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  • Writer's pictureThird Half

Michael Cleary Band: "Uplift"

Here at Third Half, we're big fans of new music, especially great material that can't be confined to a single genre. Naturally, we were overjoyed to have a chance to review the brand new "Uplift"!

Released in 2015, the 6th full length release by the Michael Cleary band, "Uplift" delivers everything we want to hear in twelve nicely packaged tracks. Every song is a beautifully executed composition, with skilled musicianship and top-notch songwriting skill. With a 25 year legacy, the Michael Cleary Band is comprised of veterans of the scene, and have honed their skills to a razor sharp edge.

Right from the funky blues-flavored first track, "How You Keep it Up", the album grabs the listener as if we're watching the band live on stage, and their big, bold energy shines through! I'm a real sucker for a big, solid bass line (Jedd Chlebowski), and airy organ sound (Vince Delaria), and you'll find it here!

One of my favorite facets of this great album is that all the band members, in addition to totally rocking their respective instruments, also sing! It lends an exciting variety to the record that I don't hear often in new music, and they've all got great voices and harmonies that really make "Uplift" stand out from the crowd. It's no wonder that the Michael Cleary Band has been nominated in the Connecticut Music Awards in 5 different categories!

The flow of the record is great, and the second track, "Love is Such a Sweet Sound", rolls in easily with a smooth R&B feel, giving way to "2nd Nature", a tight, energetic, reggae influenced piece. Guest Brian Kelly lays the trumpet for this song, and it really knocks it out of the ballpark. In addition to Brian, the album features guests Chip Fenney on sax, Rob Volo (Deep Banana Blackout) on trombone, Curt Ramm (Bruce Springsteens E-street band/Nile Rodgers), and percussionist Frank Bauer. They're a carefully hand-picked crew, and I think you'll agree that they put a special shine on the songs they are featured in! Drummer Edmunt Peart holds the rhythms down throughout the album, with astonishly tight and intuitive playing.

The riffs, licks and tones used by guitarists Michael Cleary and Zach Vetter are perfect for the feel of each song, and to make the collection even more noteworthy, I have to mention that this is the second album that the band tracked and mixed in Michael's own studio! (Yes, believe it!) Choosing a favorite track would be like picking a favorite child- they're all special and amazing, and so I will forgo my usual ritual here, and just say this is one of my new favorite albums, and will enjoy a permanent residence in my MP3 player!

In my reviews, I try to be objective and unbiased. It's nearly impossible to stick to that promise with this album.

If you like a variety of well executed, tasteful and exciting songs, I believe that you'll love it as much as I did. I could wax poetic about how really great it is, but I believe you will just have to get a copy, and find out for yourself! It's available on CD and digital download here:

You can catch this talented and hard working group live all year, so be sure to check their Web home for dates!

Happiest of listening, and much love! The Dawg


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