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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Tim Russ

Lifeline

Review by Gary Hill

I definitely consider myself a fan of Tim Russ. Not only do I enjoy his music, but I’ve followed a lot of his acting career and in talking with him over the years, I’ve found him to be a great guy and passionate musician. I always look forward to a new Tim Russ CD. I’d have to say that this might very well be my favorite album he’s ever done. In fact, this is likely to make my best of 2015 list. Yes, it’s that good. It has a very wide variety of music presented, but the two things that remain throughout are quality and great vocal performances. I’d highly recommend this as an introduction to the music of Tim Russ. I’d also put the title track in a list of “you must give this a listen” songs of the year.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2015  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Lifeline

There is a dramatic, ballad-like sound to this piece. I absolutely love this number. The choruses are more powered. The multiple layers of vocals later add a lot to the power of the song. I think this might be my favorite song ever from Russ.

Dust Bowl
There is some blues rock built into this, but that’s to be expected as it is a cover of a Joe Bonamassa song. I love Russ’ vocal performance here. It’s very much the kind of thing that would have been at home in the 1970s, but there is a production texture that’s more modern.
Rock Me Baby
This song was originally done by an artist named “Melvin Jackson.” I have to admit that I’ve never heard that gentleman before. What we have here, though is a high energy old school rock and roll tune. This is a standard twelve bar number. There are no surprises here, but Russ’ vocals really pull it off with style. I dig the saxophone, too.
Rainbow's Cadillac
There’s a real soulful old school vibe to this cut. It’s a song written by Bruce Hornsby and another fun cut. I love the backing vocals. I also like the rather funky guitar sound. This is just a cool tune.
Jelly Roll
Jazz and blues combine on this smoking hot song, a John Martyn composition.  Russ wails out the bluesy vocals in fine fashion.
Witness
Written by Bo Bice, this has a real retro soul sound. The organ adds a lot to that vibe. 
No Place for No Hero
This mellower tune is classy. It’s another written by an act I don’t think I’ve heard before – the Heavy.  It really has a 1970s vibe to it. It’s definitely more along the lines of proggy music.
Lead Me Home
I absolutely love this. Musically, somehow it almost feels like something I could imagine Peter Gabriel doing.(even though it was written by British blues artist Jamie N. Commons). Russ’ vocals are so powerfully bluesy on the tune. This is a great soulful piece.
Little School Girl
This old time rocker (written by old time blues artist Fred McDowell) is a lot of fun. It’s high energy and classy. The harmonica adds quite a bit to the mix.
Woke Up This Mornin'
Here’s a  killer blues rocker that was written by the King of Blues himself, B.B. King (RIP). The arrangement is classic. It’s really Russ’ powerhouse singing that makes this as special as it is. And, it is certainly special.
Unchain My Heart
Another cool retro soul sounding cut, this is classy stuff, too.
Doom Doom Diggity
This one is a big change. It’s got a metallic guitar sound, but it’s also got a lot of hip hop built into it. The combination of sounds works great. It’s an unexpected, but effective way to end a great album. If you are like me, you'll find the chorus stuck in your head long after the disc has finished playing.
 
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