Sunday, 20 September 2015

Country Evolution = Music Revolution

It's finally here! Home Free's new album Country Evolution has been longed for for a very long time. Even though we constantly get new music through their videos we just can't get enough of it. And it's not because we get tired of the "old" music, it's just that we love being all swept away in the emotions of the first times we hear a new song by them.

I will try to put down into words what I think and feel about the album as a whole, as well as for the songs individually. Remember, these are all my personal thoughts and feelings. If you agree with me, or disagree, I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings too. Please comment on it to help readers that have not yet heard the album get an idea of what to expect. Music is personal, we all experience every song based on our own lives and backgrounds. What speaks to me in one way might speak to you in a completely different way, so let's all share with each other.

I will review the Deluxe Version as, in my opinion, there is no point in getting the Regular because you'll just end up wanting more anyway - just go straight for the best choice - or buy both. Some of the additional tracks you will be able to buy as singles, but not all of them. And trust me when I say that you will want all of them.

Sometimes when you have waited for something with such intensity and eagerness as I've been waiting for this album you can get disappointed. You build up a mountain of expectations that is hard to climb. This is not one of those times. This album fulfills my hopes and dreams about it - and then some. From the first note it makes me want to keep listening. It makes me smile, laugh and tear up. It makes me want to dance and it makes want to sit in silence and be grateful for everything I've got in my life. The last note leaves me wanting more of everything, and it makes me feel peaceful, all at once. This album climbed the mountain and kept going into space.

The album is a perfect mix of old classic and iconic country songs and new up-beat, modern sounding country songs. It's got guest appearances by country music legends and even by a violin (in one song only). There are worn-out songs (because they are so great that we've heard them close to too many times) given a fresh, new and exciting sound, and, maybe most importantly, it's got some Home Free originals that leaves us wanting even more originals. This album comes with so many emotions the experience of listening to it lifts you up and puts you on the moon, with a perfect view of both the sun and the earth.

The use of vocal skills on this album is somewhat hard to comprehend - and it makes it intriguing and elusive, like something I want to catch -and Home Free kicks it so far out of the park there is no bringing it back, this album is not only Country Evolution, it is music revolution. It is a new, fresh and interesting way of making music, of loving music. I can almost feel the world starting to rumble with excitement.

As always when it comes to Home Free's songs I can't single out one single favourite, but I will tell you that there are more than one track off this album that I believe will change how the world looks upon both a cappella music and country music. At least that's my dream for it, and my dreams tend to come true so I'll just keep it up until it is.

Now, on to the individual tracks on this album;

1. Summer In The Country - Home Free original written by Mark Nessler - this is a fun and up-beat country song that makes me want to hang out with my friends and family on that perfect summer's day; playing games, sitting around the fire,while singing, having a beer and feel the love in the air. It brings back childhood and youth memories and feelings of ease and joy in the sunshine at my grandparents summer house, or camping with either family or friends. Good times that are nice to remember. It is feeling of happiness.

2. Good Ol' Country Harmony - written by Home Free's own Tim Foust - a song about songs with good ol' country harmony - and of course this is a song full of exactly that. One might even say it is a song about all the other songs on this album, even though some of them are new and not old, because this whole album is filled to the brim with country harmony, and this song is almost spilling over with it. It makes me want to line dance and sing-along in joy.

3. 9 to 5 - Dolly Parton cover - this is a song I was very excited to hear what they would do with as it might be one of the most well-known songs in the western world, at least for people above the age of 30. In my opinion it is a hard task to make something new and exciting out of it; a lot of artists have tried and I have not heard one that succeeded - until now that is. Rob's soulful voice works so well with Adam's funky r&b beat, then add Austin's high notes, Tim's bass and Chris' perfectly blended harmonies and it would have been excellent. However, for these Guys it wasn't enough; they added a breakdown that takes the song to a whole different level of a cappella awesomeness. This song is part of the reason the album left the mountain aiming for the infinite space.

4. Elvira - Oak Ridge Boys cover featuring the Oak Ridge Boys - This is another song that is very hard to cover since ORB's version is so played that it is hard not to compare any new rendition to the original. However, in this version Home Free and Oak Ridge Boys do it together - and we end up with a high energy, joyful and fun rendition full of low notes, high notes, harmonies and vocal percussion that will literally rock your chair. The blend of old and new country harmonies is perfect. The mix of ORB and HF members singing leaves us wanting for more of them together, and there seems to be a chance that the future holds it. You can read a longer review of this song in this blog post here.

5. Don't It Feel Good - another Tim Foust original - the title song to their current tour. This song makes me think of musicals for some reason, maybe because musicals also makes me feel good. It is a harmonious, toe-tapping, finger snapping, happy song that makes me want to sing-along; Nanananananana Don't It Feel Good. Adam drops the beat at a perfect time, and Austin is just killing it in the lead. It hits just right, and it absolutely makes me feel good. If you've got a friend you know is feeling down - just send them this song.

6. Alabama Sampler - medley of Alabama songs -There's really not much to say about this track other than that all the original songs featured in it are great and Home Free do them all justice with their amazingly tight harmonies, and in my opinion, that is not an easy thing to accomplish. I get a lump in my throat and the tears are pressing behind my eyes when Austin sings "I believe there are Angels among us", because he can't really sing the word "Angels" without sounding like one. And let's face it - this group was born country even if it took them a while to realize it. The only problem I've got with this song is that I want the full length covers of the whole songs, but that's the case for all the medleys Home Free does, and I suppose it is a good thing to want that.

7. Seven Bridges Road - the Eagles cover - what can I say other than Heavenly Perfection! The harmonies in this song will give you goosebumps all over your body, the hair will stand up on your head, your ears will cheer with joy, your eyes will tear up - again - and your heart will overflow with love. The Eagles can feel deeply honoured by this rendition. Is it better than the original? In my opinion yes; but mostly because it is fresh and has a new sound. I still think the Eagles can hold their fort down, but Home Free has invited themselves in to it - peacefully - there's no fighting going on here. Well done! #standingovation

8. Friends In Low Places - a Garth Brooks cover - This is one of the most wanted songs for Home Free to cover and it's not hard to understand why. The Fries have requested it a lot, and Home Free doesn't disappoint. I love that Tim gets to sing lead on this song, because his 5 octave range is perfect for it. His middle range is full and have a way of pulling you in to the song; his low notes are - low and rumbling- and his high notes are - well, higher than anyone singing that low should be able to sing. I find it intriguing how he can go from low to high, and back, from one note to the other. His country twang adds an extra touch to the sarcastic tone that sneaks in at times, which is perfect for the story of this song. Together with Rob's perfect whistling, the tight harmonies, and Adam's "drumming" this is one of my favourites off this album. And that is saying a lot. This is the song I have found myself humming when I'm not listening to the album.

9. Honey, I'm Good - Andy Grammer cover - this song is fun, and it has some of the lowest notes you will ever hear in your entire life, it's in the bass line so you might think it's just the moon shaking underneath you. Rob's voice is perfect for this upbeat tempo song and with Austin's high "wo-wos" as an extra booster it is full of energy. This song has been available for a long time, both as an mp3 and a video, and it makes a perfect addition to this album's uplifting feel. This song always makes me dance without fail, and it doesn't matter whether I am waiting for the bus or sitting down at work. It makes me want to move my butt.

10. Fishin' In The Dark/Down In The Boondocks - a mashup covering The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Little Big Town songs - To me this is the most surprising track on the album. Not the song choices in themselves, because they are perfect for Home Free, but the arrangement of them. If I had not known this was a mash-up by two different songs I would never have guessed it. This song is exciting and electric, and it brings the album to yet another level, a level I for one wasn't expecting at all. All of the Guys' voices are used to perfection in both the individual parts and the harmonizing, and Adam's heavy beats together with Tim's deep bass line brings it home. This is one of the songs that will have the world gasp out of surprise that there are no instruments used. It is so full of sounds that sound like instruments it is really hard to grasp it's all vocals. Even for me that is not new to Home Free's talent.

11. The Devil Went Down To Georgia - Charlie Daniels cover - featuring Charlie Daniels and Taylor Davis. There's an actual instrument on this song; a violin played by the amazing Taylor Davis and by Charlie Daniels himself. This song is a story, and if a story has ever been told in a country song this is the one best told, and this rendition is the best teller of it. It is the story about the Devil being challenged to a fiddler duel by a young boy named Johnny. Tim and his deep voice is the story teller, Charlie Daniels himself is the Devil, and Austin is the boy. Adam with his devilish beats, and Rob and Chris with their tight harmonies are the icing on this delicious cake. Charlie Daniels plays the violin for the Devil, and Taylor Davis plays the rest. Listen to the story, listen to the duel. Listen to it all. You will not be disappointed!

12: House Party - Sam Hunt cover - this track was a late addition to the album as this is a brand new song. Home Free heard it, liked it and decided they wanted it to be on this album. This song is a whole lot of fun and it makes you want to dance and party, for sure. As in every other Home Free song there are tight harmonies, great beat boxing, a wicked bass line and a sound that sound nothing like the a cappella most people think of when they hear the word. Just get up and dance, clap your hands, cheer and have a house party!

13. California Country - written by Home Free's Austin Brown - this is the first ever Austin original that Home Free does; and just as Austin himself it is a soulful song with a feeling of peace and love and the full harmonies add to that feeling. The arrangement is perfect and this song makes me want to sit down after all the dancing and cheering I have done to the other songs. While sitting there I will stomp my foot and clap one hand on my leg to the nice, mellow beat while having a big smile on my face. Well done, Austin, this song makes me want more of your songs.

14. Serenity - Tim Foust original - the last track on this album is perfect in so many ways. It is sweet, it is soft, it's filled with harmonies and it is beautiful enough to bring tears to your eyes - yet again. This song is almost like a prayer, and it is only a minute long. Tim has said that it was all he had to say at the moment - which to me makes it even more perfect. This song brings Country Evolution home. If California Country took us down from the energetic high grounds we've been up on during all the other songs Serenity will bring you the feeling of peace you need before going to bed. And it makes you want more of it. It makes you want more of Home Free. It makes me already longing for their next album, and the last note is still vibrating the air around me.

So, time to finish this review up. I love this album, it has the potential to become one of those epic albums people still talk about and listen to years and years and years from now. I might be a bit bias as I am already completely in awe and in love with this amazing group of Guys, but, putting that aside (as much as I can); music wise, talent wise, what they have done with this album; it is pure genius. And I will say it again, and I will say it proudly and stand by it;

Country Evolution is Music Revolution!

As I  have been listening through all the songs trying to find the words for this review I have gone through so many different emotions, and I can't wait to make new memories to these new songs and new renditions of old favourites. If you haven't already ordered this album you need to do so as soon as you can. There are three places to order it online; the Home Free website, iTunes and Amazon (there are links to Amazon on top right of this page). Make sure to get the Deluxe version for all the tracks. If you're outside of the States you have to go to your area's iTunes or Amazon. If you don't want to buy the "pig in the sack" without hearing it first you can listen to the whole album on Spotify, but please, if you like it and can afford it you should buy it. Artists hardly get anything from Spotify and we want to support these Guys. After you bought it you can go back to Spotify to listen to it if you want to.

I will leave you with the latest Home Free video - their amazing and breathtakingly beautiful rendition of the Eagles' Seven Bridges Road. Enjoy!


Friday, 18 September 2015

Music, Tickets, Writing and Football

I'm not really sure how I am going to live through my day at work tomorrow. There are just too many things going on outside of the office, luckily there are also things going on at the office so I might be distracted. And, yeah, there's plenty of work to do there too.

So what's going on then?

Tomorrow is the day for the release of Country Evolution, the most longed for album in the history of music. At least in my world it is! Finally!! I can't wait to hear all the amazing songs for the first time. There are Tim originals and the first ever Home Free Austin original, and the amazing rendition of 7 Bridges Road, and, and, and ... Breathe, Carina, breathe. And then run home from work to listen to it! Run, Carina, run!

Tomorrow is also the day for the release of the tickets for Home Free's European debut show in January! I have a fellow Fry taking care of that for me, and I can't thank him enough for it! I just love how Home Fries are there to help and support each other when needed, in so many different ways. I have never, ever, heard of any other fan group that has this type of community and love for their fellow fans as well as for the band. It truly is an amazing thing to experience. I am grateful from the deepest part of my heart and soul! Thank you, dear Fry Friend! I will certainly Fry it Forward!

On a different note; I have been writing y'all! Both here and there, this and that, fiction and non-fiction, love and murder, good and bad. You name it. I have written it. Well, almost anyway. You can expect a short story within the next week. That is a promise! Yaaaay! Who thinks it's been too long? I do!

Saturday will be a very fun day in my outside-of-Home-Free-world (yes, I do have one of those too). It is the day for the 2nd annual international football tournament of the company I work for. (Football is the sport where people kick a round ball using their feet, i.e. foot, not the sport where people throw an oval thing with their hands and only occasionally kick it. Sorry Americans, but you've got it wrong in so many ways there.). 4 countries - 4 teams, meet for an all day event of football, music, drinks, and fun (hopefully in the sunlight) to decide which country has the best football team in the world (that would be the my-company-world-of-currently-four-countries world). My team, Spain, is the reigning champions and we, the team and supporters, plan on keeping the trophy here. It will be tough, though. The other teams want revenge, but we got home field and home crowd advantage.

The most fun part of it all will be to meet some of my colleagues face to face for the first time, especially the people I talk to several times a week, sometimes a day. Some of them I've met before and it will be a lot of fun seeing them again.

I will keep you posted on how we kept the trophy with us!

By the way, there is an autographed copy of Country Evolution on it's way to my mailbox. Yup.

I hope you all enjoy the next few days, or weeks, because I am not sure how much any of you will be able to get up for some air in between listening to this fabulous album. I'll try to find some time to say hello, besides posting a short story.

And I know, I posted this video the other week, but, it's Home Free, and it's great, and it's on the new album, so you just have to dig it. Just dig it. Like, just like it, love it. Love it! Yes, just love it!


Saturday, 12 September 2015

4 Months And 19 Days

Until my long wait is finally over!

4 months and 19 days will make January 30, 2016.

4 months and 19 days - that's when I finally get to see Home Free live!

YES!! It's true!! They are coming to London! They are finally, finally, finally coming here! To Europe! To me! I get to see them live! In 4 months and 19 days!

Ok, I'll try to calm down. A bit, for a few minutes at least.

The European Home Fry community is buzzing and cheering of joy (actually the whole Home Fry community is cheering for us Euro Fries because that's what Fries do, I think they are almost as happy for us that we are that Home Free is crossing the pond.) and we are already pre-planning which airport to fly into, where to stay, how long we are going to be in London for and so on. Because, you see, this is about so much more than just seeing our favourite band live for the first time. This is about meeting friends for the first time too. And it is all very exciting. The only other thing I could wish for is that my US/Canadian Fries could be there as well. I so want to meet them too! But, everything in due time is what I always say. The day for that will come. This time it's all about Europe, the European Fries and, oh yes, Home Free coming to us.

We have been waiting for this day for a long time now, it's been months since the first, short and very brief, mention that they were going to come to the UK in January and we've been waiting and waiting and waiting for some more information about it.

Today is the first of the days we have been waiting for; the day when we found out when and where. Tickets will go on sale on Friday and I just hope that all of us deep fried Euro Fries will get one. I know this will be one of the most amazing days and nights of our lives.

And to me, this will be my first time going to London and I am so excited about that too. I've always wanted to go there, so I'm hoping to be able to make the trip a few days longer to do some proper sightseeing.

I'm still in a haze, not quite understanding that I am actually going to see them - for real. Oh my.

Anyway, I'm going to say bye for now, it's 1 am and wow, I'm seeing Home Free live soon.

In 4 months and 19 days. That's the second day we've been waiting for. Maybe I'll see you in London. On January 30, 2016. Who else will be there? I am sure it will be a fantastic Fry Party!


Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Country Party In The House

The day for the release of Home Free's new album Country Evolution is getting closer and closer and is now only 10 days away. I for one is eagerly waiting and counting down to it.

The album will come in a few different versions; first choice you have to make is if you want a physical CD or mp3 tracks. There will also be the option of the Standard or the Deluxe Edition. The Standard version has 11 tracks and the Deluxe Edition has 14.
So many choices! What to do, what to do? Which one should I get?

Well, to me the option was easy when it comes to choosing between Standard or the Deluxe. Always go with the Deluxe Edition if you have a choice, you will regret it if you don't.

When it comes to choosing between a physical CD or the digital version I always go with the digital version as I don't even own a CD player, not even my laptop has one. However, this album comes with the option of pre-ordering the physical CD directly from the Home Free Store on their website and you will get it autographed. Easy decision!! Always go with the signed stuff! And since I won't be playing it I pre-ordered the digital version as well. I myself prefer Amazon since I am not a fan of iTunes, but it is also available there for those who prefer it.

The Deluxe Edition has, as I mentioned, 14 tracks, and so far 5 of them has been released for purchase or gratification downloads if you have pre-ordered the digital album. And every track is better than the one before, or maybe they are all equally good. I don't really care which one is better because they are all freakishly amazing in their own different ways. They are also all very different from one another even though they are all country and they are all a cappella, the sound differs widely, in my opinion. This makes me wait even more eagerly for the whole album to drop on the 18th. Is it the 18th yet?

The track list for this album is amazing. There is a mix of old classics and completely new stuff. There are songs featuring the original artists, and there are mash-ups. There are new songs written by others and some written by the Home Free Guys themselves. Nothing is wrong with this album. (Yes, I know I haven't heard it all yet, but I am so sure of it I will go public with it even before hand) One of the songs is also featuring the incredible violinist Taylor Davis so I assume there will even be an actual instrument in that song. And I bet it is all very tastefully done, having Silent Night from the Full of Cheer (Christmas album) in mind, where she was also featured.

I love it how these guys take care of their friends in the same way they are being taken care of by others. It is all about the love.

Here's the track list for 
Country Evolution Deluxe Edition;

1: Summer In The Country (Original) - released
2; Good Ol' Country Harmony (Original)
3: 9 to 5 (Dolly Parton Cover)
4: Elvira (feat. The Oak Ridge Boys) (The Oak Ridge cover) - released
5: Don't It Feel Good (Original)
6: Alabama Sampler (Alabama Cover) - deluxe only
7: Seven Bridges Road (The Eagles Cover) - deluxe only
8: Friends In Low Places (Garth Brooks Cover)
9: Honey, I'm Good (Andy Grammer Cover) - released
10: Fishin' In the Dark/Down In The Boondocks (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Little Big Town Covers) - released
11: Devil Went Donn to Georgia (feat. Charlie Daniels & Taylor Davis) (Charlie Daniels Cover)
12: House Party (Sam Hunt Cover) - released
13: California Country (Original)
14: Serenity (Original) - deluxe only

If you click the song titles of the released songs in the list above you will come straight to the video for that particular song.

I've heard some of the songs not yet released as I've been watching video clips from Home Fries that have been to live shows. I have decided I don't want to hear any more of them before I get the album, though. I want to be completely wowed when I listen to all the songs I haven't heard already. All of them, in one sitting. It will completely blow my mind and heart away, I am sure of it!

The songs I have heard that are not yet officially released are 9 to 5 - and wow! If the beatboxing is anything like the live version then embrace yourselves! The other one I've heard is Seven Bridges Road and holy harmonies it's stunningly beautiful!

Seriously, this album will rock my world! Actually, I think this album will rock the whole world into loving country a cappella. I think this album will revolutionize not only country music, but the love for music in general for a lot of people out there. Country Evolution indeed! The world will be stunned!

The latest single off this album before the release is song number 12; House Party by Sam Hunt. It is an upbeat and fun country song, and Home Free sure has a lot of fun doing it. I would love to have been at the party they are having in the video! I just love Austin and his beautiful girlfriend Olena in this video. They are just the cutest. And DJ Batman Adam is so much fun. By the way, don't let yourself be fooled, there are no actual guitars or any other instruments for that matter in this song either. I know, it's really hard to believe, I can swear I hear some. But, no.

If you want to pre-order the autographed physical Deluxe CD click here, and if you want to pre-order the digital Deluxe album, or the normal physical CD just click on the amazon add for it on the top right of this page. Or you can go to the guys website to go to iTunes.

Are you feeling the excitement yet?

I promise you, when you play this album there will be a House Party, country a cappella style! Are you ready for it?


Thursday, 3 September 2015

Vacation Update

I'm just checking in to let you know, very briefly, what I am up to at the moment; I am so busy having time off from work that I don't have time to write. I've got my oldest nephew here and we are having lots of fun. We've been hanging on the beach and going out for dinners; we've barbecued and we've been on a ferry trip to the next town - with the spectacular view of the coastline with the Sea in the front, the beaches and all the buildings in the middle and the mountains and the blue sky in the background - simply beautiful! We've also been to the ancient mountain city of Ronda with a completely different set of spectacular views depending on whether you are looking down the deep ravine from the town or if you are down on the bottom looking up. We did both - unbelievably gorgeous. We have also played some adventure miniature golf - that's always good fun, even more so since I won on 6 under par. Yaaay!

Tomorrow we are going to the small town of Tarifa - the southernmost point of the European continent, and it's also a very, very old town. To get an idea what it looks like there check out this video;

The water you see is the Atlantic side of the Strait of Gibraltar - where the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea meet. Did you know that the water of the two don't actually mix together, you can (at least sometimes) see the actual line between them, The land you see across the Strait is the north coast of Morocco, Africa. It's only 14 km away. 

We are still waiting for confirmation whether we get to go on a dolphin safari tomorrow, it all depends on the winds, so keep your fingers crossed! I love dolphin safaris, the dolphins are such amazing creatures. So beautiful - especially in their natural environment. I went on two different trips last year and I can't wait to do it again. 

On Saturday we'll leave Tarifa to go back home but first we will make a stop in Gibraltar, which is British territory. From the Rock of Gibraltar you can see 2 continents (Europe and Africa), 3 countries (Gibraltar, Spain and Morocco), the Mediterranean and the Atlantic and of course the Strait of Gibraltar. It is quite amazing. Gibraltar is actually the last known holdout of the Neanderthals with evidence of habitation dating all the way back to 28,000-24,000 BC. And it's got cool caves, Europe's only wild apes (although they are so used to humans that they could hardly be called wild) and a Moorish castle that's like 600 years or so old. Way cool!

Anyway, I need to get my beauty sleep, I've got a 2-2,5 hours bus ride tomorrow. I don't mind because I will be listening to Home Free - so I will be great! Still, my eyes are crossing now.

Speaking of Home Free - did you see their newest video and single yet? You can get the mp3 of it by pre-ordering their new album Country Evolution from either iTunes or Amazon. This song is so cool and so much fun! Check it out! There's a separate post coming about this one next week.