New on Pure Pop Radio: Dana Countryman’s Girlville! Sparkles!

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Spins and Reviews | (Originally posted 1.10.17)
By Alan Haber – Pure Pop Radio

Dana Countryman’s Girlville! New Songs in the Style of Yesterday’s Hits
(Teensville) 2017

dana countryman's girlvilleAnd now for something completely different? Not completely, actually, because this heartfelt, loving tribute to the sounds of 1960s girl groups shares the same depth of commitment and heart that Dana Countryman put into his much-loved pop songs trilogy, concluded in 2015 with Pop 3! Welcome to My Time Warp!.

The only tangible difference here is that the 19 songs on offer are sung by an array of talented female vocalists chosen by Dana because they could match him heartbeat for heartbeat and bring to life his wonderful, period-esque songs, written from the perspective of a 16-year-old girl living in the early 1960s.

Both familiar and perhaps new-to-you vocalists such as Lisa Mychols, Swan Dive’s Molly Felder, Pop 4’s Andrea Perry, Kelly Harland, Lisa Jenio, Julie Johnson Sand, Kathy Hettel, and Tricia Countryman, along with Tana Cunningham and Mary Chris Henry, beautifully communicate the joy that has been woven by Dana and his co-writers into the fabric of this musical homage to the catchy sounds of a comparatively simpler time.

The characters who populate these songs have nothing more in mind than being smitten with boys, being jealous of girls who like the boys they like, true love, loving a Beatle, and twisting at Granny’s house. A simpler time? Most certainly, and certainly a period of their lives during which everything is full of wonder, even if it doesn’t always feel that way.

dana countryman and dee long

(left to right) Dana Countryman and Klaatu’s Dee Long

A sense of wonder permeates the proceedings throughout this delightful album, for which Dana plays most of the instruments and sings backup vocals (guests include the artist’s good luck charm, Klaatu’s Dee Long). And the highlights are many, such as the Phil Spector-y toe-tapper “Chemistry,” sung by Kathy Hettel in the guise of a girl bored in chemistry class until she partners up with the boy who sits behind her for a class project. The pair falls in love, holds hands and sits side-by-side, learning about, yes, chemistry.

“Proud to Be His Girlfriend,” sung with honest emotion by Lisa Mychols, is the simple story of a girl who is proud to be her guy’s gal. It’s a gorgeous mix of ’60s Brian Wilson and Carole King innocence. “My Heart Belongs to One Boy,” sung beautifully by Lisa Jenio, should rule the AM radio charts, and if it were around back in the good old days, it probably would have.

I’ve always felt that Dana’s music would have ruled the charts back in whichever day you might choose to focus on. The reason is simple, I think: His mantra when writing songs is always to entertain, to brighten the listener’s day. You know that feeling you get when something you hear, whether it’s a song on the radio or coming out of your home stereo or computer speakers, takes root in you in just the right way and you feel a certain type of tingling? That’s what happens when you connect with popular art that moves you.

Dana’s music moves me and always has–I’ve certainly written enough about it and played so much of it on the radio. Call it the Countryman Effect or simply accept it into your consciousness, but accept it without question and let it be a part of your life. Girlville! New Songs in the Style of Yesterday’s Hits is a joyful experience that you and I and everyone else will be remembering and enjoying for a long time to come.

black box Now playing in rotation on Pure Pop Radio: The entire album: “Girlville,” “It’s Not Your Fault,” “I’ve Run All Out of Tears,” “My Heart Belongs to One Boy,” “How Do You Know When You Love a Boy?,” “I’m in Love with George Harrison,” “Bom Sh Bom Bom,” “Pretty Good Sign,” “Because I Love Him,” “Chemistry,” “Jealous Girl,” “One Last Dance Together,” “Love Till the End of Time,” “Little Shy Boy,” “Proud to be His Girlfriend,” “Twist Party at Granny’s House,” “I’ll be Good For You,” “Little Bitty Snowflake,” and “Johnny Still Loves Me”
black box Where to Get It: Bandcamp, Kook Kat, iTunes

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Dori Freeman’s Charming Self-Titled Delight

Dori Freeman | In concert at Jammin Java; Vienna, Virginia; April 4, 2016

Dori Freeman | Dori Freeman
(Free Dirt Records, 2016)

Review by Alan Haber

dori freeman album coverFrom Galax, Virginia, the gateway to the Blue Ridge Mountains, comes a young singer-songwriter who exhibits the keen lyrical and musical vision of older souls. Dori Freeman, just 24, examines the beating of hearts and other matters on her self-titled long player from Free Dirt records. It’s a beauty.

Currently supporting seasoned veterans Teddy Thompson, who produced this record, and Kelly Jones, who are touring in support of their new record, Little Windows, Dori sings honest lyrics married to equally honest melodies. Her lovely performance this past Monday night at Vienna, Virginia’s Jammin Java was mesmerizing; the full audience applauded enthusiastically after every song, so charmed were they by her performance.

Accompanying herself on stage with just her acoustic guitar, Dori, ostensibly an Americana artist but really so much more, sang sweetly the songs given, for the most part, full band treatment on her album, although there are exceptions: on record, “Ain’t Nobody,” an impassioned gospel testament, is delivered a cappella alongside firmly placed finger snaps; and the opener, “You Say,” about loving one who doesn’t return the sentiment, is played out with only acoustic guitar and bass.

DoriFreeman_CD_Adv_T_J100Dori Freeman, the album, is full of amazing songs. The gorgeous “Where I Stood,” which features Teddy Thompson singing harmony vocals, tells the tale of a broken relationship, rocked by mistrust and deceit (“Yesterday morning I answered your phone/The voice said hello and it turned me to stone/You reached for me as I reached for the door/But I won’t be turning to you anymore”). The very pure pop pleasures of the upbeat “Fine Fine Fine,” which kicks off with “Be My Baby” drums (and here’s yet another realization of this year’s top and oh-so-popular rhythmic nod), would make a fine, fine, fine single, being so catchy and all.

With a vocal delivery echoing the fabric of Luxury Liner-era Emmylou Harris, and the quite amazing and satisfying ability to trail off a note so that it becomes a heartfelt whisper, Dori Freeman is a marvel, a singer-songwriter possessing great gifts full of passion and soul. We’re playing seven songs from this album in rotation, all displaying Dori’s exceptional, emotional lyrics and catchy melodies: “Any Wonder”; “Fine Fine Fine”; “A Song for Paul”; “Still a Child,” which features a lovely, lyrical piano part played by Erik Deutsch; “Tell Me”; “Where I Stood,” and “You Say.”

Make no mistake: Dori Freeman is a talent to watch and savor. We’re honored to be playing her music on Pure Pop Radio.

new pure pop radio logo medium sizeAlan Haber’s Pure Pop Radio is the original 24-hour Internet radio station playing the greatest melodic pop music from the ’60s to today. From the Beatles to the Spongetones, the Nines, Kurt Baker, the Connection and the New Trocaderos, we play the hits and a whole lot more. Tune in by clicking on one of the listen links below.

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Charming, Bittersweet “Sabina” Points to Fine Fall Album Release from Michael Oliver and the Sacred Band

Michael Oliver

Michael Oliver

I cannot remember the last time I was so charmed by a song that I played it over and over again upon receipt. Only seconds into the first single from the forthcoming, hopefully late-Fall-ish album by Michael Oliver and the Sacred Band, Everything Sunny All the Time Always, I was thanking my lucky stars that such a wonderful creation (in the form of a great-sounding studio rough) had fallen into my lap. The album, you should know, is being recorded with Ducky Carlisle at his Ice Station Zebra studio in Medford, Massachusetts.

I’ve been a big fan of Michael’s for a long time. News of a new album on the horizon made me stand up and take notice. The new song, “Sabina,” which sees its Pure Pop Radio premiere tonight at 8:30 pm ET and will subsequently be spinning in hot rotation after that, is an expertly crafted, lovely, mid-tempo ballad–a heartstring tugger about loss, about sensory memory, about love, about life. Michael says the song is about a cat or life. Yes and yes.

Following a gorgeous, riff-based opening (played out atop a haunting, ghostly percussion track), Michael sings, “If she’s gone, then why do I call her name and wait for her quiet games?” as the sensory memory sets in. And then, the heartbreaking chorus, punctuated by a sensitive accordion sample, played to perfection: “Sabina’s gone but not forgotten…but something in my heart still lingers. I close my eyes and find her there.”

The final chorus adds an inventive background vocal wash, underpinned by hope, and a closing, sadly and ultimately life affirming observation: “And sometimes we all feel bruised and battered. We all need to know somehow it matters.”

As I said, this is a heartstring tugger. Michael is in fine form on the song, his vocal acutely observed. “Sabina” is a triumph. Listen to the song’s Pure Pop Radio premiere tonight at 8:30 pm ET. Hear it in rotation after that, and keep a look out for Everything Sunny All the Time Always mere months from now. The fall, or thereabouts, is looking up already.

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Click on the image to listen to Alan Haber's Pure Pop Radio through players like iTunes

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