Tag Archives: Gretchen Menn

Gretchen Menn “Hale Souls” CD Review


GMHaleSouls

By David Lowry

I came across Gretchen Menn from a fellow guitar players post on Facebook and was instantly intrigued by what I heard. The reason it caught my attention is the person who posted it is one of my favorite new players and I trust his judgment when it come to guitar players and music. In a world full of guitar shredders all putting out their own CD’s it is hard to find those that truly stand out with a sense of melody, strong arranging, great phrasing and most importantly their own unique sound. We have been inundated with Yngwie Malsteen clones over the last 25 years so the guitar players that have worked hard to have their own voice are extremely rare to find and very gratifying to listen to usually. Gretchen has accomplished that feat in spades. On her first debut CD “Hale Souls,” Gretchen has managed to do what many guitar instrumentalists fail too, she doesn’t sound like a clone of anyone else.

Gretchen has added a mix of different guitar instrumentations on “Hale Souls” as which is a nice change of pace. It’s not in your face guitar the whole time; there is a violin instrumental called “Walking Shadow,” and acoustic diddy “Fast Crowd,” and a classically inspired song “Fading.” Gretchen has thrown rock, fusion, jazz, flatpicking, world music and classical all into this CD to give us a very well rounded effort and a strong look at how incredibly talented this musician is. Strong rock cuts like “Scrap Metal,” “Oleo Strut,” and “Valentino’s Victory Lap” burst out the gate with great feel, phrasing and just enough technique to quench us guitar instrumental freaks loves need for speed.

Gretchen has her own signature sound that harkens back to the early prog greats and a modern edge that makes it hard to classify her. Gretchen arrives with a very strong debut CD and shows great promise to make a name for herself early in her career to achieve the household name status so many of her guitar peers have sought for many years. “Hale Souls” doesn’t hit on all marks like the legendary “Tones” by Eric Johnson or Michael Lee Firkins self-titled CD does on it’s first time out but it’s an amazing first effort and Gretchen has let the guitar world know she his here to stay and ready to take it over.  I find myself listening to it over and over again so I’ll rate it a solid 8 out of 10 stars and eagerly anticipate the next Gretchen Menn CD. This is a very brave and bold debut CD and it should be a part of every guitar enthusiast’s music collection.

Look for great things from this musician! You can find out more about Gretchen at http://www.gretchenmenn.com

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“Cry For You” – or the Problem with America Ignoring an Amazing Music Genre


By David Lowry

One of the blessings my job allows me to do is work with amazing musicians like Rob Balducci, Dave Weiner and Jon Finn. Having been a guitar player for almost 30 years and going to music school to be the next Steve Vai,(which obviously never happend) I have a special affinity for listening to guitar instrumental music. It really helps me to focus on my work and really dig into whatever I am doing at the time. This blog may center on this genre but it applies to all genres of music that get ignored by mainstream radio and TV. I have also interviewed many of these artists mentioned in this blog on my radio show “Live From Music City” and really have a strong desire to bring this form of music back to the masses as the music is incredible and deserves as much attention as any other genre of music.

Andy Timmons recorded a song called “Cry For You” that in my personal estimation is one of the best instrumentals ever recorded. It has a haunting melody that just sucks you in and makes you fall in love with it. It reminds of a person I once loved and although that brings a deep pain for me, it also reminds me that this genre of music holds the same ability to carry that emotional quotient that any other genre of music does. The songs that shape our lives should include all genres of music not just what’s on the radio, TV or being hyped by the powers that be. I recently did a review of Andy’s new cd “Andy Timmon’s Band Plays Sgt. Pepper.” I also reviewed Neil Zaza’s CD “212.”

These musicians have found a way to bring us music that doesn’t need vocals or lyrics because their instruments do the talking for them. They bring us music that can still capture our hearts, soul and imagination and most certainly shouldn’t be over looked or passed by just because it doesn’t have lyrics attached. Just like any other form of music you have some artists that are better than others, better songwriters, performers or improvisers, but if you just close your eyes and listen, you will be transported away by beautiful melodies, moving pieces and moody progressions that take us to new emotional places. Some times words aren’t enough to express the way we feel, but you can hear what you want to say in this music or other forms like it.

I encourage you to listen to instrumental music, jazz, fusion, funk, classical or whatever form of music you don’t normally listen too. Learn to listen with new ears and develop a new musical appreciation and understanding of pure musicianship that you normally don’t get in most pop music. Don’t be limited to what you hear on the radio or what’s force fed to you by those with the money and power to make it happen. With all the new music streaming services you can find any genre of music and test-drive it before you buy it. If you do like it please buy it and spread the word about the new music you discovered. Don’t let preconceived notions about what music is or isn’t keep you from discovering a new style of music that may free your mind, your playing or your feelings. As musicians we should always be expanding our listening range and really be able to incorporate the new things we hear to enhance our own playing or writing skills.

In other parts of the world this is a very popular genre. Many countries or continents don’t suffer the same form of genre ignorance that we do in America. To much of the world good music is just that, good music and it doesn’t matter the genre or era it came from. They don’t classify music the way we do in America and because of it, they are more well rounded in their listening tastes and many artists can make a living over there as opposed to not being able to here. Expand your boundaries and listen to amazing musicians that can create melodic landscapes in your mind that the average musician on the radio can’t.

Here is a list of amazing guitar musicians for you to check out in no particular order. Andy Timmons, Steve Vai, Eric Johnson, Tommy Emmanuel, Jon Finn, Neil Zaza, Steve Morse, Carl VerheyenDave Weiner, Michael Lee Firkins, Joe Satriani, Rusty Cooley, Rob Balducci, Guthrie Govan and Shaun Baxter. Obviously there are so many more like Andy McKee or Gretchen Menn that have really popped in the last couple years but this is a good start to finding people who have mastered their instrument and have learned how to write songs that reach you just like any other pop song would.

Good luck in your musical exploration!

Note: The Lowry Agency is affiliated with Rob Balducci, Dave Weiner and Jon Finn.

David Lowry is the President of The Lowry Agency, a full service artist management agency that works with musicians, speakers, entertainers, actors and models based in Nashville, TN. David manages and or books the musical careers of Brother Cane, Damon Johnson (Brother Cane, Thin Lizzy, Alice Cooper), Rob Balducci, Dave Weiner, Jon Finn, Kris Bell and Mindset Defect. For more information please contact The Lowry Agency at http://www.thelowryagency.com.