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Gabriel Young - Sidewalks & Dirt Roads

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When I first heard Gabriel Young's debut CD Sidewalks & Dirt Roads, my initial reaction was 'uhoh, they've slowed things down too much'. The change of tempo was alien after having listened to the Eddie's Attic recording for the past few months. My dull ears needed to be seduced into submission but after only 2 or 3 repeat plays I was quickly converted over to the down tempo reworking of some of the songs. So much so, that Sidewalks & Dirt Roads hasn't left the CD drawer and has been on repeat play since I got hold of a copy.

I felt the need to put a few words down here because I think these guys really deserve the attention, but I don't particularly enjoy writing down an analysis of what I'm hearing because I feel somewhat lacking in the right words to do justice to the obvious passion they put into their music and the emotions and stimulus it evokes in the listener. I would recommend that you hear it for yourself. Make your own judgements, and please add your own thoughts/comments. I've been pretty much mesmerised by the talent of these two young men ever since I first heard them. What follows are a few very very brief comments.

'It's You' has a very subtle, reassuring piano tinkling like a nursery musical box as a backdrop to guitar and vocals. Everything about this track is softer, well blended, and sounds much more like a studio produced song.

'Come Around' has more of a 'country' feel to it which would normally be a bad thing for me, but if I'm to be caught out ADMITTING I like country music, Gabriel Young will probably be the cause. ;)

Gabe's guitar on 'Don't Wait on the Rain' just bubbles like rain water washing new sweetness into stale air. A few styles meld into one overall blues sound with ease. This track merits the slowed pace just for the pleasure of listening to the guitar work.

The up tempo reworking of 'Sally's Song' just rocks. I love this one. Kalen's voice takes on the tone of an angst ridden guy, while the backing vocals are haunting.

3 Day weekend goes back to the softer tone set in the beginning with a play on 'somewhere over the rainbow'. A very pretty, emotional song, straight from the heart.

The 'tell me why' backing vocals on 'Long Way Down' make all the little hairs on the back of my neck stand to attention... those are some tight harmonies.

It would have been great to hear some of the other tunes revamped too, but I suppose we'll just have to wait for the next CD release for that, or maybe in years to come, a compilation CD of "Gabriel Young - The Unreleased Early Years"! :bigsmile:

The laid back style they chose for this CD is a fitting tribute to the spectrum of their own talent. For me, Sidewalks & Dirt Roads proves beyond any doubt that Gabriel Young are perfectly at home in a studio and have an incredible versatility in applying their music to suit any given situation. I love it all.


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Nice review! I agree with the major thesis of your review on Sidewalks and Dirt Road-- they are growing in strength in both their sutdio and live performances. .

The new version of 'It's You" is just PERFECT!. The slower tempo brings out the poignacy of the lyrics and strength of Kalen's vocals far more clearly than early versions, and the accompanying guitar and spare use of the piano is just the right mix. In fact, the slower tempo and shortened versions provides an assuredness that sets the tone for the entire album.

As Ummas has suggested above, 'Come Around' has a nice 'country' feel to it and is quite catchy, but I'd like to see a guitar or piano solo added to the mix, and I'd like to see Gabe add accompyment to the vocals during the breaks (and if anything, I'd like to see more duets)

The up tempo version of Sally's Ride is more energetic and probably more crowd pleasing, but I'm still partialthe slower version in Eddie's Attic. Then again, it's apples and oranges because the song works either way.

Like It's You, Three Day Weekend, It's a Long Way Down and Samoan are tightly woven ballads and they seem to grow with you on each play. The harmonies and backup vocal here are beautifully blended.

'Don't Wait on the Rain' is reminiscent of Al Kooper and Mike Bloomfield's rerendering of Donovan's 'Season of the Witch'. Gabe's bluesy guitar work is quite impressive, but afer a while, the funky guitar strumming and Kalen's Al Jarreau vocals grow repetitive for me--it's too long, doesnt really have a break to go to, and doesnt seem to know where to end. I feel this song, and it's cousin, Fly With Me are far more appropriate for live performances where they will better appeal to a crowd-setting. On the other hand, Instrumentals like DadGad and Reflections, and the unreleased cover of Lanterna's Highways are for more interesting creatively--I wish they were on this cd.

Despite some minor criticisms, I thing GY has come along way and continues to improve with each outing...I would like to see even shorter songs, some guitar and piano solo's from Gabe, as well as increase in harmonies and duets.

Nice work, guys!

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  • 2 weeks later...

The first thing that I noticed, even before the first note aired, was that the album was comprised of nine songs. In the CD age this has become less common. At least half of the pre-90’s albums I own contain 9-12 songs, but with the coming of CD’s there seemed to be a push to fill up the extra space, all too often with b-rate material. As an independent release, ‘Sidewalks and Dirt Roads’ is free of this filler. The band has only felt obliged to deliver the sound they wanted, and as a result the listener won’t need the forward button to listen to this album.

An acoustic album is a delicate business. Creating two songs that are easily differentiated without the influence of percussions and screaming electric guitars is an art. Achieving that differential 9 times on one album is masterful.

The album delivers a variety of feelings. While some songs hold a Jewel-esque quality [if that phrase is forgivable], in other songs they deliver a sound closer to the balladeers of the 60’s before moving on again, perhaps to a subtle pseudo-country feel. This isn’t the bubble-gum flavor of the day, the songs range from the carefully optimistic to the downright solemn.

The album kicks off with the dulcet tones of it’s you. The song delivers a professional sound that belies the less-than-a-year these two have been performing together. Second up on the album is come around. Come around delivers a punch that will leave the listener fumbling to try and put a label on the sound. Not altogether removed from country music, nor easy going rock, the song might be one of the finest on this album. They switch gears on don’t wait on the rain, rumbling into a bluesy, smoky funk before moving back to the melodic sound of sallie’s song. 3 day weekend continues this feel but switches it up a bit by slowing the pace considerably. It’s another song that leaves the audience wondering about genre, with flavors of country, classic rock balladry and modern pop. Long way down comes across as another golden effort, with perhaps the most fluid mixture of lyrics and instrumental on the album.

The remaining 3 songs on the album were actually recorded a while earlier during one of their live performances. Immediately from the onset of Samoan the audience finds that these guys aren’t hoping to lip-synch through their performances. Easily as good as the studio work, with the exception of a slight warble clearly caused by the microphone, Gabriel Young proves that a trip to catch them live won’t be a disappointing experience. Apart from me is next on the bill, and one of the sweetest instrumental sounds on the album. Finally, fly with me returns to the bluesy feel that arose earlier. Also clearly a strong instrumental effort, it nicely reminds of the range of sounds delivered over the course of the album. While these final three songs might have benefited from the environment of the studio, they are the listener’s guarantee of live quality. Far from the efforts of some artists their age, Gabriel Young deliver a mature true performance, with talent as deliverable on the spot as on the album. I might have to pick up a few more copies so some of my friends get a taste.

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As well, let me apologize for how long I took. I can't get a feel for a new album before I've heard it a few times and it took me the better part of two weeks to work it through the music cycle several times.

Tell the guys kudos on the album Joey.

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It was worth waiting for Shawn :bigsmile: :good job:

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  • 1 month later...

Finally, Flag Pole Magazine Reviews Gabriel Young!


Sidewalks & Dirt Roads

Independent Release

Erik Hinds

To clear things up, Madison County's Gabriel Young is not one person's name. It's Peter Gabriel Zorbanos and Kalen Young Nash, and they're making quite a noise in the local scene and beyond. Read more of the review here.

Edited by GabrielYoungFan
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You know I just reread your review Shawn and I am so glad that you picked up on the country vibes. I let my neighbors have a listen and they immediately said that Come Around had a country sound to it. Great review by the way.

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:good job:

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