CD Reviews | Music | Pittsburgh | Pittsburgh City Paper

Ben Shannon
Move On
(Goodstar Records)

The familiar local singer-songwriter takes on some heavy subjects in his debut release -- local depopulation, family strife -- but doesn't let it weigh him down. The country-influenced pop singer is joined by an all-star local cast (David Throckmorton, Skip Sanders, Autumn Ayers, Paul Luc) on the recording, which is largely made up of narrative tunes that range from slightly sluggish to straight-up rockin' ("Addiction Road"). It's Triple-A radio-friendly and an admirable first effort with occasional lyrical gold nuggets ("No one is cryin'/ That's just water that's tryin'/ To turn itself back into rain," in "Ghost Town", for example). The titular final track is the record's real gem. -- Andy Mulkerin

BEN SHANNON MOVE ON RELEASE SHOW, with Barnaby Bright, Mark Dignam, Broken Fences. 8 p.m. Fri., May 20. Rex Theater, 1602 E. Carson St., South Side. $5-10.


Sean Jones 
No Need for Words 
(Mack Avenue) 

In his sixth self-fronted session, Jones has again created some lively post-bop-like pieces and some gentle ones. The result is similar to, but less engaging and distinctive than, his last effort, 2009's The Search Within.  As before, his arrangements often sound as if he doesn't aim to create a showcase for what he can do with his horns, but rather to emphasize the group collectively and to give everyone solid solo space. Thus, at the piano and organ, Orrin Evans adds brightness and dimension. Jones' own playing remains dynamic in up-tempo numbers and mellow in more reflective ones. Some appealing, kindly, soulful moments emerge as well. Jones intends this to be a set of love songs, meaning, here, several kinds of warmth, even heat, given moments of passion and moments of reflection.  Brian Hogans is the alto saxophonist, Matt Stevens the guitarist. -- Gordon Spencer


Tom Breiding
Beauty in Paradise
(AmeriSon Records)

Folk-rocker Tom Breiding's 11th solo album is a travelogue of sorts, inspired by tours of Italy and California, but is ultimately focused on home. Two dreamy, guitar-driven instrumental tracks seem tailored for gazing wistfully out the window of a moving bus, and the record admirably, if disjointedly, reaches to capture less obvious travel experiences, from homesick romance ("You Are Here") to the minutiae of touring itself ("The Loadout"). Breiding is a capable singer/songwriter (he rocks out Crazy Horse-style on "Six Silver Strings," easily the highlight of the record) but he sometimes veers into schlock territory, as with the corny "that-little-boy-was-me" ballad, "Dance With Who Brought You To the Ball." -- Margaret Welsh

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