ALBUM REVIEW: Love And Blood by Jean Synodinos

LOVE  You can stream this album at


Jean Synodinos is a singer/songwriter and now prolific painter, hailing from Austin, Texas. This is her fourth album, following her first acclaimed releases Breathe, Lucky and Girls, Good And Otherwise. The latter received the Texas Award for Musical Excellence in 2012. Her music is an eclectic blend of country, folk, blues, jazz and elements of classical, brought together by her warm, distinctive voice which has received critical acclaim in itself.

This album, Love And Blood, consists of eight tracks and is a particularly personal project for Jean, as it is essentially about the relationship with her husband who sadly passed away from having battled the disease of addiction, in the form of alcoholism. It starts off powerfully with opening track End Of The World, a bluesy string-laden epic about a relationship on the rocks: “This is the end of the world…a hundred heroes couldn’t save us now…” she sings on the wonderful chorus. A poignant and heart rending song, with wonderfully poetic words.

What is immediately striking is the emotional power of Jean’s voice, which, combining with her excellent songwriting and exquisite production, makes for captivating listening. Second track This Morning is just as moving, a delicate acoustic guitar led ballad imagining a happy day lying in bed but contrasted with the reality of her lover having left: “If you could have stayed, we could have laid in bed this morning….every feather in the pillow a thought I should have said….”.

Picture is another fine song, seemingly a sweetly nostalgic song about looking at old pictures, but it really depicts how a picture can show the emotional distance between people and how a captured image can reveal so much about a person: “In every picture, look at you looking right past the camera, keeping your eyes on a far horizon…”.

Mercy, Mercy is a necessary contrast after three such emotional tracks, and this upbeat, jazzy track lightens the mood, augmented by tasteful bursts of brass and barrelhouse piano that really captures the mood. Lyrically, this one is a departure, a narrative that tells of a lover being shot down.

The Morning Does Not Suit Your Eyes returns to the more melancholy, sombre style and the haunting, nocturnal feel of the music with its descending melodies perfectly mirrors the evocative imagery of the lyrics (about all night drinking binges). Jean has a real gift for framing a situation or emotion in a poetic way, something that seems increasingly rare in modern music: “You and your Mistress, you stay up every night, out of sight…empty glasses guard, whilst the sun rises you stumble up to the yard….”.

Forgive Him His Sins is another deeply moving portrait of her relationship with her husband, this one again directly referencing his alcohol problems: “Pick up the bottles, the empties on the floor…and a cry from the bedroom – ‘It won’t happen anymore’…”. Wonderful, brave and honest songwriting that contains more depth in a few bars than many achieve in their whole career.

Bark Right At The Moon is relatively lighter in mood, and perhaps the most traditional track here in terms of genre. It’s a lovely country rock ballad, simply about missing someone deeply, with some gorgeous guitar work throughout.

Real Renegade is a sweet and unexpectedly happily romantic ending to the album: “I’m done running round, I like what I’ve found, my renegades days are through, now I believe I’ll never leave a real renegade like you….”. It’s the upbeat finale that feels right in the context of the album after so much depiction of struggle and pain, though rendered all the more poignant knowing the real life events surrounding it.

Overall, this is an absolute artistic jewel of an album from start to finish. The quality of the songwriting, both musically and, particularly, lyrically is of the highest calibre and you can tell the whole album has been a labour of love. It is reminiscent of Joni Mitchell’s classic Blue album in the way its lays its heart on its sleeve, and is all the more rewarding for the listener because of it. In an era where the album is quickly becoming a forgotten art form, here is a perfect example of the artistic heights it can achieve.


Alex Faulkner


Verdict: 9.4 out of 10

E.P. REVIEW: You Find Out On Your Own by Michael Reddington



Michael Reddington is a singer songwriter hailing from Nottingham who initially had his sights set on being a sound engineer, which for a while he achieved when working at the venue Stealth, where he worked with Bastille and Shy FX. However, an escalator accident ripped off his big toe, leaving him bed ridden for three months. He turned to music to get through, and began his songwriting journey which has led to this EP.

His music is essentially well crafted pop/rock in the great British tradition and you can hear myriad influences in these three songs, from The Beatles to The Smiths, though he also cites American songwriters like Neil Young, Ryan Adams and Tom Petty. His lyrics are very much rooted in the struggles of everyday life.

Opening song You Find Out On Your Own is an excellent start, a mid paced piece of guitar pop that has a nice Beatles-esque lead guitar line, warm pulsing bass, subtle piano and rich organ filling out the sound. It alternates between a lilting 4/4 rhythm on the intro and verse then switches to 2/4 on the bridge/chorus which injects momentum into the music.

Lyrically, it’s strong, a rumination on figuring things out through your own life experiences rather than accepting what others say: “I’ve been keep on making my own rules, avoiding fools…they don’t teach you any of this in school, I guess you find out on your own…”. His vocals are very good, comfortable singing in a high range and the whole song is catchy and memorable while avoiding anything predictable.

Monotony Lobotomy is slightly faster paced and in 4/4 throughout, lyrically a melancholy tale of frustration through being stuck in a humdrum situation and longing for a chance to escape, though still with a ray of hope for the future (“Just one chance and they’ll be no stopping me….”). The vocal melody and main hook are haunting, expressing the weariness of the lyrics perfectly.

Final track Uniform is a slow paced acoustic track, and lyrically takes an acerbic look at those to conform rather than show any individuality: “You’re a nancy of a man, got to do for them all you can…in uniform“. It’s another very melodic and memorable song, augmented by some lovely strings as the track progresses.

Overall, this is an excellent EP that shows Michael Reddington as a quality songwriter both musically and lyrically, with a fine gift for melody and a voice that is both distinctive and easy on the ear. While it’s hard these days for a songwriter to break through, he has everything it takes and I look forward to hearing a whole album from him.


Alex Faulkner (The Faulkner Review)


Verdict: 8.9 out of 10

E.P. REVIEW: Balloons by Dechard



ALBUM REVIEW: Real Life by Malichi


Malichi is a hip hop artist hailing from Canada who originally broke out back in 2003 when he had a Top 5 single for six weeks on mainstream radio, then reached number one on the Joy 1250 Christian radio countdown. He was also nominated for the 2004 Covenant Award and received 2 Maja Awards for Hip Hop Album of the Year and New Artist of the Year.

This album, Real Life, consists of twenty tracks and starts with the excellent Rush, featuring his fine rapping talents and a female sung chorus hook. His style of hip hop is more classy and sophisticated than most, with a slick commercial quality to the sound. Lyrically, though, he deals with raw themes and tales of street life and shares some of the tracks with some guest rappers.

B-Boy Stance is another great piece of hip hop with the great hook line “When I die, bury me vertically in the B-Boy Stance…”. There are almost too many highlights to mention but the Other strongest tracks for me were the powerful Child Soldier, Hesitate. Watch Dem Friends with its great vocal hook,  the funky Heaven and the closing Cry, inspired by the Bob Marley classic.

Overall, this is an extremely high class hip hop that shows a lot of musical range across its twenty tracks. Although Malichi’s presence dominates the album, his collaborators help add variety and just about every track here is strong, with numerous potential singles. Deserves to make a big impact, above and beyond the hip hop scene.


Alex Faulkner (The Faulkner Review)


Verdict: 9 out of 10

ALBUM REVIEW: Into The Woods by Philip Masorti



Philip Masorti is a singer songwriter who is a trial lawyer by trade and came to songwriting fairly late in life. He turned to music for solace after family loss, and after playing songs to accomplished musicians he ended up recording his first album Fathers Eyes in 2009. His music is essentially country/folk and you can hear the influences of Mark Knopfler, Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and Neil Young in his music.

This album, Into The Woods, consists off eight tracks and starts with the mid paced  acoustic One World that lyrically discusses life in differing parts of the world, including the Third World: “One man, the virus took his eye…is it he or the rest of us that’s blind?“. Along with his deep, rich voice it is his thoughtful, poetic lyrics that mark out his songwriting. The chorus acts as an effectively simple contrast to the verses, aided by lovely female backing vocals.

Bridges on 80 is a mellow country song with mandolin and slide guitar creating a dreamy soundscape, a cinematic tale of a car journey, while Lean On Me and Motorcycle Rider are both excellent, the latter the mostly lively song here. Every track is strong, but among other highlights the brutally honesty of Truth Be Told adds some edge, though it’s the closing war story Iron Curtain that achieves great artistic heights, finishing with a powerful spoken monologue over poignant music that remembers those lost in war.

Overall, this is a very accomplished and enjoyable album full of well written and performed songs. He has a fine voice and facility for melody, with an assured feel for songwriting craft. The lyrical writing is more sophisticated, literate and nuanced than the great majority of music out there, which this gives it a depth that discerning listeners will appreciate. Highly recommended for fans of serious songwriting and country fans in general.


Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.7 out of 10

SINGLE REVIEW: Limericks by Young A.G.


Young A.G. is a hip hop artist/rapper who is only sixteen years old, though you wouldn’t know it from listening to him at first. He has already developed as a rapper  and whilst Eminem is obviously a huge influence, he has his own lyrical style as evident on this track Limericks, which he produced himself also.

Starting with a haunting piano melody, then building into a simple but effective beat augmented by subtle strings and a music box style sound, Young A.G. lays down the verse with a breathtaking rapid fire delivery that rivals Eminem for vocal dexterity and rhythmic complexity.

The chorus hook acts as the perfect contrast to the low voiced verses, as he can sing too, delivering the catchy lines: “I’m a move right to the top, and I really ain’t gone’ stop/ Just until everyone knows my name/ I’ve got some illogical thoughts that I don’t wanna bottle up so bottoms up, lemme here you scream/ (go sang)…..”.

Overall, this is a highly impressive track from a young artist who already sounds like the finished article, which is remarkable considering his age. With continued experience and further material he will expand his musical and lyrical horizons and shouldn’t be too worried if he finds himself compared to Eminem too much, as his own style will develop over time.


Alex Faulkner (The Faulkner Review)


Verdict: 8.8 out of 10


ALBUM REVIEW: Innocent Sin by Billy Dechand


Billy Dechand is a singer/songwriter hailing from Missouri in the United States. His genre is essentially alternative pop/rock and he has been releasing material since 1998. This album, Innocent Sin, consists of sixteen tracks and is his seventh release on CD.

Starting with the title track, its a fine opener; a smoky, funky track with lashings of wah wah guitar, vibes and brass that give it a 70’s vibe, in a good way. Billy has a strong voice, a smooth croon that is almost Bowie-esque at times and that influence in manifest throughout the album. He also cites The Beatles, Beck and The Flaming Lips as influences.

Hungry For More is brief but very catchy, while When The Satellite Drops is an excellent song about our possibly over reliant relationship with technology. It’s set to a Beatles/Bowie style chord progression and builds to a memorable chorus. His sense of humour shows on Reproduce, a reggae tinged track that takes a sardonic look at male/female relations. The organ and bouncy bassline work well.

Keepin’ It Real is another funny song set to a lilting Kinks style melody, with bitingly satirical lyrics: “Every day when I wake yup I’ve been keeping it real…I’m so f—–g authentic, I’ve got my own cat food commercial…”. Kick Ass has one of the catchiest hooks on the album while You Do It is slower and more poignant: “He can teach you all the rules and never learn the game…”. The excellent chorus is pure Bowie musically but infused with Billy’s quirky style, so he makes it his own. A real highlight.

Spilled The Water and Little Miss Muffler are both deliciously offbeat and quirky acoustic pop songs, the latter replete with scatological sound effects, the more base end of Billy’s humour! Take Me Now is a fun song about getting amorous, while the infectious Booya rejects a negative outlook on life: “You can dress in black, cool like Cash… but me, I wanna live in colour…”.

Sell Out Is a justifiably cynical satire on those who will do anything to get ahead “Pretty beauty goin’ straight to your head…give it all away to the folks at the mall, cashing out your max for replaceable trash….”. She Has Work is one of the more moving and serious songs here; a poignant piece of characters study, showing his deeper side as a songwriter. The cute closing Chihuahua returns to his more familiar quirky style.

Overall, this is a very good album that showcases Billy’s musical and emotional range as a songwriter. All sides of life are here, from the poignant to the humorous, from the personal to societal concerns. He has a strong sense of craftsmanship and a gift for consistently memorable melodies and hooks. He has melded his influences into a style very much his own. Highly recommend for fans of left field pop/rock.


Alex Faulkner

Verdict: 8.6 out of 10