Erstwhile Brooklyn public defender, songwriter Andy Palmer leads the Denver-based band, Grub Street Writer. Three years of living and working in the trenches of Brooklyn's underbelly, clearly provide fodder for his honest lyrics and raw, folk-rock sound.
Without exception, Palmer's debut album, 'Sometime Around', received excellent reviews, including 'Best of 2011' status by Westword, Denver's premier alternative paper. Based in part on the success of 'Sometime Around', Palmer was hand-picked by producer/engineer Warren Huart (Aerosmith, The Fray, Matisyahu...) to work together on an EP, which is expected to be released spring 2013. That relationship led to the band being invited to (and playing) the Korg/D'Addario party at SXSW 2012. When the band returned to Denver, it found it had been nominated 'Best Roots Rock Band' by the Denver Westword.
Palmer was adopted at a young age and raised in the rural northeast on a small family farm. He has spent six months in solitude in a yurt during a Maine winter, lived on and volunteered at a Buddhist meditation center for months in silence. He's a professionally trained massage therapist, river raft guide, and a licensed attorney.
Jared Forqueran - Drums
Jonah Wisneski - Guitar
Hunter Roberts - Bass
Palmer's debut CD, 'Sometime Around', was released on September 23, 2011 and, without exception, has been receiving rave reviews, including 'Best of Denver 2011' by Westword.
Songs from 'Sometime Around' have received airplay on Colorado Public Radio's Open Air, among many other public radio stations and numerous podcasts. "Lawless' and 'Grrr' have been featured in the Reel Rock films.
Palmer self-released a 3 song EP, 'On the Road to Crazy', in January 2012, which showcases Palmer's folk influence. He is joined by Grammy winner, John Macy on slide guitar and internationally renown violinist, Kailin Yong, among others. The EP is a powerful tribute to love, loss and personal relationships.
Andy, along with other guest musicians from Colorado, recorded another 8 song EP in LA during January 2012 with producer, Warren Huart (Aerosmith, The Fray, Matisyahu, and others). The highly anticipated EP, 'Hazard of the Die', is expected to be released spring 2013.
Denver's Best Music Releases of 2011
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Sometime Around (Self-released). Andy Palmer, a former public defender in Brooklyn and river-raft gu...Sometime Around (Self-released). Andy Palmer, a former public defender in Brooklyn and river-raft guide in Colorado, seems to bring his impressive life experience to bear on Sometime Around, a release that boasts hints of Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Mississippi John Hurt. Thanks to Palmer's heartfelt vocal style and explosive acoustic guitar playing, the tracks have a timeless sound that gives the entire record an epic feel.
Indie Music Top 25 for 2012
Andy Palmer listed as 14th best new indie artist out of thousands of submissions.
Album Review: Andy Palmer and Grub Street Writer - 'Sometime Around'
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If someone who has never heard “Sometime Around” asked me what Andy Palmer’s voice sounded like.... ...If someone who has never heard “Sometime Around” asked me what Andy Palmer’s voice sounded like.... I think I would say a pirate. I don’t know how it happened, but somehow the guy managed to eat Blackbeard. But that’s all part of the greatness of it. Voices like this have not come to the forefront of the music scene since the likes of Louis Armstrong and Tom Waits, and it’s a great thing that they have started to come back. From the exotic flamenco style of “Cy Ethan”, to the melancholy “When History’s Done”, to the final farewell of “Won’t Happen Again”, the variety of styles is great and shows great musicianship: The band doesn’t need to play the same stuff over and over just to sound good.
Andy Palmer's voice stands out like gravel rolling with the sea on a windy day and yet it melts like butter with the other instruments going on, especially with the acoustic. The lyrics are awesome too. It does take a bit of listening harder than you normally would to catch all the words, but you can tell the words have meaning behind them. In short, it isn’t an “oh baby I love you” kind of album, it’s more complex than that, just as life is. The lyrics of some songs are actually pretty sketchy. This is probably because of Andy Palmer's job as a public attorney. Not the most squeaky clean of jobs, but great inspiration for writing songs.
The other front man of Grub Street Writer is Dan Kern. I guess you could say he’s the one that gives the music its folksy twang in some songs but can twist it around and make it lean more towards prog rock in other songs. Even the name of the band is great. I guess you could say it’s a little inside joke for us Londoners. Grub Street was a run down narrow road in the poverty stricken borough of Moorfields, London. It was home to starving artists, impoverished writers, prostitutes and what not. The band also refers to Grub Street in the song “Cripplegate” which was a road that cut through Grub Street.
Such awesomeness is difficult to find elsewhere. It seems Denver has produced a gem of a band, but not the shiny expensive stuff you see in those high class jewellery stores. It’s one of those uncut gems that’s been through the nose but worth just as much. Listen to the album damn it!
Andy Palmer and Grub Street Writer -- October 14 -- at the Walnut Room
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The Scene: The Walnut Room welcomed over a hundred music lovers to the CD release party for Andy Pal...The Scene: The Walnut Room welcomed over a hundred music lovers to the CD release party for Andy Palmer’s Sometime Around. I was surprised at the buzz and anticipation of the crowd as these kinds of parties can sometimes be lack-luster or obligatory for friends, family, or anyone you can get to fill the room. Palmer made some smart choices in order to pull this night off well. First, the venue. The Walnut Room has amazing sound, a warm vibe and is so clean! The next right move was choice of openers; Joel Van Horne from Carbon Choir and I’m A Rebel Dottie. Lastly, he and his band brought well-rehearsed material to the stage.
Nothing about the night seemed forced, stale, or unprofessional. The crowd was into the music but also a bit chatty as they were obviously loosened up by the beer and excitement of the release of the new record. As we all rubbed elbows with a surprising number of other local musicians, it seemed like no one wanted to miss what was about to go down.
Joel Van Horne: Van Horne, the lead singer and guitarist of Indie/Emo/Alt/Pop band Carbon Choir, and his Martin D-35 captivated us with his ethereal voice and rich guitar tone. I am usually not one for the genre Carbon Choir is affiliated with, but Joel’s musicianship just could not be denied. His originals were well written and full of feeling, but it was the cover of the Beatles “A Day in The Life” on that Martin that got me.
I’m A Rebel Dottie: The renegade folk guitar and drum duo produced a lot of sound for two dudes. An upbeat acoustic guitar was paired with some solid drum grooves creating a sound that was both light and grimey at the same time with just a hint of country. These guys were a blast, and got the crowd moving a bit… a perfect Segway between Van Horne’s sweetness and Grub Street Writers depth.
Andy Palmer and Grub Street Writer: I saw Grub Street Writer perform at another venue over a month ago, and didn’t really know what to think. Something was definitely there, but it just was not coming together right, and the sound was kind of crappy. Well, I saw a different version of Grub Street at The Walnut Room. They were tight and their music was presented in more detail. The sound was great and it seemed like Palmer’s vision is finally coming together. I also realized that his acoustic guitar playing is far more developed than I had originally given him credit for.
Palmer is trying to present his music by adding some refinement and space to his Folk/Punk attitude and sound. Combining the subtleties of guitarist Dan Kern’s Jam and Jazz influenced Les Paul licks, with Palmer’s more raw acoustic style turned out to be a sure-fire way to do it. Both Kern and Palmer were on fire, and people loved it!
Though producer Justin Peacock did about as good a job as anyone could have, the material from Sometime Around sounded more nuanced and driven when performed live proving that you cannot record or cage the energy and growl of Andy Palmer. The fact of the matter is this band is meant to be seen live.
Although a lot of material from Andy’s album Sometime Around was performed, a more recently penned song about Colfax got the crowd moving, and I swear if there was a hula-hoop in the room the shorty with the short hair in the front would have been all about it! Kern’s style was rather “buttery” as Palmer’s brother aptly put it, and I expect the Palmer and Kern team to come up with some more great material as the continue to work together in the future!
In short: Lyrics full of introspection and depth were combined with the sweet oblivion of a jammy Gibson tone. Resonator guitar was combined with funky bass lines. Andy’s gritty voice was accentuated by the vocal stylings of Ayo Awosika. Dark was paired with light for an all-around…well, good freakin’ night.
Andy Palmer Talks Grub Street Writer and 'Sometime Around'
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Andy Palmer is a man of conviction, one who has spent his life searching for meaning…and it sounds l...Andy Palmer is a man of conviction, one who has spent his life searching for meaning…and it sounds like he has found it in his music. His experience as a spiritual seeker, a public defender in Brooklyn, and communing with nature as a raft guide have given him years of truth to write about. Andy played in Boulder’s music scene years ago, but headed back to the east coast and focused on other pursuits. Newly returned to Colorado, he is jumping onto Denver’s stages with tenacity. Palmer has just released his first album, Sometime Around, and will be throwing a release party at The Walnut Room this Friday. Even though he just released a new album under his name, the band Grub Street Writer is his main obsession.
I had the chance to sit down with Andy and Grub Street Writer’s electric guitar player, Dan Kern. What I saw was two men from totally different backgrounds, who are about to add something fresh to Denver’s venues. Andy claims to come from a jam background, in terms of what he listened to growing up, but chooses to present his music in a more primal way. To Andy, there are two sides to his music, “the jam, peaceful, no negativity thing, and the hardness. I want Grub Street writer to hit people and tell them it’s okay to acknowledge the dark and the light. I used to think there was no room for negativity in music, but over the years I have started opening up. I am searching for a middle ground that is hard to find for most bands. Dark, light, fast, upbeat, mellow.” Dan is from a jam background, in terms of playing, and his style lends an openness and depth to Palmer’s stripped down creations.
Obviously happy to be working together, these musicians are starting from the ground up. Andy and Dan, or “Dandy,” met when Palmer’s album was already in production and while they have been playing the material Andy had already created for Sometime Around, they are also spending a ton of time together co-creating new songs. Andy’s songs are simple in musical structure, focusing on the lyrical presentation. His acoustic guitar playing may be basic, but it is far from flat. Energetic, aggressive and raw, Andy’s edge is softened by the Kern’s style on the electric guitar. For Kern “the dynamics of music are really important. That is probably what me and the other’s in the band have had to focus on the most. Paying attention to the changes in verses, making a simple two chord song flow by adding punctuation.” It is this unique approach that will please the ear of potential Grub Street Writer fans and broaden their appeal to a much larger audience.
Produced by Denver local Justin Peacock Sometime Around is an album of substance. With lyrics that come from the soul of a man who is careful when he speaks, Palmer analyzes the realities and harshness of life through song. While he frequently smiles, his voice is as rough as the world he sings about. When Andy thinks about song-writing, he thinks about “crafting songs for longevity. Songs that have emotional impact and hit you somehow. Not because you can dance for twenty minutes to it. It is more about the dramatic presentation of feelings, not to try and get someone out of their seats.” Dan Kern added “No one is going to be spinning around in hula-hoops at our shows, but they will get deeply into it.”
Palmer's Gritty Folk Rock
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Andy Palmer's "record is excellent. 'Sometime Around' has high production value and a gritty, folk-...Andy Palmer's "record is excellent. 'Sometime Around' has high production value and a gritty, folk-rock vibe that stays with you after the songs end...
...I’m not equating Palmer with the stuff of legends–not yet, anyway. This guy is still near the beginning of what could be a long career, and has plenty of room to grow. But besides solid writing and great guitar work, the one thing he’s got going for him is that he’s memorable, and in a good way. Palmer can’t sing–but he also doesn’t sound like anyone else you’ve heard, which gives him an open field. Not legendary yet–but certainly there is enough musical substance here that gives Palmer the potential to connect with a larger audience..."
Andy Palmer - Sometime Around
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Grimy, electric folk-rock would be a good place to start when describing the sound of Andy Palmer’s ...Grimy, electric folk-rock would be a good place to start when describing the sound of Andy Palmer’s debut album, Sometime Around.
The genre-mixed intonation displayed on the disc blends beautifully with Palmer’s scratchy, deep and weathered voice. Bringing to mind a latter-day Bob Dylan (as opposed to current-day, almost not understandable Dylan) and Ben Harper, Palmer’s voice is the perfect canvas to house the different musical colors and strokes.
Serene backing vocals by Sheryl Renee, varied violin virtuosity by Kailin Young and a Dan Kern-played Moog lend marks to the mixture.
The mid-tempo opening tune “Grrr” is exactly what the title suggests. Palmer displays lion-like growls while he dirtily tells his lover “I can clean out a vault/in no time at all/and it’s all your booty/you’re who I do it for.”
Reeled back, powerful songs are a majority of the album, with “History’s Done” being a great example of the overall theme. This song finds Palmer at his Ben Harper-esque best; strumming an acoustic guitar and building his voice to a high, yell-like crescendo. The powerful line “when history’s done send the wind to me/tell the wind I’ll hear/sing a song for me my friend/ about eternal years” is a sturdy punctuation mark on a heavy song.
For a funk-fusion injection, Palmer and his band bust out the tune “Cripplegate”; an upbeat slyness filled with resonated guitar and thick bass lines.
Ultimately, it’s the strong lyrics and structure blended with the various musical sounds that make Andy Palmer’s debut a solid success.
Andy Palmer's 'Sometime Around'
"'Sometime Around' is a great debut... Andy Palmer proves he is an artist to keep an eye on."
Andy Palmer - Grrr
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Last December, I posted my first Local Love video and as this blog has grown, I've continued to post...Last December, I posted my first Local Love video and as this blog has grown, I've continued to post some truly deserving local cats and thanks to them, Colorado is now known as one of the most bustling music scenes in the country. So, how cool is my life when I spend my time on a perpetual treasure hunt for quality and creative music videos and then to my excitement (though not to my surprise) I uncover a precious gem in the backyard of my beloved hometown?
This recently released video from musical craftsman, Andy Palmer, is a refreshing and impactful introduction to the raspy yet perfected, folk-y hotness of his debut album, Sometime Around. You guys know I'm no good with words (I'm a VJ by nature, not a writer) but on top of my normal lack of articulation, I am occasionally moved to the point of total speechlessness and this is one of those times. Well done AP!
Andy Palmer - Folk Rock Alternative
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"... SOMETIME AROUND highlights an all-star lineup of heavy hitters to make this disc an up and comi..."... SOMETIME AROUND highlights an all-star lineup of heavy hitters to make this disc an up and coming blockbuster."
CD Review - Sometime Around by Palmer
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The Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Mississippi John Hurt comparisons are spot on, at least vocally, an...The Leonard Cohen, Tom Waits and Mississippi John Hurt comparisons are spot on, at least vocally, and that is evident from the get go. On Sometime Around, Andy Palmer paints a beautifully gritty portrait of folk and blues that is a wonderful listen. Boisterous without being loud and strong without being forced, Palmer grinds through a thunderous thirty-five minutes of impassioned and eclectic lovestuff that melds the best vibes of funk, blues and electric jams and then colors them with jazz and world-music influences. If Dave Matthews collided head on into Leonard Cohen, this album would be the result, and if that isn't descriptive enough, just give it a listen and you will understand exactly what I am talking about.
In a nutshell, this is no awkwardly folksy album. Sure there's your obligatory folk nuances - a violin here, acoustic jazz guitar there - but by and large Palmer provides a big sound that leans heavily on the funkier side of folk music. Most of the songs hit that big electrical resonator and are surrounded by accelerated rhythms and driven bass lines. Sure the melodic highs are offset by an occasional slower tempo or two. But the highs are absolutely dizzying.
Take the lethal bass line on Cripplegate for instance. It's the driving force of the song and it never lets up. Cripplegate is the repeat player here, all big bass and funk euphoria with a backline that's unexpected each time you listen. A hellishly hot guitar transitions the bridge to a stop-on-the-dime conclusion and to be honest, the entire arrangement nearly renders the lyrics insignificant. By definition, that's damn good jam band music.
Lawless is the hardest rocking song on Sometime Around. Steeped in what could be considered a classic rock arrangement, Lawless offers a harder edge than the rest of the record. It's simple in structure - just your basic soaring guitar supported by a no frills bass and steady percussion with little depth and layering. However, it revels in it's genuine honesty as a rocker. Lead guitar is emphasized and Palmer showcases tremendous chops and white hot licks. The common denominator between Cripplegate and Lawless is that the vocals take a back seat to the instrumentation and arrangement. The backing vocals, gospel tinged R&B in flavor and substance, are sublime.
On Grrr, Palmer's lyrics and amped up vocals scream to the forefront. This is the strongest effort on the album vocally and validates the Cohen/Waits/Hurt analogies. Lovelorn, complex, self-reflective and heartfelt, this is signature Andy Palmer. Grrr is a series of fiery mini-explosions that alternately smolder and ignite, developing and recapitulating into an almost spiritual coda. It's a great song that almost feels like a baptism or confession. The added violin is the coup de grâce and is absolutely killer.
Similarly, I Died Today showcases Palmer's weathered vocals, but the arrangement is closer to the jam band sound that works best on this disc. The violin/acoustic guitar interplay is genuinely fiery and Palmer manages to stay just a step above it vocally. It's a song that is ever-reaching for it's crescendo, striving for something monumental and majestic with every key change. As a listener you wait for the neutral drop and the punch of the accelerator which never comes, but the big tease actually makes the song work magnificently. I Died Today is, hands down, the keeper single on this release.
The flamenco feel of Cry Ethan is an odd change of pace. Though it's not one of the stronger songs on Sometime Around, it nonetheless offers a contrarian insight musically to what Andy Palmer brings to the table. Flamenco is oh so close to classical guitar, and Palmer positively nails it. Still, the song struggles to fit thematically with the album, so it may feel unexpected and intrusive. I may have closed the album with this song instead to avoid the interrupted feel. However, Won't Happen Again is an almost perfect
Along the Journey
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It’s always interesting to chart the path of an artist, to see where they came from. In the case of ...It’s always interesting to chart the path of an artist, to see where they came from. In the case of up and coming alt folk rock artist, Andy Palmer, that story is that much more true.
Palmer seems to have always been a wandering soul, searching for peace and contentment in the highways and the byways. A shy individual by nature, Palmer took to writing songs in his early twenties as a way to express himself, admittedly writing tracks that “were introverted and filled with angst.” His searching brought him to a spiritual retreat in Maine where he lived for six months in near solitude, meditating for up to four hours a day in search of an inner peace.
“I believed I had become too attached to myself and to the physical things around me. So I challenged myself to live without a strong sense of identity or creature comforts.” Among those creature comforts was listening to music; however, he supplemented listening to music with playing his own as he sought out his own voice.
After that intense journey, Palmer took on an even bigger challenge as he pursued the path of law and eventually served as a public defender in New York City. The gritty and harsh realities he faced there color in the lines of the eight tracks that compose Hazard of the Die.
In addition to his experiences, perhaps the most interesting element of Palmer is his voice, which he uses to full extent here. A gravelly and worn hybrid reminiscent of artists like Tom Waits, Nick Cave, and Leonard Cohen, Palmer uses his voice as an instrument, his vocal intonations simply giving more pop and power to his eclectically dark compositions.
“The Monk” opens things up, an autobiographical tale of the artist passing a Franciscan monk walking twice while on a road trip and ebbs and flows into existential thoughts, buoyed ahead by a mid-tempo mélange of guitar, percussion and strings before opening up into the spoken word poetry of “Heart of Colfax,” which finds the artist really working his voice powerfully as he tells of an urban dark side.
Smooth blues notes accentuate “Broke Down in Bellevue,” Palmer using some of his instrumental fills to almost push the listener to a point of discomfort that works wonderfully well with the slightly haunting lyric. Those blues vibes continue with the more upbeat and rocky “Good Son” while “Moreya” is a more subdued affair that subtly builds and is easily one of the more accessible tracks found here.
That accessibility doesn’t last long, however, as Palmer delivers “Muy Algo Muy Mal”, translated, “There is something very wrong.” This is an area where Palmer’s vocals grate as oppose to intrigue and the repetition within the chorus of the Spanish title are jarringly frustrating. Thankfully, “The Defendant” and its dark tale of injustice, fueled with moody tones does a lot to right those wrongs. Birthed out of an experience Palmer had in court as a public defender, it’s one of the album’s standouts, complete with its wailing harmonica before the funkified flavors of “Fancy That” step in to close things out.
Palmer’s an artist that won’t garner Top 40 airplay anytime soon but that shouldn’t deter him in the least. A lyricist who writes openly and honestly and delivers those words couched in colorful and creative blankets of sound, all hinged upon his unique vocals, Palmer has plenty of promise. Fans of Waits and Cave should find plenty to enjoy here as will those willing to expose their ears to something new and out of the proverbial box.
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On Hazard of the Die, the followup to his 2011 debut, Sometime Around, Andy Palmer shows continued g...On Hazard of the Die, the followup to his 2011 debut, Sometime Around, Andy Palmer shows continued growth as a songwriter. The beginning of "The Monk," the eight-song disc's opener, is fairly tame, but strings, arranged here by Kailin Yong, gradually swell, making the song seem damn near epic at points. On "Heart of Colfax," Palmer, backed by his alt-folk act Grub Street Writer, captures the feel of Denver's infamous avenue with enough rasp in his gravelly vocal delivery to make Tom Waits proud. While Palmer can powerfully belt through a tune like the muscular "Good Son," he can also reel it in somewhat, as on the beginning of the poignant "Moreya," which also features harmonies from Jessica DeNicola.
Andy Palmer 'Hazard of the Die'
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4 out of 5 stars “So much of our lives is a roll of the die. We become saints or criminals, ...4 out of 5 stars
“So much of our lives is a roll of the die. We become saints or criminals, monks or defendants largely because of what has happened to us and around us. A lot of who we are is out of our control,” writes Andy Palmer in the description of his new album Hazard of the Die.
For a man who spent years as a New York City public defender, preceded by six months living in near solitude in a yurt in Maine, where he meditated four hours a day and stopped listening to, but began playing music, the statement couldn’t be more profound.
With vocals that are a spitting image of the late Vic Chesnutt, a raspy baritone that is capable of heavy growls as well as delicate deliveries, Palmer puts forth what he calls an outlaw poetic angle, focusing on themes of robbery, death, class struggle, and stories of sin and salvation.?Public defenders are often cast as overwhelmed, inexperienced, or disengaged individuals supporting guilty ne’re-do-wells, but through his verse and even in his liner notes, Palmer shows that he was one of the good guys, fighting the good fight. He wraps up his disc’s acknowledgments by writing, “And for all the folks who have been wrongly convicted and incarcerated — losing liberty, livelihood and sometimes even their lives.”
On “The Defendant,” in particular, Palmer seems to be writing specifically to the ghosts of his legal system past. The tale of a wrongfully accused man features the lyrics, “The cards are stacked against me being nice/ and a man in a robe is rolling my dice.” Palmer said in his press release that the track was written after he had seen someone in court being hauled away to the infamous Riker’s Island prison, while letting out a blood-curdling scream as the court room went otherwise silent.
While Hazard of the Die is mostly dark, downright sinister at times in comparison to the normal singer/songwriter fare, even at its darkest moments there seems to be some element of hope, almost as if there’s a hand outstretched in the darkness offering salvation.
The songwriter also gives a solid nod to his adopted home of Denver with the track “Heart of Colfax.” Anyone who has spent time on the heralded avenue will recognize the intersections (York, Vine, etc.) that he mentions, but the true jewel of the song is the refrain, “Love still lives here, just down a couple doors.”
Palmer released his debut Sometime Around in 2011, but a chance happening will make this sophomore release stand out further. Palmer was chosen by a SonicBids contest to have his album produced in Los Angeles by famed producer Warren Huart (Aerosmith, James Blunt). The result is clear as Hazard of the Die is sublimely balanced, layered where the songs demand it, and stripped where it’s unnecessary. — BFJ
Featured Artist - Andy Palmer
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Today’s “Featured Artist and Song of the Day” showcases the talented singer/songwriter, Andy Palmer,...Today’s “Featured Artist and Song of the Day” showcases the talented singer/songwriter, Andy Palmer, with his song, “The Monk,” off the incredible album, Hazard of the Die, which he released independently. The video made its debut yesterday, written and performed by Palmer, featuring actor, Chuck Fiorella, was directed by Tage Plantell at Silver Halide Pictures, with photos done by Kit Chalberg. The song and video are based on a trekking Franciscan monk Andy passed a few times while on a road trip in New Mexico, near the towns of Truth or Consequences, Angel Fire and wilderness areas White Sands and the Gila.
Palmer has a run of shows coming up, as he plays the Skylite Station, in Denver, this Friday, August 16th, heads to Empire, Colorado, for a show this Saturday, August 17th, for their Empire Americana concert, performs Saturday, August 23rd, in Englewood for Andy Sydow’s CD Release at Moe’s Original BBQ, and has a huge show in Boulder, Saturday, September 21st, at the Macky Auditorium for the TEDx Conference.
In the description of the album, Palmer writes, ““So much of our lives is a roll of the die. We become saints or criminals, monks or defendants largely because of what has happened to us and around us. A lot of who we are is out of our control.” Palmer expands on those thoughts with storied tales in this, his second full-length album, with lyrics that truly captivate the listener, bringing them along for the ride, with staples, “The Monk,” “Heart of Colfax,” and “The Defendant.”
In a sense, the game of life resembles a game of craps, with one winning or losing passed on the roll of two dice. Sometimes, however, you don’t really ever lose, for when it comes to this record, the stickman passed the die to Palmer, and he simply rolled out one of the best albums of 2013.
Album Review - Hazard of the Die
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I like what Andy has done here and, as good as Sometime Around was, this effort is noticeably strong...I like what Andy has done here and, as good as Sometime Around was, this effort is noticeably stronger. Lyrically, this album is both piercing and poignant in structure. It's not as minimalist as the comparisons to Cohen, Waits and Dylan might suggest, but it is certainly as compelling as some of the finer efforts by those artists. Particularly strong tracks include The Monk, Moreya and Heart of Colfax, with the luminous Good Son being the best of the lot. There's a throwback feel to Palmer's songwriting that is genuine and sincere rather than forced or copied. Palmer also offers up an instantly recognizable sound thanks to a rough-around-the-edges voice that captivates the listener and gives sincerity, texture and depth to his music. Palmer is impassioned in his lyrics and his vocals echo that sentiment.
That begs the question - will you like this album? Of course you will. Andy Palmer describes his music as gritty folk rock and that's exactly what it is. There is no studio treachery or audio tomfoolery designed to present this package as something it is not. It's not bleak Americana though, as Palmer uses abstract, vivid imagery, propulsive rhythms and engaging metaphor to paint a less austere portrait of his subject matter. His backing band, Grub Street Writer, completes the fuller sound, with highlights that include a white-hot electric organ accompaniment on a few of the tracks and tight backing percussion throughout.
It is the lyrics and the visions that they convey that best represents the spiritual strength of this album however. Andy tells the story behind The Monk, the first single release from this album:
"It tells of a Franciscan monk I saw who was trekking alone through the New Mexico wilds. I was on a road trip with my girlfriend of the time, and we saw him a few different times, many miles apart, staff in hand, burlap robe, big beard, head bald and down -- determined."
"My girlfriend and I were driving. The monk was walking. Still, I'm guessing he's gone much farther than we have."
Palmer is able to capture that narrative in his songwriting. It's no surprise, then, that he uses smart strong structures and stately arrangements to put the focus on the lyrics and the stories they tell.
Hazard Of The Die is an easy listen, offering a few standout tracks and a listening experience on the whole that is well above average. Palmer overcomes the potential pratfalls that come with having a hard, gritty voice through clean, tight arrangements and by letting his backing band take the lead when necessary. Nothing is forced, and Palmer works well within his limited range. Like Waits, Cohen and Dylan, Palmer fully recognizes the impact of his voice and takes full advantage, enhancing his poetic lyrics with elegant rhythmic motifs. Clearly, Andy Palmer has poured heart and soul into the crafting of this album, creating an honest and demonstrable panorama that reveals a global landscape through a determinate and fixated eye. - See more at: http://blog.jivewired.com/2013/05/album-review-hazard-of-die-by-andy.html#sthash.OyvYtz9K.dpuf
Review - Andy Palmer - Hazard of the Die
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This brand of outlaw folk blends perfectly with the theme of life and liberty being ruled by a roll ...This brand of outlaw folk blends perfectly with the theme of life and liberty being ruled by a roll of the dice.
The raspy, expressive baritone of singer-songwriter Andy Palmer provides an immediate pull into a world of robbery, death and struggle between sin and salvation on Hazard of the Die. Palmer’s backstory includes a stint as a New York City public defender, which informs the poetic justice that infuses his songwriting style and lyrics. This is outlaw folk; Palmer’s gravelly delivery taking center stage in a well-produced and balanced set of songs.
I can’t stress enough how important it is to select an opening track that eases your audience into the style and substance that represents you as an artist. With “The Monk,” Palmer heeds this advice by showcasing both the full strength of a powerful baritone and the surprise of a well-placed falsetto. “Heart of Colfax” bears a nod to his current city of Denver, a historic and well-traveled road that runs straight through the city. The reference to the bars, venues, people and thoroughfare once dubbed the “wickedest street in America” is evident here as well.
“Good Son” is a highly appealing track, embracing the strength of Palmer’s vocals with a backing band that feels like a freight train running. “Moreya” brings more of a classic rock sound reminiscent of a “Prove It All Night” Springsteen. Passionate and engaged, reaching into the expressiveness that his vocals naturally create, this became a favorite after repeated listens of the album. But the true standout is “The Defendant,” a tale for the wrongly accused, replete with lines like “the cards are stacked against me being nice/and a man in a robe is rolling my dice.” It’s instantly memorable, and finds its footing in the first note. Palmer references this song in a press release as inspired by watching someone in court being remanded to Rikers Island and witnessing his blood-curdling scream in a silent courtroom. And you can imagine that scene with this song as a soundtrack behind it.
This is truly the “gritty folk rock” that Palmer promised. With that promise, he delivers a distinct sound that separates him from the average singer-songwriter. This brand of outlaw folk blends perfectly with the theme of life and liberty being ruled by a roll of the dice. Hazard of the Die is a record that shows depth, a flair for storytelling and an ability to capitalize on Palmer’s best asset, a voice with strength and character.
Andy Palmer - Hazard of the Die
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With a sound that resembles a combination of Tom Waits and Dave Matthews, Andy Palmer’s hard, songfu...With a sound that resembles a combination of Tom Waits and Dave Matthews, Andy Palmer’s hard, songful rasp brings the archetypal poet back to life. Coming out of Denver, Palmer’s 2nd full length album Hazard of the Die is an insightful reflection on both the city’s innovative music scene and its eclectic culture. Palmer paints a picture of a city that is up and down, black and white, good and evil. The album takes a bold step in portraying the realities of a world that is oftentimes cruel and unfair, with its raw poetics exposing life’s injustices.
Palmer initially became interested in music as a way to express himself as an introverted and frustrated young man. This unsettled young angst was depicted in Palmer’s earlier work and since then his music has become more hopeful and, inevitably, more attractive to mainstream listeners. Palmer’s musical career and progression shows growth and development that deserves well-earned respect from critics, listeners and fellow artists.
One of the album’s stand-out tracks, “The Defendant,” tells the story of the wrongly accused, expressing Palmer’s belief that much of life is entirely out of our control. The theme of this album is thinly veiled in its title and Palmer uses Hazard of the Die to tell the stories of how a simple twist of fate can make or break our lives. He does a phenomenal job of telling the stories of a painfully real world to a soothing and intimate soundtrack. Hazard of the Die is both timeless and present, moody and cool, offering listeners a smooth yet honest musical experience.
Hazard of the Die is another huge step in Palmer’s artistic development, proving him to be an imperative figure in Denver’s music and socio-political scenes whose work is simultaneously beautiful and influential. We are expecting the intriguing and innovative Hazard of the Die to bring more attention to Palmer…and are incredibly eager to see what his next step is.
|Jan 10, 2014 Friday||8:00 PM||Paris on the Platte Cafe and Bar||Denver, CO, US|
|Feb 13, 2014 Thursday||8:00 PM||Laughing Goat||Boulder, CO, US|