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CD REVIEW: Kathy Muir - Book Cover Judge
By Cyrus Rhodes - 04/02/2015 - 04:49 PM EDT

Artist: Kathy Muir
Album: Book Cover Judge
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Adult Contemporary
Sounds Like: Bonnie Raitt, Sara Bareilles, Suzanne Vega, Dido, Susan Tedeschi, Shelby Lynne, Lucinda Williams, Al
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 7/10
Songwriting Skills: 8/10
Performance Skill: 7/10
Best Songs: I Will be There, Seattle Mornin’, Soul Lover, Lover’s Eyes
Weakness: A few winded Songs. more vocal risk-taking, emotion and power, more solo segments
CD Review: (EDINBURGH, UK) With a distinctive voice and lyrical style that combines a blend of acoustic and pop influences infused with a hint of blues, Kathy brings a unique spectrum of songs to the stage. The music is as unconstrained by artistic boundaries as the woman herself. As a young teenager growing up on Edinburgh’s south side, Kathy loved to sing Sunday hymns or 'songs', as she preferred to call them, at her local church. When folk hymns were introduced to the church and her mother became one of the singers, Kathy started to pick up on these catchier tunes and in a few years decided she too wanted to join the folk group. She was now equally drawn to the guitar and started to learn on a friend’s old acoustic. In the space of six months she had secured a position in the group and would head to church early every Sunday to practice before the service. This love of spiritual songs has continued to grow over the years and Kathy has learned to find her own inner voice that has resulted in her now individual style of songwriting. This latest 12Track effort is called “Book Cover Judge” and was released in 2014.

The CD takes flight with “Head Down” a slamming and upbeat, rocked-out guitar groove that serves up driving rock rhythm against slamming Organ, rocked out guitar against soulful vocal work. Track 2, keeps thing moving in the right direction with its steady flowing rhythm, hooky chorus, and heartfelt message. Track 2 “Soul Lover” downshifts slightly with its methodical musical build eventually lending itself into an impressive melodic ballad that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 solid tracks in a row. I would classify this music as classic Pop, with Cross-over Jazz, Singer-Songwriter, Light Rock embellishments. Also present elements of Singer/Songwriter and Americana-Pop. Along the way you will notice impressive instrumentation with things like impressive solo guitar, Piano, Keyboards, well placed harmonies all built upon a solid rhythm section to boot against sporadic percussive accents layered along the way. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Now turning our attention over to Muir as for her vocal abilities, it voice works extremely well within the confines of this catalogue. She’s got a good look, a catchy mystique and knows how to sit deep within the pocket and sing a song with amazing vocal fluidity. She is very consistent. Her voice goes down smooth and fills the space peacefully and unobtrusively with an inviting timbre. She’s got a good vibrato and impressive Mezzo Soprano. The Songwriting is like an old pair of Blue Jeans world class, harmonies and melodies are well placed and well crafted. All the Engineering aspects are in check (Recording, Mixing, Mastering) as the CD possesses solid low end punch and crystal clear high end clarity. The Musicianship is world class and delivers everything you would expect from a Top-Tiered musical Production. The music reminds me of a combination between Shawn Colvin and Bonnie Rait, Suzanne Vega, Susan Tedeschi, Shelby Lynne, Dido, Sara Bareilles, Lucinda Williams, Kim Carnes, and Allison Krauss. All songs are well crafted and consistent across the board. From melodic “You’re on my Mind” to striking “Lover’s Eyes” to hypnotic “Back to You” to heartfelt “Always Forever” and rocking “Ride These Times” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 12 “Softly” the perfect finale statement for an CD like this. 
All songs over 3.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. I wish Muir took a few more vocal risks every now showcasing more blood curling emotion especially during the finale moments of her music. To go with this I wish Muir showcase more vocal power – compatible with those emotion and moments. I wish there were a few more solo segments throughout the CD.
From start to finish “Book Cover Judge” by Kathy Muir brings the mojo and is a very consistent musical release from start to finish. Let me go on record by saying this music is invigorating, grooving, melodic and entertaining. The songwriting – all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair and signature groove. The writing, playing and singing abilities of Kathy Muir and her band are rock solid. The artistic presence from Kathy Muir is impressive UK based talent and her overall persona is something many folks should gravitate towards – outside that region. 

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