Gina Villalobos – Sola

Gina Villalobos - Sola

Gina Villalos’ releases her new album Sola on her birthday, the 26th of May, Sola is Gina’s fifth studio recording and her first for five years after the release of a personal favourite of mine Days On Our Side (it seems Take a Beating from this album is my most scrobbled song on Last FM), the bad news is the album clocks in with  seven tracks and around twenty five minutes, the good news is every one of the songs is a winner with Gina’s voice is sounding as good as ever,  following a barren period were she found herself exhausted and creatively empty Gina took a step back from  making music and this time off has certainly worked as she’s definitely rediscovered her creative muse and poured it all into Sola.

“I was done, my hunger for it was like a numb finger.  I couldn’t write, I couldn’t draw, I had no imagination or ability to reflect anymore, nor did I have the physical energy to do so but the impulse (opposed to the hunger), to create was still there so I enrolled myself in a music program at LACC.  I liked the immediacy of its rewards.  It gave me instant gratification, and eventually the impulse to create turned into a viscous hunger that I had been purposely ignoring.  I found myself looking up from a deep dark well and from this well is where the songs on the new record came from.”

Suitably reenergised Gina began work on Sola in 2012  where she was joined in the studio by Josh Grange on guitar (KD Lang, Dwight Yoakam), Eric Heywood on pedal steel (Son Volt, Ray LaMontagne), Kevin Haaland on guitar, Ian Walker on upright bass (KG Lang, The Ditty Bops) and Quinn on drums (Tracy Chapman, Daft Punk), the album starts off with Everything I Want, a moody alt-country twang plays off and around Gina’s aching vocal, track two Taillights  is one that builds anthem like to it’s chorus then drops back to build again – you know where the crescendo is heading but it still manages to have that magic feel when it gets there.

I dream about making good work.” states Villalobos, “ I’m inspired by interactions, touching things, smelling things, and just opening my eyes.  It’s involuntary and then you get these urges to be creative, to write.  Having a creative urge as an artist is actually painful sometimes. Writing songs satisfies the urge.”

For track three, Come Undone (Interstate Ache),  Gina reigns in her vocal and in doing so highlights the nuances it possesses with an achingly beautiful ballad accompanied by some wonderful pedal steel, at the album midpoint sits the albums longest track Wandering By one which reprises elements of the first two tracks and creates a perfect centre piece for the album and sets things up nicely for part two which begins with Hold on to Rockets which would be my choice for a single and radio play, though maybe a safer choice would be the next track Tears Go By with it’s more straight-up lyrics and arrangement, the album ends with Walk Away though anyone listening to this album will likely not not follow that instruction and find themselves hitting that repeat button – over used and cliche-ridden perhaps  but this one is all killer no filler.

As a bonus here’s an outtake recording from the album that was made available some time ago by Gina and appeared on Songs Illinois.


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Van Meter – Should’ve Been A Weather Girl

One of the evolutions of my musical tastes over the last few years has been the shift from male dominated vocals to female, with the release of Van Meter’s début album Should’ve Been A Weathergirl I’ve another to add to the list of alt-country flavoured female favourites with Jennifer van Meter sitting comfortably in the zone with Lucinda Williams, Gina Villalobos, Kathleen Edwards, Kasey Chambers and Vanessa Peters.

The Maryland based singer/songwriter was inspired to pick up and play a Strat by her uncle, she moved on from hitting that first G-chord to later study music at East Tennessee State University, the album itself was produced at Mill Creek Studio Annapolis by Noel White who also handles drums and features a bunch of accomplished  musicians including Ruben Dobbs (guitar), Jimmy Jacobs (keyboards) and Dave Hadley (pedal steel). You get plenty of heartache for your buck on this set of songs, the album’s full of tales of love lost and misunderstood, broken hearts and promises, all the tracks are Jennifer van Meter originals and while not breaking new ground this album sets the bar high for aspiring artists and promises much for the future, my pick from the album – with an aching vocal washed with steel guitar Suckerpunch, you can check out some more tunes below on the Tunecore widget or better still get yourself a copy of the CD from here.

Gina Villalobos – Track from new album

songs:illinois has posted a track from Gina’s upcoming album, get a listen here the albums due for formal release on July 12th, looking forward to this one, Gina’s previous albums Rock n Roll Pony and Miles Away are both good ‘uns, listening to this sample track, sounds like the new one will be a killer too.

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