Jonathan Edwards. My Love Will Keep (Appleseed Recordings). Edwards’ latest album has a way of sweeping you off your feet. The artist says the album “grew like a wildflow- er by the side of the road” in his liner notes, and the songs translate just as naturally. It’s been 14 years since the singer-songwriter’s last studio album and decades since his most notable song, the Vietnam-era hit “Sunshine,” yet Edwards is still keeping fresh and simultaneously conscious of his folk roots. According to those liner notes, kickoff track “Surrounded” blossomed upon Edwards being awoken from a nap by his horse named Daylight as he slept in the “deep moss of the spruce forest.” The tune matches the feeling of awakening and even gives the feeling of sun through trees and a gentle march of discovery, with a smooth fiddle line and congas that nearly imitate a horse’s hooves.
The fiddle makes other appearances throughout the album, although Edwards’ vocals steal the show, especially his cover of Adrienne Young’s heart-tugger “My Love Will Keep.” He also takes a quick turn into the spunky “Crazy Texas Woman” and cools it back down with his Beatles cover of “She Loves You,” so distant from the original, it’s easy to miss the core of the song at first. “Lightkeeper” brings out a heavy nautical theme and “Tomorrow’s Gonna Come” allows Edwards a try at the harmonica to let a little blues out.
Edwards will perform these tunes and more on Friday, Sept. 23, 8 p.m., at the May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society, 3800 E. Genesee St. He will be joined by mandolinist Joe Walsh, guitarist Moondi Klein and keyboardist Tom Snow. Tickets for this Folkus Project presentation are $20. For more information, visit www.folkus.org.
Marbin. Breaking the Cycle (Moonjune Records). The CD cover’s heavymetal image (some sort of aging steel bridgework) could easily lead you to conclude that Marbin’s new CD is a revisit to the excesses of fusion. The first cut, “Loopy,” a weighty exchange between guitarist Dani Rabin and saxophonist Danny Markovitch that is reminiscent of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, would do little to change your mind. But things change in a hurry and “A Serious Man,” the next selection, may make you wonder if you didn’t hear it on the soundtrack from a French romantic melodrama.
So it goes through the CD’s 11 cuts: a wisp of vocal romanticism here foiled by a staggering, ponderous blues there, supine exoticism from the soprano sax of Markovitch (the MAR in Marbin) swapping turf with Rabin’s (you guessed it, the BIN in Marbin) swaggering guitar work. It’s not all separate-but-equal, however, for this Chicago-based quartet, with drummer Paul Wertico and bassist Steve Rodby of the Pat Metheny Group completing the rhythm section on the album. “Burning Match,” a piece spun on a gypsy-infused melody, crescendos toward a grand cli- max, and “Claire’s Indigo” lopes along with a carefree, North African demeanor. The character of this music, all written, arranged, and produced by Markovitch and Rabin, is in constant flux, a restless, multifaceted persona with room for both anima and machismo and, presumably in live settings, open-ended expressionism (jamming!). And all of which should make for some interesting possibilities when Marbin, with their traveling drummer Justyn Lawrence and local-bred bassist Ian Stewart, come to the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, 246 W. Willow St., on Monday, Sept. 26 for a show at 9 p.m. See related article on page 20.
The Shakedown. Wild & Free (inde- pendent). Put on the flannel shirt that’s collecting dust in the closet and have an Ethan Hawke movie marathon to get in the mood before giving The Shakedown’s latest album a listen. “Lost & Gone” starts off the album with a swingy beat and sing-along chorus that are comfortably reminiscent of others in the genre. Lead vocalist Shane Kelsen throws his heart into every sustained note and leans on his bluesy keyboard licks for support. His voice and style echo MatchboxGoo Goo-Sugar-Third Eye-Playground: It’s familiar, it’s friendly. Other standout tracks showcase Shakedown’s real strengths.
Guitarist Sean Patrick Taylor proves his slick technical skills on “Grand Central,” which is matched by Kelsen’s bold vocals. “Get Back To Me” is catchy as hell, punchy with a brass section and tight syncopation. Between the sultry rhythms and drummer Susan Royal’s resonant voice, “EZ4U” is like being gifted with a sexy chocolate lava cake after being led to believe the menu was limited to jelly beans. Overall, Wild & Free plays like a mix tape: The songs aren’t seamlessly synched, but still worth a listen. It’s an album to hang onto, especially because it fits right into the chest pocket of that flannel shirt.
Two Hour Delay (independent). If you’re hungry for the rootsy taste of Americana, Two Hour Delay’s self-titled debut CD yields a batch of catchy, humorous and astoundingly solid songs that is sure to warm up the cooling fall nights. Lead vocalist and acoustic guitar player Tim Burns’ group of merry musicmakers blends music from a wide array of styles such as the lead-in track’s “Back to the Flatlands” bluegrass, the folk of “Tell Your Ride” and the upbeat acoustic bluesy rock of “Reading the Obits.” On other tracks, like the namesake song “Two Hour Delay,” the group combines those styles with humorous and lighthearted lyrics about the childhood joy of a two-hour delay (get it?) before school, and “Satchel Says,” reminisces about baseball player Satchel Paige’s famous list of virtues. Also included is the incredibly creative tribute to John Lennon, “The Night the Nowhere Man Took Yesterday Away.”
Formed in 2007, Two Hour Delay features Burns plus Syracuse music scene veterans Bob Gaus on electric guitar, Tom Mattern on bass and Brian Welch on drums. The quartet begins a glut of shows around Syracuse through November, including upcoming successive Friday gigs at Kitty Hoynes Irish Pub, 301 W. Fayette St., on Sept. 30, and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que on Oct. 7. For more details, visit www.twohourdelay.com.
Undergang. Grave Sight (Conniving Scoundrels). Undergang digs up some fresh dirt on Grave Sight, crediting recording and mixing at Moletrax Studios and mastering at Moresound Studios in Syracuse. Melding heavy metal with punk, the CD presents 10 quirky, well-constructed originals that stretch across all of the harder genres, weaving in elements of rock, hardcore and thrash, giving the listener a more encompassing metal experience. From the smooth overdriven riff segues on “Target Audience” to the squealing Arabic harmonics on “Old Man,” it is evident that Undergang is not your typical “metal” group. This demented spirit is aptly personified by the vocal stylings of Al Smead, whose deranged ramblings skip over distorted punk-style guitar riffs in monotonic declaration. On “Less is More” he reminds us that tonal range isn’t everything, relying on the percussion and personality of his Don Pardo-like delivery to get his point across. All in all, Undergang administers just the right dose of squealing guitars, distorted crunch and demented vocals, leaving us with one clear epitaph: Syracuse metal may be standing at its Grave Sight, but it ain’t dead yet.