The Honest Mistakes and Susan James

The Honest Mistakes “Get It Right”

Baltimore band continues to push out great music, lead by Joylene Dalia and guitarist Chris Ehrich.  The strong chords and catchy beat dominate the opener “This Is Where I Gave Up” and Joylene hits it out of the park with an emotional chorus. Her vocal inflections on “Get It Right” are distinctive, alternating soft and powerful here. “Don’t Leave Me Alone Too Long” is a lyrical treat about dealing with relationship problems before they get worse.

The songs settle into a comfortable groove with long jangling guitar rhythms on “Sun Tea” and “Free,” but they pick up the tempo on “We Used To Be Friends” and then “It’s Hard,” with it’s simple message “it’s hard to know what we do this for…” Another terrific song is “Anybody’s Girl.” While the harmonies are kept to a minimum, and the arrangements are pretty simple throughout, its anchored by Joylene’s powerful voice. Definitely worth repeat listens. If you would like to see The Honest Mistakes LIVE, they will be playing Power Popaholic Fest this September!

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Susan James “Sea Glass”

Susan James musical influences are from a variety of strong singer-songwriters from Joni Mitchell to Tori Amos. Her delicate ethereal vocal and angelic harmony is what stands out in “Posiedon’s Daughter,” a folk pop tune about a mermaid’s plight, as this message is all about saving our seas from pollution (“Is there nothing you can do for her?”).

“Awful Lot” is another bittersweet story, but the magic really starts with “Hey Julianne” using a Brian Wilson styled composition, full of beautiful orchestration courtesy of Sean O’Hagan (High Llamas). The Spanish “Ay Manzanita” is another highlight about female empowerment, and “Tell Me Cosmo” is a wonderful psychedelic tribute to the hippie era with its shimmering chords and echoing chorus. Overall a highly recommended folk pop album that impresses with each listen.

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A Fragile Tomorrow and The Honest Mistakes

A Fragile Tomorrow “Be Nice Be Careful”
What started as an alt. rock band with a few good songs on Tripping Over Nothing has moved decidedly to the more popper side of genre. That’s a good thing, as well as enlisting Mitch Easter (REM, Let’s Active, Sneakers) as co-producer. Leader Sean Kelly does a wonderful job on the opening track “Don’t Need Saving,” full of minor chords and chiming guitar strums.

The earnest melody of “Cooked Smiles and Greedy Hands” is a fine composition that echoes The Lemonheads or Toad The Wet Sprocket, with hooks and harmonies in all the right places and a guest vocal with Don Dixon. It loses a little momentum with the bland “Loyalty Lies,” but the steady jangle in “Blank Paper” helps make it an excellent tune about the songwriting process. Clearly the country influence is still here with “Intentions” and “My Home.” Another standout tune is “Kernersville” and doing the background harmonies are The Bangles (Vicki and Debbi Peterson), Susan Cowsill with Mitch Easter on guitar. “Three More Hours” is another fantastic song. With 14 tracks, there is a lot to like here, but it still sounds like a band in transition in spots. The band has been touring with many top-name headliners (Drivin’ and Cryin’, The Bangles and Matthew Sweet) so I expect great things from future AFT releases.

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The Honest Mistakes “Sundowning” EP
After a good debut album, this Baltimore band fine tunes it’s sound. Near perfect opening on “Cry” with hand claps and solid riffs, the band has a much better command of melody than ever before. Vocalist Joylene Dalia effortlessly harmonizes on “The Leaves” and guitarist Chris Ehrichs ever present strum make it a casual breezy single, and then on “Put Those Things Away” the pounding percussion and angular rhythm take center stage. This is a highly recommended EP, fans of 10,000 Maniacs and Blake Babies will thoroughly enjoy this one too.

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