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Gina Villalobos - Miles Away

  by Richard Landowski

published: 29 / 3 / 2006



Gina Villalobos - Miles Away
Label: Select Label
Format: CD

intro

Outstanding and harmonic second album from highly-acclaimed singer-songwriter and Americana artist, Gina Villalobos


There was no doubt that Gina Villalobos' 2004 album, ‘Rock ‘N’ Roll Pony’ deserved all the praise it received upon release. There is also no doubt that with this follow-up she will stop receiving all those Lucinda Williams comparisons and start getting credit for what she is ; a truly remarkable talent. Look at it this way, how many of Lucinda Williams devotees can honestly say they were with her all the way, how many actually bought ‘Ramblin’’ in 1978 or ‘Happy Woman Blues’ in 1980? It wasn’t until the late 80's / early 90's that Lucinda found the start of that gravel road which took her music into another direction and gained her a larger audience. But Gina found her way from her very first album and as this second set shows it was no fluke. This girl has talent by the truck-load. ‘Miles Away’ is that rare thing; a CD which you want to go on forever, one where it becomes a natural thing to do to hit the replay button as soon as it has finished. So the down side is that the album is only 10 songs long, an all too short 38 minutes. The up side is that those 38 minutes are probably some of the best we’re going to hear all year. Nine Gina Villalobos originals and one original. Last time out Gina treated us to her cover of World Party’s ‘Put The Message In The Box’, but this time she takes the more unlikely Gibb brother penned and Yvonne Elliman hit ‘If I Can’t Have You’ and turns it into the most heartfelt and soulful alt country version of a Bee Gees song we are ever going to hear. It’s not until the song has been playing for a while that one realises that it is not a Villalobos original ; that’s how much Gina makes the song her own. But when Gina writes originals of the calibre of ‘Let’s Fall Apart’ she proves that she is more than a match for any songwriter from any generation. That song, like most of Gina’s work, is rooted firmly in the alt. country tradition but also mixes in a healthy dose of rock ‘n’ roll into the proceedings. If there can be such a thing then there’s a refined rawness to these songs.Gina’s vocals are best described as soulful; she sounds like she is always on the verge of cracking up. She is pouring all she has into these songs and I wonder if in Gina we are finally hearing what Gram Parsons was striving for all those years ago, albeit in a female form. Gina handles all the vocals on the album except for harmony vocals from Ann McCue ( well worth checking out ‘Roll’ by Ann McCue if you haven’t already) on ‘Face On The Sheets’ and surely with her vocal prowess on ‘Miles Away’ Gina will get more than Bob Harris singing her praises on the radio this time around. This girl has to be heard! There is simply no one who comes close to the passion and soul in her voice at the moment. Sure, there are plenty of female singer-songwriters making plenty of pleasant, even outstanding records but none have that voice. Few are the singers who can sound soulful and world weary at the same time, just listen to ‘Somewhere To Lay Down’ ; if the ghost of Janis Joplin isn’t hovering all over those verses I’d be very surprised. But having a great voice doesn’t make a great album; the songs have to be there as well, as do the right musicians. Keeping both Kevin Haaland on guitar and Sean Caffey on pedal steel guitar from her last album and recruiting Ian Walker on bass, Anthony Zimmitti on drums and Ben Pringle on organ has provided Gina with a solid band who sound like they have been playing for years. Add occasional violin from J’Anna Jacoby and the sound is perfect. As for the songs, the writing is so good it’s hard to believe that this is only Gina’s second album. Other artists take years to reach this level. And Gina hasn’t been dipping into these songs for years and shaping them into the mini-classics they are; the songs were written between December 2004 and December 2005 while on various tours. If you liked Gina’s last album then ‘Miles Away’ will not disappoint, but if you are new to her talents then I envy you. Special moments like hearing Gina Villalobos for the first time are few and far between. Recommended without reservation.



Track Listing:-
1 Miles Away
2 Hard Enough
3 Don't Let Go
4 If I Can't Have You
5 Face On the Sheets
6 Lets Fall Apart
7 Don't Defeat Me
8 Somewhere to Lay Down
9 Tied to My Side
10 Somebody Save Me



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interviews


Interview (2005)
Gina Villalobos - Interview
Gina Villalobos' album 'Rock and Roll Pony' has earned her folk artist status, but also has roots in country and rock. She talks to Sarah Johnson about the accident which damaged and nearly lost her her sight, depression and her plans for her next record


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reviews


Can't Find My Way Home (2008)
Superb cover on new download only single from honeyed-voiced Californian musician Gina Villalobos, who takes Steve Winwood's classic song and makes it her own
Rock 'n' Roll Pony (2005)


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