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CD REVIEW: Fred McKinney - High Water

By: Cyrus Rhodes

 

"priceless conventional wisdom"

 

"some of the best songwriting I've heard this year."

- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST:-

 

 

 

**********

 

Artist: Fred McKinney
Album: High Water
Label: Independent Artist
Website:
www.fredmckinneysongs.com

Genre: Americana, Folk, Acoustic
Sounds Like: Woody Gutherie, Bob Dylan, Kingston Trio
Technical Grade: 7/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 9/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 10/10
Songwriting Skills: 10/10
Performance Skill: 10/10
Best Songs: King of the County Fair, Wheel of Love, High Water, El Train
Weakness: Vocal Delivery

CD REVIEW:

Acoustic Singer/Songwriter Fred McKinney releases his latest CD entitled “High Water” in 2009. McKinney comes to us from the great state of Ohio.

Logging at 39 minutes the CD quickly takes flight with “Route 66” a full tilt rockabilly guitar groove that serves up impressive acoustic rhythm guitar, against slamming saloon style piano & driving low end rock rhythm. Track 2 “High Water” shifts gears a bit with its classic blues Americana ditty groove, driving acoustic guitar rhythm & thought provoking lyrical content. This second track is quite striking cutting like a knife with its bold straightforwardness. Track 3 “My Song” keeps thing moving in the right direction with its defiant yet upbeat vocal delivery from McKinney with steady flowing guitar rhythm, & impressive persona. The CD makes a great first impression dashing out 3 solid songs in a row. I would classify this music as classic Americana with a strong rockabilly & R&B flair. Also along the way you will find flashes of country, old time saloon jazz, & old time blues & R&B. Along the way you will notice lush instrumentation with things like impressive rockabilly solo guitar, slide guitar, saloon style piano, harmonica, mandolin, & lush harmonies layered everywhere. The musicianship of everyone involved is clearly above the bar. Now turning our attention over to McKinney as for his vocal abilities, his voice works within the confines of this catalog. McKinney has good vocal instincts as he knows what vocal style works best for what style of song. Underneath it all you will discover McKinney has a lot of talent & musical diversity, not just in his vocal style but also in his writing. McKinney knows how to push hard & make his point with his writing & singing. His music reminds me of classic Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan, Peter Paul & Mary, & prepays a dash of Kingston Trio. McKinney is a master at making the critical (singer to listener) connection with his singing. All songs are extremely well crafted & consistent across the board. This CD from McKinney  delivers 12 solid tracks all providing full tilt musical enjoyment that will sure to get your toe a tapping. From folksy “Jericho Road” to clever “Take Life Easy” & “Truck Drivin Mama” to upbeat “Right Stuff” to my personal favorite “El Train” this CD pretty much has something for just about everyone. The true brilliance of McKinney & his music are those moments where he dares to share with you some amazing truths about his life, love & the pursuit of happiness on pieces like “Ever Think” & “Our Wedding Day” & “Wheel of Love” Here we see the true brilliance of McKinney’s songwriting shine through. The CD ends with the perfect finale statement “King of the Country Fair.”

It’s fair to say McKinney doesn’t have the best baritone in the world. Though he does manages to keep his head above water with the full band playing, during the solitary moments with just him & his guitar he has to work twice as heard to keep things moving in the right direction. No doubt there are minor pitch issues here & there. However he makes up for it with his other talents. Despite this - his voice has a very appealing signature tone that fits like a glove with respect to this genera. His voice is like the music itself – pure, genuine & doesn’t really know how be anything but be itself. Regardless of the above – I give McKinney high marks for making his point with his amazing writing – which if you think about it is the primary focal point of music anyway. Making a lasting impression. I can show you great singers that can't come close to doing what McKinney did.

From start to finish “High Water” is an amazing musical collection from Fred McKinney. The music is powerful, upbeat, & very honest & straightforward.  McKinney makes no attempt to sugar coat the truth anywhere on this CD. Instead he tells each tale with a very honest assessment of life & some of its subtle imperfections. The songwriting – world class, all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, & signature groove. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really weak piece on this entire CD. The writing, playing & singing abilities of Fred McKinney & his band are rock solid, the melodies & harmonies are well crafted, & the lyrical content is packed to the hilt with priceless conventional wisdom. Last but not least the vocal presence of McKinney is something cut from the cloth of Americana legend. McKinney brings a lot to the table – life experiences, rich conventional wisdom, good playing, amazing songwriting, & a voice that shines bright like an rare gem. I get the impression underestimating McKinney would be a very foolish thing to do. At the end of the day he makes his point with this catalouge - crystal clear. Some of the songwritting on this CD is in many ways the best songwritting I've heard this year. Fred McKinney is an infectious Americana artist worthy of spotlight, attention, & praise. I look forward to hearing more music from Fred McKinney very, very soon.

Cyrus Rhodes

Read the Fred McKinney Interview

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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