NHW SONGWRITER'S TOUR
COURAGEOUS - REVIEW
The "NHW" in "NHW Songwriter's Tour" stands for "No Hit Wonders." The NHW Songwriter's Tour includes James Casto, Sabrina, Joe West and JP Williams. Casto, West and Williams all have a bit of country music in their songs and vocal styles thus why we're drawing attention to their latest release entitled, "Courageous."
On "Courageous" you get three songs by Casto, West and Williams as well as three songs by folk rock / soul artist, Sabrina. When you only have three songs to review, things can get a bit tough. A trend is followed by all three of the artists that show more of the country style. There is one obvious stand out track, one good song, and one that could use improvement. The stand out tracks are: "Everyday Beautiful," "Where I Belong," and "Good Day To Get Lost." The "good" songs include: "Catch Me When I Fall," "Beating Of My Heart," and "Home By Dark." Finally, the three songs that could use a tune up are: "Courageous," "She Blows Me Away," and "If It Weren't For You."
"Everyday Beautiful" by JP Williams is the first song by the country guys on "Courageous." "Everyday Beautiful" is a wonderfully crafted song and clearly the best from Williams on this compilation. JP Williams is blind, though his songs showcase so many visual details. Part of his song, "Everyday Beautiful" reads: "She stands in the mirror, sometimes for hours. Tryin' to find what I see... She's everyday beautiful. Every morning she looks wonderful. I still can't get over that I get to hold her and she's really mine... She's everyday beautiful." I admire the fact that he can write songs that are so visual like this one. "Catch Me When I Fall" and "She Blows Me Away" are the other tracks by Williams on "Courageous." "Catch Me When I Fall" is a respectable song from Williams. On "She Blows Me Away," Williams' vocals just aren't as strong as when he's singing the ballads.
Joe West wrote a fine story song called "Where I Belong." Music fans could easily relate to this one. "This is where I come from and where I belong... Even when I'm away, you know I'm never alone... It's true what they say - there's no place like home 'cause when I'm with you, I'm right where I belong." Simple lyrics, yet it portrays a story and comes out well in this song. West went in to record his songs for the "Courageous" CD only a short time after he had heart surgery so his vocals weren't the strongest on his songs. He was rushed to a Nashville hospital with a shredded aorta. The survival rate is usually less than 50%. It's a miracle that Joe was able to make a comeback and continue on with his music career. The first song West wrote when he got out of the hospital was "Beating of My Heart" which is so fitting considering the obstacles he faced earlier. "Beating Of My Heart" has great meaning and the instrumentation on this one is nice.
James Casto is a "piano man" following in the foot steps of some of the greats like Billy Joel. The background with the piano in all of Casto's songs often brings a vibe of country piano man, Phil Vassar to his songs, though - especially on "Good Day To Get Lost." Casto also sings the title track "Courageous" and "Home By Dark." "Courageous," although providing a positive message, is a bit flustered and a little overpowered by the multiple instruments. Less is more on this song, definitely. If the song was stripped down to the basics with fewer instruments (almost with an acoustic vibe to the song) - I think it would be a really good song. "Home By Dark" is the track that falls in between "Good Day To Get Lost" and "Courageous." Basically stated, it's not as strong as "Good Day To Get Lost" though it's better than "Courageous."
On the "NHW Songwriters Tour" - Courageous CD, there are potential tracks. There are a couple things that they still need to work on, but they are on the right track. It's so impressive what West and Williams have had to overcome and they are still standing strong. Hopefully the "NHW Songwriter's Tour" can score their first hit and then continue on with more. All of them surely deserve it... - Janelle Landauer
For more information on the NHW Songwriters tour, visit www.NHWST.com