The Great Unknowns
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The Great Unknowns

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The best kept secret in music


""I can't stop playing this disc." (#10 of Rick Cornell's top 20 albums of 2004)"

My prediction is that, above all else, two specific things about this debut will make the most immediate impact on listeners. First, with trips to north Virginia, New England, Las Vegas, Abilene, Corinth, Tennessee, and Carolina, Presenting The Great Unknowns puts on more miles than a record of truck driving songs. (Just a theory, but all this highway talk could be related to the fact that songwriter and vocalist Becky Warren lives in Statesboro, Georgia, while the other three band members live in Boston.)

Second, the music that fuels these road trips frequently sounds like the work of an extraordinarily good tribute band, Sweet Old Gravel Road: The Lucinda Williams Experience. This strong similarity is most striking on "Forever", all weathered vocals, accordion, and damaged hearts; its opening line, "Since you've been gone, my heart is a fist," even sounds like it could have two-stepped off Williams' self-titled record.

Despite this second quirk -- or, more likely, because of it -- I can't stop playing this disc. Warren's songwriting is evocative and richly detailed throughout ("You can't make it in this town without leather for bones and a conscience of stone" is one rather Townes-ian example), and guitarist Michael Palmer's experience in the power-pop band Invisible Downtown seems to have brought on an exceptional crispness and hookiness to the Great Unknown's rootsy rock.

Thus, I walk around singing the "When I Was Your Girl" chorus from the fine song of the same name, earning strange looks from my wife and proving that the album has made a home in my head, and quite possibly in my heart.

- Rick Cornell

** Rick Cornell also put "Presenting..." at #10 in his list of the top 20 albums of 2004! See - No Depression Magazine, 1/2005

""...unpretentious heartland rock reminiscent of the better efforts of the Crows -- both Sheryl and Counting.""

There are thousands of bands pounding out perfectly decent rock'n'roll in dank bars across this fine land -- so why stop to listen to The Great Unknowns? Well, they play unpretentious heartland rock reminiscent of the better efforts of the Crows -- both Sheryl and Counting. Becky Warren writes about guys who've treated her like shit with a dignity they don't deserve and sings with a soulful, rebellious swagger, giving an otherwise meat-and-potatoes sound a little extra spice.

- David Peisner - Maxim Magazine, 1/2005

""Presenting the Great Unknowns exudes a spirit rooted in heartland traditions.""

There's nothing fancy about the Great Unknowns brand of Americana; rather, the emphasis is on solid songs presented in a straightforward, unpretentious fashion.

Unfurling themes that run toward the open road and relationships gone awry, Presenting the Great Unknowns exudes a spirit rooted in heartland traditions. Vocalist and songwriter Becky Warren infuses the proceedings with a survivor's confidence, often calling to mind former Lone Justice singer Maria McKee.

High points include the brawny country-rocker "When I Was Your Girl," the accordion-laced "Forever," and a ballad titled "Deliver Me Home" that allows a glimpse at Warren's vulnerable side. Band members Michael Palmer, Altay Guvench and Andy Eggers emphasize restraint over flash, and perfectly illustrate the Lou Reed adage that, when offering up a good song, few things beat the simplicity of a guitar, bass and drums. - Performing Songwriter, 1/2005

""After a few listens, you'll be asking yourself where these musical messiahs were hiding.""

After a few listens, you'll be asking yourself where these musical messiahs were hiding. With lush harmonies and accomplished instrumentation, the Great Unknowns romp and roll through 10 tracks that titillate your inner being; these raw Americana compositions make the perfect traveling companion for a long car trip.

Becky Warren fronts this alt.-country band of merry music troubadours. With a voice that echoes Lucinda Williams with its gritty, passionate, well-deep delivery, the talented songsmith wrote or co-wrote all the songs on this debut. The storied songs evoke a sense of time and place - conjuring up images of a life spent chasing the white line down the highway through titles such as "Las Vegas," "Round Hill," "Abilene" and "1000 Miles of Tennessee."

The opener "Las Vegas" captures the essence of this larger than life city of pomp, glitz and shattered dreams with these poetic lines: "We come to Las Vegas/with our dreams 10 feet tall/We leave here as shadows if we get out at all." Warren's lyrics showcase a natural born storyteller, and you'll find yourself returning again and again to these tales. If this dazzling debut is any indication, the Great Unknowns won't be much longer.

- David McPherson - Country Standard Time

""Do yourself a favor: pick up this CD, and get all your friends a copy, too!""

The Great Unknowns are going to have to change their name. Because I personally am going to recommend their new CD, Presenting the Great Unknowns, to everyone I know. It’s simply great rock, with gritty lyrics sung by Becky Warren. That’s right, it’s fronted by an excellent female voice that is unabashedly Southern and quite surprising. Warren’s voice is totally incongruous with the way she looks. You’d expect some cute little voice made for pop charts. Not in the slightest; this is the kind of voice I personally wish all women had:powerful, masterful, and gorgeous, Warren is accompanied by a great band, too. With guitarist Mike Palmer, Altay Guvench on bass, and Andy Eggers playing drums, the Great Unknowns are a group of competent, experienced musicians. But they aren’t all about publicity like so many bands today. They care about music, not mailing lists and a public following. And really, that’s what’s most important. They’ve provided good music and that following is sure to come because of it. I personally enjoyed the entire CD, especially “Round Hill,” being a Virginia girl myself. “Something to Do” and “Don’t Come Home” are also great tracks that make you sing along. Do yourself a favor: pick up this CD, and get all your friends a copy, too!

–AH - Singer Magazine, 4/2005

""Time to reorganize the CD library to make room for this alt/country debut release from the Northeast's Great Unknowns""

Time to reorganize the CD library to make room for this alt/country debut release from the Northeast's Great Unknowns, and I'm not sure how long that name will fit, if this release is any indication of things to come. Move your Mary Gauthier and Kathleen Edwards over a notch, because this one will fit right in alongside of them. Written entirely by Becky Warren and guitarist Michael Palmer, it's a seamless ten song collection showcasing Warren's beautiful voice and lyrics. It's hard to pick out the best, but “Abilene”, about a love lost to a town, and “Round Hill”, a love lost to a war, are prime candidates, but the ballads are only part of the story. There's some nice edgy stuff as well, like “When I Was Your Girl”, and “Something To Do”, and, “1000 Miles From Tennessee” is a road song that chugs right along with the best of them, like Jackson Browne's “Take It Easy”. With Andy Eggers on drums, and Altay Guvench on bass rounding out the main cast, The Great Unknowns have a good, tight, sound, that shouldn't leave them anonymous much longer. A pleasure to listen to, this one. - Freight Train Boogie, 3/2005

"***Best Album Of the Week***"

On the edge of country and steeped in the Americana tradition, The Great Unknowns jokingly made Presenting for their grandmothers. The album has the ability to appeal to grandmothers and just about everyone else. The songwriting of Becky Warren fits with her southern tinged voice perfectly, and conjures characters in short stories of the American experience.

The music transcends genre categorization, as it melds country, rock'n'roll and an accordian. The Great Unknowns describe their sound as "rock music for the open road." The motif of the open road appears throughout the album. Warren often places the characters in her songs near or on the road. "Forever" has a recollection of better times: "riding in your car, singing all of the words/ radio just reminds me I'm always your girl." The road becomes a figure that Warren utilizes as a memory trigger, in "Forever," and then, she uses the road as a the wilderness of the interior on "Round Hill."

"Something To Do," will strike awe into any listener. Warren's soft voice becomes fervent, fueled by anguish. The song moves through "just something to do," until the singer realizes that he won't "call" and "act like" he "gives a fuck?" The songs melancholy realization is butressed with a longing solo from Scott Roy's accordion. The situation of unrequited love is painful, and consequentially it produces the best song on the album. The way in which Warren bends tones, in songs she penned, is artful and thrilling. Their music incorporates the best of country and rock, not to mention, the great accordion inclusions. The Great Unknowns have produced a rollicking series of pain, train and American stories.

***Best Album Of the Week***

- John Shelton Ivany
The John Shelton Ivany Top Twenty-One is published in 200 national
newspapers (copyright 2005 John Shelton Ivany).

John Shelton Ivany is currently Internet provider for Mr.
Ivany is the former editor of Revolution, Country Song Roundup, Hit Parader and
Rock & Soul (all national magazines). Formerly editor of On Radio, Electric
Village and websites. Mr. Ivany was the President of Titanium Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic Record Company. - John Shelton Ivany Top Twenty-One

""The first thing to do about a minute into "Presenting The Great Unknowns" is to pick oneself up off the floor...""

The first thing to do about a minute into "Presenting The Great Unknowns" is to pick oneself up off the floor; having been knocked there by the splendor of Becky Warren's singing voice. This young woman
knows how to sing with feeling, power, subtlety, dynamic range, and sweetness. Nothing against the talented musicians in the band who do a great job on the recording, but face it guys, singers always get the glory and when she is this pretty and this talented, the attention will be on her.

All the songs on the CD were written by Becky Warren or co-written by Becky and guitarist, Michael Palmer. The lyrics are undoubtedly her own personal stories of a sensitive girl who has had more than her share of hope and disappointment. The melodies are enchanting and stylistically diverse. There is more rock here, than country, but it goes beyond that. There is an honesty and originality in the sound that is irresistible.

With some songwriters it is so damn obvious they set out to write a song of a specific genre, such as "I'm going to write me a country song." Ms. Warren, however, sounds like she sat down to express her innermost feelings in song and instinctively used the tools in her kit. With a base of Boston rock, she unselfconsciously adds a pinch of Appalachian acoustic here, a dollop of porch-pickin' over there, throw
in a southern accordion, a dash of the blues, mix well with the broken
heart of a tender woman (a little bitterness to balance the sweetness of youth,) and you have something very special, indeed. - Country Roots Music

""...a thrilling soulful rawness reminiscent of Lucinda Williams.""

If you ran Robinella’s sweetie-pie voice through a smog of cigarette smoke and a pitcher of vodka, you’d end up with the charmingly ragged cords of Becky Warren, the lead vocalist and songwriter in The Great Unknowns.

Although there’s nothing new under the Americana banner, this Boston band’s self-titled debut is a refreshing take on Southern rock. What’s most surprising is how the record didn’t get made in Nashville or Austin, but in the basement of a Beantown dormitory. Warren and her collaborators—Mike Palmer, Andy Eggers and Altay Guvench—made the disc themselves and found some online fame at Their break came when one of the disc’s backing vocalists, singer-songwriter Rose Polenzani, played the songs for some industry pals. Enter Indigo Girl Amy Ray who wanted to release the record on her Daemon Records label.

In voice, lyric and delivery, Warren’s songs are honest and simple, with a thrilling soulful rawness reminiscent of Lucinda Williams. This rock has well-measured touches of blues, bluegrassy twang and folky sweetness. In song, these Yanks travel many miles—from the snowy Northern winters to Carolina, Tennessee, Abilene, and Las Vegas—picking up plenty of musical souvenirs. The Great Unknowns may be anonymous on the vast commercial highway, but they’ll be stars on your stereo.

- Paige M. Travis

Read more reviews over at! - Metro Pulse (Knoxville, TN)


- Presenting the Great Unknowns (Daemon Records, 12/2004)
The following songs from "Presenting..." have received radio play:
"Las Vegas"
"When I Was Your Girl"
"Round Hill"
"Don't Come Home"
"1000 Miles From Tennessee"
"Deliver Me Home"
"We'll Be Okay"

(That's all of the tracks except one. And that one has a swear word in it.)
"Round Hill" has been featured as "Track of the Week" at, twice.


Feeling a bit camera shy


It's the kind of wisdom you might find in a fortune cookie: "You will achieve success only when you have stopped seeking it." And yet that has been the experience of the Great Unknowns, a band that has managed to spread what it calls "rock music for the open road" with a decidedly low-profile approach. Each of the Great Unknowns has been in bands that followed the rules of self-promotion, hawking enough CDs and extracting enough email addresses to earn spots on bills with artists ranging from Primus to the Verve Pipe to the Black Eyed Peas. But, as their name suggests, the Unknowns came together to pursue a different agenda, putting less emphasis on getting a following and more on following their musical passion. Despite their best efforts to remain anonymous, they have attracted significant attention -- a distribution deal with Daemon Records, favorable media attention, and an opening spot on a recent Indigo Girls tour. Their debut album, "Presenting the Great Unknowns," a set of country-tinged rock songs described by Indigo Girl Amy Ray as "one of the best things I have heard this year," was not only selected as one of the top 10 albums of 2004 No Depression editor Rick Cornell, but has alo achieved radio airplay across the US, Europe, and Australia.

Becky Warren, who fronts the band, hails from the American South, and she's proud of it. She wrote or co-wrote (with guitarist Mike Palmer) all of the songs on the album. The two share roots in southern rock and an affinity for songs about leaving, and it shows in the hints of Lucinda Williams, Patty Griffin, and the Black Crowes that you hear on the record. Along with bandmates Andy Eggers on drums and Altay Guvench on bass, they began rehearsing the material in the spring of 2002 and played occasional local shows. In December of that year the quartet spent a few days recording ten songs in a dingy, dormitory-basement studio, with bassist Guvench handling the recording controls. They were pleased with the result, and were happy to watch a number of tracks ascend the Folk/Country charts of But no one, least of all the Unknowns, expected the album to be anything more than a memento of their youthful aspirations.
And that's probably all it would have become, if singer-songwriter Rose Polenzani (who sings harmony on the last track of Presenting) hadn't played the album for some friends at her record label. A week later, guitarist Palmer was astonished to receive a phone call from Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls saying she wanted to put out the Great Unknowns record.

Since their album was released on Ray's Daemon Records in December of 2004, The Great Unknowns have performed across the East Coast -- most recently, opening for the Indigo Girls at sold-out venues from North Carolina to DC -- and attracted glowing reviews in publications as diverse as No Depression, Maxim Magazine, and Performing Songwriter. They're looking forward to bringing their songs to more people in the coming years. Meanwhile, they�ll try to remain focused on the low-key formula they started out with: the music � honest, heartfelt, unflashy � comes first.