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Donna Beasley: Reviews

Good Samaritan press

Donna Beasley “Love My Way” (Psychedelic Furs)
This song never really did much for me, what with the monotonous buzzing of those synthesizers and of the singer’s voice. “Languorous” isn’t a word I often use to describe the music of the Psychedelic Furs, but Donna Beasley infuses the song with an exquisite sense of languor.
3 1/2 Stars: Donna Beasley's parents were originally from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, but they moved to Sevierville, Tennessee in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park where Beasley was born and brought up. Her parents enjoyed country and bluegrass (her mother was from a family of guitar pickers and fiddlers) but her brothers introduced her to rock 'n roll and Beasley sang in fundamental Baptist churches. This wide range of influences can all be heard distilled into her music on this impressive debut album, "Good Samaritan".

"No One Here by that Name" has a retro country, Laura Cantrell feel with a glorious acoustic setting and drifting pedal steel. "I'm So Glad I Let You Love Me" is a breezy, up-tempo song with a Dolly Parton flavour that is accentuated by the harmony vocals of cowriter Elizabeth Cook, "Tying Knots in the Air" is a heartfelt ballad and "Run the Roads" hands out travel advice that includes the great line "I can't sleep when your bed is empty".

"There's A Reason" incorporates twangy country with a gospel flavour provided by some rich harmony vocals by Elizabeth Cook and Tim Carroll. The folk-like sentiment of "Cotton" is delivered by a jazzy accordion, and the memorable lyrics of "No Yesterday" are delivered over a string arrangement that brings to mind a Beatles song of similar title.

One of the most ambitious arrangements is the title song. There is a loping, asymmetric drum pattern that emphasizes the third and fourth beat, with unusual instrumental effects drifting in. It's a brave opener that takes a couple of listen to really appreciate.

Beasley is an impressive songwriter who has a hand in all the original material, with the two covers emphasizing Beasley's rock leanings. "Love My Way" was originally by the Psychedelic Furs and lives up to the originator's name, with the Indian raga-like melody; and the Pat Benatar power ballad "We Live For Love" has been successfully transmuted into a form of rock-bluegrass.

Beasley's voice has a beautiful clarity and impressive range, but also a shade of fragility and understated emotion that maintains an element of tension. There are good supporting performances, including female vocal trio The McCarters, Beasley husband Tom Spaulding on guitar and Tony Paoletta on pedal steel.

The broad range of influences works well, apart from a couple of tracks. The bluesy "After Dark" is rambling with a spongy backing and "City of Devils" is full of indulgent Doors-like psychedelia. As if to clear the palate after all this amalgamation of styles, the album finishes with the beautiful simplicity of "Rise Above", with Beasley singing with Joni Mitchell-like swooping range over just acoustic guitar and dobro. A perfect end to a fascinating album.
5 out of 5 stars: A superb debut release from a new country singer songwriter from East Tennessee, magically mixing both traditional and contemporary and coming up with that often missing ingredient, originality. When I first heard this superb album my heart missed a beat, sometimes you just know that you are listening to something special, something different, something with just that extra little ingredient that will make an album stand out from the rest. With GOOD SAMARITAN Donna Beasley has achieved all of the above and more. To be honest, there is not one bad track out of the featured thirteen. Regular readers will know how much I love a great opener and with title track and opener Good Samaritan Donna nails it. Fans of Alison Krauss will love this, great guitar from guitarist and husband Tom Spaulding and combined with a haunting vocal delivery from Donna, the song telling the tale of a five hour telephone conversation between Donna and a friend in need, it all makes for a stunning track. Cotton follows, this time a song about life in a cotton mill, a life experienced both by Donna’s Father and her Aunt and Uncle. The song paints a perfect picture of life in the mill, and with backing courtesy of Will Barrow on accordion and pedal steel from ace player Tom Paoletta all combining to give the song quite a European feel; it all creates something very different and quite unique. Classic country is the main ingredient on tracks such as No One Here By That Name and the wonderful I’m So Glad I Let You Love Me, this song, a co-write with Elizabeth Cook is a stunner, the track has hit single written all over it and with the glorious fiddle of Matt Coombs and Elizabeth Cook on harmony vocals it really could not fail to be a hit. It isn’t very often that a country singer covers a song by the Psychedelic Furs but with Love My Way Donna rises to the challenge and succeeds magnificently, making the song her own. Favourite track for me is There’s A Reason, a swinging country song about how it feels to fall in love, a bit like falling off a cliff, backwards, a strong song with great lyrics by Donna, it wont be long before this song is covered by another artist, thereby showing the quality of the song. City Of Devils displays a distinct change of direction with some spooky lyrics about life after dark in the big city, the track veering towards stoner rock with swirling electric lead from Bob Britt and Tom Spaulding, once again displaying an originality often sadly missing from a debut. Donna wrote or co wrote eleven of the tracks and they are quite simply, excellent, the only covers being the above-mentioned Love My Way and a countrified version of the Pat Benatar song We Live For Love, with Donna’s interpretation you would never guess it was written as a power rock ballad.

Donna has an impressive vocal range and this album showcases it perfectly, appealing to fans of both traditional country music and Americana and I can personally recommend that you add GOOD SAMARITAN to your collection as soon as possible.
If you're feeling jaded and oversaturated with the ubiquitous glut of the end of year posts, then let me recommend Donna Beasley to you. Her debut might just be the perfect antidote. Prick up your ears.

It's a strangely woozy album, redolent with the heritage of Donna's native Tennessee and referencing out to a much broader spectrum of country, pop, bluegrass, even jazz in the vocal delivery. Steady handed and confident, it's compellingly seductive. Give it a whirl - it's hard not to fall for".
- Lonesome Music (Jan 6, 2008)
...Very personal and passionate...a CD that deserves to be heard...
Remo Ricaldone - Susa Onda Radio, American Roots Radio, Italy (Nov 30, 2007)
"Good Samaritan" is a strong and very positive debut...
Massimo Ferro - Highway 61, American Roots Radio, Italy (Nov 24, 2007)
...All 13 songs are keepers, no filler. She has chosen well which numbers to make the most of her vocal style. Her voice has such a presence that all good country singers would trade a leg (or some other limb) for smoky, nasal, sexy, jazzy...

...Good songs brought by a singer with a beautiful and pure voice.
A well crafted set of songs…that show what ingenuity, creativity and possibility exists in a place where all too often it is the lowest common denominator that determines success...

…the combination of the pedal steel guitar and accordion is so well executed on the incredible "Cotton" that one is left to wonder why it isn't a staple feature on every country record, it is that amazing and authentic. Good as that is, it still is only augmentation for Beasley's voice on an incredibly original song...

…when she confounds contemporary country, she glows...

…an extremely captivating collection of material that deserves to be heard on a wide scale.
If my entire vocabulary consisted of only one word, I could still review Donna Beasley's CD, "Good Samaritan", provided that one word was "WOW". A lot of singer/songwriters seem to release albums with 3 or 5 really good songs, some of which may have a legitimate shot at being cut by mainstream artists, and then throw in 6 or 8 of what are usually referred to as "album cuts" or "B-sides". That isn't enough to get you noticed by the powers-that-be in Nashville, or any of the other music centers, any more. Happily, Ms. Beasley doesn't have that problem. This is a strong, strong collection of songs...

...Clearly, Ms. Beasley isn't limited to any one style and, in all honesty, she does them all very, very well....

...Overall, I'd say this is a very, very good record...

(For complete review, follow the link provided, click on "Music Reviews" then Rick Marchetti's reviews.)
USA Today, This Week's Playlist

Love My Way, Donna Beasley: Tennessee singer/songwriter gives this Psychedelic Furs tune an eerie, woozy sway.
"Best of 2007" List!

...Donna has an amazing vocal range...

...Donna is a very good -and I mean very good- songwriter, melody as well as lyrics...

..."No One Here By That Name" is the country song about lost love, with great acoustic guitar, fiddle and plaintive vocal, that should win many Awards...

...Various daring combinations, that work very well for Donna Beasley. Her beautiful, strong voice, with the flawless playing and production (Tom Spaulding) as a bonus, holds it together, while Donna skips through styles!

(For complete review, follow the link provided and click on "reviews".)
...Donna Beasley has taken her raspy vocals, calming melodies, inspiring lyrics, and simple, complex instrumentation to new heights in country music. Her exposure to various genres of music helps create an album with diversity for all types of country music fans, young and old...

(For complete review, follow the link provided and click on "reviews".)
...It's the subtly with which she hones her songs that is most, or perhaps least, apparent. Instead, the sometimes-sparse arrangements and smoky vocals share centerstage, carefully evocative of her vintage inspirations.

Do yourself a favor and go pickup a copy of this disc from Beasley, an East Nashville transplant, flip it into your player and enjoy the moment.

(For complete review, follow the link provided.)
"Good Samaritan" is a great album.
Will Kimbrough - (Apr 19, 2007)
"Stunning" is an understatement.
Elizabeth Cook - (Jan 17, 2007)