Featuring Blues, Reggae, Funk, Pop and even Hambone, Dave Plaehn’s “Radio Sister,” is an eclectic assortment of tracks that real music fans, who spread their genre loves as widely as can be, can and will enjoy. While more casual fans will find the range almost too bewildering, that won’t stop them finding a track or two they’ll dig.
It all starts with Plaehn’s voice. A song like “Stranger Blues” has the 30-year musical veteran sounding like someone more contemporary to a modern day listener, Hozier, with plenty of stellar harmonica work. It’s a track you could see in a Quentin Tarantino Western, thanks to awesome lyrics. Although simple and stripped down, it’s proof that all you need is solid lyrics and skill to make something work. To say Plaehn is a pro on the harmonica is an understatement as well and it certainly helps not only this song, but every track it’s featured on. Endorsed by industry giant Hohner, Inc, the guy’s got some serious chops.
He even finds some interesting songs to use the harmonica on. A perfect example is “Soda Fountain,” where Plaehn takes more of a ‘80s rock approach, with tints of reggae. It’s almost like Pete Townshend’s “Let My Love Open the Door,” meets a fun Bob Marley track. Towards the end, there’s a nifty harmonica solo that doesn’t feel out of place.
After you listen to a few songs on the album, like a musical “Where’s Waldo,” you’ll find yourself waiting for it.
But he’s got a few more tricks up his sleeves. On “Is Anyone’s Listening,” Plaehn adopts a more Hall & Oates tone, as the softer, but iffy guitar allows him to sing more and tell a story. While it’s not one of the standout songs on the album, the background vocals and solid musicianship show yet another side of him, one that is the most radio-friendly and one that deserves more consideration.
The same thing goes for a track the likes of “I Want Love,” which will draw in fans of Huey Lewis and The News like a mouse to cheese. Although it has elements of reggae thanks to a nifty bass line, making it almost more UB40 than anything else, the sexy saxophone in the beginning and super cool lyrics will take you back to an easier time in music.
Plaehn’s appeal is in his versatility and “Radio Sister” has a ton of it. Able to stretch his style and still enthrall and entertain throughout it is no easy task- and this album is able to give anyone listening something to take away from the experience.
Patrick Hickey Jr.
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