[ always tell stories ]

Let's Resurrect The Duet, Please

Remember the days of “
Up Where We Belong”? The interplay between two singers creates an energy that can’t be matched in solo work. Here’s a recent example from Jason Reeves and Kara DioGuardi - it’s an uncomplicated, down-tempo song but the vocals are good.

I’d like to see us get back to loving this type of songwriting and performance. Word on the street is that Kara will appear on Kelly Clarkson’s new album, “Stronger,” when it drops in October. Kelly’s first toe-tapping single, “Mr. Know It All,” is available now on iTunes.


The Gospel Of Parachute

(ATLANTA - 6 September 2011) :: Songwriting, crisp arrangements and soulfulness are alive and well, I’m happy to report.

All evidenced by Parachute’s latest record, “The Way it Was” (Island Def Jam). The band first caught my ear with the driving, soulful “Under Control” - a fine if a bit safe pop-rock track that spurred me to snag the entire album. I’m glad I did, because it was the perfect prep for their newest effort.

go to Parachute’s official website

No sophomore slump here - far from it. The album cover art is a throw-back to an old Chicago or Doobie Brothers cover, shot plainly in a leafy park setting.

”The Way it Was,” Parachute

But don’t let that fool you: the production is slick and the writing is stellar. Despite the strange, retro look on the cover, the band fearlessly delves into hybrid waters, with the unabashed, gospel-infused “Something to Believe In.”

“You spend your days alone still hopin' for the truth,
But all you hear are lies”

As a writer and lyricist, that’s a line that hit right at my core. We are a nation hoping for something new, something truthful, but all we are fed is bullshit - and then we’re expected to stay quiet and accept the scene of our country crumbling at its core.

But the lyric and arrangement is raised up by the gospel backing - a daring move for a band not known for that. I’d push back on their video for not highlighting those specific vocals, because they absolutely make the song. But I’m nit-picking.

I don’t use the term “fearless” lightly with this record - because rock bands often shy away from anything that takes them outside of their wheelhouse. (And they are often criticized for doing so,
as Liz Phair found out the hard way.) Creating accessibility in songwriting is not tantamount to watering down or “selling out” - it’s a tool to speak to more people.

Just ask
Steve Winwood, who saw “Higher Love” shoot to the top of the charts with the blistering, stellar backing of Chaka Khan. How could that song have soared as it did without her vocal - and without that added accessibility? Answer: it couldn’t. They did, in fact, show Chaka in the video, too.

In all, and in the midst of the nutty spin-cycle of never ending new-band parades, Parachute has done an incredible job. So check it out on iTunes if you haven’t already; make sure to spin “
Kiss Me Slowly” (written with members of Lady Antebellum), “You and Me,” and “Philadelphia” - an uncomplicated tune reminiscent of some of Josha Radin’s best stuff.

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'I've Been Thinkin' Bout Something' Other Than Music Judgment


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Spontaneous Reunion In Song

Saratoga was way more than just a 20-year college reunion - it was a late-night Rick Astley-fest.

Tim & Willy • Reunited and it feels so good from Gary Gray on Vimeo.


'But These Stories Don't Mean Anything When You've Got No One To Tell Them To'


'You Gotta Rescue Yourself.' Amen.


One From The Vault: The Always Sexy Jennifer Paige & 'Sober'

I stumbled across this on LastFM today. One of the better tracks on her debut CD, “Sober” is something I can really resonate with these days.


Never 'Underestimate' Jennifer Paige. She's Baaaaaaaack

This video basically makes the following important point: if you're gonna be an arrogant douche hole, I'm takin' the credit card.

And the car!

Video, Underestimated Jennifer Paige

Demand Gavin Mikhail In Atlanta... Great Tunes