The progressive soul evolution of Brandyn Burnette continues as @EMAN8 with “Amen”

EMAN8, “Amen”

Singer/songwriter Brandyn Burnette has re-branded himself as EMAN8 (from his Jamaican middle name meaning “come forth”), whose music is launched with “Amen”, a song that moves easily through many musical styles showcased within.  Carried by friendly rap-singing that’s speckled with pop culture references, “Amen” flows from classic R&B, through to Blues and Gospel.  It’s chock full of positives about getting through to whatever will make you a better person.  The choral background vocals and some fluid trumpet keep “Amen” uplifting, and somehow it still is tied up very much in an alternative pop vein as well thanks to EMAN8, who with his cadre of fine support, all know what to do to get it there for broad appeal.  Inherently though, we’re likely to hear more songs by EMAN8 in future that pull  out more of that progressive soul that we already know and love from his R&B roots.  This may result in even richer flavours that may move away from other song styles – such as electronic pop/dance, now more associated with EMAN8 and Molly Moore’s successful side project, Cosmos N Creature.  It takes a few listens but “Amen” lays the welcome mat foundation to the ongoing diverse musical journey of EMAN8.

Published in: on November 5, 2018 at 10:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Austin’s versatile @Mobleywho isn’t going to be Mobley Who? for long with songs like “Tell Me”

MOBLEY, “Tell Me”

Austin singer/songwriter/one man band Mobley is not someone who you can place into any stylistic musical box.  He is driven and committed, directing his own videos and even designing his own artwork. From song-to-song you recognize the multiple dimensions of talent, from gritty and bluesy rock to alternative edginess to sweet and soulful.  From his forthcoming album Fresh Lies Vol. 1 (due Friday April 27) is “Tell Me”.  His voice is like Miguel’s, but not as rich or rooted in classic soul, but could also easily compete with Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons or Vance Joy for both power and rock ‘n roll inspiration.  There’s a sweet edge that could be as soft as Smokey Robinson if he wishes too.  “Tell Me” is a well-structured song with a great melodic hook that would sound just fine on the radio.  Mobley is currently in the middle of a three month tour that will take him to most major cities in the U.S. so watch for him to check out his live performance if you can.  “Tell Me”, I believe, is only one way to whet your appetite for more of what Mobley has to offer.

Published in: on April 24, 2018 at 10:28 pm  Leave a Comment  
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#Toronto’s @Aphrosemusic has a wicked set of pipes to be heard in bluesy “Move On”

APHROSE, “Move On”

It’s not often that I get to write about talent that is literally in my neighbourhood, which in Toronto is the former city of Scarborough.  Following folks like The Weeknd and Francesco Yates,  Aphrose has arrived, ready for you to be compelled by her powerful and soulful voice in “Move On”.  There are many parts to this young woman’s voice but most strikingly you will want to say Amy Winehouse, Pink, Adele, Fiona Apple, Alicia Keys, and a few others, just to start.  Aphrose (aka Joanna Mohammed) has the command and restraint in her blend of blues, R&B, rock and pop to keep your attention in “Move On”.  This is a great start and I’m sure we’ll be hearing more from Aphrose during the rest of 2018.  Check out the unique video for “Move On” above.  Perhaps you’ll make out more of its intent than I did but it’s an interesting introduction for Aphrose.

Published in: on March 1, 2018 at 9:48 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Australia’s @KelsyKarter tantalizes with “Crystal Blues” and “Kiss The Boys”

KELSY KARTER, “Crystal Blues”, “Kiss The Boys”

It’s very easy to say that Australian-raised, New Zealand-born multi-instrumentalist Kelsy Karter will instantly remind you of Amy Winehouse-meets-Lana Del Rey.  But it’s also obvious that there is a much deeper musical background at play here that brings out blues, jazz, and classic rock in both “Crystal Blues” and the title song from her EP Kiss The Boys, that a better reference point for me would be April Smith & The Great Picture Show’s 2011 release Songs from a Sinking Ship.  Like April Smith, Kelsy has a wide-ranging, expressive voice that can wield a big diss for an ex (hence the title song) or become all wrapped up in the memory of his eyes as in “Crystal Blues”.  Both songs have well-directed, entertaining videos that keep you watching.  Get to know Kelsy Karter more by picking up her EP on iTunes.

Published in: on December 22, 2015 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Get To Know Rocker Graham Alexander (@Grahamsmusic) with “She’s A Chameleon”

GRAHAM ALEXANDER, “She’s A Chameleon”

Add Graham Alexander to the great list of rockers hailing from New Jersey on the eve of his new album, with the featured song “She’s A Chameleon”.  Graham offers up no holds barred entertainment that incorporates a familiar blend of rock, blues, and R&B, while serving it in original, high energy portions.  I must admit Graham doesn’t look like his voice, and the singer he reminds me of most in this song is Chris Robinson from The Black Crowes, another guy by appearance you wouldn’t think would belt out an Otis Redding classic like “Hard To Handle”.  But throw in a terrific arrangement with a five piece band including horns, and you have music that will bring in passersby on the street outside of a local club with no problem.  Graham Alexander’s sound is big and solid and ready to compete with the best of them.  “She’s A Chameleon” is a fine introduction and I’m sure I’ll have more to say about his upcoming album very soon.  

Published in: on December 5, 2014 at 8:03 pm  Comments (2)  
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Whatta Voice: “Wonderful” by Houston-based singer Ferni


FERNI, “Wonderful”

There are so many great, lesser known voices out there in the world, and on some occasions I am privileged enough to write about them.  With these days of accessibility to music everywhere, we get to hear songs we would never otherwise have heard.  Ferni Lopez is a veteran blues/rock singer from the Houston area, and his ages-old voice packs the emotional wallop that just doesn’t grow on trees.  “Wonderful” is not everyone’s cup of tea – it’s a thoughtful, deliberately paced, sparse-sounding blues/rock song.  But regardless of your rock music affinities, it will rivet you with its subtleties and intensities.  Yup, all in one song.  It’s from Ferni’s recently released EP Afterburn, which you can buy on iTunes but also hear on Ferni’s Bandcamp page.  And remember where you read about it 🙂

Published in: on March 29, 2014 at 9:37 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Welcome Back @JustinNozuka with “Right By You”


It’s been almost four years since Toronto singer Justin Nozuka’s second album, the well-received You I Wind Land & Sea, and I think the last time I heard him on record was singing on The Slaqadeliks’ “Love Controls The Sun” back in late ’11.  Justin’s third album Ulysees is on deck soon (and available for pre-order on iTunes), and preceding it is “Right By You”.  Initially, and to everyone but JN fans, it will appear like an odd duck of a song.  But it works in the less-is-more aspect of making music, with minimal sounds in the background, allowing major focus on Justin’s flourishing and soulful vocal.  

“Right By You” is the kind of song that will put an entire club audience into a hushed state with its bluesy sense of immediacy and closeness.   Think of 70’s R&B songs like Major Harris’ “Love Won’t Let Me Wait”, “Why Can’t We Live Together” by Timmy Thomas, or “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” by Rose Royce, all of which thrive on their vocals and their messages.  On a side note, I understand that our friends in Toronto band River Tiber have had a hand in Justin’s new songs – always a good thing.  Watch for Ulysees on April 1.

Published in: on February 16, 2014 at 10:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Meet New Canadian Singer @KendalThompson – “It’s Time” and “Love”

KENDAL THOMPSON, “It’s Time” and “Love” (videos)

Alliston, Ontario native Kendal Thompson has one of those ages-old sometimes bluesy voices that can flip into any musical style she chooses.  So it’s not surprising that her voice can sound like Jewel, Lauryn Hill, or Amy Winehouse, depending on the song.  “It’s Time” and “Love” are both originals, and you can hear the care and emotion that has gone into the writing as well as performance.  You can find both songs on iTunes.  Kendal is also an apt interpreter – my choice would be her cover of Jessie Ware’s “Wildest Moments”.  Watch the performance video of  “Love” (above) and the lyric video of “It’s Time” (below) to hear what I’m talking about.  She is rumoured to have a wicked live set, and if you’re in Toronto tomorrow night (January 7) you can catch her show at The Painted Lady at Ossington and Dundas West.

Published in: on January 6, 2014 at 9:39 pm  Comments (1)  
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From The Bottle Of Blues: “Drink of You” by Jamar Rogers (@jsquidward)


JAMAR ROGERS, “Drink Of You”

To me, Jamar Rogers got the short end of the stick on season two of “The Voice”, finishing just outside of the Top 4 – for season three, the rules were changed which probably would have seen Jamar in the Top 4.  Nonetheless, it was great exposure, and I still to this day really enjoy his rollicking and heartfelt performance of Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life”.  With “Drink Of You”, Jamar’s first release for Tommy Boy Records, he takes us deep down to the bottom of the bottle of blues.  This is a crunchy and almost hardcore rock ‘n blues performance that shows the diversity that he displayed on “The Voice”.  While I’m not sure if we could withstand the power of a full album all of songs like “Drink Of You”, I’m confident this is just a taste of what will come.  Jamar will mix it up and we will reap the benefits.  This is an uncharacteristic but powerful release.

Published in: on November 13, 2013 at 11:43 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Hanson’s back! “Thinkin’ ‘Bout Somethin'”

You never realize how much the world has changed in the 13 years since “MMMBop” was on top of the charts, until you realize that Taylor, Zac and Isaac Hanson are all now in their mid-to-late 20’s and have families.

A few years back, they went the indie route after splitting from Island Def Jam Mercury when it was restructuring and failed to get behind their 2000 release This Time Around – a record that I still enjoy and thought got a real raw deal.

So along came 2004’s Underneath, which did extremely well for an indie, opening in the Top 30 on Billboard’s Top 200 Albums and getting a minor hit with “Penny & Me”.  Nothing to rival the smashola of  “MMMBop”, but a fresh start in retrospect.

Six years and two albums later, the boys are releasing Shout It Out, with the good-timey, summery “Thinkin’ ‘Bout Somethin'” as the first single.  While it makes no new inroads, its playful blues/rock jam may catch some new ears this time around.  Hanson still has a dedicated fan base so expect to see them playing somewhere near you before the end of 2010.

Looking for a good time?  Give this one a try, and enjoy the “Blues Brothers” inspired video with a special guest tambourine player.

Published in: on May 2, 2010 at 11:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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