Tag Archives: review

Review of “Christmas For Two”

Review and Interview with Olivia Penalva

by Randy Wayne Belt

(first published in Starlight Music Chronicles Magazine)

As a connoisseur of original Christmas music it’s always great to find something new that is full of festive joy, delight, and fabulous vocals!   “Christmas For Two” by Canadian recording artist Olivia Penalva is just one of those songs.  With a fresh clean sound that has a somewhat Jazzy and R&B old motown rhythmic feel combined with a very contemporary vocal and lyric, Olivia delivers a song that reminds us of the joy of the season, and just enjoying life and having fun.  It is the perfect Christmas feel-good song!

 

As a singer, not only on this song, but in all of her work, her voice  has a timbre and character that make one think of a voice like that of Andrea Wittgens, Nora Jones, or Colbie Caillat.  Olivia’s voice has a mature tonal quality to it and a special warmth with a sultry yet innocent character to it that will capture your heart and ears.

Perhaps it’s that innocence of youth that can best create the atmosphere of a joyous life-is-good Christmas song.

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At a mere 15 years old, Olivia has already begun making a splash in music, and the addition of “Christmas For Two” to her repertoire will only further the ripples created by the waves she’s already making.

This new Holiday song has already gained some radio play alongside other well established artists with Christmas songs on this years Christmas playlists such as 103.5 QMFM in her home area of Vancouver, BC; Majic 100 in Ottawa, ON and more. But this isn’t her first airplay.  

Then there is Miss Penalva’s recent single “Ferris Wheel”, a song that has a carefree atmosphere with a strong rhythm section, once again, giving a solid beat behind the song which is, more than less, a celebration of life.  With another powerful vocal performance, the song will simply leave you in a good mood!  The control she has over her voice allows her to naturally move around her notes and move in and out of vocal inflections with great ease.  This is a very note worthy song also garnering airplay support.

(Official video for “Ferris Wheel” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMcmCV9-aBM    )

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Another song I should mention is a song called “Forgettable” which Olivia co-wrote and collaborated on with a Canadian DJ Group called Project 46 who released it as part of their own album called “Beautiful”.  And indeed it IS a beautiful!  At this stage in her career, the music seems to be defined by strong rhythm section and very powerful vocals.

(Listen to “Forgettable” at this link:   https://soundcloud.com/djproject46/forgettable-ft-olivia-free-gift-info-below  )

So don’t shrug off the “fifteen years old” part because her voice is like that of an experienced 20-something, and one only needs to be reminded that when LeAnn Rimes came out with “Blue” and floored everyone with her mature sounding voice at age 14, they said the same thing with a similar “Wow” effect.  Her voice simply commanded respect and admiration.

So naturally, one of the questions I wanted to ask leads right into my interview:

Click Here to read my interview with Olivia in Starlight Music Chornicles Magazine

Song/Video review: “Taste of Heaven” by Radio Drive

 “Taste of Heaven” by Radio Drive

Article/Review by Randy Wayne Belt    June 14, 2015

It was no surprise to me when I learned that “A Taste of Heaven” by Radio Drive from St. Paul, Minnesota had been nominated  Best Alternative Song for 2014 by the Hollywood Music Awards. And in September of 2014 Bongo Boy Records included “A Taste of Heaven” on their first Compilation CD release to the  Asian market, among many other accomplishments for this artist including music that has been used on shows airing on Animal Planet and Discovery Channel and having signed to Artista Group, an international management agency.

Produced by Chris Garcia, who is known to bring the best out in engineering and vocal production, this song is certainly no exception in bringing out the best.  The vocals on this track are smooth, relaxed, and deliver the type of vocal this song needed. Neither would it surprise me that this song is doing well in the European market as vocally, Radio Drive’s man behind the engine, Kevin Gullickson, has that distinct European tone to his voice.  In many respects his voice and delivery remind me of Neil Finn.

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Kevin Gullickson

“A Taste of Heaven” is an uplifting song that will just leave you in a good mood.  Not a jumping-around-good-mood, but a good mood where you feel a certain contentedness and satisfaction for the moment.  This track is full of layered sounds that give an effective backdrop of sound to the track from the very start that drives home the feelings and moods the artist wanted conveyed.  The song opens with nicely textured melodic guitar bits and builds into background vocals leading into the verse of the song, and the video for the song enhances this experience with it’s imagaries, subtle flashes of light, and scenes of two people enjoying each other’s company.  I would venture to say that if you’d like to hear U2, Imagine Dragons, Coldplay, with a touch of Neil Finn, all rolled into one song, then this is it.

The video flows along nicely with various interesting scenes where time seems to go by faster than normal.  I got the idea that this was meant to convey, intentionally or not, of how the relationship the song seems to be speaking of (and video seems to convey) makes you lose track of time and days and hours. Time goes by… unnoticed.  You’re in love. There’s that sense of timelessness when you are lost in the moment – you are enjoying the here and now, outside of time, just like heaven.  So I’m on the right track here aren’t I?  Well, just to be sure, I checked in anyway to Kevin’s interview on A.V.A. Live Radio with Jacqueline Jax from May 27, 2015 to find clues

(check out interview here) http://avaliveradio.com/behind-the-music-radio-drive-kevin-gullickson-on-a-taste-of-heaven/

and here’s what Radio Drive’s Kevin Gullickson says about the song: “A Taste of Heaven… was written to capture the time when I lived in New York City. I moved there in the month November back in the 80s and met my wife shortly afterward. It was such a care free time for us, living in the big city, doing whatever we wanted, all the excitement and variety the city had to offer – and of course being in love.”

Ok, I think I got it right! And my favorite lyrics from the song are (drum roll please) “you fill up and saturate my life with heaven”.  Now go watch the video:

What was I saying?  Oh yeah.. And now back to the nuts and bolts of it!  The song is saturated with good melodies and harmonies which always wins points with me because, well, I’m a melody guy.  As the song and its video progress, by the time you get to around the 3:50 to 4:00 mark, you have a pretty clear picture of what the song is getting at.  There you will find the overlapping of clouds giving a fitting backdrop to the song to relate to the imagery of the lyrics (heaven) overlapped with the artist on his guitar (on earth).

Rays of light, sunshine and positivity dominate and it becomes apparent by then, that the artist is painting a picture of a relationship that is more than just a “taste of heaven”, but at moments, may seem to be heaven on earth, or heaven meeting earth. This leads to the outro with a string arrangement sound that is fitting for such a sonic atmosphere relating to the imagery in the song. And that reminds me, did I mention this is a well constructed song? Kevin-Gullickson-Radio-Drive-752x440 It seems to just fly by and at no point was I feeling like I just wanted it to be over already. Rather, it ends by giving the listener a sense of completeness of the song and what he wanted to convey with it.  As an artist, it is always a good feeling when you can look back at the production and know that the producer caught your vision for the song as a team, and the team delivered it effectively.

Connect with Radio Drive on the homepage at  Radio Drive Home

And on social media: Radio Drive Facebook  On Twitter  @radiodrivemusic

And subscribe on YouTube:  Radio Drive’s YouTube Channel

Review of ‘Shine’ by Josh Newell-Brown

Review of SHINE by Josh Newell-Brown
https://soundcloud.com/joshnewellbrown/shine-1

joshnewellbrown  Josh Newell-Brown is a folk/pop music artist from the beautiful coastal town of Saltburn-by-the-sea, UK

     I find a well crafted song here with a positive message.  In a setting of folky pop from the UK, this song starts out with a happy shuffle of a beat brought in by acoustic guitar, bass, and pleasant piano riffs – some instrumentation that grabs you right away.  There is a deviation away from the opening shuffle feel on the drums to a more straight beat leading into the chorus gives a lot of added interest and keeps the listener engaged.

And anything that blends genres a bit or is creative in this sense, gets my attention!  The song is well  structured and that is what stood out most to me.  With well delivered vocals and a voice that stands out as fairly unique and exceptional, the lyrics give a positive vibe to the listener and will leave you humming along. Experimenting around with sounds and the beat, this song shows the artist is capable of more than just one good tune.

The song does indeed “shine” with a chorus that hits you. It’s a good solid song that demonstrates that this artist bears watching for what he does next.  And what’s next?  indeed, this song is the first single from Josh’s upcoming EP Inner Treasure and follows right in line with his heart for the hurting, as it’s proceeds will be used to aid national charity Dreams Come True in their work.

Considering the artists heart for terminally and seriously ill children and young people, it’s no wonder that the hopeful message comes through the song.  Josh’s EP Inner Treasure is expected to be out May 29, 2015

Connect with Josh Newell-Brown at the following links:
https://soundcloud.com/joshnewellbrown
http://www.joshnewellbrown.co.uk/
https://www.facebook.com/joshnewellbrown

https://twitter.com/joshnewellbrown