CD REVIEW: Bill Andrews - Life's Road
By Cyrus Rhodes - 01/31/2012 - 01:38 PM EST
Artist: Bill Andrews
Album: Life’s Road
Label: Independent Artist
Sounds Like: America, Bread, Don McLean, Todd Rundgren
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 8/10
Commercial Value: 8/10
Overall Talent Level: 9/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 8/10
Best Songs: Song for Free, Life’s Road, Simple Song
Weakness: Lackluster Production quality. Lack of Instrumentation
This is Andrew’s latest release entitled Life’s Road released in 2011.
The CD kicks things off with “Marblehead Morning” a soothing intro piece that serves up impressive country western groove, delivering heartfelt melody, impressive vocal vibe that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. Track 2 “I Think of You” shifts gears with driving Americana rhythm, against impressive harmonica accents and hooky vocal delivery from Andrews. Track 3 “Song for Free” is a passionate ballad, with classic Folksy groove that dishes out impressive storyline against impressive and powerful lyrical content. As this CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical influences reminiscent of classic America, Todd Rundgren, Bread, Don McLain, Chicago and even Bob Dylan. The music itself is a delightful blend of Classic America, Folk, Power pop, and Acoustic Rock. The most impressive thing about “Life’s Road” is the songwriting craft and playing virtuoso of Andrews himself. Even more impressive is his passionate vocal delivery. The vocal timber of Andrews is impressive with instincts that are right on the money. He has an amazing vibrato, appealing timber and a passionate delivery. I'll go on to add he takes some rather impressive vocal risks throughout the production as well indicating to me a strong & confident vocal ability. Andrews clearly makes the critical (singer to listener) emotional connection with his vocal presence. The CD also offers a rich melodic vocal foundation, coupled with lush layers of instrumentation. From Acoustic Guitar, Saloon-style Piano, Horns, Percussive Accents, Harmonica and lush harmonies. From the amazing title track, to easy flowing “After 25 Years” to heartfelt “Friends are There” to passionate Simple Songs” to rocking “There’s a Girl” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with For the Ride the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
It's fair to say the overall production quality (recording, mixing, mastering) is not what I would call legendary. At the end of the day this CD has a lackluster production quality to it. From drums that lack serious bottom end, to obscure sounding instrument levels, to vocal levels that seem extremely disproportionate to the rest of the music – this CD has all the trademarks of an amateur mix job. If I was a betting man I would wager the engineers (Recording, Mixing and Mastering) are all same individual. Bottom Line - It takes skill and engineering savvy to record, mix and master a musical production to industry standards these days. The impact this will have on its overall marketability cannot be overstated. If this was 1975 this would be a cutting edge musical production, unfortunately its 2011, so the bar is set really high for independent artists like Andrews. Perhaps more instruments would also increase the production value a bit more. Things like Accordion, Hammond Organ, Pedal Steel, Fiddles and Mandolin would spice up the production even further, thus making it less dry and repetitive overall. I don’t like the way track 1 ends. Track 2 feels like an incomplete statement to me. There’s no barcode on the back of the CD – indicating retail non-compatibility.
From start to finish Life’s Road by Bill Andrews is an impressive collection of music. From start to finish it’s very passionate, and extremely melodic in nature. To say the least it's packed to the hilt with a wide depth of musical variety. The writing, playing and singing abilities of Bill Andrews and company are impressive and will be sure to lift your spirits without even trying. As the CD progressed I became more and more impressed with Andrews as an artist. The musicianship is first rate; the songs are short and sweet musical experiences. Each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove.
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