Elevate Difference

Reviews tagged songwriter

You Leave Me Here

Kelly Greene’s music sounds like a mix between a lot of new country and a little singer/songwriter rock, like Sheryl Crow, mixed with a dash of influence from the Cardigans. It is upbeat, toe tapping and, at some points, the flow of the music makes you want to sing along without knowing the words. Although one must give her (and all other singer/songwriters) credit for writing her own music and lyrics with this album, it sounds a bit repetitive. All of the lyrics cover the exact same subject.

Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (Deluxe Edition)

Lucinda Williams may be notoriously slow in releasing albums, but such laborious love for her craft is evident in her choice to reissue Car Wheels on a Gravel Road as part of a new deluxe edition set. The set, which combines a remastered version of the original album and live cuts from her performance at Penn’s Landing during the WXPN Singer Songwriter Festival, is a collector’s dream.

The Very Best of Lisa Loeb

Lisa Loeb is the kind of woman that I think, deep down, all of us sorta want to be. Maybe not entirely (because how many people can really pull off those cat’s eye frame glasses? Not many, my friends!), but in some little way. She’s smart, she’s a great songwriter, she plays guitar, she’s graceful and amusingly self-effacing and almost effortlessly pretty. She’s like the quiet, thinking girl of feminist-minded pop. Her songs exude a sense, somewhat difficult to pin down, but there nonetheless, that, regardless of the heartache and trouble they endure, women are strong, worthwhile people.


If you love poetry—scratch that—if you love powerfully articulate, passionate prose meant to stir up your inner emotions and inspire you to stand up and create change, then you’ll love the brilliance that queer poet/activist Andrea Gibson serves up aplenty in Swarm. Primarily recorded in a bedroom, Swarm also contains a handful of live tracks that allow the listener to taste the raw energy of her live performance. The self-released album came out in 2004, yet the poignant words, occasionally accompanied by a backdrop of acoustic guitar, cut into you like knives and remain just as rel


Admittedly, I was a little taken aback when the sweet, ‘60s-inspired pop came through my headphones. Could this be Holly Ramos, former frontwoman of the punk band with hardcore roots, Fur, who acquired street cred from schmoozing with the greats and playing backup guitar for Joey Ramone? Although her debut solo album is sweet, poppy and lyrically simplistic, it is refreshingly honest and brilliant.

Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner

The self-proclaimed neat-freaks in Victoria, British Columbia-based quartet Shapes and Sizes have crafted a genre defying sophomore album that begs you to rethink the way that you listen to music. Split Lips, Winning Hips, A Shiner is a perfectly whimsical combination of lowbrow tartiness and heartfelt emotional awareness. Released on Sufjan Stephen’s label, Asthmatic Kitty Records, Split Lips is already eligible for a Quebec Independent Music Award.

Greatest Hits: The Road Less Traveled

I’ve always been a sporadic fan of Melissa Etheridge’s work; perhaps it’s because, to me, her lyrics often feel oddly a little sophmoric and platitudinously P.C.—even when her sound is rocking tough, true and primal. Her guitar sounds dangerous, but her words don’t. The disconnect in poetic feeling between her amazing guitar work and lackluster words is one of the reasons she’s not, up to now, been included on my ipod.

Back to the Roots

When I saw the cover art of Zera Vaughan’s Back to the Roots, I was struck by the image of a dramatic-looking female ice dancer. Her body was painted shades of brown with ridges and lines of what looked like tree bark. I knew I was in for something expressive and heavy. The first track, “Almaz,” is rich and bewitching. It leads off with a lovely moan. Vaughan’s voice is haunting and reminiscent of early Sarah McLachlan.

The Underdogs

Texas native Jen Foster is a singer-songwriter that strives for the passion of a rocker and the melodic sensibilities of a folk artist. On The Underdogs, Foster--who has a diverse following in several major cities--succeeds on both fronts on at least three songs on her second release.

What Living’s All About

All would-be writers who have studied how to write know the rule: "show me don’t tell me." Visual artists find this advice easy to do and musicians are, perhaps, the same way. When the creative instrument does not rely solely on words, showing is not too difficult. Alicia Bay Laurel wrote Living on the Earth, a cult classic and the first paperback on the New York Times Bestseller List (spring 1971), which has sold over 350,000 copies. She has also written five other books. Laurel is a talented, trained musician.


Anyone who has been to college will remember the local coffee shop guitar girl. Perhaps we see the stripped-stockings wearing girl around campus, and then one day we pass the local coffee shop or the student center and there she is, with her guitar and a microphone. All of the sudden we feel insight to this woman, now that we hear her melancholy and somewhat confessional lyrics. Her feminine and fairly vulnerable voice only add to this feeling.

by ebb and by flow

Summer has arrived, and if you can’t feel the warm sun on your face, the grit and grime of sand in your feet and the splash of water as you float down the river, then you need to put the new album by Alice Di Micele into your CD player.

Downside Up

Alison Ray’s debut, Downside Up is obviously influenced by Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow. Besides the bland production, Ray’s voice is problematic: while it may be charming, it sounds terribly unripe – imagine if Paula Abdul got her hands on Sheryl Crow’s backing tapes. The best songs on the album are the ones that take advantage of her thin vocals. The album’s first single, “Does the D.J.

There’s Always Tomorrow

When I opened [There’s Always Tomorrow], I was first taken with the layout and colors of the cover and inner jacket. The boldness of the red and the muted blue really complimented each other and gave the sense of class and distinction. I also thought Alison could be a model if this singing thing doesn’t work out. With a slender build and long, flowing reddish brown hair, she is quite striking. When I slipped the CD into my player, I was almost immediately hit by the tone of the singer. To me she sounds a little bit like Cyndi Lauper, who I grew up listening to.

Despite Our Differences

Despite Our Differences is Emily Saliers’ and Amy Ray's first release on their new record label, and it shows on an album that feels like a new beginning for Decatur’s own. Taking a slight upward turn in sentiments from some heavy themes on All That We Let In and the acoustic, earthy Become You, fans should be advised not to live without this one.

Trespassing through Time

Do you like Sandra Bullock? Some people do, and some people don't. But she does have a certain appeal, a wide-open smile that brightens the celluloid, and her popularity is evidenced by box office stats and the ability to get Miss Congeniality made into a sequel. Well, Trusting Calliope has a similar charm. Jill Horn and Susannah Meyer are both California natives who are often mistaken for sisters. Before they joined forces, their lives ran parallel paths.

Sarah Bettens: Live at Eddie's Attic (2/23/2007)

With her lean, blonde good looks, Sarah Bettens looks like a rock star, sings like a cabaret singer and has a warm glow about her. The former lead singer with the band K’s Choice has garnered a whole new set of fans as a solo artist. The tall, tattooed Sarah reminds some of her pal Amy Ray. Her latest release and her first as a solo artist, Scream, is also Bettens’ first album since moving into a relationship with a woman (Bettens was married to the tour manager of K's Choice).

Like, Love, Lust and the Open Halls of the Soul

In much of Like, Love, Lust and the Open Halls of the Soul, Jesse Sykes & the Sweet Hereafter are a throwback to the experimental and explosive era of singer/songwriter reminiscent of the 1960s and the 1970s. Sykes’ voice has a rough, smoky quality that sounds almost genderless at times, evoking nostalgia about when music was all about challenge and experimentation.

New Arrivals: Volume 2

Rachel Sage’s Mpress Records presents its second compilation, this one to benefit the organization Artists Against Hunger and Poverty, a division of World Hunger Year. Eighteen performers are showcased, most solidly in the “My heart: here” tradition of straightforward song stylings, some more twang than others.

Shades of Dorian Gray

Danny Cohen’s third record for the label ANTI demonstrates his uniqueness as an artist, as did 2005’s We’re All Gunna Die. The 16-track CD takes one on a musical journey of mystical, gothic proportions. Often compared to Tom Waits, Vic Chestnut, Jad Fair, and Daniel Johnston, Cohen has crafted an offbeat musical career spanning some five decades.

City Beach

When I first received this album, I already had preconceived ideas. I thought the music would be terrible and the lyrics even worse. I was actually pleasantly surprised. When I put the disc in and started listening to the music, it was very positive with good beats. The singer’s voice is mellow and she reminds me of such singers as Melissa Ethridge and Sheryl Crow, which are two of my favorites. This is definitely a feel good compilation. It is full of real life lyrics that I’m sure many people could relate with.

Small Gods

As the guitar plays airily in the track "Dodge," soloist Swati sings, “I believe in karma, I believe in brutal honesty, why do so many of you break my heart? Maybe I’m crazy …” and these words characterize not only the general mood of her debut album, but also her individuality.

Miles Away

I come from the country – from the wide open farms and rolling feed yards of Texas anyway – and I ain’t never heard anything like Gina Villalobos. Released by Face West Records, Villalobos’ third album Miles Away scrawls its own existence into alt-country. Villalobos rough-hews away with a sweet intensity and her heart beats in her voice as she sings, “I got aces on my mind” from the track “Tied to My Side,” recalling country giants Willie Nelson, Patty Griffin and Neil Young.

The Brightness

As the newest addition to Righteous Babe Records, Anais Mitchell, has written an album full of tender metaphors, without the bitter tone of heartbreak. The Brightness will probably sit in the folk section of your favorite record store, but this album isn’t as simple as a singer and an acoustic guitar. Mitchell pulls in a piano, lap steel, cello, viola, banjo and other instruments to fill the record with layers upon layers of sound.

What the Mirror Said

Jocelyn Arem’s debut studio release greets us with all the freshness and promise of a new voice on the scene, but evidently someone who has been honing her craft for years. Arem released her debut demo in 2000, and kept her fans waiting for two more years for What the Mirror Said.

Woke Myself Up

Julie Doiron has always been an artist that seems most at home in my headphones in the dead of winter or early Sunday morning, because of her sad lyrics and quiet melodies. On Woke Myself Up, Doiron’s first album since 2004’s Goodnight Nobody, she reunited with her first band, Eric’s Trip, who broke up over ten years ago.


The intro of Dryland softly walks us into the quiet genius of Chris Pureka. She gracefully takes us through ordinary, heartbreaking, scenarios and conversations, beginning with “These Pages,” in which she perfectly describes a painful encounter with a past lover.


As a Milwaukee girl, I was eagerly anticipating hearing Michelle Anthony’s second album, the mini-LP Frozenstarpalace. Anthony recorded it as a document of moving from Milwaukee, WI to Austin, TX, and has described it in interviews as having a “Milwaukee vibe,” despite having been recorded in Milwaukee, Austin, Chicago and Los Angeles. You might think that the record would be uneven, having been recorded at so many different times and places, but that’s not the case.

Old Town School of Folk Music Songbook, Vol. 1

As a native Chicagoan, I was delighted when the Old Town School of Folk Music Songbook, Vol. 1 arrived. The work of nearly 50 years of lessons and learning felt warm and familiar in my hand. The songbook contains 23 classic songs performed by a variety of artistic talents, some nationally known; others are instructors at the school – with decades of performing experience.

Temporary Dive

For anyone who follows the likes of offbeat folk musicians, she is a voice worth hearing. Norwegian born Ane Brun’s second album Temporary Dive, is heir to the melancholic sounds of Jeff Buckley with archaic sensibilities of folk musicians like Gillian Welch or Jollie Holland. With song lyrics like: “My friend you left me in the end/I can't believe I'm writing a song/ Where friend rhymes with end,” you think maybe there is some trick she‘s playing in this melanchoholic indulgence, but as soon as the song starts you know that there isn‘t.