E.P. REVIEW: Nashville Songwriting Sessions by Claudia Norris




Claudia Norris is a singer/songwriter currently residing in Edmonton, Alberta in Canada. She has been songwriting since 14 and sharing her music on YouTube since 2007. She has run her musical career in parallel with her career as a certified make-up artist, and regularly travels to Nashville and L.A. to write, perform and record.

Her Shine EP received airplay on over 100 radio stations and she was a finalist in the Great American Song Contest in 2015. She’s amassed a huge fanbase (30k+) online, her army of fans known as Claudiators! She regards her influences as Taylor Swift, Adele and Meghan Trainor, and these influences are in evidence on this 5 track EP, Nashville Recording Sessions.

Opening track Say Yes is a finely crafted piece of country-tinged pop that Taylor Swift would be proud to have written, and a showcase for Claudia’s crystal clear and powerful voice. Like Taylor and Adele, her music mostly deals with timeless emotional issues, though there is also the light-hearted exuberance of Meghan Trainor in the musical mix.

Second song Stronger is the standout on this EP, for me. It’s an emotive ballad about a trust and communication breakdown in a relationship, with Claudia delivering a vocal performance of both passion and restraint. Lyrically, it shows the empowering message behind her music with lines like, “Don’t blame me, I’m not changing, couldn’t be your Barbie doll“. With its radio friendly sound and memorable chorus, this sounds like it could become a huge worldwide hit.

Third track Heartbeat is a more upbeat and fun Meghan Trainor-style song which is based on classic 1950’s era chord changes and has the sweet innocence of that musical period. The chorus is ultra catchy, the whole track driven by propulsive, rhythmic piano and it also brought to mind the British pop group Scouting For Girls.

Stay is another Stronger-type ballad which is well written and performed, though perhaps a little too similar to Sam Smith’s massive hit Stay With Me, at least lyrically. Final track Love On Replay is the most modern sounding song here, with a Rihanna/RnB influence that adds another interesting facet to her music. It broadens her appeal and is, again, extremely catchy and packed with hooks.

Overall, this EP is first class evidence that Claudia Norris is a superb singer and songwriter. As an artist, she stands poised halfway between the two pop giants of this era, Taylor Swift and Adele. Her positive, empowering message is perfect for the times, and with Stronger, she has a song that could catapult her to the centre of the world stage and deservedly so.


VERDICT: 8.7 out of 10

 Alex Faulkner


SINGLE REVIEW: Shine by Through Infinity


Through Infinity are a Croatian new age instrumental progressive rock band, with a multinational personnel. The band was founded in 2017 by Josip Pesut (guitars & electronics), with Tomo Bacurin (keyboards and producer) and Tomislav Lackovic (bass) forming the core of the group. As recording progressed they added other members; drummer Damir Somen, guitarist Antony Reynaert, and traditional instruments/woodwinds courtesy of Safiudin Alimoski and daughter Dulijana.

This track Shine is taken their debut album The Life, which was a long time in coming to final fruition and contains eleven tracks. Shine is a perfect showcase for the band’s unique sound and musical abilities. You can detect the influence of great guitarists like Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, as well as the instrumental music of artists like Yanni and the Japanese instrumental band The Black Mages.

Starting with swirling synths, combined with powerful bursts of guitar and drums, its first main section centres around a rolling bassline and syncopated drums. A sparse guitar line weaves over the top, then becomes much more expansive in the second section, which rhythmically alternates between halftime and full time. There is some mellifluous high-end lead guitar, which is tightly structured and melodic rather than a gratuitous display of virtuosity.

This progresses to sections where synth and bass play in tandem then combine with the guitars in glorious harmony. The drumming throughout is superb, full of nuance and tasteful fills. integrating perfectly with the rest of the music. Through Infinity understand that there is more musical power in synergy rather than individual virtuosity, though the whole group are extremely accomplished musicians.

Overall, Through Infinity are master practitioners of their craft and have set the bar very high with this instrumental single. As their significant popularity on YouTube suggests (circa 300,000 views for this track), there is a massive fanbase for high quality new age progressive rock and Through Infinity have carved a stylistic niche of their own. I expect their success and fanbase to increase exponentially with every further release.

VERDICT: 8.9 out of 10 

Alex Faulkner

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SINGLE REVIEW:All Night Long by Matthew Schultz ft. Gyptian & Rico Tayla


Matthew Schultz is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, singer and performer who started out playing guitar in Chris Daughtry’s first band.  He has already made a strong impact on the music industry with his previous releases. His first single, Money or Me, was produced by Armando Guarnera and earned him a nomination at the 2013 EOTM Awards, as well as one for best new male artist. He followed this up with Crazy Heart (ft. Alessia Guarnera) in 2014, then in 2015 he released We Own The Night (feat. Jim Jones).

This latest release follows on from the Promise For Keeps single in January, as well as the remix which featured the Jamaican reggae singer Gyptian. He had crossover success in 2010 when his song Hold Yuh reached 91 in the Billboard Hot 100, followed by an album of the same name which reached number 2 in the Billboard Reggae charts. Hold Yuh went on to become a chart hit worldwide.

All Night Long also features another member from the Yard Style Entertainment stable, the performer and producer Rico Tayla. Rico grew up in several communities including Kingston, Portmore and New York, raised in a musical household. He regards his influences as Bounty Killer, Kanye West and Bob Marley, amongst others, and has produced and mixed records for Gyptian, I Octane, British R&B songstress Keisha White and grime legend Wiley.

This track continues on from the last release stylistically; it fuses reggae, dancehall and Afro Beat with EDM to create a truly cutting edge sound. Produced to a very high standard by JJ Sizzle, Johnny Thomas Jr. and Matthew Schultz it features some mind bending vocal effects that give it an almost futuristic vibe.

It starts with pulsing, filtered synths and the lead vocal sets the mood instantly: “When you start feeling that buzz all through your body…..you know you can’t hide it“. The verse has a lilting, reggae-tinged rhythm, then hits a solid four-to-the-floor EDM groove on the epic chorus. Built around a simple, naggingly catchy vocal refrain, the effects-laden vocals are interspersed with short spoken lines that form another hook throughout the rest of the track.

The second verse offers a different, more rhythmic and infectious vocal melody to the smooth melody of the first verse, followed by the chant of “DJ, please turn it up” on the bridge amongst some wild pitch-shifting production effects. After the second chorus, Rico Tayla delivers an entertaining cameo rap, (“When we party, we party hard, Kingston, Jamaica, the party yard…..”) before all the hooks of the track combine for the final choruses.

Overall, this is another slam dunk of an EDM/dancehall track by Matthew Schultz and his talented cohorts. Tailor made for the dancefloor, and produced with its finger on the pulse, Schultz and Gyptian provide great vocals and Rico Tayla makes a fine contribution. This is going to make waves in the clubs and could go on to become the feel good song of the summer, as well as an instant hit in the meantime.



VERDICT: 9 out of 10

Alex Faulkner




Susan G is a singer and songwriter hailing from Seattle. She possesses an authentic, rich soul voice and you can hear the influence of classic soul singers like Etta James and Mavis Staples, along with modern pop singer/songwriters like Sia and Sara Bareilles. Musically, she fuses the retro-soul sound of Amy Winehouse with 90’s pop/RnB to create a unique synthesis.

In 2009, she released her first album The Way To Here and then the single No Room For You in 2014. This was followed by the Some Freedom EP in 2016, featuring the classic song A Better You, which became regularly featured on IHeartRadio. The same year she experimented with a more urban sound, releasing the single Need You Here featuring the rapper Redhead.

In terms of live performance she has shared the stage with Colbie Caillat, Sony artist Ryan Cummings, The Voice’s Austin Jenckes, Zarni de Wet, amongst many others as well as selling out venues all across Seattle. She is due to release another album later this year, and her YouTube Channel is helping her reach a wider audience, featuring a mix of original material and covers of well known songs.

Usually she performs with just vocals and keyboards, and I particularly enjoyed her interpretations of The Weeknd’s I Feel It Coming, her cover of I Fall Apart by Post Malone and a haunting rendition of the Amy Winehouse modern classic Back to Black. She also does excellent versions of well known hits like the ubiquitous Shape of You by Ed Sheeran and Look What You Made Me Do by the current Queen of Pop, Taylor Swift.

But it is her own original material that showcases what a great talent she is. The epic six minute ballad Push and Pull had me enthralled from start to finish and the lilting Unafraid, featuring the guitar talents of Skylar Mehal, is another fine piece of songwriting that could appeal to country audiences. Indeed, she has the potential to appeal right across the musical spectrum.

Overall, Susan G has everything it takes for major success in terms of singing ability and image. If her upcoming album is as strong as her previous work, there’s no reason why her fanbase won’t increase exponentially. Her soulful yet modern sound is perfect for the times. This could be a name you’ll be hearing plenty of in the future.

VERDICT: One To Watch!

Alex Faulkner


SINGLE REVIEW: Mean Machine by Fatty Boomba

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Fatty Boomba hail from Melbourne, Australia and are the musical brainchild of Peter Josef Hofbauer (PJ). Having reached the top 10 of the International Songwriting Contest, they released their debut single It’s The Life to great acclaim, launching it to thousands on The Kyle and Jackie O Show. In 2016, they picked up airplay on hundreds of commercial and alternative networks nationally and will be releasing a new E.P. in 2018 called Girls Girls Girls!

This track, Mean Machine, starts with a four note pulsing synth and handclaps, the vocals entering confidently. They are soon aided by a pounding four-to-the-floor beat with strident lyrics to match: “I’m so dynamite, two thousand Fahrenheit….”. It breaks down for the bridge section using which works as a pre-chorus, building to the full chorus section with effective momentum and musical tension.

The chorus hook is simple and instantly memorable: “I’m a steam train rollin’ around, I’m a mean machine running it down…”, with a nice harmony on the repeat. The second verse digs a little deeper lyrically, giving the song a bit more edge: “Been beaten down, been kicked around, pushed out of line….”. It then adds a variation on the main melody after the second chorus, before returning to the main hook to wrap it up nicely.

Overall, this is a highly effective pop/EDM track that combines a pop song structure with the elements of EDM that are needed to get people’s feet moving on the dancefloor. The song is packed with catchy hooks, especially the killer chorus, giving it an appeal that will go far beyond dance fans and should go down a storm with the Maroon 5 crowd. With such a strong musical persona, Fatty Boomba have every chance of making a big name for themselves, especially with more music as good as this.



VERDICT: 8.5 out of 10

Alex Faulkner

SINGLE REVIEW: Promise For Keeps by Matthew Schultz ft. Gyptian


Matthew Schultz is a multi-instrumentalist, producer, singer and performer who started out playing guitar in Chris Daughtry’s first band.  He has already made a strong impact on the music industry with his previous releases. His first single, Money or Me, was produced by Armando Guarnera and earned him a nomination at the 2013 EOTM Awards, as well as one for best new male artist.

He followed this up with Crazy Heart (ft. Alessia Guarnera) in 2014, then in 2015 he released We Own The Night (feat. Jim Jones). Last year saw a house remix of this track by Follow The Moon gain considerable popularity. These releases were all widely acclaimed and he has accumulated a huge following on Facebook and Twitter in the process.

I originally reviewed his latest single Promise For Keeps in January, and gave it a glowing verdict. This remix features the Jamaican reggae singer Gyptian, who is very successful in his own right. He has been having hits in the Jamaican charts since 2005 and had crossover success in 2010 when his song Hold Yuh reached 91 in the Billboard Hot 100, followed by an album of the same name which reached number 2 in the Billboard Reggae charts. Hold Yuh went on to become a chart hit worldwide.

The track contains vocals from both Gyptian and Matthew Schultz, with the original song given a radical musical transformation. Keeping the essential melody, the music is given a dancehall, reggae-fusion vibe in the vein of Major Lazer, Tory Lanez and Partynextdoor. It has been produced to a very high standard by Schultz himself and Johnny Thomas Jr.

The laid back tropical, reggae-tinged rhythm gives the track a slinky, syncopated groove that is guaranteed to work well on the dancefloor. Gyptian gives a smooth-as-honey vocal performance that fits perfectly with the vibe of the music. He performs the majority of the vocals for this version, with Schultz interspersing at certain points  throughout, which helps add a little variety and his own stamp on the remix.

Overall, this is a highly enjoyable and inventive reinterpretation of the original Promise For Keeps rather than a standard remix, which surely seems destined to become a massive hit in the clubs. It will help to introduce a new kind of audience to the music of both Matthew Schultz and Gyptian and might even become the definitive version for which this song is known. You could well be hearing it a lot this summer, with any justice.

VERDICT: 9.1 out of 10 

Alex Faulkner


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ALBUM REVIEW: The Julie Project by 27 $AVAGE


27 $AVAGE a.k.a. Hefe Heetroc (amongst other aliases) is a rapper/producer hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico. He grew up in Rochester, NY and moved to California before ending up in Albuquerque. Picking up the guitar at 19, he moved into the hip hop genre at 27, collaborating with the emcee Loose Logic. His music has been featured on numerous blogs including ThisIs50 and his single ‘Space Energy’ has been aired on WRIU FM by Dj Padrino (of the Coke Boys).

His musical style has been described as a fusion of hip-hop, glitch-hop, and vaporwave, though for this album/mixtape The Julie Project he describes the music as ‘Alien Emo Trap’. Rather than a collection of separate tracks, it is mostly variations and remixes of the track Ocean Front with different material interspersed towards the end.

His rapping delivery is smooth and so laid back it’s almost vertical, imagine Snoop Dogg after a night on the chronic. He has a natural facility for rhythm and rhyme, with an inventive use of language like the best rappers. The album starts with lead single The Awakening, built around a simple but infectious vocal hook: “Now we’re rollin’ on the ocean front….”. The production is lo-fi but imaginative and edgy; it suits the overall vibe of the music, a meld of trap beats and bursts of synth riffs.

The Reckoning is, in ways, an extension of the first track, this one with an Eminem-esque lyrical flow and similar use of dark realism: “Life’s meaning is in its making, pain, blood, death, that’s for the taking…”. The track The Comeback is another variation on the theme, this one containing some impressive verbal gymnastics and rapid fire delivery.

Following this is a series of remixes and reinterpretations, my personal favourite being Ocean Front Part II, with it’s moody, throbbing bass and weirdly haunting synths. Eighth track It’s A Lie is excellent, built around a pounding kick and verbal fireworks, with the rhymes coming thick and fast. The last remix, Unstoppable, features a blistering breakbeat which helps make it one of the most effective tracks and a fine way to finish.

Overall, this is an intriguing project from 27 $AVAGE, who has melded various styles into a unique fusion that sets him apart from the generic hip hop crowd. He has developed his own style which is versatile, and deserves a strong fanbase. I’d be interested to see if he can develop this approach further and deliver a full album in the more conventional sense of entirely different tracks. This could be the case with his upcoming album Empire Of The Forgotten. Definitely one to watch for the future.

VERDICT: 7.4/10

Alex Faulkner

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