Album Reviews

Alana Amram & the Rough Gems – Snow Shadows: Songs of Vince Martin (Kingswood)

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Alana and her Gems mine Vince Martin’s catalog and strike pure gold. Eleven trippy tracks of aural pleasure and lyrical treasure take you on a fantastic, romantic, wild ride. From a hotel in rainy “Fayetteville” with Van Dyke Parks’ string arrangements and John Sebastian’s harp, to the rapturous, psychedelic gospel church of “Brother,” every song is arranged, scored and performed perfectly. Martin even sings as “Honest Joe” (“the party whore!”) on the hilarious, heavenly final track.

Amram and band sound road-tested but never worn or weary. They follow Martin’s musical roadmap, traveling by rail on “South Wind,” sailing by sea on “Summer Wind,” braving the everglades on “Joe Panther” and taking to the sky “like a wild bird flyin’ blind” on “Snow Shadows.” “Catch Me I’m Falling” is meditative, soothing and seductive. “If The Jasmine Don’t Get You…” is a siren song tour de force that’ll have you dancing on deck like a whirling dervish before washing up on Bo Diddley’s beach.

—Dennis McDonough

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