Singer/songwriter Jann Klose has released his 7th album Surrender, featuring a number of singles, notably “Pilot Light”, “Flesh and Blood”, “Sugar My”, and the latest “Surrender”. Klose’s music is primarily acoustic based, appealing to fans of power-pop and yacht rock.
“There’s a cohesive idea of the record, ‘Surrender,’” Jann says. “It’s a journey of overcoming and going through the good, the bad, the ugly, and coming out on the other side still wanting to experience new things.”
This album features a good mix of upbeat numbers, such as the title track, “Flesh and Blood”, and the more rockin’ “Even If It Takes A Lifetime”, combined with standout ballads like “All The Way Down” and “Stay The Same”. “Here In My Heart” is another feel-good pop number, featuring a live singalong throughout. Included also are 3 versions of “Love You The Most”, a duet with Alicia Madison – there’s the main version, an acoustic take, and a Spanish version. (The song, which charted in South Africa and North America, was recorded for the movie soundtrack of “Married Young” now available on Amazon Prime. Jann and Alicia sang a Spanish version (“Te Amaré Más”), which found it’s way on radio in Brazil.)
Singer/songwriter Jann Klose was born in Germany, raised in Kenya and South Africa, and eventually wound up in New York. Klose is currently working on his 7th album Surrender, for 2023 release. From Surrender there are new 2 singles / videos – “Sugar My” (released in April) and his latest “Flesh And Blood” (released July 22). Both tracks written by Jann Klose w/ Alex Forbes are catchy pop, upbeat, with Klose’s wide ranging clear vocal, acoustic guitars, and backing band. A change of pace here (on my pages), minus heavy guitars or thundering drums, but for something new and easier going, check ’em out!
In the first single release – “Sugar My” Klose sings – “Up is down, day is night — not what it seems! Like Alice in Wonderland, stuck in-between.” The song is a commentary on the sometimes baffling and inexplicable state of the world today.
Jann recalls the writing session with Alex Forbes – “We wanted to create a feel of a sort of ‘Alice in Wonderland’ type vibe where there is a palatable sense of confusion and one is not entirely sure what’s real and what’s not. We wrote it at the onset of the pandemic, so it was very much a strong reflection on how we were feeling ourselves!” Jann then joined producer Marcus Dembinski to record the single, which in true pandemic style started in his bedroom studio until they could access the recording studio. “Well, at first it started there anyway and then, as things opened up, we tracked live instruments at Studio G in Brooklyn, New York,” recalls Jann.
For the song’s unique video Jann reunited with video director, Alex Vishno, who also worked on the music videos for his “Love You The Most” and “Pilot Light.” Alex recruited Eileen “EJ” Jaworowicz to choreograph and co-direct, and she brought in the 10 incredible dancers in the music video. Looking at the visuals and concept for the video and how it connects with the theme of the song, the music video for “Sugar My” celebrates this unity beautifully. – “It was really my manager, Morey Levovitz and Alex Vishno with EJ that conceptualized the idea. I think they intentionally sort of put me into a situation in which I kind of knew what to expect but only fully started to realize what they were going as we were shooting. As you can tell, there’s a lot of trust involved, but I also knew that they got the song and what it was about, so I went with it. The idea is that people in the video start morphing from a state of disconnect into an open, free state where they become ‘liberated’,” remarks Jann on the concept idea behind the video. Jann has just one wish for those who hear and see “Sugar My.” – “I hope that people will love it as much as we do. It’s a really fun, upbeat tune with a cinematic production vibe to it. ”
Jann Klose’s latest single is “Flesh and Blood”, again written with Alex Forbes – “Writing with Alex is a real gift. She fills space when I draw a blank and vice versa. We have developed a great friendship and there’s a lot of trust between us. It grows with every song. We had already written other tracks for my upcoming new album, including ‘Surrender’ and ‘Sugar My’. When we got to ‘Flesh and Blood’ we had settled in to a very open and reflective approach that has worked for us in the past with the difference being that we wanted to go deeper and dig further into human behavior.”
Explaining the theme and inspiration for the single –“When Alex Forbes and I were in the writing session that yielded ‘Flesh and Blood’ our aim was to talk about a society that feels disconnected. People feeling disconnected from each other. Our “addiction” to technology… And instead asking for a return to nature, healing divisions and finding our common humanity.” On the production (w/ Marcus Dembinski) Jann recalled –“The arrangement credit [for the song] really must got to Marcus! He created a beautiful — and more progressive/rock — structure for the track that lifted it to a state I didn’t imagine until he shared his ideas with me. I loved it immediately. His drumming on the track is very powerful,”
For this video (which was premiered with GaloreSA.) Jann once-again worked with video director, Alex Vishno, and Choreographer, Eileen “EJ” Jaworowicz at the Lee Lund School of Dance and filming took place in Milford, Connecticut during the last week of June 2022.
As with his previous music video for ‘Sugar My’, this production was once again a collaborative effort between Jann’s label, Honey Rose Records, Big Management and Alex, EJ and Marcus – “I feel quite lucky that I have this great team in my corner. There is never a reluctance to speak openly about what we are going for and to make changes if necessary. I love working through dance and ‘Flesh and Blood’ gave us an opportunity to tell a story about beauty, innocence and healing through movement, music and re-connecting with nature which I think is somewhat of a lost art. I don’t want to give too much away but the visual aspects of this, I feel, are pushing all of us to a new level.”
Jann has performed as an actor and singer in touring companies of Broadway musicals, including “Jesus Christ Superstar,” “Jekyll and Hyde,” and “The Who’s Tommy” . He has won 4 Independent Music Awards (IMAs). His podcast, Making Sound with Jann Klose has featured industry legends like Renaissance’s Annie Haslam, Frank Bello (Anthrax), Simon Kirke (Bad Company) and kicks off Season 5 this autumn.
British singer/guitarist John Verity (ex Argent, Phoenix) has recently released a 4 track disc of acoustic tracks. The songs, previously released, are all stripped down and re-done along with guests Max Milligan (acoustic/slide guitar) and Roger Inniss (bass). These are excellent new ‘unplugged & unhinged’ versions, particularly “Broken Heart”, a favorite from 2020’s Passion album.
Mirage is the 2nd album released by the partnership of George Kooymans (Golden Earring) and American singer/guitarist/songwriter Frank Carillo. This album was recorded over a number of years, prior to Kooymans ALS diagnosis that has left him unable to play and forcing his band Golden Earring to retire. However, this collection of songs will come as a nice surprise to Kooyman’s fans who assumed they’d not hear anything new from the legendary Dutch guitarist (as well as singer/songwriter). Mirage is also a follow up the duo’s 2010 album On Location. I haven’t got or heard the entire On Location disc (and judging by the availability and prices online – won’t be getting it anytime soon). Frank Carillo has been active releasing music since the late ’60s, his earliest bands being Hot Soup, as well as Doc Holliday along with Bob Mayo. Carillo would also play on the first few Peter Frampton solo albums, (Mayo would play with Frampton for decades).
Anyway, back to Mirage…. Golden Earring fans may know of Frank Carillo from his involvement on the band’s 2003 album Millbrook, USA. and 2012’s Tits N Ass , where he played slide guitar and had a few co-writing credits. Mirage features 11 tracks, 9 of which were co-written by Kooymans & Carillo, and recorded at a few studios in the USA and the Netherlands.
For the most part Mirage is a collection of largely acoustic based, roots rock, a bit of blues, and a bit of a country feel on many tracks as well. The lead off (and) title track is easily likeable, a smooth acoustic based country flavored tune highlighted by slide guitar and lead vocals from George, as well as vocals from Casey Kooymans, along backing vocals from Frank, who also adds piano, and there’s a bit of banjo provided by Paul Orofino. There’s a few good upbeat cuts like “If I Go There”, “Den Of Thieves” and “Crystal Cracking”, which is probably the most ‘classic rock’ track here, with it’s slide guitar and hammond organ, and Frank’s vocals.
The best picks for me tho’ are a few of the ballads, particularly “I Wish You Were Still Here”, which is just a very memorable song – if there was a hit single from this album, this would be it. As well the short “Christmas In Gaza” stands out as well. Mirage also features the light country rock tune “Ticket To Heaven” written by Eddie Seville, this one includes violin. The ‘bonus’ track here is “Seasons”, which is just George and John Sonneveld (who programs the drums and bass, adds flute and hammond organ) . It is a song George wrote decades ago and gave to Dutch band Earth & Fire, who had their first hit with it in 1969.
Lots of excellent lead vocals and shared vocals here that go so well together, great productions, and a few guests – such as Rinus Gerritsen on couple of tracks. Would be curious to know if Kooymans and Carillo might have anything left in the can. For Golden Earring fans that won’t be expecting anything further from the band Mirage is definitely something you’ll want to pick up.
Dream Theater frontman James LaBrie’s fourth solo album comes out in a few weeks, and it’s surprisingly nothing that I expected. Now, to be honest I haven’t kept up with Dream Theater much since the early 2000s, just not huge on lengthy modern prog concept albums and pieces, I guess. But Beautiful Shades Of Grey is far from that. It is a collaboration with Paul Logue of UK band Eden’s Curse (I will have to check them out next), and features 11 tracks, with no heavy concepts, no long numbers, and no real heavy rockers. There’s plenty of acoustics, piano, synths, harmonies,… Sure, most of it would be classified as ballads, but it’s not too soft by any means, plenty of well crafted and performed tracks, They’re all pretty different, and there’s some nice use of strings and different guitars, piano… particularly on faves like “Give And Take” and “Sunset Ruin”. Strong acoustic cuts in “Wildflower”, “What I Missed”, and a cool take of Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” – which is pretty fitting, as this album has a good ’70s vibe to it all. Lead off number “Devil In Drag” comes in an acoustic and electric version, the stand-out track for me – an instantly likeable track, with a great melody, love the synths. The electric version, which ends this album is the only rocker here, but that’s OK. A very enjoyable album, just in time for summer! Cool cover, btw! Check out the first 2 videos from Beautiful Shades Of Grey below, and read the press info below.
James LaBrie, known internationally as the vocalist for progressive metal icons Dream Theater, embarks on uncharted waters with his fourth solo album, titled ‘Beautiful Shade of Grey’. The new endeavor sees him traverse personal maturation, loss, a myriad of complex relationships, and most importantly – LaBrie’s burning passion for music. On paper, the latest studio offering from the Canadian singer first took shape shortly after the global pandemic began to emerge. But in reality, LaBrie formed a bond with his fellow collaborator, bassist Paul Logue, nearly a decade earlier.
The two first met in 2011, when James would lend his voice to a feature for Logue’s band, UK melodic metal outfit Eden’s Curse, on the song “No Holy Man”. As years went by the two remained in touch, occasionally kicking the tires on the idea of working together on another project. But when Dream Theater performed in Glasgow during the late winter of 2020, LaBrie and Logue would run into each other at the airport – once again asking the question. But this time, armed with the knowledge that a drastic change in the world was all but imminent, LaBrie made the decision to set things in motion.
“I said, ‘Let’s touch base as soon as I get home. Let’s start talking about it.’ So then, March 15th (less than a month later) the whole world shut down, and Paul reached out to me and said ‘Hey, do you have time now?” LaBrie’s response was simple and definitive “Wow, yeah. Let’s go for it.”
On the album, Logue plays acoustic rhythm guitar (both six & twelve string) and acoustic bass, while guitarist Marco Sfogli, who’s contributed on all of LaBrie’s solo albums since 2005’s ‘Elements of Persuasion’, handled the leads and solos. Logue recruited Eden’s Curse keyboardist Christian Pulkkinen to lend his playing on the record, while the suggestion to recruit James’s son Chance to play drums would also come from Paul. ‘Beautiful Shade of Grey’, as LaBrie describes it, was a title that only came to him once he identified the record’s two core themes throughout its track list. “A lot of these lyrics are dealing with the beauty of human beings, and a lot are dealing with the grey areas of the in between. You’re not exactly happy, but you’re not exactly sad, either.”
The record starts off (and ends) with the track “Devil In Drag”, which emerges as a wall of synthesizers and acoustic strumming before exploding into a full-blown ensemble. LaBrie, who wrote all the lyrics on the album except for “Wildflower”, expresses that the song was written about “someone who started out as a decent human being, but along the way lost touch with their roots – overtime becoming self-serving, narcissistic and devoid of principles or values.” Going on to say, “’Devil In Drag’ is written from the perspective of someone who’s known them all their life and, seeing them now, asking ‘what happened?’”
Other early tracks like the adventurous and lovelorn “SuperNova Girl” and the uproarious self-revelation of “Hit Me Like A Brick” are eager to come to blows with false pretenses, be they felt with a romantic interest or from within. On the enduring melancholy of “Sunset Ruin”, LaBrie pays remembrance to his late brother, who passed from pancreatic cancer in 2016.
Going beyond the thematic and personal elements, for James, ‘Beautiful Shade of Grey’ presented an opportunity to capture the love and enthusiasm he feels for great songwriting through a vehicle that wasn’t tied to the same rules and archetypes of his other projects. Reflecting on artists that he’s been drawn to over the years, ranging from Journey, Foreigner, and Gino Vannelli to Chevelle, Big Wreck and Prince, the common thread that’s kept him coming back to them was their eclectic, unpredictable output. “All these artists had versatility, and I think it’s primarily because of this that they maintained my attention. They always, I believe, pushed themselves to ask, ‘what else can I do?’”
The biggest homage on the album is paid to Led Zeppelin via a faithful and spirited cover of the song “Ramble On”. The mix on the track perfectly captures what LaBrie has established throughout the record with its “acoustic + full band” approach – that, sometimes, it’s best to give each instrument and instrumentalist the space to roam and harmonize, rather than obfuscate or gussy up. On ‘Beautiful Shade of Grey’, the end goal isn’t creating something that meets a certain genre characterization, but rather being informed by decades of finding beautiful expression across a wide swath of musical artists, and knowing that veering away from familiar habits is a part of creative growth.
1. Devil In Drag 2. SuperNova Girl 3. Give And Take 4. Sunset Ruin 5. Hit Me Like A Brick 6. Wildflower 7. Conscience Calling 8. What I Missed 9. Am I Right 10. Ramble On 11. Devil In Drag (Electric Version)
*Available on CD, as well as black And yellow vinyl!
Davey Johnstone is the Scottish born guitarist, most known for being a key part of Elton John’s band, for the most part, since 1971. There was a break in the late ’70s where he joined Alice Cooper’s band for a few albums, and has worked with a number of other acts over the years. Deeper Than My Roots is just Johnstone’s 2nd solo album (tho’ this is labelled as a ‘band’ album) since 1973’s Smiling Face, which featured fellow members of Elton’s band. His new album is made with his offspring, who all contribute to the playing, vocals, and even the awesome artwork! The artwork alone got my attention, wish there was a vinyl version of this! It goes with the music within, which has a definite ‘early ’70s vibe with great vocals (most of which supplied by Johnstone’s youngest son), harmonies, acoustic guitars, keyboards, nothing really hard rockin’, largely ballads, but plenty of cool guitar work and a few classic solos, atmosphere, and great songwriting, all wrapped up in a sweet production. Favorite tracks include the first video-single “Melting Snow”, opening cut “Go Easy On My Heart”, “Boxer In The Corner”, and the instrumental “Walt Dizney”. Deeper Than My Roots also includes 2 ‘bonus’ tracks, one being a cover of The Beatles’ “Here, There, And Everywhere”, and the other being Davey’s 2020 single “All The Time In The World”.
*See the press release below:
Elton John Guitar Legend Davey Johnstone To Release First Single ‘Melting Snow” From Forthcoming Solo Album!
Davey Johnstone has been Elton John’s guitarist for 50 years. He has also played with Alice Cooper, John Lennon, Stevie Nicks, Lenny Kravitz and many, many more! In his role as Music Director he will resume the hugely successful Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour with Elton and the band in January 2022.
Davey is releasing the first single “Melting Snow” from his forthcoming solo album “Deeper Than My Roots”!
Watch the video for “Melting Snow”:
During the COVID-19 recess, Davey has recorded an album utilizing the incredible talents of his children, plus a few close friends. The album has a wide range and crosses genres.
Elliot, the youngest Johnstone, is lead vocalist on the record, with Davey supplying one lead vocal himself. Charlie Johnstone recorded many of the basic tracks at their home in California. Charlie also supplied keyboard and background vocal parts. Jesse Johnstone played drums remotely from his home in L.A. Jesse also joined his father and eldest sibling Tam Johnstone, on writing, recording and producing the album’s two instrumentals, “Black Scotland” and “Walt Dizney”. The beautiful artwork for the sleeve was conceived and designed by Juliet Johnstone.
Denny Seiwell, the legendary drummer from Paul McCartney and Wings helped out on three tracks, and Nigel Olsson supplied drums on “Melting Snow”.
Much of the recording was done by Major Wynn at Marlon Hoffman’s Kenrose Studio in California.
Davey Johnstone’s forthcoming full-length album titled “Deeper Than My Roots” will be available on Spirit of Unicorn Records in January 2022.