Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged singer-songwriter

Any Way I Can

Adam Rader is a solo pop musician who reminds me of John Mayer and Dave Matthews. Though his vocals are similar to Mayer’s and Matthews', I consider Rader's singing to be much smoother. Two things surprised me about this "teaser" album. First, there are only two songs on it, and second, one of these songs is a cover of "In The Ghetto.” For some reason, this song will never be put out of its misery. It has been covered numerous times by various artists ever since Mac Davis originally spewed it forth in the 1960s.

Through the Night

I worked for four years in an independent record store. For those unfamiliar with what said environment might be like day in and day out, I would seriously suggest taking in High Fidelity. Read the novel by Nick Hornby or watch the film starring John Cusack; either way, you’ll get the idea.


I would not be the least bit surprised to learn that the ability to write a catchy pop song is a hereditary trait, in addition to being a skill developed over time. That definitely seems to be the case with Los Angeles sister duo Chapin Sisters.

Tiger Suit

Let me just say that I love KT Tunstall. Love her. I can't help it, she's just so cool: She plays the guitar, writes her own songs, and has an amazing singing voice. She's attractive, but not so pretty that you hate her for it, and her clothes are hip without being ridiculous or over the top. Also, she's Scottish, which in my eyes makes her even cooler for some reason.

Marnie Stern

The buzzword on Marnie Stern's self-titled third album seems to be "introspective." Frankly, this descriptor hardly seems indicative of a sea change if we've been paying attention to her lyrics. Sure, In Advance of the Broken Arm and her breakthrough sophomore effort, _[This Is It And I Am It and You Are It and So Is That and


Canadian artist Sora lists Loreena McKennitt as one of her greatest musical influences, a fact that is apparent on her latest musical effort, Heartwood. A beautifully put together collection of songs that conjure up druid celebrations and ancient royal courts, the album is reminiscent of McKennitt's modern Celtic style.


Blink and you might miss one of the twelve short, sparsely instrumented songs on Elyse Miller’s new disc, as most last two minutes or less. But Miller packs a lot of punch into these brief, slow-paced numbers, usually accompanied only by acoustic guitar.


I spent a few years as a DJ for the college radio station during graduate school, and quickly learned that the fastest, most accurate way to asses if you’ll like an album is to pay attention to the label. If you really dig a band, it’s worth your time to research the label that produces their albums–chances are it will be home to other artists you’ll enjoy.

Game Night

Corrin Campbell is a Wisconsin native who enlisted in the US Army shortly after graduating high school. A combat-vet and former member of the 1st Calvary Division, Campbell trained at the Armed Forces School of Music in Norfolk, Virginia, before beginning her career with the Army Materiel Command Band. As a US Army trained bassist, Campbell has performed for troops around the world before joining forces with her current band, The Election, to create and perform original music.

The Road Home

When I opened my package containing Eliza Blue’s album The Road Home, I was greeted with a little bit of Southern hospitality; the CD was wrapped in a piece of twine and included a hand-written note saying, “Thanks for listening, hope you enjoy!” I felt comforted by that note. It was a little wave “hello” from home, and more than that, a connection between artist and audience.

The Essential Carole King

Were you to take a random sampling of the average music listener and say to them: “Quick, hum a few bars of "One Fine Day." Now, "(You Make Me Feel) Like A Natural Woman." Great. Now who wrote them? Chances are most people could belt out the entire tune for you right on the spot, but few would be able to identify Carole King as the songwriter. Partially, this phenomenon has to do with how we view musicians. We love the sparkly, charismatic lead singer, but care less about the bass player keeping the beat, and even less about the person who created the music in the first place.

Delancey Street

On her ninth record, Delancey Street, Rachael Sage once again embraces and pushes the boundaries of her signature sound: lush piano-based pop with plenty of passion and insightful lyrics. Each song tells a distinct story, capturing a moment in time (even if the meanings are sometimes ambiguous). The enigmatic “Everything Was Red” is one of my favorite tracks, although I’d be hard pressed to tell you what it’s about.

Never a Long Way Home

Confession: I don’t know much about country music, and I don’t listen to much country music. But I know what I like, and Steff Mahan’s Never a Long Way Home is damn good music. The opening track, “If I Let You Go,” starts things off rockin’. Mahan bangs away on a distorted guitar while belting out the lyrics. The song is upbeat, but the story isn’t; the narrator can’t let go of a past relationship even though her former lover is with someone new.

The Magic of Think

Imagine, as a parent, helping your child form a robust and resilient identity and allowing your child to define his or her own values based on his or her own upbringing. Perhaps the gift that follows such acts is an individual with the ability to resist both the conditioning of modern marketing and majoritarian societies and the pressure of some peer groups that may not have his or her own best interests at heart.


Before reviewing the album, I have to admit, Ani Difranco and Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, who are both major contributors to the project, definitely rake up the most counts on my iTunes top played lists. Bias. That said however, Anaïs Mitchell’s folk opera Hadestown is a masterful album in its own right, originally beginning in 2006 as a live show that toured New England with a cast of twenty-two performers.

Nothing Out Loud

Alejandra O’Leary has released an album of high-quality, well-articulated, catchy pop songs that plumb the depths and the banalities of modern life. Influenced by 1960s British compositions and production, the record is wonderfully warm and the songs are well arranged with fleshed out, but never overdone, instrumentation. The album begins with the pop-perfect tumult of “Ever After,” “Love I Been In,” and “Tremor.” The lyrics crackle with accessible Ivy League intelligence and innuendo. Sleepless nights and frustrated affairs never sounded so good.


As a Southern woman, I've been told from birth that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. It's a mentality borne from equal parts charm and suppression, and one that is kind of antithetical to the whole business of review writing. In this case, though, I had to find the nicest thing to say about Massachusetts teen talent Kate Cameron and her debut seven-track EP, Conviction. Otherwise, I would have ended up with an empty review.

Shady Retreat

Here’s the dilemma: I like a lot of divergent genres. Living in northern Europe the past eighteen months, I’ve been able to embrace my unabashed love of electronic club music and synthpop. I live in the birthplace of Eurovision, in the land of ABBA. Well, I’m twenty miles south of Sweden, but you get the idea. My partner and I are making plans to move home within the calendar year, though “home” may become anywhere from NYC to Silicon Valley because he’s a start-up guy looking for funding.


Bitch’s second release, Blasted! is a bona fide labor or love, self-produced and fully funded by her loyal fan-base who labored themselves to the tune of $12,000. A ballsy, creative venture done by a few indie artists thus far, but pays off only for the truly original, passionate ones that appeal to music lovers with equal convictions.

Gardening From the Ground Up Part 1

Never judge a book by the cover. Never judge the content of a CD by the title. I was expecting an album on basic gardening. I was surprised when I opened the package and saw that instead of a how-to CD, it was the debut album of Sarah Elizabeth Foster. This artist began studying music at the age of four. She is a classically trained vocalist who has fulfilled her ultimate dream of being a singer/songwriter in New York City.

Broken Cookies

While there are plenty of catchy numbers on Broken Cookies, the second full-length album from Ohio native Annie Dinerman, it is her lyrics that set her apart from her peers in the folk-pop category and make her songs memorable.

Red River

San Francisco artist Sonya Cotton’s latest release, Red River, is a fantastic album for a quiet day. I imagine one of those long, tired days when you just don’t want to get out of bed—Sunday maybe, the rain drumming upon the window, your tea wafting gentile tendrils of lavender chamomile, and you want something to wrap you in comfort.


“When you hear hoof beats, think horses, not zebras,” admonishes the medical aphorism. There are some quiet percussive hoof beats in “Goodbye Little Song” and other tracks on Karl Blau's new twelve-song release, Zebra. “Waiting for the Wind” opens with bells that sound like wind chimes and a relaxing vibe. The tempo picks up on “Dark Sedan Returns,” but returns to a righteous sedateness.

Enjoy Your Rabbit

Sufjan Stevens, god of the indie concept album, is the sort of fellow my evangelical Christian minister grandparents can enjoy. This is not an insult. My maternal grandfather, born in Michigan eighty-some years ago, has never admitted that he enjoys the Stevens album Michigan. I nevertheless suspect that my sometimes secular, former music minister grandpa samples some Sufjan when he thinks no one is around.