now residing in Brooklyn, Gripka’s regular relentless style is well tempered with the likes of the reflective heartache filled ‘You Were Right’. That contains pedal steel, organ and percussion to aid his fabulous world-weary tones (eat your heart out Fogerty, Springsteen etc). A little haunting, it tugs at the heart of the listener as he speaks of an old love, and with a plaintive edge ‘Let Me down’ (that contains some low-key and effective banjo from Israel alongside equally essential organ) shuffles along in an engaging fashion. On upping his show of passion ‘Concrete’ contains a far greater urgency as to the accompaniment of harmonica, organ, banjo and guitar he presses on and upward. To keep it company you have the sublime, heart-wrenching, pedal steel guitar (Hinman) barroom ballad, ‘Pink Long-Stem Rose’ that possesses hints of the traditional ‘Lilly Of the West’. With Gripka’s fine lyrics augmented by a near regal melody it is something I want to hear again and again and, I don’t get to say that every day.
Although one or two songs are less than riveting, and arguably a little wearisome as in closing track ‘Beautiful’ (and ‘Confess’) he is nevertheless an emerging act I recommend and if justice is done since he already has the talent go on to greater and better things.
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Points Artist / Album Title / Label / * Album of the Month of… (reporter)
HAYES CARLL / What It Is / Dualtone *RK, *JB,*HB,
PHIL LEE / The Horse He Rode In On / Palookaville Records *BH, *PvG,
THE DELINES/ Imperial / El Cortez *PK, *FCe, *LK
VICKY EMERSON / Steady Heart / Independent *MW, *ML
LULA WILES / What Will We Do / Smithsonian Folkways *MM, *MF
SUZANNE JARVIE / In The Clear / Wolfe Island *BP
JESSE DAYTON / On Fire In Nashville / Blue Elan *SZ
KIERAN GOSS & ANNIE KINSELLA / Oh, The Starlings / Independent
CARSON McHONE / Carousel / Loose Music
TINY LEGS TIM / Elsewhere Bound / Independent *TV, *FC,
MANDOLIN ORANGE / Tides of a Teardrop / Yep Roc *BM
LEYLA McCALLA / Capitalist Blues / Jazz Village *DH
ROB HERON & THE TEA PAD ORCHESTRA / Soul Of My City *HBr
SIX MILE GROVE / Million Birds / Independent
BOB SUMNER / Wasted love songs /Self-released *MG
STEVE GUNN / The Unseen in Between / Matador
ROBERT ELLIS / Texas Piano Man / New West *CVL, *DHo
JOSHUA RAY WALKER / Wish you were here / State Fair *MA
CAM PENNER / At War With Reason / Self-released *LM
CHARLEY CROCKETT / Lil G.L.'S Blue / Bonanza
JARED DECK / Bully Pulpit / Self-released *AN, *AL
MICHAEL CHAPMAN / True North / Paradise of Bachelors
INA FORSMAN / Been Meaning To Tell You / RUF *EZ
KAYLAN FAY / Good Company / Horton
RICHARD DOBSON / I Hear Singing / Brambus *JJC
ALBUMS OF THE MONTH (NOT IN TOP 25)
DILLON CARMICHAEL / Hell On An Angel / Riser House *PHe
SELECT CAPTAIN / Off To Save The World / Soundchest *JJ
BRANDON ISAAK / Rise N Shine / Independent *RW
EINAR FLA / Silent String / Grappa *MB
CHAMPAGNE CHARLIE / Sixpack / Self-released *PJ
JAMIE LEE WILSON / Jumping Over Rocks / Self-released *HdB
DALE WATSON / Call Me Lucky / Red House *RH
JEFF TWEEDY / Warm / DBPM *JS
WEST OF EDEN / Flat Earth Society / West Of Music *PH
JODYMOON / A Love Brand New / Self-Released *JF
ANDREW COMBS / Worried Man (Deluxe Edition) / Loose Music *GF
HALDEN WOFFORD & THE HI BEANS / Hard Core Broken Heart /
JONATHAN BYRD / Jonathan Byrd & the Pickup Cowboys/ *JH
BILL SHANLEY / Midnight Mission / Cauldron Music *NC
MICKEY GALYEAN & CULLEN’s BRIDGE / Songs From The Blue Ridge /
JOE JACKSON / Fool / EarMusic *KG
WESTERN YOUTH / WESTERN YOUTH / Independent *BK
TIP JAR / Onward / Independent *FS
KC GROVES / Happy Little Trees / Self-released *JH
TIMBER / The Family / Cornelius Chapel *