CD -Independent Private Press
Rock / Country Rock 51:16 mins
My Rating 60/100
A quick peek at both the ‘Cross Roads Band’ Web site and Facebook Page immediately shows up a multitude of posters for crossroads gigs and celebration evenings. This factor together with a ‘Bangor’ location check further reveals that the ‘Crossroads’ band is ideally placed to take advantage of a huge catchment area of clubs, bars, restaurants and crowds enjoying music evenings at holiday type destinations. Such music bars or other holiday music destinations usually thrive on delivering a huge variety of musical content utilising bands sufficiently versatile over a wide range of musical styles. And so one presumes that the new self-penned ‘Crossroads’ album ‘Fire in The Valley’, the subject of this review, has been written specifically to be easily integrated within a proposed evening or other performance set containing a range of mostly standards by other artists. Obviously though, with no opportunity for live performance, the band started writing its own music, the product being this album.
Generally, the quality of musicianship is pretty good with excellent keyboard and guitar leads. The compositional quality of the songs is mostly excellent too with plenty of original ideas incorporated into the structure providing high levels of interest. There are some areas of the musical assembly where a definite improvement could be made. The drumming at times sounds extremely mechanical and some of the male vocal leads could be improved. From a tunesmith aspect the lyrics, in certain places, seem cumbersome and not quite up to the standard demanded by the compositional quality of the actual music. This in turn puts additional demand on the ability of the vocalist to transcribe the vocals to best effect.
Summary: Excellent guitar and keyboards throughout and nice quality female vocals despite (her) having to negotiate some awkward lyrical arrangements. Interesting tune construction throughout and certainly once incorporated within a regular live act the arrangements will greatly improve and get better and stronger in terms of overall quality. In fact, one wonders what this album would sound like in say in a years’ time following much in the way of showcasing the tunes to a live audience and then subsequently making refinements to improve the overall arrangements. In fact, it a bit of a shame really, as this album was not yet ready for the recording studio.
2- Fire in the Valley
3- Forever and a Day
4- Let it Go
5- The Risk
9- His Guitar
10- It Takes Love to Make A Home
11 – Before the Dawn
12- You’ll Never Know
Bio from Press Release
Crossroads came to be during the fall of 2016. A blend of musicians from two different local bands that wanted the opportunity to perform together as a side project focusing on playing more modern country rock tunes. Brady Harris and Bruce Worcester were performing with the The Ian Black Band supporting its second CD, “Bound to Be Trouble” performing at venues throughout the East Coast of the United States. The heavy performance schedule was taking its toll on other members of the band so Brady reached out to bassist Randy Blevins from another local band called Driven to see if there was any interest in forming a side group. Randy, our resident Hillbilly from Kentucky, spent many years performing all over the mid-west opening up for artists like John Anderson and Garth Brooks and immediately climbed aboard.
The original line-up included Brady, Randy, Bruce, and Barb Seymour on vocals but needed another piece, so guitarist Bill Tapley was brought in to fill it out. The early line-up performed a lot of modern country along with classic hits with some modern rock tunes from Pink and the Pretty Reckless.
Fall of 2017 saw its first line-up change replacing Barb with veteran singer Kristi Buchanan who was voted top Maine Country female vocalist in 1999 and 2000 and had performed on several stages in Nashville winning the “Most promising female artist in New Country in 1996”. Crossroads underwent several line-up changes until the pandemic struck. Once COVID hit, Brady’s son Robben was forced to come home from school in Long Island, NY. Robben was tapped to play keyboards though Robben was really an accomplished bassist, writer, and singer having released several projects to much success. With no opportunity for live performance the band started writing its own music.