Who doesn’t like Singer-Songwriter music? Who doesn’t like a good live album? I’d all hands go up in the air. I mean, while Singer-Songwriter, which by the way kind of emerged in the late 60’s and 70’s with the arrival of artists like Bob Dylan, Cat Stevens, Elton John, Jim Croce and Billy Joel they represented a close and personal artistic snapshot from the artist in question. The music tended to be at times gripping and powerful yet uplifting. Many feel the Singer-Songwriter sound has lost it’s way evolving into overly commercialized, highly corporate songs that do a better job at getting under your skin rather than getting under your heart. So having said this Singer-Songwriter might not be you’re first and foremost musical choice nowadays, and many have felt we have lost out way. Despite this introduction most music fans can’t deny getting into a good poppy groove every now and then and really enjoy well written music within this style from time to time. You know bands like: Jack Johnson, Jason Mraz, John Mayer, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones.
The latest live release by Texas based Lannie Flowers entitled “Live in NYC” was recorded at The Trashbar came to my attention a few weeks back. Flowers was in a Texas based band The Pengwins for about 20 years before setting out in his own. He now has multiple albums to his credit and became the FIRST artist to ever win FOUR prestigious awards in Hollywood at the famous Avalon Theater on November 14. I must admit I yawned expecting the typical Jack Johnson, John Mayer music conventions – only to be blown away with what I heard. I get the impression Flowers writes and records in a unique fusionist style that fuses the rhythms of Blues and gold old fashioned Americana. His unique style meshes rhythms and sounds with short, humorous love stories – still-life if you will for an increasingly busy age. Flowers asks us to examine the world in a fresh light. I hate to pigeonhole but if you like Redd Kross, Gene Clark, Badfinger, The Posies, The Flaming Burrito Brothers and Harry Nelson you will like Flowers. I’ve never officially reviewed a live CD before. The crowd sounds extremely lame. I almost want to hear Flowers yell “are we working hard enough for you up here.” Because of the lame crowd the fire only burns so bright – and Flowers and his band are doing everything they can to add fuel to it.
“Live in NYC” is exceptional music and multi-dimensional to say the least. The music itself is uplifting, thought provoking, and interesting. It also however possesses an undeniable Americana/Blues core kind of breaking the traditional mold for Singer-Songwriter style of music. It’s amazing what Flowers and company can do with just 5 instruments. Does all of this sound a bit over the top to you? Just listen to marquee tracks like “Give Me a Chance”, “Circles” and “Another Weekend” and you’ll begin to see my perspective. I got hooked on Flowers after the first few seconds of Track 1-3. The top track I feel personifies Flowers as an artist is clearly “Come on Girl”
The main focus of this genre of music is generally the personality of the artist, here Flowers wins you over without even trying. The amazing lyrical content never feels like an afterthought. What’s more the vocal work and impeccable songwriting from Flowers and a few contributors really brings it all together. All in all it’s a powerful combination that puts a guy like Flowers on the map for 2014. He should go a long way towards proving that real music is still alive and well.
Kathryn Dubbe – Winter 2014
Label: SpyderPop records