All posts by Shawn Brewster

The Ignition from By Light We Loom

By Light We Loom’s debut EP “The Ignition” is more than a metaphor. It is renewal, discovery, faith testing, overcoming setbacks, and far more than just 4 songs. You can hear right from the start that even though they are a two piece husband and wife ensemble, they intend on continuing with the same full sound that they had with their former band, Bethesda.

IgnitionEP-Front-FINALEric has the ability to create multiple layers with his musical background and Shanna is sounding her best yet with clear, full and matured vocals. Put that together with their new recording partner, Jim Stewart, who engineered the sessions, and you will find yourself thinking they might have stumbled onto a great thing. This is especially true if you were saddened by their choice to move on from their band in 2014.

The EP starts off strong with the title track’s “Ignition” repeating the word “revelation” in the chorus, almost as if they had one of their own. Their spiritual background is very evident with so many of the lyrics lending themselves to biblical imagery, but they find a way to make it palatable as they douse it in wonderful melodies that you will find yourself singing well after the song is over.

“Stand” is more like the sound you will hear live as they like to fill their act out with a few samples. this may take you out of the song at first, as you may be used to a more organic sound, but Shanna’s haunting vocal accompaniment and lyrics do their best to draw you back in and the song gets right back on track.

BLWL 2Next comes “measure of us”. If “ignition” is their way of palleting their message, this is their gospel. You can feel their fiery spirit coming through and the vulnerability of living a devout life as they yearn to get that message out to others.

“Mason jars”, in my opinion, is the hidden gem of the EP. Tucked away at the end, this song could have been written recently or years ago, it feels as though they know this song very well. Their confidence abounds in the way they sing together and how the music drives this beautifully written song.

4 songs is not enough but it shows they are off to a good start. It is an enjoyable and fun EP. Look for their release party May 1st at the Euclid Tavern Happy Dog with Marcus Allen Ward and Nanopheonix.

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Shootin’ Man by Charles Hill Jr

If someone was handed a Charles Hill Jr Shootin’ Man vinyl record, they would be hard-pressed to locate the region or era from which it came. When you find out it’s a modern-day man from Cleveland, it will either draw you in or cause you to fold your arms and shoot a sideways glance. But this red-headed young man made a tried, tested and true traditional country and western album.

charles hill jr shootin man

Each track has classic, well crafted songwriting, from the title track Shootin’ Man to Learnin’ To Get On With My Life (Without Lovin’ You). You can hear his self-professed influences from George Jones to Willie Nelson in his style of singing and the pining for days when this was the way you made a record.  Charles has claimed his sound and bathes in the age-old sound that he clearly identifies himself with, while his band does their best to emulate the session musicians of that era, with Al Moss as a cornerstone on pedal steel, Ben Gmetro and Stelianos Simantiris (guitars), Chris Russo (drums) and Mike Allan (bass) filling out the rest of the record’s twangy sound.

My only issues with the album is that I would have liked the song order to be more aware of the flow. It starts a little slow and the gems of the album are more of a surprise when they show up than an expectation. Charles also gets a bit too timeless with his lyrics and I don’t always get the feeling he believes what he is singing; but songs like I Don’t Want to be Reminded and The Best Efforts absolutely ring true when he sings them. The faster songs, including the title track and Mouse Island are just fun, toe-tapping songs. The band respects where the music comes from over anything else, and they want this record to feel cemented in the canon of country and western music that shaped what they do.

If you want a record that helps the afternoon wind away, with life feeling a little slower, love full of pain and heartache, and your solutions involving whiskey, this album is for you.

Photo by Leia Hohenfeld.

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