Self-released, 2012. Maura Rogers and the Bellows: http://www.maurarogers.com/
Somehow this was missed this back in late 2012 when it was released, and so I was asked to review it. Perhaps it is time to do so before their new release arrives. This is Rogers’ second release, the first a solo album in 2010 (Get Up Girl), and her band is, or was, relatively new when this was recorded. A singer-songwriter from Wickliffe, she has tried her hand at acting as well (Great Lakes Theatre Festival), and worked at open-mic nights in the area as she was getting started. She also performs as half of the Bean Sisters, with Meredith Pangrace, the accordionist for the Bellows.
Rogers wrote all the songs and is the lead singer on the album. She has a good voice, pleasantly strong and expressive, but delicate when necessary. Her style falls roughly into the category of Americana, with touches of country, folk, and rock in varying proportions, depending on the song. Sometimes a Southern tinge appears in her singing (“Mama Taught Me How,” “Cowboy Song”), other times a sound that sounds more like 1960’s rock (“Gone”). Lyrically, she deals with a broad range of themes, from love to family to life changes to sometimes more cynical topics, as in “Good Harm,” which rocks despite (or perhaps because of) the rather dark subject of the downside of fast times. “Dirty Blonde” and “Something More” both sketch out a complex relationships. “What the Doctor Said,” the closer, deals with medical issues, an unusual topic for music these days.
The ten songs here show us ten different views of Rogers the writer and perhaps the person, and all of them are fascinating, if at times enigmatic. Meanwhile, the band makes a successful effort to set the mood, with the focus on Meredith Pangrace, whose accordion helps to create the band’s unique sound. The band really gets to show off on “Norma Jean” (not about Marilyn Monroe), “Good Harm,” and the other fast tunes. If I had to pick a favorite, it has to be “Gone,” where Rogers lets loose and shows her blues side.
The band will be playing at the Beachland Tavern on November 11. Please check them out for an evening of fine music.
Personnel: Maura Rogers (vocals, acoustic guitar), Dan Jankowski (drums, percussion), Andy Liaskos (guitars, harmonica), Meredith Pangrace (vocals, accordion), Brent Stowe (bass), Kevin Montgomery (Hammond organ on Track 10).
Tracks: Dirty Blonde, Something More, Cowboy Song, Mama Taught Me How, All that You Give, Norma Jean, Gone, Good Harm, This Woman, What the Doctor Said.