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Review: Angela Reign – Livin’ In Between

Angela Reign - Livin' In BetweenGood music is often made by accident, rather than by design.  It’s not so much a meeting of the minds as it is a lining up of the planets–at just the right place and just the right time.  Such is the case with the music from the new release by up-and-coming alt country artist, Angela Reign.  Taking a few lessons from late 20th century modern country, Reign puts her 21st century stamp on the beautifully crafted songs that make up this record.

The album starts off with the title track, “Livin’ in Between”, a classic tune that begs to be played while you are tooling down the freeway with only the horizon stretching out in front of you.  Rich harmonies blend Angela with Robert Meadows and Stan Roberts, tempting listeners to sing along.  “Livin’ in Between” does what an opening track should do: It makes you want to keep listening.  Following that introduction, are our two favorite tracks on the album, a whimsical look back at first love called “The Summer Before the Fall” and “I Color You Angel” a sweet and honest song about timeless devotion.

“Livin’ In the Meantime” might seem a bit out of place at first with its jazzy guitar and piano intro (most reminiscent of Al Jarreau’s standard offerings).  However, Angela uses this vehicle to show off her vocal diversity, with a sultry delivery that is difficult to forget.  All that’s missing is a smoky room, a glass of wine and a baby grand.  We must give props to Tom Wolf on harmonica for some extraordinary mood setting on this song.

Reign’s conversational vocal style invites you in and makes you believe that you are witnessing the bittersweet heartache of  “You Know Something I Don’t”,  “Halo” and “Time for Letting Go” firsthand.  But don’t let those ballads fool you.  Never let it be said that Angela Reign and company don’t know how to have a good time.   Line-dancers and disc jockeys take note, “I Wanna Ride the Bull” is a stand-out, brow-raising, country track that combines a funky groove with playful lyrical innuendo.   “Backwoods Loveosine” : City folk? Want to know what “mischief-makin’” means?  Listen to this song.

Produced and co-written by the highly accomplished producer and songwriter Wil Hodge, Angela Reign’s Livin’ in Between is a tapestry of country goodness, woven with funkytonk fun, heartbreaking ballads and purposeful anthems.  Based on this offering, Reign is definitely one to watch.

Artist: Angela Reign

CD: Livin’ In Between

Label: Independent

LISTEN AND BUY:  CD Baby

Grandma Doesn’t Speak Angst, Dear…Call Your Cousin

“I was once a student in a punk t-shirt hooked on screwed-up scenarios.  That’s how I became the esteemed cultural figure that I am today.” ~ Bruce Sterling

In the days when yours truly was still scouring the ground for four-leafed clovers and blowing bubbles from a plastic wand, there was a kettle of frustration, fear and anxiety brewing among a population of young people all over the world.  They thumbed their noses at authority, had extreme hair and led a screaming generation into a new decade.  The soundtrack to their movement was music that matched their collective mood.  The music was raw—like what one might imagine an exposed nerve ending might sound like; the vocals expressed their societal agony and the lyrics were in-your-face confrontational.  If birth is a painful ordeal for the most blessed of events, then punk rock was born of an unwilling mother.

The original independent artists, punk rockers rejected mainstream popular culture and completely disagreed with what qualified as “rock and roll”  in those days.  It would be nearly another ten years before I heard John Lydon’s reporting vocal, “I don’t believe illusions/’Cos too much is real/So stop your cheap comment/’Cos we know what we feel”, but the larger reverberating message to myself and my fellow Gen-X’ers was still relevant.  The music from that cultural movement opened a door that we were meant to walk through. 

If the same revolution were taking place today, it would be led by The Unsatisfied.  I looked in the most unlikely place possible and I found a punk band, right here in the southeast.  Just punk. Pure punk.  They don’t try to mainstream it.  They don’t try to apologize for it. They don’t try to make it safe for tweens’ tender ears.  I can’t describe their album “Songs the Belt Taught Us” in pretty, flowery terms…because those miscreants just trampled my garden.

I never liked that garden.

TRACK:  “The Lovin” by The Unsatisfied