NEW: WhatsUp in Music: May Album Reviews of RI Artists

New Feature to Focus on Local Music

Charlie Marie

This week, we introduce a monthly column focusing on new releases from southern New England musicians. We plan to offer a range of reviews from punk to jazz and a whole lot in between. Our loose criteria – we’ll do our best to cover artists who live and play locally as well as some who’ve gone on to the national stage. Hope you enjoy!

We present in the reviews in “capsule” format – about 100-150 words each. Our intent is not an in-depth review; instead we endeavor to give readers a general sense of what the album is all about.

Charlie Marie – Charlie Marie, 4.5 out of 5

Rhode Island’s best traditional country singer right now is Charlie Marie. Her sophomore release finds the Burrillville native steeped in the classics, with influences from Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn to more recent trendsetters like Margo Price. This is a release that belongs right up there with the best in traditional country.

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There’s more than enough depth and edge in these lyrics. On the empowering “Rhinestones,” she sings “Just because you wear a Stetson, and you say you were made in Texas, doesn’t mean your country and western. …But baby if you can work the land/with a telecaster in your hand/you can be my brown-eyed man.” She’s got a ton of dates coming up this summer – check out the details on her web page here. (KA)

Walks of Life – The Same Thing Project, 3.5 out of 5

The Same Thing Project is a unique collaborative comprised of people from all walks of life, including many with intellectual challenges. The project has recorded its first album and the result is both moving and inspiring, a heartening exercise in humanity. And it rocks! It release features superb musicianship, with more than a few killer guitar solos certain to kick out anyone’s jams. Behind the inspired leadership of RI singer-songwriter Mark Cutler, it drives like an early 70’s Stones album, warts and all.

Every song is special… The opener “Common Ground” offers a compelling message of hope and opportunity. “Mama’s Blueberry Pie” turns into a slightly drunken sing-along whereas the jingle jangle hook-laden “Better Days” drives along down a happy road. “Better days are coming, amen to that/Skies will still be blue and we’re never turning back.”

The supporting cast – including many performers with special needs – displays soul and courage. This isn’t just a rock star inviting someone up on stage to join in a song, it’s a grand collaborative endeavor. As cliché as it may sound, it shows that anything is possible. Wanna have some fun? Give it a listen here! (KA)

Stories Told – Dave Zinno – 4.5 out of 5

On Stories Told, jazz bassist Dave Zinno delivers an outstanding new release. Featuring inspired solo work from members of his band Unisphere, this tightly wound ensemble fires on all cylinders. The Brazilian influence is strong throughout, with drummer and Rio native Rafael Barata featured on the opener, his original “Neurotico.” Zinno and company offer several originals, including the buoyant “Larrytown,” Sax player Mike Tucker’s “The Opener,” and inspired covers including “Triste” by Antonio Carlos Jobim and the Beatles “Michelle,” featuring Tucker on lead. The album is an entirely local effort, recorded, mixed and mastered at Steve Rizzo’s Stable Sound Studios in Portsmouth, RI, and released on New Bedford’s Whaling City Sound. Stories Told absolutely hangs up there with the best jazz anywhere. Details here. (KA)

Give Up – The Call Outs – 4 out of 5

Give Up, a recent release from The Call Outs, offers a full dose of PVD power punk that hangs right up there with the ranks of Gwen Stephani, Liz Phair and Blink 182. These instantly likable songs from the power trio ride straight down a stretch of I95 at 100 MPH – guitar driven, anthem like, with purpose.   “Sorry I was careful, sorry you were angry, kinda like it was on tour … When I wake up, California’s in my rear-view,” sings lead vocalist Missa Hill, on “California,” an album highlight. Listen to this release – and don’t except to remain seated! (KA)

Check back in mid-June for new releases from Heather Rose in Clover, Jenn Vix, Sarah Potenza, Greg Abate and more!