Rich McCulley “The Grand Design”
In a complete change in tone from his last album, roots rocker McCulley’s outlook has gone from bittersweet to joyful. “Here Right Now” states that he doesn’t “wait for sunshine” but here it is, with a richly arranged melody. This is an album that puts the past behind him, celebrating a better life today, with new love in his life and a young son of his own.
One of the best tracks here is “The Most Beautiful Thing,” a gushing love song with chiming guitars and catchy chorus. The sunny tone is almost like The Eagles hooking up with Smashmouth on “Let You Go” and”The Gift.” It gets a little more rootsy as we get past the mid-point, “Just Begun To Run” and “Don’t Know What To Do” are good examples. No filler here, and the album is a real statement on McCulley’s life. “Little Bit Broken” is a perfect theme for today’s middle aged dude who’s been “kicked around, but still here.” Bravo.
Annie Dressner “East Twenties”
A girl and her guitar. It’s almost a cliche now, but Annie’s music is like an intimate conversation. A confession with sweet multi-tracked harmonies, “Heartbreaker” is like a melodic soundtrack to a summer stroll down a country creek. “I Can’t Forget” is a twee ballad about the memory of a loved one. Unlike her debut LP Strangers Who Know Each Others Names, Annie leaves the quirky pop behind for a more serious and poignant musical statement. Fans of The Cranberries and Jenny Lewis will enjoy this heart-felt folk pop.