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CD REVIEW: Aries Road - Keyholder

By  Michael Nicholson

 

 

 

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Artist: Aries Road

Album: Keyholder

Label: TonEscent

Genre: Rock

Sounds like: Fleetwood Mac, Janis Joplin, Led Zeppelin, Joni Mitchell

Technical Grade: 10/10

Production/Musicianship Grade: 10/10

Commercial Value: 7/10

Overall Talent Level: 10/10

Songwriting Skills: 9/10

Performance Skills: 9/10

Best songs: Going Home, FM Free, California, Old Soul, Leavin' You

Strengths: Overall talent, Ashley McCarty's voice, Sound

Weaknesses: Track number 8 (real world)

CD REVIEW:

Aries Road, the husband and wife duo of Ryan and Ashley McCarty, release their first album, Keyholder. I'm not exactly sure where they are from because their bio on their website is kind of short, but they are now residing in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. I didn't see any links to a MySpace or Facebook or any other pages, so I would say for the most part their internet presence is low, but regardless the website is nice and features all kinds of little things to get into and take up your time with.

The album starts with a medium-tempo song, Going Home, that has a nice blend of acoustic and electric guitars.  I really like the electric guitar work in this one as it is very pretty and melodic and adds an extra dimension to an already good tune, but what really sets this song apart, and the whole album for that matter, is Ashley McCarty's vocals.  In this song in particular, it feels like she's channeling Stevie Nicks from Fleetwood Mac, and that this is a song that had been locked away in Fleetwood's vaults, just now being released to the public.  I know the album is named Keyholder, but it could also be aptly named, Rumors 2, as a great sequel to Fleetwood Mac's, Rumors.  Next we have an upbeat number, I'm Free, track 3, that showcases Ryan McCarty's talent for arranging and just how eclectic his music stylings can be.  This song feels like the acoustic lovechild of a union between Blind Mellon and Soundgarden with Joni Mitchell/Janis Joplin/Stevie Nicks all singing together over top of it.  There are a few musical breaks that feature electic slide guitar leads over a syncopated acoustic guitar that put me in mind of the English artist, Badly Drawn Boy.  Then when we get to the chorus and  I feel like I'm in the middle of the 60's listening to a "Free Ride". The dynamic duo goes on to show us that they can rock in songs like, California, with a nice solid beat, classic electric guitar riffs, and Ashley McCarty shredding and bending her vocals just like Janis Joplin.  The last track of the album, Leavin' You, brings it down a little with a nice blues/rock number that gives a nod to Led Zeppelin while giving us a soulful close to a good album.

There aren't too many negatives to put out there for these two and their debut release, just that they should have maybe not included track 8 on their album.  Its a southern rock number that suffers from some a.d.d. in the arrangement and gives the vocalist a little trouble in keeping her tone and staying in key.  Near the end of the song there are some brief glimpses of what the song could have been when you just hear the bass and the drums rocking together with Ashley singing over top, plus there's a nice little lead in there with some finger tapping and tasteful arpeggios.  However, its just not enough to save the song and is a speed bump on an otherwise great album.

Overall, the duo of Aries Road make a great team and have made a wonderful album.  Ashley's vocal stylings are perfect for Ryans blend of classic and 90's rock, and they are both excellent musicians and songwriters. Probably, the most impressive thing to me though is that they recorded and mixed this album themselves, as well as playing all the instruments and singing, with the exception of the percussion on "Old Soul".  These two are a complete package and have a lot of potential. I'm not really sure about their commercial value in the modern era of American Idol and Lady Gaga, but I love their music and think that those that love Fleetwood Mac and music from that era are going to love Aries Road.

Michael Nicholson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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