Monday, May 28, 2012

Corey Koehler - Never too Late

Another album that I've had forever that somehow has never been reviewed.  Well, not forever, but well over a year.  Must have listened to this album 15 times.  It's one of my go-to albums for certain moods.  Something rootsy, bluesy, singer-songwriter-y.  You know, something harder than my normal Cat Stevens, but not heavy rock.  Something earthy and powerful, yet acoustic-based.  Real authentic, country-tinged rock.

Yes, Corey Koehler is my go-to guy.

In truth, I don't know much about this cat, but I remember exactly how I got ahold of this little treasure.  I was scouting out websites/blogs to send our own Ripple releases to for review and press.  I don't recall which site Corey ran, but when I wrote him, he told me he was done with the site to concentrate on his music.  One thing led to another and the album was downloaded into my iPhone.

Where it's been ever since.

Let me re-emphasize that last sentence.  At the Ripple we get hundreds, sometimes thousands of submissions each month.  My iPhone is only a 16G.  That means I regulate the music on my phone like crazy.  Nothing stays on my phone (except Ripple bands) because I have to constantly be clearing space to download the next group of albums I need to review.

But Corey Koehler has been there for over a year.  And I plan on keeping him there.

First, is Corey's voice.  Thick and earthy, rough and textured, yet still smooth and killer emotive.  It's a voice that caught me right away.  And after listening to this album, I still haven't found a good comparison voice.  Sometimes I think Darius Rucker from Hootie and the Blowfish.  Don't let that turn you off.  Whether you liked Hootie or not, Darius had one helluva voice.  And so does Corey.

Next is the tone.  With that acoustic guitar strumming away, these songs rock to a good, steady beat.  Slide guitar tones fill the spaces perfectly, adding that electric flavor over the strum of the acoustic.  The slide gives each song a country grounding, but this isn't country.  It's just solid, earthy rock.  No boring, maudlin acoustic slow jams here.  Even the ballad, "Take this Ring" keeps me mesmerized with it's steady acoustic strum and heart-felt pleadings for a lifetime of love. 

Finally, we got the songs.  "Change the World" is a steady-rocking call for action.  A fight against apathy.  "You wanna change the world, you can't stand by/And just so you know man, it starts inside."  Corey's voice simply floats through this rebel wake-up call.  I've played this cut for lots of folks, including Pope, and it's captured each of us.  A should-be hit. 

"On My Way" follows next with the acoustic picking and slide intro.  Another call for action, a step away from the complacency of getting stuck in life.  This time, more personal focused on Corey's own feelings of resurrection.  Another killer melody, and sing-along perfect, which leads right into the already mentioned "Take this Ring."  A song so sincere in its emotion, you can almost hear Corey's voice choking back the tears.  "Minnesota Got Colder," is an ode to a lost brother.  "One Step at a Time," is a character sketch like Jim Croce used to write.  In fact, "One Step," boogies along with such an easy groove, I bet Jim would be proud.

"Perfect Ten" and "All the Girls" bring us to an end with a wry smile.  In "Perfect Ten" Corey chuckles as he realizes that his search for the perfect girl is just a fantasy while in "All the Girls" Corey gives one final middle finger to all the women who've broken his heart over the years.  Both songs perfectly are perfectly crafted and cook along over the beat of Corey's strummed acoustic.  Easily, I can hear these played live on a hot summer day, on a deck over looking a lake.  Cold beer in hand.

I don't really know where Corey stands with his career or goals, but damn if he hasn't put together one of those earworm records I can't stop listening to.  Check out his website if you want to hear it or track me down.  Ask me to pull out my iPhone.  Corey Koehler will be there.


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