I’ve been accused recently of being too generous with my reviews. So sue me; I like music and can usually finding something good in almost everything I hear. On the flip side of that coin, however, when I hear something unimaginative and uninspired I will point that out as well. If you’re an artist, and you submit your music for review, you have to expect that at times, the reviewer might not like your music and that goes with the territory. A smidgen of extra epidermis might be necessary from time to time.
I grew up on the music of the late 60’s. All through high school, I listened to the radio and tried to expose myself to anything that was a major label release. At that time, indie music was cost prohibitive and therefore, scarce in my neck of the woods. In college, I discovered classical music and almost OD’d on it. In my twenties, I gravitated toward jazz and couldn’t get enough of the masters; Armstrong, Ellington, Coltrane, and Parker. My point is, I have a diverse and quite extensive music education. I’ve heard music in probably every genre and find something redeeming in all of it; if done well.
I recently heard the single “Watching Over Me” by South African singer/ songwriter Craig Coltham. I really liked the cover art. There, is that too generous? At first hearing, I thought I might just be in a bad mood but the second, third and fourth pass didn’t help much. First of all, the production is not of a standard I would expect. The mix is very muddy and heavy and that makes it hard to pick out the nuances that I’m sure are there. There does seem to be some nice guitar work and a sax solo I wish I could hear more of. Not to pile on but the songwriting itself leaves something to be desired. It’s as if the songwriter picked out the phrase “watching over me” and repeated it throughout the song but did not build anything around it. Songs of this oeuvre should tell a story or at least, according to Aristotle, have a beginning, a middle and an end. The news isn’t all bad. Craig has a pleasant voice and I think could find some success with a better producer and concentrate a little more on his storytelling abilities.
Uncle Duke; a.k.a. Rob Penland is the producer and host of "The Mad Music Asylum" a 4 hour weekly syndicated radio show and now a 24 hour streaming internet station.