CD REVIEW: Fiery Blue - Our Secret
By: Cyrus Rhodes
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST -
Label: Independent Artist
Genre: Rock, Alternative Rock,
Sounds Like: Mazzy Star, R.E.M. Cowboy Junkies, 10,000 Maniacs
Technical Grade: 9/10
Weakness: Dated Sounding Production, Marketability
Fiery Blue is a 3 piece band with each band member living in a separate state. An unconventional trio to say the least, with each member living and working in a different city, songwriter/guitarist Paul Marsteller (Carlsbad, CA), producer/multi-instrumentalist Gabe Rhodes (Austin, TX) and vocalist Simone Stevens (Brooklyn, NY) This trio enjoys a powerful musical chemistry and unique working dynamic made possible only by modern technology and a lot of file sharing. In 2011 the band released their sophomore release entitled Our Secret.
The CD quickly takes to flight with “Crystal Ball” a dynamic intro piece that serves up steady rock rhythm, well placed slide guitar licks against hooky vocal melody from Stevens that peaks & valleys its way through to emotional fruition. Track 2 “Slow Down” shifts gears a bit with a driving rock rhythm against Americana guitar ambience and hooky chorus. This piece is quite impressive with its demonstrating impressive production virtuoso from Rhodes. Track 3 shifts gears back down another notch with “Eventide” a melancholy yet folksy groove that delivers melancholy piano accents, impressive slide guitar work against heartfelt vocal delivery from Stevens. As this CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical soundscapes reminiscent of such classic acts such as Mazzy Star, R.E.M. Cowboy Junkies, 10,000 Maniacs and maybe a splash of the Indigo Girls. The music itself is an impressive blend of acoustic rock, with folksy-type elements, yet with an alternative rock aftertaste. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with things like lush harmonies, impressive slide guitar chops, rock solid rhythm guitar ambience and Piano, fiddles, harmonica, Mandolin, keyboard accents, various percussive accents. Turning our attention squarely on Stevens - she has an impressive voice reminiscent of Stevie Nicks, Natalie Merchant, Rindy Ross (Quarterflash) and Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star). I might add Stevens takes several vocal risks throughout the CD indicating to me a song & confident vocal ability. Equally as impressive is the production touches created by Rhodes. I get the impression he is the mastermind behind this project. The songwriting is rock solid as provides a lot of musical variety. I can honestly say I was entertained the entire time, with never a dull moment to be found. From passionate “Wheels Up” and “Little Red Shoes” to rock steady “Tears are Blue” and “I’ve Just Seen a Face” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with “While the Music Plays” the perfect finale piece waving you end for a smooth landing.
It’s had to find solid weakness with this CD but it’s fair to say the production is very 1992 sounding. I am well aware that this is a subjective art for but the above does slightly affect the productions marketability. It just sounds very slightly dated to me, especially when compared to more modern sounding productions. As a result the mix lacks dynamic and is comparable to some of the music heard in the early 90's and late eighties. If the production was say just a tad more modern sounding it would not only be a 10 it would be a world class musical production. Another issue - what is that annoying clicking/tapping sound in the beginning of track 3 “Eventide?” Since were on the subject I don’t care for how the song fades out either – feels rather incomplete and rushed.
From start to finish Our Secret from Fiery Blue is an impressive catalogue of music. The music is very consistent, well crafted and extremely entertaining. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire catalogue. The production strokes: writing & playing abilities of these 3 are rock solid. This is especially true given the fact no rehearsal time was allotted from this production process. The melodies & harmonies are well crafted, & the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with rich conventional wisdom, and the vocal presence of Stevens just brings it all together.