Monday, February 21, 2011

Review -- MICHEAL J & THE BLUE WOODS BAND -- Self-Titled

Michael J & the Blue Woods Band

This is one of those CDs which I can honestly say I’ve been waiting for for years. Michael J. (Woods), and his father Will and uncle Michael F., are local Yorkton-connected musicians who I have had the fortune to follow for a number of years.
I can recall doing a story with the band when they played at an event at York Lake years ago, and I did a story with Michael J, when he first penned the song Twenty-Five in response to a murder in our city.
So I’ve known these guys can play music for a long time, and have known they were wanting to finally give their music a wider audience by cutting a disk.
From the perspective of watching a band grow, it has been interesting for me as a writer and reviewer (you can actually find a story on the band and this CD in the Sept. 1 edition of Yorkton This Week).
So has the wait been worth it though?
I’ve given that question some considerable thought, and for the most part I would say yes, although there are some song choices here which I do have to question.
I’ll start with the Potato Song. It’s penned by Barry James Strocen and is one of those humour songs which doesn’t quite seem to fit the rest of the material. As I told the band when interviewing them, I would have suggested the song be included as a hidden track at the end of the disk. It is something other bands have done with fun songs.
Stuck in the middle of the CD I am less impressed with it.
This is also a bluesy/rock-influenced album, but the band ends the CD with Amazing Grace. It used to be the norm for country performers to end a recording with a gospel piece, but on this style of CD it’s a bit unusual. That said, vocally Michael J. is in the zone on the song, and it actually stands out for that reason.
And finally there is the best song here, Twenty-Five. It’s new to a disk, but not new to my ears, which does lessen the impact, although the lyrics are so powerful, and locally relevant it’s still easily the best effort here.
Certainly one to buy to support local music.
Check it out on Facebook under Michael-J-the-Blue-Woods-Band
-- Review first appeared in Yorkton This Week newspaper Sept 8, 2010 - Yorkton, SK. Canada

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