Reviewed by Julian Wilson

LambBone/Wild Man

It took me a couple of spins to get the hang of LambBone. The self-proclaimed Wild Man of the title, John Lamb isn’t kidding around. Wild Man sounds like what Steely Dan would’ve recorded under the influence of some Summer of Love fumes. Lamb is out of control, slapping together parts of jazz, psychedelia (check out the spaced-out Moog on the title track), Beatles-esque classic rock, Latin pop, and funk. Yet, somehow, someway, Lamb manages to weave the car crash together into a quirky one-man symphony. And who said rock & roll has lost its power to stun, to surprise?

Thankfully, Wild Man is no exercise in studio-musician excess. Lamb isn’t throwing everything into the mix but the kitchen sink just for the sake of it. There are some terrific songs hiding beneath Lamb’s seemingly experimental collages of rhythm and melody. The enigmatic “Object of Desire” has an infectiously toe-tapping beat while the kiss-off “News” disguises its knife-sharp words with percolating tropical grooves. Even the instrumental, “John’s Theme,” moves the heart as well as the mind. It might take a little patience, but Wild Man rewards the ears with every listen.


Reviewed by Julian Wilson

Farchild/Chivalry Has Died

“Do you smile when I look up/Or does your hand promptly move down to the back of my pants?” sings Farchild on “Ey, Papi,” a brutally frank demand for r-e-s-p-e-c-t directed towards male horndogs. Even though she doesn’t slam the floor with big, metallic guitars, with “Ey, Papi” there’s no doubt that Farchild is from Seattle, especially when she warns, “Make sure that hand stays firmly around my waist/Cause if it slips without permission you might find yourself/Losing a tooth.” Quite edgy and tough, but Seattle rock has never been known for its softness, right?

However, Farchild isn’t “rock.” Although “Timmy’s a Rebel” and “Orbital” have their share of prime, speaker-filling Seattle riffola, Farchild’s music most often powered by keyboards. If Tori Amos, instead of just dating Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails at one point, had actually fronted for his group, the result might’ve been like this album. The slow piano track “Natural Solitude” certainly has that Amos-like dimly-lit introspection but the pounding percussion and machine clanging of “Peter Piper” is pure NIN. At only eight cuts, I wish that Chivalry Has Died were longer, but in these days of filler-filled CDs that’s a huge compliment.

Soon Bob Geresti will have more albums than the entire population of China. Seriously speaking, there’s no doubt that Geresti has already given birth to an extraordinarily large and surprisingly consistent discography. Move over, Billy Joel; Geresti is the real Piano Man.

Julian Wilson: Seeing your whole catalog online, you seem to be a creative dynamo. To where do you credit this explosion of artistry?

Bob Geresti: I think my piano bar days had a lot to do with that by realizing what music people really liked, and I like just about all of it. I think of a theme and then there are always many songs to fit that theme. It’s just a matter of me working on those songs and trying to come up with a fresh way of playing them that is exciting to me as well as the listener. Sometimes I’ll play a song that doesn’t do much for me but my friends will really like; ultimately it has to feel and sound good to me.

Wilson: Give the depth and amount of your work, it doesn’t seem to be a commercially driven enterprise but one based on a serious passion for music. What was the genesis of this? Where did this love for music start?
Who or what triggered it?

Geresti: I feel I always played with the same passion. People would always ask me if I was going to come out with a recording and one day a good friend of mine, Butch Weaver, who is a big fan, called me and said we were going to record. He rented a piano and rented out this recording studio here in Atlanta and I went in and recorded enough songs for two albums that were put on cassette. Playing at Cumberland Mall in Atlanta during the Christmas holidays showed me how much people really enjoyed my recordings and the need for more. I had plenty of songs in my repertoire and did several songs you wouldn’t expect to hear on the piano as a solo but people loved them. Then, in 1992, I did my first wholesale trade show to sell my albums to buyers who came to buy items to resell in their store, and it took off from there. I contacted a distributer who sold Danny Wright ‘s music who was very popular at that time, and they said my albums were too much of a performance and the music would not fit into gift shops so I started marketing them myself and have done so ever since and that company, by the way, is out of business now. I tend to go by what people want from then on to decide what theme to use. Patriotic is my next endeavor but also working on a follow up to the Keys Into The 70’s and another inspirational album.

Wilson: Your piano covers of classic-rock tunes [on Keys Into the 70’s] could’ve been considered blasphemous to the purists yet they are lovingly faithful and tastefully considered. What made you decide to transform them in such a fashion?

Geresti: I always try to get the feel of the song across like that of the original band playing it and by the way using my left hand sometimes helps me do that.

Wilson: Did you want to be a rocker at one point?

Geresti: Yes, and I was with a band called Ziggurat who released two albums with me writing some and playing multi keyboards and always using a Yamaha Electric Grand Piano in my set up.

Wilson: How did your music end up on the Weather Channel?

Geresti: My friend Sharron (who is a big fan of mine) had mentioned that when she and her mom would listen to the Weather Channel they would always mute it because the music all sounded the same kind of jazz sounding, and I agreed. She wondered if they would ever consider playing my music so I told her to send some of my CDS and see if they would consider it. Two weeks later Tony Fulkerson called me to get my BMI registration number for “Days End” and said they would start playing it in March. During that month I listened several days in a row and never heard it so I called Tony, and he said it was played between midnight and 7 a.m. I was disappointed that many people wouldn’t hear it during those times and he said since it was such a pretty song he would play it during the prime time slot from 7 a.m. – midnight for April. In May I thought I would have to call them again to see if they would consider playing more of my music but on May 1 I was on the road in my hotel when that evening I heard three of my songs being played. I e-mailed Tony when I got home and he said they had several good comments and that he really liked the piano music. I am sending him more CDs for future use since he will play public domain and my arrangement of “Pachelbel’s Canon in D” is extremely popular so listen for that one in the future.

Reviewed by Julian Wilson

Mary Fakhoury/Universal Worlds

The Universal Worlds of Mary Fakhoury is probably referring to the stylish leaps on this five-track EP. Actually, Fakhoury does more than just hop from one style to another; it’s like she transforms into different artists completely, a chameleon who is even more unpredictable than David Bowie and Madonna. How so? Fakhoury opens the disc with a cover of the immortal “Someone to Watch Over Me”; personally, I’m burned out on this track, having heard it a million times and covered by just as many artists. However, I was captivated by Fakhoury’s vocal delivery. There is a prettiness to her longing that gives the moldy standard a fresh coat of polish. After the piano-laden French number “La Vie En Rose,” Fakhoury startles us with “El-Donia,” a Middle Eastern dance track with icy synthesizers and a spellbindingly ethereal beat. 

If the transition from American jazz to classic French pop to Arabic disco wasn’t jarring enough, Fakhoury enters the hip-hop field with “Playa in My Life.” It’s on “Playa on My Life” wherein Fakhoury seems a little uncomfortable; it rolls like an experiment, an artist seeing what she is and is not capable of doing. One can see why it was done, but Fakhoury excels when the words and arrangements match the loving craftsmanship in her singing.

Paris-born French-Italian Lea Jones may epitomize the traditional and exotic European beauty, but her musical heart is rooted in America. Her songs recapture what has been missing from U.S. pop music since the ’80s, the soulful depth that added a timeless quality to even the most innocuous lyrics. 
Julian Wilson: You have the features of a model. Do you do modeling work as well?
Lea Jones: I thought about it, but singing means so much more to me that I did not choose to.
Wilson: The song, “Lucky Boy,” embraces hip-hop, R&B, and even Adult Contemporary. Have you always been this eclectic in your musical styles?
Jones: Music is universal, even if I always have been influenced by soul, R&B, groovy sounds. This is who I am. French-Italian, living in the U.S. for so long, travelling, learning and trying to understand different cultures and styles. Studying piano, accordion, blues, opera singing, and now working with Ron Anderson, the most amazing voice teacher I have ever met.
Wilson: How much creative input do you have in your songs?
Jones: It depends on the songs. For the most part, I collaborated with Donna Wintergreen who knew how to put words on my ideas, melodies or words I had written. For “Lucky Boy,” Jean-Michel Soupraya (producer, composer, arranger) found the hook, then Frank Gelibert, his associate, came to help and arrange the song. In two days, it was done. This is real teamwork. And I would like to also thank Eddie Adams, who always believed in me. How much input I have does not really matter to me; it all becomes real thanks to an incredible team who worked together.
Wilson: How long have been in the music industry?
Jones: I have been singing, writing, and composing for as long as I can remember.
Wilson: Where were your born and what kind of music did you grow up on?
Jones: I was born in Paris, in Montmartre, next to the Moulin Rouge. It is a very creative and artistic area of Paris. I grew up listening to Edith Piaf, Stevie Wonder, the Beatles, the Rolling Stones – any kind of music I could find, but mostly American.
Wilson: What can people expect from your full-length CD?

Jones: Surprise! A soulful adventure. It will probably talk a lot about life’s ups and downs, emotions. A very professional production and great lyrics, sounds, melodies, and even songs with an orchestra.

Reviewed by Julian Wilson

Ravi Miriam Maron/Call from the Narrows

Ravi Miriam Maron’s Call from the Narrows is a double-CD set of Hebraic chants and spiritually powered world music. Recalling the transcendent mix of ancient vocal stylings and modern arrangements that made Dead Can Dance and the late Ofra Haza so alluring, Maron is able to take what could only be appealing to a specific crowd and make it attractive a far larger audience. The dreamlike, otherworldly textures of Maron’s singing will draw inevitable comparisons to Enya; however, Maron’s music digs deeper than that, drawing upon Biblical and other centuries-old text.

If, upon reading the description above, you think that Call from the Narrows isn’t easy to sit through, let me assure you that it isn’t. This is music that not only soothes the ears but the soul as well. On “Clear the Way,” Maron’s vocals are as ethereal as the evening stars; they will enchant you, dazzle you. “Great Mother” has punchy drums with a straighforward dance rhythm a la Haza and Peter Gabriel. “Preparation” and “I Must Follow” are songs of incredible beauty.

Reviewed by Julian Wilson

Christine Mag. Strasser/All for One

All for One is world music that is definitely, without question, both inspired by and trying to reach a higher power. Whether you believe in God – or a god at all – will not affect your enjoyment of this album. However, even the atheists among you might begin to have second thoughts because the songs here have an otherworldly glow that is not based in material experience. It helps that Christine Mag. Strasser has such a heavenly voice. No, not heavenly in the cliched Christian music sense of the word, but aiming for spiritual transcendence, which she does on nearly every track.

Strasser doesn’t have much instrumental accompaniment other than acoustic guitars, flute, and percussion. Her vocals are the focus here, especially on “Jesus Song” and “Gayatri,” wherein Strasser’s singing seems to be sent from the stars; imagine Enya with a deeper, more somber voice. “Praise the Lord” is illuminated by swirling riffs and peaceful, breathtakingly beautiful harmonizing while “Chandra Shekaraya” and “Ave Maria” unreel with gorgeous cinematic imagery. This is a work of art as well as a labor of love.