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  Songs from the New South
Artist: Andy Tanas 
Label: RT etc. Music
Time: 11 tracks / 43:25 

It's the whole package that leaves the impression that Andy Tanas could be, and probably has been a likable troublemaker. Whether it's the song titled "Rowdy" or the impish back cover photo with Andy hanging out on his green chaise lounge lawn chair with strat in hand, his sense of humor shown in his CD with the fake UFO sightings and the back cover “For Best Effect, Play This Loud” disclaimer, his several comments about not being able to control himself when pretty girls come around, or his southern party boy vocals – all of this leads one to believe that Andy could be a lot of fun to hang out with – just be prepared to do some 'splainin.

Andy's got the knack for southern-fried rock guitar as he shows on several tracks. While he's shown holding a strat on the rear cover, it sounds like there might be some righteous tele playing in there as well. He handles both rhythm and lead playing for this genre quite well. Over top of that are his Morgan Cryar-esque vocals with a little nasal yodel tone here and there to complete the definition of his musical geography.

There are a couple of standout songs on the CD that Andy should shop around. First on the CD to stand up and be noticed is "Crying Angel." It separates itself for two reasons: 

  1.  It changes up the feel of the CD from the first 2 songs, which sound nearly identical; both about 120 beats per minute, with the exact same instrumentation, same key, same rhythm, etc. This song features a nice country lead guitar into the verse that settles into an acoustic guitar led rhythm, and some nice turns and runs by the bass player – nothing in the way of the feel of the song, but just right. 
  2. The lyrics are quite a bit more poetic than the first two tracks as well, eg ”We were never much at fitting in with the hippies or the straights, spend the nighttime on our own with our strange philosophies.” The chorus makes reference to a Highway 51 several times, and while listening to the song and emotion, it's very easy to image riding along in an old beat-up pickup with Andy and seeing the stars above, hearing the crickets as you pass them by, breathe the night air and just being glad that you are alive to experience it.
The second song that distinguishes itself from the others is track seven, where it leads in with some more African sounding rhythm and a cool Doobie Brothers type rhythm guitar. Electric guitar, lap steel, and violin trade solos on this song; sometimes at the ends of phrases, sometimes intentionally by themselves. There is also a nice female bgv groove during the chorus sections of this song. The song ends with a fade-out on and African Djembe – not typical on a Southern/Country rock track, and quite refreshing.

Revisiting a theme mentioned in the opening of the review; the next track “Typical Male”, talks about how Andy likes to chase girls, watch the Super Bowl, and ruin other's credit. Well, this track just leads one to ask: “Andy, when are you going to grow up and do something with yourself?” Andy talks about a romance from 1973 earlier on the CD, and here it is over 30 years later and he is still sticking up for his choices to “have his cake and eat it too” while explaining that the Lord will forgive him because he's just the “Typical Male.” I'm not sure how many listeners of the CD will agree with that sentiment; male or female. Andy dedicates his album to his wife and girls, God, Jesus Christ, etc. How do they feel about his wayward behavior so proudly proclaimed in this song? Maybe it's just an act; part of the class-clown image Andy exudes.

Overall, this record is well recorded, despite being recorded entirely by 'real musicians on real instruments' as humorously pointed out in the liner notes along with a comment that ProTools was not used on the CD. Andy is thumbing his nose at the recording industry here, as sampled and simulated instruments / amplifiers and ProTools have become as ubiquitous in the recording world, as Internet Explorer has for browsing the net. This little bit of fine print inside the liner notes is almost like the high school kid with the sleeper drag racer, complete with rusted out fenders, who blows the doors off the rich kid who got the BMW for his 16th birthday.

Suggested improvements to further work by Andy, or a re-release of this CD on a major label would include a few minor items. First, the song order should be changed to separate the first two tracks or elimination of the weaker track. The fact that they are so similar might cause some to hit the eject button upon hearing the intro of the 2nd track as a one-song, one sound kind of a performer, of which Andy is not. Second would be to have ProTools used for at least a little bit; particularly on Andy's vocals on the quieter songs. Andy tends to strain his vocals and get a little too much vibrato and also become ever so slightly out of tune with the accompaniment. ProTools and it's accessory programs can help with that – it's nothing to be ashamed of. Lastly, Andy plays some fine country rock guitar solos on this CD – let's hear more of that and less of the girl chasin' lyrics. 

C'mon Andy, let's hear you let her rip!!!

Scott Lake 12/30/04



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