Every Music Blogger needs to have a little Simon Cowell in him or her. If you don't, then what's the point? We at The Night Beat are convinced that if we hadn't pointed out to the folks at New Release Tuesday that every podcast interview began with the interviewer (Bill Lurwick) telling the artist it was the best album of the year, they wouldn't have changed. Now I'm not saying that you savage an artist on air. That's cruel. As the saying goes, "If the phone don't ring, you know who is calling." Part of every music (or movie) critic is being, well, a critic. If you never review anything that you just despise and tell people so, all you are is a fan with a blog.
That has never been a problem at The Night Beat. If you need convincing just check out my reviews of Brandon Heath's Leaving Eden and Chris Sligh's The Anatomy of Broken, neither of which won my approval. I call them as I hear them.
Which brings us to my first negative review of 2012. Andrew Greer Angel Band: The Hymn Sessions. At forty minutes long it was a trial to listen to, but your intrepid blogger was up to the task. My initial impression was that the album was unlistenable, but I'm not going to write up a review on one listen, even if on some albums that makes me a glutton for punishment.
I think three listens suffices on this one. I'll have to Check with John Kerry, but I think he can get me a Purple Heart for the effort. It's not that I hate hymns, though I much prefer when they get redone by a Rock Band, at least they sound better, even if they're still filled with unbelief.
Putting aside that the album is way too country for my taste, most of the the album has a minimalist banjo strum accompaniment. Strum, not Pick. A little Bluegrass would be an improvement here. Andrew's singing technique as in (In the Garden) seems to be an overly emphasized talk that would make Five Smooth Stones or Happy Goodman happy. Sorry, but it's not singing. And when he tries to hit a high note, his voice obviously cracks. In short, it is painful to listen to.
Here's where mercy kicks in. I'm going to give Angel Band: The Hymn Sessions a final rating of 2.25 Emeralds. I was going to go even lower, but then I thought, then why even bother writing the post. Besides, in a few tracks, he goes to a more traditional hymn arrangement, and that saves the album. My advice, avoid the album. I think even Angels Banned Angel Band. Until next time, I am Awaiting Your Reply.
P.S. - There is Bluegrass Banjo Picking on Uncloudy Day. It would be a great song as a bluegrass instrumental. Unfortunately though there are vocals.