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Music Reviews


Reviewed by Round Sound

Lisa Goulder... produces songs with sweep and emotional depth sung over keyboard, string, and choral voicings. Possessed of a strong voice supported by a sympathetic mix, the songs are narrative works of clear intent and concise phrasing -- no crashing guitars or bombastic riffs are to be found. This disc harkens back to a time when fans were patient enough to listen to lyrics, and where artists and fans developed bonds based on common understanding and empathy. To its intended audience, Lisa Goulder offers much to appreciate and enjoy.

Reviewed by Independent Songwriter Magazine

A lavishly produced gem, filled with sparkling songs of love found and love lost. It hops, skips and plays like a leprechaun in need of attention. Quite lovely.

...a whole new realm of songwriting genius will emerge, and we will be blessed with an exceptional addition to the world of indie music.

Reviewed by CD Shakedown

Bay Area resident Lisa Goulder will fool you with Hurry My Heart, because the singer has a big, Nashville-style voice.

Hurry My Heart is a well-produced album, with a 100% refined sound. The album was produced by husband Pete Elman, who has been making music in the Bay Area since 1977. In addition to Lisa on vocals and keyboards and Pete on synthesizers and programming, the other musicians include Stef Burns on acoustic and electric guitars, Steve Cameron on drums, and Mark Levine on bass.

Lisa grew up in a musical family in Cleveland, Ohio, and followed her muse to the Berklee College of Music, where she spent a year studying piano, voice, and composition. Inspired by such acts as Laura Nyro, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and the Beatles (recalls Lisa, "I must have wanted to be in a band, but it really didn't occur to me - girls weren't in bands back then. I just wanted to marry Paul."), Lisa settled in the Bay Area, where she fronted the touring combo, Dreamland.

There's more than a hint of Nashville in songs like "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not" and "I Imagine You." Yet you'll also find Lisa leaning into a progressive jazz beat on "Friday's Child."

Hurry My Heart is a polished and professional production, one that will be the envy of many aspiring musicians.


Reviewed by David A. Young
The New Times

    The dog ate my homework. Okay, not quite, but my cat's recent illness and death did usurp my plans to cover this album a couple of months ago. During my grieving, I found First Take's unabashed exuberance as annoying a reminder of what I didn't feel as I had found it contagiously irresistible at first. Now that I'm back on track, I am once again willingly surrendering to its insistent spell.

    There are just enough rock-tinged flourishes in both the attitude and the charts to qualify this as crossover music, especially on the radio-friendly "Cherokee," but it still falls comfortably into the adult contemporary genre. Pianist Elman is a longtime favorite of these pages (this is his fourth album) and his evolving musical statements continue to satisfy.

    Opting for the classic four-piece combo in realizing his upbeat vision, the composer gets first-rate support from the other musicians, achieving an outstanding unity of purpose. The chorus of the first cut, "Waterloo," reminds me of that of Belinda Carlisle's "Circle in the Sand," and gently sets the mood for the music to follow. Elsewhere, the jauntiness of "Resurrection" may put one in mind of Horst Jankowski's "A Walk in the Black Forest," and the influence of the soaring Kitaro guitaro style is a recurring theme throughout (especially on "Joe's Song"). "Hurry My Heart," Elman's first foray into vocal music, is extremely effective (singer Lisa Dreams makes a lovely first impression), and the similarity between the titles of his "Leilani" and Eric Clapton's "Layla" causes me to wonder whether I'm the only one that catches a similarity in the spiraling spirit of the two.

    The album of ten originals closes with "Vaya Con Dios," reminding me not just in title but in essence of the healing power of God, time, and music itself. Yes, there are times when music this happy is not a good match for one's state of mind, but when one is centered (or willing to be), this album offers an instantaneous and infectious way to reconnect with pure joy.

    Therefore, on God's schedule, not mine, I offer First Take as our album of the month -- providing you're "up" for it!


Reviewed by Robert Silverstein
Time And A Word

Third in a series of instrumental albums from keyboardist/composer/producer Peter Elman, RACE POINT offers a majestic mix of radio-friendly progressive instrumental music. Leading a group of top musicians, including super-session bassist John Pierce (Patty Smyth, John Hiatt), guitarists John Blakeley (Stoneground, the Sandals), Stef Burns (Alice Cooper) and Stevie Gurr (Dr. John), this is convincing Americana-flavored rock.

Inspired by childhood summer visits to Cape Cod, RACE POINT is a pastiche of styles, incorporating country and calypso with Elman's strong rock roots. California cool is heard through out the disc, from the swirling sax that carries "Island Rain" to the seamless rhythm section and driving harmonica that propel "The Road Forever."

Fans of Bruce Hornsby, the Dixie Dregs, or early Allman Brothers will dig this moving music. The scope of Peter's spirited piano, laid on top of the smart, guitar-driven beat, makes this musical journey worth taking again and again.


Reviewed by Rhonda Dicksion
The New Times

I have to admire Peter Elman's savvy. There are a lot of people (myself included) who really enjoy country music –enough to make Country the most listened to genre on the airwaves –but we also enjoy the quieter, mellow sounds of New Adult Contemporary. Here, Elman has successfully combined these two forms. DAKOTA NIGHTS' softly upbeat cuts have just enough elements of country to make them interesting and stylistic, but not enough to make you think you got an album from the wrong section of the music store.

With synthesizer used sparingly and a wealth of instruments such as piano, acoustic guitar, violin, mandolin, hammered dulcimer, harmonica and pedalsteel guitar (to name a few) the album has a full, live band feel rather than the stiff, highly technological sound common to a lot of NAC music. It feels more grounded and earthy.

If DAKOTA NIGHTS could be described in terms of fabric, I'd call it "calico silk." This wonderful instrumental release evokes imagery of a country dance 100 years ago when times were simpler, with sweeping expanses of wheat-gold as far as the eye can see, wind-tanned faces and places of the heartland. Yet with its country feel, this album is jazzy, stylish and smooth.


Reviewed by Alan Bechtold
Online Digital Review

If Hill Street Blues had been a television show about the Texas Rangers, this album would have been the perfect theme music. It's an album I wanted to dislike, because it's so unlike any music I usually enjoy –but I loved it. It's western music, not country. Pure instrumental Americana through and through. In fact, it's such joyful, pure music that anyone of any age could easily tap his or her toes happily to every track.

Don't get me wrong –the average headbanger hooked on metal and nothing else won't get any joy from this album. But nearly everyone else will. Peter Elman's kind of stuff you could put on at a cocktail party and never interrupt the chatter while it powers the evening along, almost subliminally. "Fall Is All Around," for example, is pure piano imagery, painted on a gentle, rolling backdrop of quiet instrumental beauty. The title track sounds like something you might hear coming from the doors of a small desert town saloon in the old west, but it's also catchy and listenable for any occasion. "Turqoise Eyes" starts with a mellow, lilting melody that builds into a modern easy-listening classic. "Ginny's Bayou,""The Last Cowboy" and "Magic Girl" are also all top-notch stuff, but my personal favorites are "Mountain Dunes" and "Our Dance." The former is built upon a easy-going cowboy rhythm that slides, almost unnoticed, into a a tune of expansive, far-reaching beauty. The latter is melancholy and memorable, with a haunting, simple melody that will stay with you for life.

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