Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Alexis Gerred Album Review



A 10 track album that tells the story of a songwriter with a clear identity and strengths, that occasionally veers off course, but always delivers on raw vocal talent, and memorable lyrics. This is what you can expect from West-End star and BBC Let It Shine semi-finalist, but the detail in his self-titled debut reveals even more.

Vocally this album is a powerhouse of raw rock tones, subtle emotion, and a delivery that adapts well to the more pop and country inspired numbers. Alexis has a voice born to deliver a story and capture the attention of an audience, in a genuine and accessible way.

The storytelling this vocal delivers is personal and relatable, slipping with ease through subjects such as mental health, parenthood, grief, and regret - but the lyrics are reflective, at times very uplifting, and the difficult subjects tackled with just the right level of emotion.

The Highlights

Sweet Angel was the song that launched the crowd funding campaign for this album, and it's always resonated with me. It won me over early on, with it's soaring, atmospheric melodies. You can read my review here but my other favourites include:

FACE THE CROWD - What captured my attention was how well this song gathered pace, and built up into an anthemic number that I just want to be singing back to Alexis at a gig. Fast becoming a favourite on the album.

RULE THE WORLD - One of the duets on featuring West-End star Danielle Steers. I wasn't sure how they would sound together on record, when I first heard this was happening, but I needn't have worried. The production is on point, the combination of soul and rock vocals work really well together, and the subtle backing vocals/harmonies really add to the beauty of the track.

SAVE ME - "Find it hard to breathe, find it hard to see" - this song is raw emotion, personal
experience, and a beautiful, smooth, and emotive 'moment' on the album. Mental health is an issue that is very close to me, so this song, with it's acoustic base, and slight country leaning was at first quite difficult to hear, but soon became a relatable gift. Be prepared, it's incredibly moving.

NO ORDINARY GIRL - A good example of all the pieces of the jigsaw fitting together in terms of simple but effective backing and lead vocal performances, and instrumentation. Another track that people will respond to live, and one I was soon singing along to.

The Added Sparkle

I decided not to do a track by track with this review, as it would probably end up as an essay and there were other things I wanted to say, but I do want to give credit to Jon Wright for his production, which has really bought the best out of Alexis' songs. It's first class work, and I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for other work he produces in the future.

Also credit to Liv Austin for duetting on 'HOME', a chilled out softer ballad, that I also enjoyed. If you enjoy country rock then you'll love this. Ideal for a chilled out live lounge setting, with a sentiment everyone can relate to.

Room To Grow

It was clear after a first listen that Alexis is displaying some clear strengths and potential, lyrically, and with song style and performance. There is an identity forming, although for me it seemed to veer a little off course, partly with track selection, as Hold You Close and Don't Let It Go seemed like they'd be more at home on a different type of album.

I think there is room to grow and improve with some of the backing vocals and ad libs as well. The La La La's on 'Don't Let It Go' were a bit repetitive, and while the Bon Jovi-esque 'Road To Redemption', was overall a strong song, the vocal lines "How Long, How Long, How Will You Ride" didn't quite work.

The Journey

I was part of the crowd funding campaign for this album, and really enjoyed getting an insight into how the album came together. As someone with a big passion for music, helping to make this happen has been a highlight this year. So the only other thing I would say is: be proud, enjoy it, and I look forward to hearing what comes next.

Alexis the debut album is available to download from October 26th. Please do check out all the social links below and if you like what you hear, say hello.
Alexis:
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Danielle Steers
Liv Austin
Jon Wright

Friday, 21 September 2018

Flash - A Tribute To Queen


Anyone that knows me will know how much I love music. It's my happy place, my therapy, the thing that makes me feel alive, and something that I can still enjoy as much as I can despite suffering from anxiety. Which means when I come across something new that I like, my enthusiasm is probably all too obvious, as it was this summer when I went to see Flash - A Tribute To Queen perform at Chelmsford's Fake Festival.

I grew up on many of the Queen songs they perform, so nostalgia was always going to be a factor, although for me, with a tribute, that can only take you so far. Beyond this I could see and hear musical skill, vocal ability, and charisma. This is why you go and see a good tribute act, this is why a good tribute act works, and this is why I hope to be able to see lots more of Flash in the future.

I can only judge on what I have seen and heard so far, but these guys come across as absolute pro's, and a strong unit that work together well on-stage. They respect the songs they are performing, but you can hear little touches of them in there too. They interact with the crowd, and they make a lot of them smile.



I've heard some of the classic Queen songs live before, sung by covers artists, but hearing them performed by a pro tribute act is a whole different level of good. I even felt a tiny bit emotive at watching a Youtube video of 'These Are The Days Of Our Lives' live.

Claudio is the frontman who entertains, bursting on stage with energy and charisma, sneaking a go on the other's instruments like an excited kid entering a music shop for the first time, doing it all without the cocky attitude of some performers I have seen on TV recently.

Someone described them on social media as just a sing-along with Freddie style show - well yes, if you are there, and you have a frontman adept at working the crowd, how are you not going to respond to that! You can't please everyone, but those that listen to the detail know why Flash work, and many smiling faces this year lay testament to that.

If you're a fan of Queen, British Rock, or just want to experience a new tribute act for yourself, then check out Flash - A Tribute To Queen. Normal service will be resumed shortly, I just wanted to end the summer getting something musical out of my system.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Pink Parcel Subscription Box - May 2018 - Review

Hi everyone,

I am a member of a free stuff group on Facebook and recently they posted up an offer where you could trial a Pink Parcel box for £1. I thought it would be something different to order and review for you all, and this box was the May 2018 version, I realise this is a tad late going up, but I think it's still worth giving you an idea of what to expect.

What Is Pink Parcel?



This is a period subscription box, and when you subscribe you receive a pile of sanitary wear and some treats to see you through the monthly woes. The different pricing options normally are:

£12.99 a month - free delivery, cancel anytime.
£35.97 for 3 months - free delivery, one off payment, save £1 a month.
£64.95 for 6 months - free delivery, 1 month free, VIP extras, one off payment.
£129.90 for 12 months - free delivery, 2 months free, birthday treat, one off payment, VIP extras.

When you order you get to choose whether you'd like to be sent tampons, towels or a mix of both, and the date you'd like the box by (supposed to be near your period time).

Ordering Process

It was very quick and easy to sign-up to the site, look at details of previous boxes, and use my trial offer. I chose for the box to arrive on the 20th May, and it said on the site that it would be a letterbox sized box that would arrive.



First Impressions

It's worth noting that dates are probably not guaranteed if you order this box regularly. I saw reports of people getting boxes early, late, and some were still waiting and getting impatient. If there is demand, it might be worth choosing a date a while before you need, or order at the end of the month for use the next month.

The branding, design, and outer envelope is very subtle, which I liked, although the box was bigger than expected, and there was no way it was going to fit through the letterbox, and as my point above, my box arrived 4 days late.

The Contents



I've got to be honest it's hard to get that excited over sanitary ware, though I like the fact they included your choice of item, along with some extra pads and towels, so I think you'd have enough to see you through a cycle, though maybe needed a few more pads.

I love the idea of the little fabric pouch to put your stash in if you're going out and about or are away. I'd never thought of that before, but it's so subtle and convenient.

The 'for you' treat box is where the real novelty factor comes in and for the most part I was happy. A nice addition, though not too my taste were the chai latte sachet and the chocolate, but that was just taste, on the less impressive front was the sachet of Optiat facemask! Stingy is putting it mildly - I threw it out the box in mild disgust, you can feel there is barely any product in there - really don't see the point if you don't even get one full application over your whole face.

On the good side I love the eye pencil, and it's in one of my favourite make-up colours. It will go really well with the eyeshadows I have. I was surprised to find I also liked the scent of the orange juice hand cream from Naobay, and am interested to use the soap and body cleanser.

There was good variety in the treat box, but I could buy more sanitary products for cheaper, and despite proclaiming the box contained product over £40, I don't think some of the samples would be worth the cost of a full price box, they were just too small.

If there are offers on to try a box, then I'd definitely try it out, and you're sure to find some treats, but it's not something I would subscribe too.

Monday, 6 August 2018

Book Review - Wartime At Woolworths, Elaine Everest

Heat waves are wonderful things for helping you relax, switch off, and really lose yourself in a book, and that has basically been me recently, as I read, in record time for me, the latest instalment in the Woolworth's Girls series. Unfortunately I then got writers block when writing a review, so this has taken a while to get up, so sorry guys, but here is my thoughts.

Wartime At Woolworths picks up the action in 1943, with war still raging around the lives of the friends and family in Erith. The blurb on the back declares that the Woolworths Girls 'face their biggest challenge yet' and that certainly seems true.


The reality of wartime is that you never knew what was around the corner, and you can live life in fear of death and destruction. There's an unpredictability about it, but it takes a skilled writer to accurately portray that on the page and give the reader no sense of when something will happen and to who, and that's just what Elaine Everest did. She captured the mood perfectly and kept me engaged with no idea of what would happen next.

I also enjoyed the fact she had gradually built up insight into what life was like in the time period over this series of books, and here she adds details of day to day life in wartime. Grey bread, the sourcing of luxuries, re-using and making clothes, and above all the escapism that a trip to the cinema brings, were all covered throughout the book, this was a story where the small details were noticed.

Small details included the fact that someone could send a letter in the morning announcing their impending arrival, and have the letter arrive before they did, that same day. Not ashamed to say I was a bit mind blown by that idea, and how quick/different the postal must've been back then.

The characters and their attitudes to life back then bought some of comedy moments to life, including when Ruby, attending a wedding tells the newly arrived Alan "I'll join you when I've seen that Gwyneth's parents are settled. They're pretty decent folk considering their teetotal". I was equally laughing, and feeling like I'd stepped into an alternate universe.

Christmas Time At Woolworths didn't quite meet my expectations, but Wartime At Woolworths far exceeded them. Well done and I look forward to seeing what you write next.



Have you read this or any of the other Woolworths Girls books? why not tweet Elaine and let her know what you think. Her handle is @ElaineEverest.

Thank you to Ed Public Relations for gifting me this book to review. All opinions are my own.

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