Julie Corbalis "What's Up with this Heart?"

Julie Corbalis
"What's Up with this Heart?"

CD review by Roger Zee (04/21/16)

Julie Corbalis represents the latest blossom on the ever-blooming tree of musical Americana, all rooted in the soil of the late Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie. She writes songs about the mundane and not so mundane day-to-day issues that face us all -- love, longing, loss, protest, violence, and murder. Co-producer/engineer Fred Gillen Jr. presents Ms. Corbalis straight-up in a non-assuming, no-nonsense musical setting. It sounds like the band just set up in your living room. No auto-tuning here, not necessary! Musicians on the record include Julie Corbalis (vocals, guitar), Fred Gillen Jr. (guitar, vocals), Bryan Gordon (guitar), Julio Fernandez (guitar), Chris Corbalis (bass), John Madden (drums), Eric Puente (drums), Matt Turk (mandolin), Gary Shreiner (keys), Jeff Eyrich (bass), Paul Silverman (keys), and Jorge Caraballo (vocals).

So many well-written songs to enjoy here. Take the refrain from the joyous "Rhythm and Lead." "Oh baby, that's the spot. Meet me in that old diner parking lot. I'll bring guitars, honey, you bring the weed. I'll play rhythm and you play lead." I love the lilting, calypso bass line juxtaposed against the doomed, unrequited love of "Derek and Layla." "What are you left with to choose from honey? The man you don't want or the one you can't have." Tragedy continues with a husband's phone call to his wife in "I Won't Be Coming Home" written by Bryan Gordon. "See I killed a man just an hour ago and I don't think I'll be coming home tonight... Now I know I never should have been in that bar. But I swear to God, I didn't think that I hit him that hard. Now I got to keep on moving or I'll surely be killed. Because if justice don't find me, his family will." On a slightly lighter note, "Blue Sky Blues" celebrates the exquisite luxury of bailing out on the regular day-to-day crap and just lazily lying in bed all day even though the sun shines brightly.

And what would life be without venting a little anger against "The Man!" And who better to rage against in New York than Verizon. Phone company management pays themselves millions while laying off workers and demanding union health care and pension cutbacks. "Shame, shame, shame!" Corbalis continues the pro-union rant with the acapella sing-a-long, "Seven Days." "USA, USA, fighting for the unions of the USA. Big man say, big man say, I don't need your work today. Big man say, big man say, I got scabs to take your place."

Every once in a while, a plain, no-frills, well-sung song with a great melody and message penetrates Top Forty radio. I wouldn't be surprised if Julie Corbalis conquers the medium next! Quality sells.

2016 Roger Zee