Excerpts from Cyrus Rhodes- KATAVI ARTS - 5/30/09
ARTIST - JUST BLUE
CD – BELOW THE DAMAGE
GENRE – Acoustic, Folk
LABEL – CHERRY TONIC MUSIC
RELEASE DATE – January, 2009.
SOUNDS LIKE – Natalie Merchant, Indigo Girls, Janis Ian, Alannah Myles
DEFINING MOMENTS – All Right by me, Original Sin, Just for one day
STRENGTH – Earthy Consistency, Conservative Musical Delivery, Honest, Wise, & Bold writing style
Just Blue releases their debut CD in January 2009. Just Blue is a male-female duo consisting of Melissa Barelmann (vocals) And Chad Fagg (guitar & backing vocals). This 2 piece musical tandem hails from Melbourne Florida, and delivers an earthy type of acoustical statement that is simple, pure, and deeply honest.
The CD starts off with “Paper Bags” a melancholy piece about a relationship that somewhere along the way lost it's luster and became sour . Track 2 “Leave Tonight ” is a deeply honest assessment about a relationship hanging on by a thread. Right from the beginning, Barelmann’s folksy-type vocal style will remind you a lot of Natalie Merchant with a slight southern draw to it. The music itself is a bare bones musical production with an acoustic guitar and voice in the forefront. Overall it reminds me of 10,000 Maniacs unplugged, with maybe a hint of Indigo Girls. Track 3 “All Right by Me” is a more upbeat piece that is wise as much as it is carefree. One of my favorite lines on the CD is in this song “I found Jesus, he was counting his pennies in the bottom of a wishing well, and I wished him well.” Nice touch there! Most of these songs are sung from a deeply honest perspective, giving a very grim assessment of relationships, and love turned lukewarm. Other songs deliver deep, thought provoking wisdom reminiscent of Janis Ian, and Janis Joplin. Track 4 “Original Sin” is a powerful piece which is cut from the same cloth as Billy Joel’ “She’s Always a Woman to Me” with lyrics that go – “Look you in the eye, and drink from her veins, even holy water can’t wash her stain.” This CD is also defiant. Track 6 “Better off Alone.” Here Barrrelmann dishes out a more sassy, country blues vocal-type delivery reminiscent of Alannah Myles or even Wynona Judd. This piece probably pushes harder than any other song on the CD. Fagg’s guitar playing is solid, conservative, and fills the room like a candle. His background vocal accents are well placed and effective. From songs that aren’t afraid to tell the truth like “Below the Damage” and the “Truth Is” to songs that offer up conventional wisdom like “Shine (Giving It Up)”, and "The Next Time You Dance", at over 53 minutes in length this CD is fully loaded. The songs are consistent, solid, and well crafted. Most are sung from a perspective that is somewhat desperate, yet positive. I would have to say my favorite song overall is a toss up between “Better off Alone” and “Just for one Day.” Just for one Day" is a rock solid number with a nice musical build, and a chorus that is extremely impressive. I can’t help but wonder what some of these songs would sound like with other musical elements applied to them. The CD ends with “Happy Hour” and upbeat piece that attempts to paint a happy face on a stark reality - "Lying in bed, waiting for the stars to shine, I guess it's true, I'm coming unglued." It's a microcosm of sorts of what Just Blue is. Painfully honest, even in self reflection.
It takes an amazing amount of talent and skill to deliver a bare bones musical production properly. Hats off to Just Blue for taking this on.
Overall Below the Damage is an impressive musical production. It’s strong suit is it’s overall consistency, lyrical wisdom, and bold straightforwardness. Make no bones about it folks; It took raw honesty to write some of these songs. What I like most about Just Blue is there is no attempt to sugar coat the truth. I really admire artists out there who are themselves and just let the chips fall where they may. Praise goes out to the artist that can show us something real and genuine beneath their veil of vanity. Just Blue is one of those artists. Be advised you may not want to listen to Just Blue on the night your wife leaves you, but if you like melancholy music that provides a very real assessment of the human condition then you should jump into the CD head first. Just Blue will work best on days you want a delicate acoustic sound to filling your atmosphere. If I could say anything to Melissa and Chad right now it would be - add a bit more musical flavor to your next production. This can be done without losing the solitary musical foundation. You've also proven how effective you are at staying in the pocket during slow parts, but don't be afraid to exit that comfort zone, and really push that emotional envelope during some of your other parts. The real selling point for any song is the (singer to listener) emotional delivery. Here experienced artists will execute and make this connection. It cannot be faked and has to be totally genuine. At the end of the day people don't buy plastic and paper, they buy emotions. Wwhatever you do, don’t stop telling us all what the “Truth Is”……….because that's what Just Blue does the best.