Perpetual Change: Music Buying Guide and Two Reviews

| Dec 19, 2016

This installment is going to be a bit different. Along with the annual year end music buying guide, I’m including a couple of short reviews of brand new projects. The first project is Shawna Virago’s Heaven Sent Delinquent. The next is Rev. Yolanda’s Country Gospel Kirtan Vol.2 Step Back. There’s a lot on the plate this month, so get comfortable.

Heaven Sent Delinquent by Shawna Virago

We posted an interview with Shawna a short time back. She gave just a brief description of her new project at that time, stating that the CD is truly a solo effort-just her, her guitar, her voice and her songs.

The material itself can best be described as “story songs” because that’s what Shawna does best-tell complete stories in her music. Because of this ability, the entire album is almost a throwback to a more poetic time when performers such as Simon & Garfunkle and Bob Dylan dominated.

While a lot of listeners would be tempted to call what Shawna Virago does “folk music,” that would be inaccurate. On Heaven Sent Delinquent, she touches on several different genres.

The Ballad Of Suzy Texas and Land Of Guns And Honey (one of the project’s stand out tracks) are alt-country. The very Dylanesque Last Night’s Sugar and Anniversary Song are both laid back. Gender Armageddon, Bright Green ideas, and another Dylanesque tune, Burnout, are rockers.

The CD’s title cut, Heaven Sent Delinquent, is hard to categorize. It’s perhaps the best track on the project. Very dynamic, and would make a great electric rocker. She also gets very political with the songs Holy Rollers and the aforementioned Land Of Guns And Honey.

For a solo acoustic artist to be incredibly dynamic and hold a listener’s attention throughout every song shows not only talent and creativity, but a musical maturity younger artists should pay attention to. Shawna Virago’s Heaven Sent Delinquent is a real gift. (Available on CD, vinyl, download and streaming.

Rev. Yolanda’s Country Gospel Kirtan Vol. 2 Step Back

This is Rev. Yolanda’s long anticipated follow up to her 2012 release of Country Gospel Kirtan Vol. 1 God Is. We posted an extended two-part interview with Yolanda in August and earlier in the year, in April, we ran a review of her 5 song EP of her song We Are Angels. Also included at that time were short reviews of two tracks from Vol.2, I Am Blessed and Hush Of Heaven.

What makes Vol. 2 Step Back completely noteworthy (i.e. different) from Vol. 1 is the musical diversity found therein. Don’t be fooled by the title — it’s definitely not all country. The tunes that fit the country genre, though,  are the traditional I Am A Pilgrim, Grace Goes With Me, and God Has Condemned Me Not.

The diversity factor is found especially in the East Indian influenced So In God’s Hands and Hare Om Tat; Miracles Are Seen In The Light (which contains O Come O Come Emmanuel at the start, kind of as a monk’s chant, which then turns into something akin to Scarborough Fair, making it a mix of Celtic, folk and madrigal); Step Back (very churchy and recorded live) and the very layered Hush Of Heaven.

One total surprise is the cover of the old Doobie Brothers Jesus Is Just Alright, done as Interfaith Is Just Alright.

The outstanding tracks are Somebody Save Me (full band sound, laid back yet somewhat bluesy), and Let Go Of Grievances (country funk, but with a diversity of instrumentation, and overall the best production moment on the entire project.)

Musically, Country Gospel Kirtan Vol. 2 Step Back is one of the biggest steps Rev. Yolanda has ever taken. While the Interfaith theology might not be to everyone’s personal taste or beliefs, Yolanda’s dynamic as a musician and as a deeply spiritual person are not in conflict, nor are they diminished in any way. Both attributes of who Rev. Yolanda is as a person compliment each other greatly.  

Produced by Freddy Freeman. Yolanda, lead vocals. Backing vocals by Yolanda, Freddy Freeman, Jay Freeman, Tom Workman. Acoustic guitar, Yolanda and Freddy Freeman. Freeman, all other instruments and samples.

2016 Music Buying Guide

The best material released this past year by artists featured here in TGForum.com are:

*Mood Swings by Jennifer Leitham (featured in February) As usual, a superb jazz release.

*Take The Day Off by Michelle Rocking Horse Garcia (March) The latest from multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and culinary expert Garcia. This, plus the re-release of her all instrumental Spanish Traveler, is some of her best work. She’s onFacebook, bandmix, indiemusicchannel and YouTube.

* The aforementioned We Are Angels 5 song EP by Rev. Yolanda.

*Shine by Ryan Cassata. Solo artist, singer/songwriter and anti-bullying activist Cassata released a full-on production that surpasses anything else he’s done.

Interesting main stream music

*Moth by Chairlift

*This Is What Truth Feels Like by Gwen Stafani

* Detour by Cyndi Lauper (Her excellent country project.)

New Music

Royal Blues by Dragonette

The band Dragonette describes this album as a sort of break up project. That being said, though, a definite cohesiveness comes through. While the project can be accurately described as techno dance material, it does have some moments that transcend that genre.

The best moments are found on the title cut, the somewhat mid-tempo Royal Blues. Other stand outs are Sweet Poison, Body2Body and Let The Night Fall. All in all, Royal Blues does not fall into the trap that most techno dance projects find themselves in . . . mind numbing sameness. Not here . . . most certainly not here.

In closing . . .

As you can see, it’s been a very musically diverse year, for both trans and mainstream artists. There’s still time for some last minute shopping, so please support our own, as well as artists you appreciate. Oh, and by the way . . .

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I’ve tried to present current contact information for each artist mentioned. Most of this music can be found on mainstream outlets such as Amazon, plus every artist mentioned does have a social media presence on either Facebook, SoundCloud, Twitter, YouTube, etc., etc. As always, thanks again for your support throughout the year . . . and for your indulgence with my reviews and interviews. It’s greatly appreciated.

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Category: Fun & Entertainment, Music

Pam Degroff

About Pam Degroff: Pamela DeGroff been writing for TGForum since the start of 1999. Her humor column, The Pamela Principle, ran until 2005. She started the Perpetual Change music column in May of 1999, and in 2008, Angela Gardner came up with the idea for the Transvocalizers column and put Pam to work on that. Pamela was a regular contributor to Transgender Community News until that magazine's demise. While part of a support group in Nashville called The Tennessee Vals she began writing for their newsletter, and also wrote for several local GLBT alternative newspapers in Tennessee. Pamela is currently a staff reporter for a small town daily paper in Indiana, and is also a working musician.

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