Album Review: Heath McNease ‘Fort Wayne’ (Songs inspired by the film)

Heath McNease – Fort Wayne

Let’s face it, some people are just creative.

You know the type. They are the kind of people who just do things, not because they are trying to create something new or even cutting edge but just because they had an idea in their head and they figured they were the best person to get the job done.
Heath McNease is one of those guys. Growing up in South Georgia Heath has successfully tried his hand at rap and hip-hop, indie, folk and now acting and directing… the guy is over the top creative and it’s fun to watch.

Heath brings us ‘Fort Wayne’ a soundtrack of sorts (or at least a musical companion to the film of the same name).

Fort Wayne is a movie that tells the awkward story of an up and coming musician that is stuck in Fort Wayne who is struggling to find  his place in the entertainment word and discover who he is under all the masks and music.
The album ‘Fort Wayne (songs inspired by the film)’ is actually a lovely back drop to the sparseness of the film. The film is filled with travelling and time alone for the main character… and so it is with the music for this album, lots of destination songs.

Songs like ‘Georgia’ ‘Eastbound 94’ and ‘Coleridge’ are all songs that paint a picture of the journey, and the really great thing about the style of Heaths writing for this album is that you don’t need to have seen the film to get a picture in your head about the journey the main character is taking. It’s a lonely journey, it’s a journey filled with shadows and rain. Self discovery.
One of the best destination songs is ‘Upper Right’ in which Heath sings “Cause I dream of Upper right USA”. While many of these destination songs are folky and filled with space and shadow, ‘Upper Right’ starts to add some of Heaths trade mark play on words and symbolism “I dream of Lower Left USA , and you dream of Lower Right” – Heath is best when he’s at his most playful.

One of the things about albums like this are they are so topical to the film they are released to be along side is that there is often not much variation in style. However I think Heath is able to add enough into the mix that he is able to get it to sit as maybe a new modern take on the dark, ambient folk style of music that bands like American Music club or Grant Lee Buffalo made popular.

As an album I think this sticks pretty close to the brief ‘Songs inspired by the Film’s

Some times it’s great when an artist surpises you, Heath did this with his indie/folk album ‘The Weight of glory’ songs that were inspired by the works of C.S. Lewis, and then again with ‘The weight of Glory – the second edition’ an even better album blending the indie/folk style of the first album with a strong remixed rap and hip-hop again focusing on C.S. Lewis.

I think we forget that this album comes at the end of a busy time for Heath…. not only did he write, act and direct the film ‘Fort Wayne’ but he also did ALL the music for it also… he did it all.
It’s easy to be unimpressed with an album that doesn’t make us laugh or sing along too as some of Heaths other albums have done, as he leaves you wondering by how symbolic he was actually trying to be with his clever play on words.
So take this album as it is… and album of songs inspired by the film ‘Fort Wayne’ – a dark atmospheric folk album, that is filled with discovery and destination.
While the rain is running down your window, turn on this album and let your mind get taken away… a place of solitude.

 

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Album Review: Tasman Jude ‘Green’

IndiePool_Digipak_Template_11x17One of the first pictures I ever saw of Bob Marley was him as a young ragamuffin with a motley band all standing around one microphone to record their latest jam. Reggae then was all about the people, for the people, from the people. It was simple music about love and peace and faith… not a revolution!

Tasman Jude’s latest album ‘Green’ reminds me of this.  Grass roots reggae… mainly acoustic and melodic.
Tasman Jude, made up of the intriguing combination of Bravehart (from Trinidad & Tobago) and Al Peterson (From Canada), is a reggae based group and this album is true to its reggae roots with enough other stuff thrown in to keep things interesting.

Green is an album that is the perfect compliment to summer or to warm the heart of the home during a cold bitter winter.
Tracks like ‘Green (Zion)’, ‘Yahweh’ and ‘Every Breath’ stick closely to the classic reggae blue print with a steady off-beat that makes you nod your head as the reggae vibe takes over. It’s great hearing these tracks in a pure acoustic setting when often reggae based albums are filled with over dubs and dub based gimmicks that might be better left unsounded. Tasman Jude are mainly acoustic so creating the space adds it’s own fun dynamic.

Tasman Jude really show their worth when they expand the acoustic reggae flare with touches of ska and shuffle. Tracks like ‘Freedom is Rising’ are reminiscent of early Jamaican reggae masters such as Ernest Raglin who pioneered the early reggae rhythmic guitar style that has become so recognizable and helped make The Wailers a household name. In fact ‘Freedom is Rising’ is one of the stand out tracks on this album with its proud chorus and the gentle groove that weaves its way through the track.

However it’s not all about reggae here and there is always a place for a fun, obvious crowd pleaser such as the bands namesake track ‘Tasman Jude’ that would completely come to life in a live setting. It’s tracks like this that make you realise that this is a band that have cut their teeth in a hard live market, where it’s all about getting a crowd to hear your sound and fill your hat after the show. It’s a shame that this style doesn’t translate as well on a recording, however I kind of like the fact that Tasman Jude have put tracks like this on the album, not just as a filler but as an offering of what could be.

I have to be honest, this album isn’t perfect, but that lack of perfection is one of the best things about the album.
There are so many groups who are making albums that are so polished that hearing them live is almost a let down. Hearing an album like this makes music seem fun and relaxed and achievable.
There are times when music is there to push you in new directions and challenge you but sometimes music is there to bring you to that happy place, back to the warm, the comfortable, and the familiar.

One Love xx