Brian Molnar
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Brian Molnar

Clinton, New Jersey, United States | INDIE | AFM

Clinton, New Jersey, United States | INDIE | AFM
Band Americana Country


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"Brian Molnar & the Naked Hearts, Of the Fall"

Brian Molnar & the Naked Hearts,
Of the Fall
(Avenue A, 2011)


First of all, let's get this straight: Of the Fall is not a country record, whatever the band's name and the album's cover photo ("hearts" being big in mainstream country music these days, along with guys wearing hats) may lead you to deduce otherwise. Or maybe it's another of the many routes country music could have taken but didn't. Or maybe it's something like a mid- to latter-1960s folk record, when the genre came to be defined as a variety of popular music comprising smart songwriting set to appealingly straightforward melodies.

Well, whatever it is, Of the Fall certainly has its appealingly straightforward melodies, sung in appealingly straightforward fashion by New Yorker Brian Molnar, a harmonica-blowing acoustic guitarist who's written 10 of the 11 songs and co-composed (with R.B. Reitz) the other. The Naked Hearts play country instruments -- electric guitars, lap steel, keyboards, mandolin, drums -- but not as if they were instruments in a honkytonk outfit. In fact, they don't sound remotely Southern.

Molnar's songs tend to the sober and introspective, albeit not irritatingly so. The lyrics are intelligent and insightful without feeling self-consciously poetic, notwithstanding the nod to Walt Whitman in the opening cut, titled "Leaves of Grass." (Gordon Lightfoot also once filched the bard's title, and why not?) If once in a while Molnar's vocals and melodies bring, I swear, Harry Chapin to mind, he avoids the occasional -- yes, well-meaning -- preachiness and histrionics of that late, latter-day folksinger-songwriter. More often, though, Molnar's approach generates a kind of cognitive dissonance; it recalls many artists and none at all. Once that is sorted out, you can start appreciating the refreshingly clear and unadorned singing, the attractive and uncluttered tunes.

Possibly because of its unlabored plainness and consistent lack of pretense, Of the Fall seems a tad odd. This listener kept expecting it to fly off to some needless place so as to declare a necessary claim to fashionableness. It doesn't. It betrays no evidence of being anything other than what it is, which is homespun, beautiful and true.

- Rambles.NET

"Brian Molnar & The Naked Hearts Of the Fall"

BRIAN MOLNAR & THE Naked Hearts/Of the Fall: These Brooklyn cowboys should make Jack Elliot proud as they continue to push the boundaries of Americana in sound and spirit beyond what has become an ossification too frequent in the form. Fusing, pop, country, folk and concise lyrics that hit hard and fast tied together with Arlo Guthrie inspired vocals, this is grand folk music for now times. Put it this way, if you play this in the car, you might find yourself hitting the eject button less often than you think when the 11 tracks have run their course. Well done.

- Midwest record recap

"Of the Fall Brian Molnar and The Naked Hearts"

Before Billy Joel, Bruce Springsteen, and others developed the big arena moribundities that brought success but stripped them empty of artistic integrity, they made music that was like this: honest, from the heart, and poetic, carrying the wide open airs of the mid-West all the way to New York City and beyond. In Of the Fall, Brian Molnar combines all that with the unusual strains of a Graham Parker or perhaps an Elvis Costello who decided not to be so angular, reaching for melodics rather than raw emotion. The iconic cover photo (shot by Dan McBride, expertly arranged by Amy Kartman) captures the essence of the CD: a white hat troubadour on the high plains caught between the lonesome prairie and a clatterous Big City just over the horizon.

Molnar sings, writes, and plays acoustic guitar, but he made a dead perfect choice in Travis Miscia, who plies keyboards that round everything out. Miscia possesses as uncanny a knack in colorations as Molnar has in front and center folk presence…and Molnar himself, along with Todd Lanka and engineer Mike Olear, captained the mixing duties with a finesse hard to come by, especially in cuts like When You Couldn't Walk the Line, though any number of tracks are deceptively wrought, exercises that would make even Lindsey Buckingham beam in envy and admiration. Listening to Fall makes me want to revisit Harry Chapin, Don McLean, Tom Rapp, and that whole era where this sound was birthed.

Molnar's too young to have been of that age but, man, does he ever live it. Treading the midnight highway dividing line between country and the Ash Grove, he evokes a turning point just before everything changed and too much got lost. The moody Movin' Down the Road, a duet with Amanda Shires, is a bittersweet affair caught between joy and lament, made all the more poignant by Shires' smoothly laconic fiddle. Taking his cue from Walt Whitman throughout the disc, in Leaves of Grass he intones that 'Understanding can be like a curse', recalling Ecclesiastes' ominous cautionary about enlightenment ("With much knowledge comes much sorrow") while observing the ironies, joys, and aches that human life comes ineradicably accompanied by.


"January 12, 2009 Brian Molnar"

January 12, 2009
Brian Molnar

Ah, Peaceful Easy Feeling. Combining some of the feelings and sonicscape of Roger McGuin, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, and early Eagles, singer/songwriter Brian Molnar delivers a laid back 1970s California folk-rock vibe. Brian successfully sets a tone on his compositions, which are well-written and use smart instrumentation – never cluttering up the story-telling aspect of the songs. Nice use of slide guitar throughout “Santa Fe”; some country-picking, and what sounds like either a lap steel or pedal steel guitar round out the instrumentation on this old school country folk song.

“Changing Lanes” is a bit stronger-voiced; the instrumentation also adds a little dirt to the whole vibe, with the slide sounding grittier and the drums driving harder. “Coo Coo” adds some Ray Mazarek organ sounds ala Riders on the Storm, nailing the 1970s trippy vibe found in that signature Doors song. Further reading into Molnar’s press material indicates that this is famed musician Bernie Worrell. “Devil Singing Backwards” suggests the mellow California rock vibe present in “Santa Fe”. Melodic guitar lead break adds a nice element to the song, as does the phrasing stops and starts. A catchy chorus makes this song memorable. The song selection ends with “I Did What I Did” – which features lovely female backing vocals which add so much to the song. A call and response style slide guitar is present in the background of the track, which also adds a nice touch. Listen to Molnar’s tracks on his website: (photo: Hands Up by Jenny Czyborra ) - ExMogul Music

"Naked Hearts Enhance Molnar on "Miss You""

Brian Molnar & The Naked Hearts "Miss You," Avenue A Records

"Miss You" was recorded live outside Nashville, with tracks from Brian Molnar & The Naked Hearts' earlier two CDs and Molnar's solo album. It has wonderful production. In fact, it might be a bit too perfect. The audience can only be heard at the end of the songs, so it does not have much live ambience. Many of the nine tracks do not sound that much different from the studio versions on earlier CDs.

What "Miss You" shows, however, is how well the Naked Hearts merge with Molnar's compositions. Except for the traditional "James Alley",' these are all originals. They are modern folk songs, telling stories with uncomplicated melodies. The lyrics are complex, however, like these from "Devil Singing Backwards": "I've loved the wild and the strange/Cause that leaves it up to fate."

The band doesn't try to change Molnar's acoustic. singer/songwriter base, but enhances it. The rhythm section of Dave Villano on bass and CF Marin on drums add a punch to each track except "Black and Blue," which just has Molnar's vocals, acoustic guitar, and harmonica. John Koneval's electric and often twangy guitar and Travis Miscia's keys move the songs toward rock, which fits Molnar's strong vocals and serious lyrics.

If you have earlier CDs by Molnar, this one, a bit less than 35 minutes, is not essential. But for those who are not familiar with his earnest Americana, this could be a good introduction.

Dave Howell - The Morning Call

"BRIAN MOLNAR & the Naked Hearts/Miss You"

BRIAN MOLNAR & the Naked Hearts/Miss You: We keep getting more amazed with each new outing how there's such heavy duty roots music alive and well, and thriving, in in the middle of Brooklyn. Pulling fave tracks from their past three albums and rolling them into a live setting outside Nashville, this merry bunch of troubadours that fancy themselves as the fool in the tarot deck are the kind of band we'd go see even if we weren't on the list at the door. Following their own muse and the guideposts of 60s country rock like what the Nashville A team was doing when they backed up Dylan and drew other hippies to Nashville, they are starting to make T-Bone Burnett look like an insular knucklehead for not using them in a soundtrack already. This is the new course roots should be taking. Check it out. - Midwest Record

"Brian Molnar and Co. "Miss You""

Brian Molnar and Co. offer the assumption of using the Tarot's "Fool" card as their latest cd accounts their journey into "Live Album" territory. Recorded at Tennessee's The Walnut House ("outside of Nashville"), "Miss You" may originally be considered a gutsy move for Molnar, whose previous studio releases "Feelin' Out of Time" and "Temperance and the Devil" (with the Naked Hearts) showed a polished, poetic feel. But the moment he growls the tag line of the album's opening theme song, accompanied by the blast of electric guitar, bass, drums, and that honky-tonk piano --- my God! Has Dylan gone electric?!

Well, just like The Bob blew our placid folkie minds open at that Newport gig, Brian and the Hearts show they can indeed hang with the best of them in Live Band territory. Just when you have had your fill of artists who can obtain a great studio-produced sound, but lack luster onstage (or downright "suck, live"), or in a parallel universe deliver showmanship and power in concert whilst never being able to focus and produce a decent studio record, here is a band that thankfully can capture both.

Ah, the Journey begins:

1. Miss You
2. Be careful, the title cut opener is gonna grab you! Tight, fresh, with delightfully (Devil Card?) snarly vocals, you're in for the ride of your life. Just give in and follow the honky-tonkin' piano..... Santa Fe
3. Perfectly done on "Temperance", The Locals (like moi) are going to say they miss the backing harmony vocals of the "New Glimmer Twins" (Yarn's Blake Christiana and Trevor MacArthur), but never fear --- the Bobby Dylanesque harmonica (the one that you thought you'd never hear again in a million years) and the dramatic piano lines that you could swear belong to Leon Russell all but make up for it. What I Left Behind
4. The "Feelin' Out of Time" gem gets countrified! When You'd Fall From Grace
5. OK ---- I admit, I'm prejudiced with this one: these warm, lovely lyrics with lush, breathy background vocals are my favorite from the "Feelin'" album. How could anyone go one better with that? Well --- here ya go! Jazzified, a piano that sparkles, and reach into the gut for that sound of desperation. Beautiful! Black & Blue
6. It wouldn't be a Molnar album without a retreat into an acoustic guitar and harmonica to illustrate his dark folky side. To be played onstage with a single solo spotlight only.... Changin' Lanes
7. "Dirty" Dave's bass and CP's drums create a pressure-cookin' bluesy rocker. I have read the liner notes, which tell me that John Koneval is doing that guitar-thing, but I swear they're lying and it's Eric Clapton. Devil Singing Backwards
8. Part of the journey of The Fool is believing the journey has come to an end, only to find one has just circled back to the start, and a new direction must be taken. Go ahead, feel free to sing along with the catchy "I'm comin' home" chorus. But be aware, there are at least two more roads ahead ....... I Did What I Did
9. "I was such a foolish kid..." wades through the themes of self-recognition and attempts at redemption. All with driving guitar and keyboards, of course. James Alley
With its "Peggy Sue" opening bars, all hell breaks loose as drums go into overdrive, and Molnar knocks it out of the park with his "I'll show ya!" vocals.

Stay tuned... the next card in the deck is The Magician.... - Radio personality Torchy Blaine - WDVR FM


Onlangs zei een bekend artiest tegen mij : Americana Is Dead. Het nieuwe album “Temperance & The Devil”, dat Brian Molar en zijn Naked Hearts ons voorschotelt bewijst echter het tegendeel. Het genre is artiesten zoals hem veel verschuldigd, want dit intieme album effent het pad voor Brian Molnar om grootheden als Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan of Chris Kristofferson bij te treden. Zowel muzikaal als tekstueel scheert deze plaat hoge toppen en doet me nog het meest herinneren aan het beste werk van Mark Olson. De opvallende frontcover van het album springt dadelijk in het oog, met de afbeelding van twee belangrijke Tarotkaarten waartussen vele mensen gedurende hun ganse levensloop heen en weer geslingerd worden : die van de gematigdheid en die van de duivel, die constant tracht onze positieve energie te ondermijnen. Dit doet ons soms twijfelen, maar niet Brian Molnar, die in de gevoelige meezinger en opener “I Did What I Did” pretendeert nergens spijt moet te van moeten hebben. Americana van de hoogste plank gekruid met al de nodige ingrediënten krijgen we in “Santa Fé”, dat vol heimwee naar deze droomstad opent met een vrolijk strummende gitaar, doorregen met slidegitaar, een kletterende Telecaster en de prachtige harmonische zang van Blake Christiana en Trevor MacArthur. Het volledige Mark Olson kippenvel krijgen we in het amoureuze, van liefdesverdriet doordrenkte “Things We Said”, waar een zachte mondharmonica en een sprankelende mandoline voor de extra sensitieve noot zorgen. Een “Devil Singing Backwards” moet in een stevig alt-country jasje gestoken worden, evenals het rootsy en stevig bluesrockende “Changing Lanes”, waar een gepijnigde Molnar zelfs opgewonden en boos klinkt en gitarist Vern Warta en Bryan T. Baxter op mondharmonica driest tekeer gaan op de achtergrond. De rust keert weder als de Townes Van Zandt’s engelen neerdalen over “Angel In The Sun” en “This Road” begeesterd wordt door een folkie Dylan sfeer. Een prachtige afsluiter en één van de hoogtepunten van de plaat is de mooie mid-tempo countryballade “”Chase What Matters”, die lekker walst op de tonen van een akoestische gitaar en weer uitmuntend opgeluisterd wordt met slide en mondharmonica en een zeer wijds klinkende elektrische gitaar. Met dit album heeft Brian Molnar met begeleiding van The Naked Hearts de juiste Americana kaart getrokken, een album om trots op te zijn. (Blowfish) -

"Brian Molnar and the Naked Hearts"

Brian Molnar and the Naked Hearts....zeg nu zelf dat het beter uit de mond rolt dan Eddy Wally en de Schedelgeboorten, het hoesje van hun album " Temperance & the Devil " is geniaal art- work en ook muzikaal zit het bijzonder snor dus ....I Did what I Did" en is het resultaat van mijn bevindingen dan ook uiterst positief. De voorganger "Feelin Out Of Time" is net als zijn debuut / self - titled album aan ons neusje en oortjes ontsnapt maar zijn nog steeds via Cd Baby verkrijgbaar en meteen weet u waar een deel van het belastingsgeld dat wij binnenkort van vadertje Staat terugtrekken naar toe gaat. De spirituele wijsheid van de Tarot kaarten en de symboliek van het hele gebeuren is mij nog steeds een raadsel maar voor diegenen die zich wel met kaartlezen bezighouden hebben The Temperance and Devil card (the fourteenth and fifteenth Trump cards of the Tarod Deck) beslist geen geheimen meer. Toch maar voor de goede orde meedelen dat Temperance is a balancing of the forces of life and the Devil a representation of the life -energy inside of us - evil only through our own misundestanding and misuse of it....

Ook na het beluisteren van dit prachtig meesterwerkje ben ik er niet veel wijzer van geworden en ook " I heard the Devil Singing Backwards to the demons in my head " helpt mij geen meter verder maar gelukkig spreken de andere alt. country songs en folk music van Brian Molnar & the Naked Hearts wel duidelijke taal. All songs uiteraard written by de man himself en uit het kleurrijke aanbod gaat mijn persoonlijke voorkeur uit naar "Angel of the Sun" omdat het net als de pareltjes "Santa Fe", "Coo Coo", "Chase What Matters" en "This Road" verwijzen naar de glorierijke dagen van ondemeer Steve Young, Townes Van Zandt en Bob Dylan. Molnar heeft een schitterende, lichte nasale stem die zelfs met het optrekken van het gezapige storytelling tempo naar mid - tempo rockers als "Changing ' Lanes", "Gone In the Morning" nergens geforceerd of gekunsteld voor de dag komt. "The Things We Said" mag u dan ook beschouwen als een pleidooi om dit album zonder enige vorm van twijfel aan te schaffen want Brian Molnar & his Naked Hearts ( "Dirty Dave Villano - bass, "String" Ray Pursell - drums, Bryan T. Baxter - harmonica en uitblinker Vern Warta - Fender electric gt, Gibson lap steel, lap dobro & mandolin) zijn met "Temperance & the Devil" ongetwijfeld een stevige kandidaat voor de Euro Americana Chart en menig jaarlijstje. (SWA) - SWA - ROOTSVILLE CD REVIEW by ROOTSVILLE CD REVIEW

"Ik las het óók pas op de website van Brian Molnar"

Ik las het óók pas op de website van Brian Molnar, maar Temperance (gematigdheid, zelfbeheersing) en The Devil zijn tarotkaarten, en samen zouden ze - als je in erin wilt geloven - een weerspiegeling zijn van Molnar’s muzikale poëtica. Aan de ene kant dus met beide benen op de grond, anderzijds tegendraads, eigenwijs en gewaagd. Eerlijk gezegd slaat de balans wel een beetje door naar de Temperance-kaart, want zo héél veel artistieke avonturen schotelt Brian Molnar ons nu ook weer niet voor. Maar wat maakt het uit: Temperance & The Devil (Avenue A Records) is een prima altcountry-album, met een paar sterke openingszetten (luister bijvoorbeld naar [listen] I Did What I Did), daarna een gedragen (ex-)love ballad (Things We Said) en het al wat meer rockende Devil Singing Backwards (daar is hij dan toch, de Oude Slang). Vervolgens enkele mindere nummers, maar in Gone In The Morning herpakt Molnar zich, en via de lang uitgesponnen folktraditional Coo Coo arriveren we bij de afsluitingswals Chase What Matters, met mooie achtergrondzang van Maria Woodford. Volgende keer nog wat meer naar de duivelse kant, en het komt helemaal in orde met Brian Molnar.
Temperance & The Devil is te koop bij CD Baby. - rené leverink - Alt Country NL

"Bernie Worrell on Brian Molnar's new recording"

"Brian Molnar's new recording is very peaceful, mellow and smooth. The songs are constructed VERY well and the lyrical content is GREAT!!! Great vocal harmonies, great melodies, great guitar work.

Bernie Worrell says *****'s "

Bernie Worrell Sept. '06

Bernie Worrell is in the rock and roll hall of fame and is a founding member and the Musical Director of Parliament/Funkadelic and a member of The Talking Heads. - Bernie Worrell

"Brian Molnar and The Naked Hearts "Temperance and The Devil""

Brian Molnar and the Naked Hearts "Temperance & The Devil" Avenue A Records

Molnar reaches deep into the Americana sound here, with a lot of twang and songs full of experiences of regret and love. It is more alt-country than traditional because of the complexity of Molnar's lyrics, which tend toward internal rhymes and mythic storytelling.

"Devil Singing Backwards" is an example: "Through the melancholy rain I heard that devil go insane...Won't you leave the light on baby/I'm comin' home". Not the kind of thing you hear much on Cat Country radio. There is a Dylanesque quality in both his songwriting and his vocals, although the latter in Molnar's case are clear and straightforward.

Molnar's acoustic guitar and plaintive vocals are out front, backed by a top-notch band. Although the 10 tracks stay on an even keel, the band rocks out on a few which adds variety throughout the CD's 41 minutes.

The backup of bass, drums, and electric guitar is enhanced by lap steel, Dobro, harmonica, and mandolin. Parliament/Funkadelic keyboardist Bernie Worrell also plays on "Coo Coo".

Molnar generally sings with a country inflection, but he varies from the mid-tempo rock of "Changing Lanes" to the reflective "This Road", which has little backing except his acoustic guitar.

The title refers to the universal struggle between restraint and impulsiveness. This CD is closer to restraint, but it is balanced with enough thoughtfulness and feeling to appeal to listeners of both folk and country.
Dave Howell - The Morning Call - The Morning Call

""Temperance & The Devil""

Full of easy flowing melodies, lap steel guitar, twangy electric lead guitar and vocal harmonies, Molnar and The Naked Hearts make music partly of a country rock feel.

Molnar, who handles the role of lead vocalist and wrote all the songs lays down with prime Naked Hearts members ‘Dirty’ Dave Villano (bass), ‘Sting’ Ray Pursell (drums), Vern Warta (Fender electric guitars, Gibson lap steel, lap dobro and mandolin) and Bryan T. Baxter (harmonica) a solid, and creative base that enable the lyrics to carve out vivid imagery of various moods and textures.

Among the most pleasing and imaginative and featuring swirling guitar there is ‘Changing Lanes’ —then as they burn rubber and have a confrontation with life’s rules, and with all guns blazing the excellent opening cut ‘I Did What I Did’ hits a comfortable spot.

Unafraid to pitch himself (and the band) full hearted into a groove and become enveloped in lyrics reflecting on past loves as in ‘Things We Said’, ‘Angel In The Sun’ and with an edge to it ‘Gone In The Morning’. Where he contemplates on how his troubles will be gone in the morning and things will be alright.

On leaving the country rock scene behind and delving deeper into both the music and his soul, Molnar’s ‘This Road’ is more folksy than modern-day American, and then we have yet another cover of traditional ode ‘Coo Coo’ (as in ‘Coo Coo Bird’). Placed in an innovative contemporary environment of electric piano and a powerful rhythm section —it edges more towards that associated with the city than the mountain habitat of the bird itself. But in its own way it works perfectly.
Molnar and The Naked Ladies show enough talent to suggest they can and will I am sure go on from here —since the core of the music (ever tastefully produced) and Molnar’s story-telling vocal style is compelling.

With the boys picking some of their best work and Molnar leading in fine style, Blake Christiana and Trevor MacArthur from the excellent group Yarn lend some crucial harmonies to ‘Santa Fe’ and, there is more.

Date review added: Sunday, March 29, 2009
Reviewer: Maurice Hope
Reviewers Rating:
Related web link: Label Website
Maurice Hope - americana UK
- Americana UK


Of the Fall LP 2011 Avenue A Records
Miss You LP 2010 Avenue A Records
Temperance & The Devil LP 2009 Avenue A Records
Vote Jesus, The Chronicles of Ken Stevenson movie sound track LP 2009 Avenue A Records
Feelin' Out of Time LP 2007 Avenue A Records
Brian Molnar LP 2005 Avenue A Records
Only You EP 2004
To Know Her EP 2003
Mississippi Sundowns EP 2002
Brian Molnar Live LP 2002
Beyond Return LP 2001
Immaculate Conceptions LP 2000



With each of Brian Molnar & the Naked Heart's last 3 albums peaking out over fixtures of their genre on radio play charts all around the country, it would not be surprising to have an overwhelming feeling of comfort and familiarity when experiencing their music for the first time. For nearly a decade Brian Molnar has been carrying his acoustic guitar and wrought melodies back and forth across the United States connecting audiences with a feeling of American tradition and unique thoughtfulness that has been too often diluted in recent memory. Now with a full supporting band behind him, sharing the stage with contemporaries such as Ralph Stanley, Chris Hillman, Bernie Worrell, Garth Hudson, and Neal Cassal, it seems that a genuine Americana resurgence is upon us, with each new Naked Hearts' release setting its tone.

Brian Molnar's newest release "Of the Fall" spent 4 weeks standing strong at #1 on the World Wide Roots 66 chart, and remains in the top 10 nearly 4 months after it’s release. The band's prior live record "Miss You" hit #7 on the Roots Music Report chart in NY, and #36 country-wide, while the band's previous studio work "Temperance & the Devil" peaked at #27 on AMA (Americana) chart, and #9 on the FAR radio chart in Europe and USA. With such a promising track record and constant live appearances by Molnar with and without the Naked Hearts, the sky is the limit, and makes Brian Molnar a name to remember in the coming years.

"...they continue to push the boundaries of Americana in sound and spirit beyond what has become an ossification too frequent in the form."
-Chris Spectre, Midwest Record, on "Of the Fall"

“The Naked Hearts play Roots Country with conviction… the band demonstrates a thorough understanding of what it takes to make authentic music.”
-Steven Stone Vintage Guitar Magazine on "Of the Fall"

"Treading the midnight highway dividing line between country and the Ash Grove, he evokes a turning point just before everything changed and too much got lost."
-Mark S. Tucker, Fame, on "Of the Fall"

"Just when you have had your fill of artists who can obtain a great studio-produced sound, but lack luster onstage (or downright "suck, live"), or in a parallel universe deliver showmanship and power in concert whilst never being able to focus and produce a decent studio record, here is a band that thankfully can capture both."
-Torchy Blaine, WDVR FM, on "Miss You"

"Molnar and The Naked Hearts show enough talent to suggest they can, and will I am sure, go on from here —since the core of the music (ever tastefully produced) and Molnar’s story-telling vocal style is compelling."
-Maurice Hope, Americana UK, on "Temperance.."