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Performers with local ties end year with new music PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff   
Friday, 28 December 2012 10:34
Luke James (Photo provided)
The end of the year found a couple musical acts with ties to Wood County issuing new music.
Luke James grew up here as Luke James Shaffer. He left for the big city, living in Brooklyn, and auditoning for "American idol," making it to Hollywood for the ninth season.
Now he's back, assured that with the Internet, he can launch his career just as well from Northwest Ohio.
That's included this year participating in YOBI.tv's online talent search "Take the Stage" in which he placed third.
More than contest the show offered mentoring and the shot of confidence to produce a "Brooklyn Love."
It's an impressive effort with 18 original songs.
James' offers his share of reflections on love in its various stages from nascent love on "Out of My Head," on which he's joined by another former American Idol contestant Lacey Brown and to the end of an affair on "Walk Away." Maybe even meeting up again as on "I'll See You" or love that misfires on "Not a Love Song."
Throughout his backing band kicks the songs along, with a solid sock and sure beat.
James' has the voice to carry over the band, smooth yet with a bit a grit, not unlike Dave Matthews.
James also takes time to reflect on life. "No Worries" mediates on the importance of kicking back and leaving time for daydreaming. "Lion Heart" urges bravery in every day life.
His New York sojourn is reflected in "NYC" - "the city hums the strangest songs." This song has a3/4 Irish lilt in its soul.
The closer "Lost in My Covers" has him expressing the desire to sleep without "dreams ganging up on me."
James' spiritual side comes to the fore in "Tiny Actions" which declares: "God works in his crazy ways to change every boy and girl."
Also, released in December was the The Cla-Zels' "Flower of the Gold Rush."
The Cla-Zels is a joint project of Bowling Green native Joanie Whittaker, who sings and plays rhythm guitar, and BGSU graduate Jason Erickson, sings and plays lead guitar. They share the vocals and the songwriting. They're joined here by their working band Brian Braverman, drums, and Chris Barlow, bass.
The band has a raw sound, that's propelled by Erickson's guitar, that at times seems just this side of control. It cuts through the mix alike a tuneful band saw.
Maybe part of the emotional edge is the leaders in the past year have split up in their personal life though continuing to collaborate with The Cla-Zels.
They open and close with hard rocking numbers, "Train to Alabama" by Erickson and "All the Way" by Whittaker that are the aural equivalents of the cover shot on the CD, which shows Whittaker slugging Erickson.
The songs certainly have their share of punch. This a sense of something menacing below the surface so many times.
"Wood County" paints a haunted image of the leaders' old haunts that's buttressed by a sly country feel.
Whittaker supplies some tender moments. "Nierika's Eyes" speaks of seeing the world through a child's point of view with Erickson's guitar countering with an electric jolt.
"Nighttime Fare," another ballad, is all acoustic, an aching ballad with a bowed bass fiddle underneath.
As with James' CD "Flower of the Gold Rush" points the way to a musically fertile 2013.

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