William Cleere and Bleu

William Cleere and the Marvellous Fellas “s/t”
William Cleere has gathered a group special musicians with this gorgeous album. Produced by Allen Clapp (Orange Peels) it includes Karla Kane,Khoi Huynh, and KC Bowman (all from The Agony Aunts). Cleere sounds like a mix of Glen Campbell and Elton John and Karla Kane makes for the smooth duet on the piano driven “Labor Day”. Fans of Ben Folds and Billy Joel will appreciate the defiant key chords and bass line of “Side Effects.” This is more or less conventional piano rock tunes with Cleere’s crisp vocal in the forefront. It’s got slight touches of contemporary jazz and classical composition as evidenced by “Soul.”

But it also includes the rockabilly “Girl From NYC” and serves up a real standout on the finale “Goodnight Moon.” This strong melody includes a full group backing vocal, and it recalls Jackson Browne in his prime. The production and musicianship are pristine here – so audiophiles should get good headphones for this one, its worth it.

Bleu “Besides”
One of last years’ goodies that I missed at the time. In the wake of Bleu’s Four, he had a ton of additional tracks lying around, so like the album title says its his “B-sides.” However with a talent like Bleu, his B-sides are better than most artists’ A sides. Joined by guests like Roger Joseph Manning Jr., Eric Barao and Ducky Carlisle – how can you go wrong?

Opening with the earnest sax and piano ballad “Take Cover” but soon the 70 and 80’s era stylings come through on “When The Other Shoe Falls.” With disco beats and synth melody, It’s like El DeBarge and Michael Jackson had a Bleu baby. This style get repeated on “Blow Up The Radio,” another song with maximum funk and danceability. But my favorite here is “Mailman’s Son,” a bouncy McCartneyesque earworm in the best sense. A few ballads lay on the dramatic syrup a bit thick, but otherwise a terrific album.