About Music: Summer 2019
Gomez, Czelsi

About Music: Summer 2019

Daniel Kosel: More Than Enough

Minstrel Daniel Kosel of Roberts has a third album out. It’s a solo endeavor, recorded live at Kirk’s Grocery in Billings and chock-full of original songs and great pickin’.

Kosel describes his style as “robust vocals within an eclectic blend of country, rock, and blues,“ or “Crues Music.” The poet and songwriter possesses nimble digits and a resonant baritone that is also at home in the deep bass realm. He moves easily in that range, all the while playing tasteful chords or tearing up fleet-fingered electric guitar notes.

His 15 compositions cover many emotions. Kosel is at war with himself at times, having overcome life-shattering bereavement along with a gambling addiction, and he sings about the pain he carries from that prior life. The musician wants his poetry and songs to help people find peace, triumph over their hardships, and treat others well. He feels music can heal.

The first song, “Mississippi Jackson,” is the tale of a man from long ago. It’s da blues, man! Kosel growls and croons, and sends his voice down lo-ow before snapping out a wicked solo. The title song, “More Than Enough,” starts with the guitar nuances of “Summertime”; it’s got a swampy, spooky ambience, and Kosel sometimes whispers lyrics, and throws in some spoken-word lines.

 “Get By Today” is a slow rocker with a fuzzed-up guitar intro. Kosel laments losing a paramour, and feels “caught up in a loveless Hell.” Later he cuts loose on “Common Man Blues,” pouring out his emotions with fiery fretboard pyrotechnics on the souped-up instrumental.

“Street Poem” is a keeper. A snooty, elitist woman haughtily ignores a street person, but her blinged-out “candy canine” runs right up to get petted. It’s, as Kosel opines, “the simple exchange of a mutual kindness seldom assigned its true worth.” Spot on!

 

Jason Wickens

Bozeman guitarist and songwriter Jason Wickens has his first CD out, an eponymous collection of original music that mines American roots genres: country, rock, blues and folk among them. You may recognize Wickens as the producer and host of “Live from the Divide” on public radio. The show features Americana artists, many who influenced the artist’s songwriting on his own album.

Musicians joining this venture are Bob Morrissey and Ryan Engleman, lead and rhythm guitars; Gabriel Pearson, drums; Grammy-nominated producer Wes Sharon, bass; Hank Early, steel guitar; and Kate Dinsmore, harmony vocals.

Wickens celebrates the vast prairies of the Treasure State in “Hi Line.” In a burly baritone he sings about getting back home to ground himself. Dinsmore accompanies him on the chorus, and liquid electric guitar and pedal steel spice up the arrangement.

In the shuffly “I Know You Don’t,” Wickens is hurt by his woman, who lies about where she’s been; it boasts a catchy accompaniment, with the singer’s voice breathy on the vowels.

“Be Just Fine,” co-written with Kalyn Beasley, has country-folk nuances, and “Traveling in My Mind” takes off with a cool finger-picked intro. Dinsmore joins Wickens to sing harmony, and she matches the inflections of his voice perfectly.

 “Knob Hill,” with its biting guitar riffs, finds young fellas drinking beer with a colorful old guy. “Fordyce Lane” is a rockabilly dancer with wailin’ guitar that’s bound to get dancers on their feet.

The twangy and rockin’ “Get to Work” has a “Polk Salad Annie” feel; Wickens chastises clueless kids today for being Internet addicts, with no time to accomplish anything. He admonishes them to “put your hands deep down in that dirt, shut your mouth, and get to work.” Ha!

Wickens is an adept singer and writer, and these songs would definitely be fun to dance to.

 

Jessica Eve: Next Train Home

Jessica Eve Lechner, a singer/guitarist from Billings, has released her first full-length album following her self-titled solo EP. Several of the songs on that recording appear here, fleshed out for a fuller sound this time around with terrific musicians that assist her.

Contributing lead guitar are Chad Gerber and Elliot Jason. Parker Brown plays harmonica, Brian Wetzstein, pedal steel, Greg Thomas bass, and Chad McKinsey, drums and percussion. Thomas, McKinsey, A.J. Sheble, and Phil Griffin add harmonies to this well-produced effort.

Eve, an alum of the Jaded Ladies and winner for three consecutive years of Best Female Vocalist at the Magic City Music Awards, pours her heart out on her all-original material. She sings ballads, soft rockers, some country-rock, and a folk song or two, and has a knack for gracefully bending notes and elongating phrases.

On “You’re Here,” a slow ballad with smooth pedal-steel tones, she sings, “when I hear the geese fly over my head,” with “head” gaining extra syllables and the word “radio” becomes a sustained “ra-dee-o-o-oh.”

“Here Comes the Train” has kickin’ harmonica and a stutter-step beat that mimics the rolling of the rails. The words “chug-a-chug” and ”choo-choo” are repeated rhythmically to accentuate that clickety-clack sound; Eve wails some harmonized “woo-woos” to finish it up.

The countrified title tune, “Next Train Home,” is pretty and swingy, with an infectious hook. “There’s no need to scream and shout, I heard you when you didn’t make a sound,” Eve sings, as she pleads for a lover to stay put, she’s headed back home.

In a nutshell, Eve has a feel for thoughtful lyrics and lovely
melodies.

 

Jessica Eve: Next Train Home

Jessica Eve Lechner, a singer/guitarist from Billings, has released her first full-length album following her self-titled solo EP. Several of the songs on that recording appear here, fleshed out for a fuller sound this time around with terrific musicians that assist her.

Contributing lead guitar are Chad Gerber and Elliot Jason. Parker Brown plays harmonica, Brian Wetzstein, pedal steel, Greg Thomas bass, and Chad McKinsey, drums and percussion. Thomas, McKinsey, A.J. Sheble, and Phil Griffin add harmonies to this well-produced effort.

Eve, an alum of the Jaded Ladies and winner for three consecutive years of Best Female Vocalist at the Magic City Music Awards, pours her heart out on her all-original material. She sings ballads, soft rockers, some country-rock, and a folk song or two, and has a knack for gracefully bending notes and elongating phrases.

On “You’re Here,” a slow ballad with smooth pedal-steel tones, she sings, “when I hear the geese fly over my head,” with “head” gaining extra syllables and the word “radio” becomes a sustained “ra-dee-o-o-oh.”

“Here Comes the Train” has kickin’ harmonica and a stutter-step beat that mimics the rolling of the rails. The words “chug-a-chug” and ”choo-choo” are repeated rhythmically to accentuate that clickety-clack sound; Eve wails some harmonized “woo-woos” to finish it up.

The countrified title tune, “Next Train Home,” is pretty and swingy, with an infectious hook. “There’s no need to scream and shout, I heard you when you didn’t make a sound,” Eve sings, as she pleads for a lover to stay put, she’s headed back home.

In a nutshell, Eve has a feel for thoughtful lyrics and lovely
melodies.

 

Wailing Aaron Jennings

Missoula guitarist yodeler “Wailing” Aaron Jennings has a self-titled album out, recorded live by Travis Yost, who also plays bass and drums on it. Jennings says he wanted to create an “audio snapshot” of his music as you would hear it in person. Other contributors are fiddle player Grace Decker and John Rossett on mandolin and mandola. Besides his own gigs, Jennings plays pedal steel with Tom Catmull.

Jennings has an authentic old-time country style, which is experiencing a resurgence today. He’d have been comfortable in the early 20th century, too. He’s been playing for about 14 years, originally dabbling in punk. He took to traditional music after finding inspiration in a book of songs and poetry written by his great-grandpa, singing cowboy and yodeler Jim Jennings, who entertained across the West in the ’20s.

After seeing the words “yodel here” in one of the songs, Aaron taught himself to yodel, taking seven years to perfect the difficult technique. Yodeling is executed in the falsetto range, which is hard for anyone to do, but especially so for a man with a deep baritone voice.

Amid his originals on the CD, Jennings wrote music to two of his great grandfather’s compositions: “Wild Roses” and “Charlie Russell Waltz.” The waltz is spare, with guitar, bass and a nice fiddle break. Jennings’ voice has that old-time radio sound, and he trills some acrobatic “oh-lay-ee-hees” in a few spots. Sheesh!

Chunky instrumental breaks populate the peppy “Missoula Valley Yodel,” along with some kickin’ “low-ee-yay-del-ay-ee–o-ohs.” And there’s the humorous “Dish Doin’ Mama” (“you only do them when you wanna”). Ha!

One final note: Jennings is grateful for the mentors he’s found in music, and pays tribute to one with the “Brian Hall Blues” – a salute to the late radio host and fine mandolinist, who died too young last year.          

 

Love Is a Dog from Nebraska: No Excuses

Missoula multi-instrumentalist Travis Yost, aka “Love Is a Dog from Nebraska,” has released his third full-length album, another solo effort of originals. He played all instruments and recorded it in his home studio. Yost is a sought-out talent for other musicians, performing on their works and producing them, too.

Here, Yost examines his “fight or flight response” to relationships. He decided writing about running away made for better storytelling than chronicling one’s downfall. He opted for simpler production this time, and because he plays oodles of instruments and knows how to use effects, he comes out with a band sound that isn’t cluttered. He uses acoustic and electric guitars, drums, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, and electric pianos and synth. And he does all voicing.

The catchy “Landed” has guitar on the backbeat, and piano arpeggios. Our protagonist is skittish about getting close to someone, and wants to bolt. And only 34 seconds long, “Our Place” is infectious with its pop-rock tempo, memorable melody, and people sounding like they’re having a good time. Yost writes commercials and film music, and this one spoofs ’90s sit-coms like “Friends.”

 “Then There’s Now” is gorgeous. Yost’s accomplished voice falls somewhere between baritone and tenor, and boy, can he hit the high notes. He drives by the house where he and his ex lived together, thinking about the bad times. The chorus soars with three-part harmonies, and there’s even a nifty xylophone interlude. Methinks there’s a hit here!

Yost wrote the lovely instrumental, “Ice Church,” for Amy Martin’s podcast on the Arctic. With bowed double-bass and electric guitar played through gizmos, it drips with melting, morphing chords that slide around like syrup on a plate, resolving to harmony. What a unique sound. Yost puts out another winner!

 

– All reviews by Mariss McTucker

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