CD REVIEW: Off The Map With Miss Amy - Angels Riding Shotgun
by: Cyrus Rhodes
"a real barnburner"
- INDIE MUSIC DIGEST-
Map With Miss Amy
Label: Ionian Productions
R&B, Saloon Jazz, Classic Rock, Jam Band
Off The Map With Miss Amy is built of musicians who love to play music! Fronted by lead singer Miss Amy this band rocks hard or swings sweetly for a fun musical experience. Their backgrounds range from being opening acts for Marshall Tucker and Los Lonely Boys, to recording with Bernie Worell, Jim Horn, Richie Cole and Grover Washington Jr., to performing with the Delaware Symphony, the New Jersey Philharmonic, and backing the Moody Blues. Together they’ve performed at numerous venues, from music festivals, to the LA Air Force Base to the White House. Technically spanning a number of genres this group has been innovating to develop a unique blend that’s been captured in their debut album, Angels Ring Shotgun Band members include: Miss Amy (Lead Vocals, Acoustic Guitar), Alex Otey (Keyboards, Vocals, Trumpet, Flugelhorn), James Popik (Electric Guitar, Vocals), Chris Clark (Electric Bass, Double Bass, cello), Ryan Ross (percussion).
The CD kicks things off with “Off the Map” a perfect intro piece that serves up a slamming R&B groove that dishes out impressive saxophone, sizzling slide guitar, served up hot against a driving rock rhythm and smooth vocals from Miss Amy. Track 2 “Angels Riding Shotgun” shifts gears a bit with a rock steady title track with heartfelt vocals, impressive melody line against a grand slam chorus. Track 3 keeps things moving in the right direction with “Merlin’s Curse” a dynamic melody from Miss Amy and company that peaks and valleys its way through to emotional fruition with infectious groove and progressive rock feel. This CD makes a solid first impression dishing out 3 rock solid tracks in a row, and really never backs down after that. As this CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical elements reminiscent of such classic acts like Dr. Hook, Bonnie Rait, Stevie Ray, Brian Setzer Orchestra, Asbury Jukes, Johnny Winter, and just a dash of the Blues Brothers. The music itself is an amazing blend of no holds barred Rhythm and Blues, classic Saloon Jazz with a dash of Classic Rock and Jam Band on the side. The musicianship of all the players involved is equally as impressive. The rhythm groove (Bass/Drums) is as thick as a brick. Top to bottom this unit is rock solid. You will also notice lush layers of instrumentation layered everywhere. Besides the 4 piece standard you will notice impressive Saxophone, sizzling guitar licks, sporadic percussive accents, horns, Flute, well placed Piano, Keyboard and Hammond Organ chops painted against lush harmonies layered everywhere. Kudos goes out to the slamming guitar work by James Popik, but the most impressive thing about this CD s the warm vocal persona and inviting vocal timber from Miss Amy. Her vocal delivery is spot on for the genre. From heartfelt “Thousands of Miles” to slamming “Coming of Age” to melodic “Airport Notes” to rocking “Traveler” to smooth as silk ‘All About the Moment” and Jazzy “It’s the Kind of Feeling” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 12: "Just an Ordinary Day” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
There is no detailed information within the liner notes on who the Mixing Engineer was. The mix, though adequate is not the best most polished sounding mix I’ve ever heard. As a result the CD sounds somewhat dated and lackluster especially when played on high end stereo systems. Perhaps that's hat they were shooting for - a live club feel. Typically you want 3 separate engineers assigned to each production phase (Recording. Mixing, Mastering). This will bring an enhanced production perspective to your sound. I might add the bar is set high for bands like Off The Map With Miss Amy in 2013. Some songs are somewhat winded. All songs over 4 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line.
The latest 12 track CD from Off the Map with Miss Amy is a real barnburner of a release. It's a rock solid and highly entertaining CD from start to finish. The songwriting – all consistent musical experiences, each one possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature grooves. Note for note, song for song there isn’t really a weak piece on this entire catalogue. The writing and playing abilities of Off The Map with Miss Amy are rock solid. It’s strength – the raw song for song intensity that keeps coming at you. No doubt these guys are a total riot to check out live The music is nitty-gritty, rock solid, bluesy and consistent. Like a heavy weight fighter this CD packs a powerful punch and goes the full 12 rounds with no sign of letting up.