Danny Jones - Independent Writer
Track #15 - "Too Good to Be Real"
Track #15 – “Too Good to Be Real”…..Reviewed with a different approach.
Without prior deliberation I can rattle off instant signature drum riffs in my memory as Van Halen’s “Jamie’s Crying”, Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight”, Dire Straits “Money For Nothing”, Rush’s “Tom Sawyer”, Ozzy’s “Ultimate Sin” and on and on and on. It would take more effort to stop listing them than to choose them. Here’s the point; you have written something well, whether it be a 3 second transition, a 5 strike intro, or an entire marathon-like solo, when a listener can instantly recall your work on such a broad question. Of course my memories and musical preferences are different, but the exercise is the same. I make no references of sound similarities listed above, or their comparison to the following…they are simply the first thoughts that came to me instantly. It doesn’t necessarily represent my favorite; it represents the achievement of the artists. I said all of that to say this, “Too Good to Be Real” has a signature drum line that will adhere to you like static electricity. Without specific description, it possesses an intrinsic feel…just like the aforementioned.
Now, let’s move on to the point. Strange as it may sound, keep the drum lines chosen, memorize them and put them on a shelf next to us. Good, let’s move on.
What is your favorite song coming to mind who qualifies by the best of show in the class of “best written and executed lyrics sung with vocals that just haunt you. Lyrics that nail it for you…whatever your “it” is. Turn around and put is next to the drum information.
Go ahead and plant your feet for this curve ball. Do not change the song that wants to answer this question instantly. Just let it be. What music, supporting a song, places a hook into the bottom of your soul and pulls you into and through the entire song EVERYTIME you listen to it? You know what to do with it.
Just to throw you off, what is the unique quality of the song that has raced through your thoughts since you began reading that has not fit the criteria of the few questions. What is it about it that song that still has your attention? As I inform you that everything I just described is what is known as a songs’ “hook”, go ahead and add it to the group of items in the shelf.
Let’s not take another step…or breath for that matter until we look at what is most definitely my favorite element of a song….The guitars – all of them. The Bass guitar, Acoustic, Electric…if it has strings and you can blast them through an amp – I love them. I’ll not bore you with the riffs that would instantly, and for hours come to mind…but go ahead and follow the same drill – extracting from that a perfect memory to add to the mix.
NOW, Offer me the first song, wait a minute, the first that qualifies by possessing all of your prior answers. It gets a bit tougher now doesn’t it? It does because, although there are more amazing songs available to your ears than the sum total of all of the grains of sand in the world, a great song only IS what it IS. If it exists due to only one or possibly many of the answers you had, it’s still amazing to you. But it is rare that all criteria are met, much less a song that will come to mind instantly. If you haven’t thought of one yet, and you didn’t think of one while stopping in the middle of my question…you don’t have one. Perfect. Then my job has now become much easier.
Commit yourself to an uninterrupted and quiet 3:33 to expose yourself to Track #15 – “Too Good to Be Real”. Before you hit the play button I need to interject the following:
However, this song isn’t the only one that I can think of that could be the answer to the final question, it is however the FIRST that came to mind! Therefore, there exists a possibility that after you listen a few times it could be yours as well.
Trying now to override my brain sending it’s signals to my spine, through my nerves and telling my wrists to pull away from this keyboard to keep it short, I realize the attempt to ignore it is going to be a losing proposition. So I must now contradict my typical and innate desire to allow copious amounts of words to flow in describing this amazing song to the lengthy degree of totally loosing you. Forcing myself to condense my thoughts into a short phrasing attempt: I suggest that you go listen to “Too Good to Be Real”, a song that, for me, contains everything on the shelf and much more. If it doesn’t qualify for the answer to this obscure exercise, that’s ok. It has just been a way to get you to listen. It’s been here all this time. You may quite possibly enjoy it to the extent that I will now be added to your Christmas card list every year because I brought it to your attention.
So in the spirit of “less said is more” I think it is about to happen, sorry I can’t tell you more about the song but I think my hands are about to involuntarily be pulled away from the
Cheers……enjoy. - Danny
I love this CD! The vocals and music mesh together in perfect harmony. My teenaged daughter, Angel (who is 16) asks me all the time to borrow the CD so she can listen to it in her room. I can't wait to hear the next CD.
- Danny Jones / Independent Writer
Track #5 - "Here I am"
Track #5 - “Here I am”
“Here I am”…Well, frankly I feel like I’m in a position of knowing a secret that you don’t. But I’ve never been known for being able to keep a secret – especially a phenomenal one. So, “Shhhhhh”…pay attention because I’m about to spill the beans. Except truth be told, this isn’t a matter of mere beans – my secret is this song and that I know that it’s a true gift...although my private awareness of this music is yet unknown to the world. Every time you’ll listen to it…this song will become a part of who you are inside, it matters not who you are. I enjoy the truth of my secret everyday…as should everyone, hopefully soon!
Now, if you haven’t made up your mind to purchase “No Turning Back” by now, well…I can’t really help you – other than suggest that you ought to seek some help. But when you do, you will end up with certain songs offering different things for you to enjoy. You’ll have categories. Personally, I have songs that rock me so hard and perfect I’m almost pulled out of my socks – I have adopted songs to serve as so lyrically accurate and melodic in nature they draw parallels in my life – to ballad types – or heck even songs that are just damn fun. I’ll tell you one thing for sure; “Here I am” is unequivocally the most “powerful” song on the CD. After listening to it a few times you’ll feel one thing…if you can sing well – you’ll have the desire to be singing along with the lyrics…if you can’t sing well – you’ll sing even harder. I find that I cannot sing it with enough feeling that it deserves…this is just amazing guys.
Par-a-dox…”any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature” – Webster’s. “Here I am “is a paradox, really. I’m here to say that music can be so much more than what your ears are hearing…and here’s a canvas before me to try to splatter the truth of this song before you. First, understand that the song is paradoxical in nature. It has two main technical components, as most songs do…the verses and the chorus’ basically speaking.
Here we enjoy some fantastic lyrics that lay out verses for us with the strength to move your heart…but with the subtle use of pure artistry they are sung with such a calm, quiet, melodious tone over the most beautiful accompanying music, then Wham, “Here I am” explodes into the chorus with such amazing “Power”…you cannot help but feel it travel down your arms raising hairs as it goes. I’m not making a reference to up-tempoed thumping guitars, backed with bass and a bullet train of drums turned up to 11…no, I’m referring to the eruption of “power” in its truest definition. This intensity of pure strength and energy exists only in the chorus’, then once sung…fade back to calming melody…but NEVER changing the fluid thought or subject matter. Like trying to complete sentence, but halfway through changing languages. THAT is where “Here I am” is a paradox to me. It exists with two completely opposing contradictory elements. It is so beautiful, and to throw more words to the litany of previously used ones, well for this listener it has forever changed the man I am today…on the inside as well as the outside. Guys, these aren’t songs here, they are contained messages of feeling and hope that will always touch and inspire the ears they fall upon…please do not listen to this song once without knowing that.
Oddly enough, in some instances a moving force that impacts you the most may just be something small. For example, “Here I am” has a beautiful trademark acoustic intro from Jeff that I’ve really come to love like so many other songs on the CD…then at 00:13 to 00:27 there is a short electric guitar interrupting Jeff’s strumming with a lead progression that bridges his guitar over to the first verse that exhibits the most raw emotion from an instrument I may have ever heard. It’s only 14 seconds long, but it has such unrestricted feeling to it, you can hear it speak right into your heart every time you hear it. AGAIN, another example of a CTS tune where I’ll start it and listen to a few measures just to back it up again because it’s just so right.
Then, after I listened a few times I had to face the reality that I was really wrong about its lyrical content. I heard it the first time with a certain perspective and viewpoint, and then upon a second turn it shifted. About three or four listens into the experience I began to appreciate the haze clearing before me, just to begin to really understand and feel the songs truth. It has yet to fail to impact me deeper every time I have listen…and trust me – I’ve listened.
Aside from that short note, I have concluded after lengthy deliberation within myself that I’ll not speak anymore of the lyrical content of “Here I am”…maybe I’ll be successful in leaving you intrigued…for you should be! Even better than that – I can offer a really enticing little tidbit; one that I will intentionally leave open ended. I’ve really no estimate of how many rotations that this CD has turned towards me – but today I caught something that even after all this time blew my doors off as it came from nowhere, I’m a fortunate man I wasn’t blinking. Today I noticed the exact track time at which point the most emotionally and dramatic moment of the song is heard was an eerily significant number. Instant chills raced over me as I caught it. The significance of this is such a wonderful experience, if you buy “No Turning Back” hopefully you will encounter it as well…I wish you the best of luck in finding this magnificent moment, I truly do.
Additionally, I have found myself listening to this song in an almost “visual” sense. I picture the guys out in a desert…absolutely nothing to be seen anywhere (to symbolize being alone)…Jeff delivers his soul in such a dramatic fashion as the guys support him as a shadow would. They sing and play their hearts out for us… We don’t deserve this song people! Progressing into the song and reaching the chorus, my eyes see them continuing without interruption but are now being drenched in pounding rain (to symbolize not being alone). Then, corresponding with the dramatic moment I previously eluded to in an evasive manner…Jeff would then just collapse to his knees in pools of mud now below him…it’s all choreographed in my mind. You should see it the way I do – it’s something.
Now, if you’ll permit me I’d like to change subject and focus on a specific tangent here that will not flow well as far as my writing in this review goes. Cue “right turn blinker” now…
Displayed here in “Here I am” as with all 15 other tracks I could easily proclaim one thing (one of many that is) about Jeff Senour, “No Turning Back” and the entire CTS band and experience in general…and rest assured it is an experience : and the declaration is this—Jeff is a singers songwriter. Overdonewithgonefinalendofstory.
Inasmuch as, for example, Jon Bon Jovi & Richie Sambora (vocals/guitars –“Bon Jovi”) are world renowned performers known for their visual spectacle with their bands intense, energy filled stage presence, to the timeless sound and flavor of their music performed for and loved by millions of fans to the resonance of Jon’s signature vocals…their most refined talent is songwriting. Their cumulative efforts of actually penning the lyrics that are the life’s blood that flows through their songs initial birth and existence are what has truly earned the fame, recognition and the notoriety they have richly deserved. It is (for the most part – unless you’re a female loving the simple physical look of the timeless genre upon which he just may reign) the reason for their popularity. What I’m trying to awkwardly articulate through too many run on sentences is that JEFF SENOUR IS A TRUE TALENTED SONGWRITER before everything else. As an impromptu example that literally just popped in my thoughts, I will elaborate this way--. Buy the CD. Put the CD in an envelope and mail it to yourself. Once it’s gone open the cover jacket to see the lyrics to the songs. Start anywhere…read one, before continuing stop – THAT is poetry. Now, from there, read the balance of the songs…without pausing until you reach where you began – THAT is a story. Do yourself a real favor and buy his previous music – rinse and repeat – THAT when combined with this is an epoch. People he is a songwriter. Put music to this and you have CTS.
CTS are not a band, a sound, or anything of the like that you would traditionally define a group of men doing what these men do. They have something to say, without ever saying the words, they want you to feel what they do, without really telling you how to feel, they are more about a larger than life message of hope, rather than showing us that their message is hoping to have a larger life. They are humble, they are genuine, they are honest and they are men true to themselves and what they believe. THAT is the heartbeat that pumps Jeff’s poetry throughout the music…Whether it be “Here I am”----or hell, even “Invisible”
- Danny Jones / Independent Writer
"Heads up everyone!"
Heads up everyone, if you’re like myself, and have found that you have been eagerly awaiting any new, blow your mind, off the charts music to come from anywhere during such a stagnated time, pay attention.
CTS is your answer, it has been mine. Grab onto these guys now so you’ll be able to say “I was there just as they got huge”.
The members of CTS are: Jeff Senour – Lead vocals/Guitar, Dave Legassey – Bass Guitar/Vocals, Eric Hansen – Lead Guitar/Vocals, Joe McGinnity – Drums. And these guys are phenomenal!
I have an extremely critical ear, and have no problem proclaiming that when it comes to music…I set the bar pretty damn high. This band has leaped over that bar. I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to have seen them live and witnessed the raw energy and presence, spent countless hours intently listening-studying every note and lyric with headphones, and since owning it I have filled every mile driven with this CD in my car. WOW.
It’s hard to describe the talent they have; probably the best that I could say to sum it up quickly would be to mention that I’m currently listening to my second copy. The first I owned, I literally-literally never heard anything past track #1. If you buy this CD (and you will) for this song alone, its money well spent.
The CD entitled “No turning back” offers such a wide spectrum of emotion and sound. Ranging from the joy felt in youth, yearning to be back home while lonely and far away, to the wonderful feelings love brings you, as well as pain; everyone will be able to associate with this music at some or many levels. Personally, I listened in astonishment as Jeff sang lyrics as if I would to my wife, or describing a place deep within where I truly believed no one could ever understand. He is a talented songwriter. You will enjoy perfect harmony between he and Dave/Eric during many, many times throughout the tracks.
Track #1, a song entitled “Invisible” just grabbed me by the collars and took me for a ride. When the song would end simply listened to it over, and over and over. To this date it has never let me go, nor let me down…and I don’t expect that it ever will!
Introduced with this really cool larger than life feedback based guitar screaming with vibrato and a sustain that seems to last forever climbing up through the octaves, it seems to fall from the sky ripping back and forth. Eric pulls you straight down into to a perfectly timed - machine mesh of bass and drums that set’s not only the tempo and groove for the song, but sets you back on your heels! Joe lets you know that he’s there to fuel this song with energy and to bring the thunder time and time again with power as Dave’s driving bass line just seems to step up and down and then through the beat.
Buckle up for this one as Jeff’s vocals complete the equation singing with the pure emotion only that which you thought only you understood. The chorus has a faded tremolo feel as it’s sung to a woman who herself is hiding behind a lonesome gaze dealing with fears she faced, he stands before her appearing to be “invisible” or maybe she’s the one who’s just lost – or blind.
The music and lyricism is simply brilliance in my mind. As you follow the chorus of this perfectly set stage, you are interrupted time after time with this intense slamming of guitar, bass and drums, pounding right through your chest. At first you simply think it’s just the coolest thing you’ve ever heard, but it actually enables you feel and experience the calm of love within a relationship, then it’s opposing anguish and pain the man feels represented by the sheer repetitive power of the song, like the pounding of a racing heart. The melody has a perfect hook, and will stick in your head.
You cannot, well I cannot listen to this song at all, ever, without keeping time with it, it’s impossible not to. You will be pounding your heel straight into the ground.
Towards the end you are hit with a wall of drums and the lead guitar swoops down and grabs this song, at which point this thing takes off as if it’s going to pulled straight off the surface the CD! You’ll find yourself wanting to scream out with Jeff as Eric just keeps pulling notes higher and higher….”Invisible” simply sounds like it’s about to snap!
It’s a perfect illustration of countless other examples within the songs where the music alone is so well written and played translates and expresses the exact representation of the words Jeff has written. The music defines the lyrics, and the lyrics define music.
For the life of me I cannot comprehend why this isn’t being saturated into radio. It blows away anything I’ve heard in quite some time; again I have a very, very critical ear. Even my 5 year old little girl sings it word for word as we drive, it’s just amazing. It is infectious, powerful, emotional, written with perfection and executed with musical precision…it is so damn good…it leaves you wanting more, especially when heard live. Which now that I can listen further into the CD I find that the appetite that this track 1 has created is very well satisfied by the remaining music. Hold on.
Danny Jones / Independent Writer
Track #5 - "Hit and Run" - Catch them as they go by, for CTS is a moving entity…
“Hit and Run”
Epinephrine (ěp'ə-něf'rĭn) Pronunciation Key
A hormone that is secreted by the adrenal gland in response to physical or mental stress, as from fear, and is regulated by the autonomic nervous system. The release of epinephrine causes an increase in heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rate. Epinephrine also raises glucose levels in the blood for use as fuel when more alertness or greater physical effort is needed. Also called adrenaline. Chemical formula: C9H13NO3. – “Webster’s”.
So, OK, here you go – wanna feel like you could just beat the hell outta anything that today’s world could ever throw your way? Push the play button on Track #6 – “Hit and Run”; and then turn up your speakers “to eleven”. Dig in, for you will feel such a tremendous rush of pure adrenaline as the first few moments of the song take you off guard, it’s unbelievable!!
A raspy 3 chord riff from an electric guitar dialed in with (what sounds to this listener like reverb, delay and compression) sling-shots out to break the silence, stair-stepping over itself directly into a full kit of bass and tom drums which hit you with a combination of powerful blows just as a heavyweight boxer would. As this dramatically grows; time stops for an instant when, if you’re like me, you will note you’ve now involuntarily snapped your head towards the speakers in earnest with eyes wide open as this riff hits a crescendo if you will at “0:09”. This beautiful moment in time is marked by a single, perfect cymbal crash upon which this larger than life bass pounds you down like you’re his nail. You will feel as if you’ve sustained a blow right to your chest. WOW, does this thing take off now! Everything seems to be magnified; the bass vibrates more – guitars buzz tighter – drums are now incorporated with their percussion counterparts. This is my definition of organized chaos. I fell in love with this song by this point on my first listen.
This is so very cool people, all of this has occurred before the first lyric has been sung. You instantly have the feeling that something cool is in store, for this introduction just boils over with attitude. Something in store like jammin rock served CTS style!
Jeff lands without losing his balance releasing his trademark lyrics fitting together like pieces to a musical puzzle would. This is definitely a statement-driven song as you’ll easily discern that he has really, really got something to say here. By the way, I’ll give you some advice, step aside here ‘cause he’s focused, on target and determined to express himself and his message. In other words, get on board and enjoy this – or get the hell outta the way ‘cause he and the boys will run down this one.
Perfectly snapped into place with this killer rock groove are lyrics like:
“… never saw what was about to happen…”
“… did you really mean what you’re heart became?...”
“… seems everyone forgets what matters …”
People, lines like that could only ever exist within the framework of this amazing music.
“… did you really mean what your heart became?...” Are you kidding me?? Genius. I’m certain there must exist a Nobel Prize for rock and roll lyricism. I just need to obtain the contact information because ladies and gentlemen we definitely have a candidate here in Jeff Senour. Damn!! Amazingly, all of this has been encompassed within the borders of the first chorus; you can just use your imagination for what must lie ahead of you ahead. I really believe I must have hit the rewind button at least three times at this point of “Hit and Run” when I was first exposed to “No Turning Back”.
The guys continued to hold me for musical ransom as I began to wonder if Jeff had actually been replaced with a second version of himself, kinda like Jeff on steroids if you will. Because, whichever one has the microphone is vocally expressing himself in a phenomenal manner. Don’t assume that I’m referring to things like correct use, upper body posture or the distance you keep from the mic as it changes as the levels of your volume fluctuate. No, no. I’m speaking of an inherent element that cannot be taught. Due to his own intrinsic vocal signature he is able to alter the zero ° level to tilt a few degrees towards the crazy side of the “lunatic fringe”. Let me be perfectly clear and concise readers – this is a good; no this is a GREAT thing. Again, you really sense that there’s something on Mr. Senours mind.
After you buy the CD and listen to “Hit and Run” you may, like I did, wish you could even see him sing as you listen. Just so you could have a visual of how he and the band are rippin’ this out.
None of this is occurring, by the way, without my continued awareness of the deep thumping bass that has been blowin’ my hair back since the song began. You know, it’s really hard not to focus on not focusing and just enjoying the music as a whole when something this specific is noticed – but man he’s good. He rocks!
Then – are you ready for this? – You’re going to hear one of the coolest, most infectious choruses you’ll be exposed to in a long time. I have the desire to actually write it out in full for you word for word, but the decision not to turned out to be an easy one. The bands musical progression that remains beneath Jeff as he takes off will reverberate through your head over and over. It tells you the story of “Hit and Run” in a few perfectly penned lines. In addition to that, it exposes as truth that, as a society, we do not want to be exposed to or have this truth revealed to us. Jeff has seen it and is opening our eyes; we quickly find that he’s right.
The measurable deteriorating attitude that the mainstream society has towards everything important and sacred – has spiraled down to where we, as good honest people are no longer that. The importance of truth, honesty and goodness together with mutual respect towards each other has lost all meaning. We see a state of decay in the human spirit everywhere we look. This is all symbolized lyrically as being vehicularly paralleled as you are just another victim of a “Hit and Run”.
This analogy is symbolized in my mind as Jeff runs from the imminent car crash bearing down on him, running out of control – trying to evade the actual collision that would reflect our human condition at this point, and how close we are to our own demise. If you could see the video in my head for a song you have yet to hear, it would blow your mind.
You see, its stuff like which makes me upset that I’m a writer in this capacity and not a rock star like Jeff and all of the guys in CTS. Truth be known, I selfishly wanna be the one who came up with this concept, then had the talent of songwriting executed at this echelon, or could perform the type of rock and roll like CTTS as a whole does. This sucks, I wish I were one of these guys after hearing “Hit and Run”! Go buy this CD now!
Oh but wait, there’s more. I would be remiss if I didn’t remark on a couple more secrets.
As the guys cycle through the well-built frame of verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, etc. We are treated with the familiar guitar solo. Lead guitar proves once again that he’s able to pull this whole thing up as far as he chooses. Actually, that’s exactly what he does. He begins slowly, and remaining in perfect time with the ever present backing of bass and drums, tugging 8 single notes up into a cocktail of double strummed chords, tap harmonics and single notes either dramatically hit or bent and sustained. Beautifully accompanied with the combination style tom/bass drums as mentioned in the beginning; the end of “Hit and Run” is most definitely fading away. But it’s here where I let my guard down and the coolest effect occurred. My trained ear was anticipating where the structure would tend to go when I was treated to the lead guitar slamming his tremolo bar (an actual bar that in short, can be bent down releasing the tension on all 6 strings at once – or up to pull them tighter. Producing an infinite range of differing sounds’ pitch) down to the face of the guitar and onto his pick-ups. Time froze as I heard the snake-like slapping of his lower “E” string bouncing to a complete stop, emitting the most incredible sound. As quickly as it occurred, he slowly pulls it back up into the awaiting band mates continuing as if nothing occurred.
Have I mentioned that these guys are incredible?
To sum it all up, as Jeff sings this one out the door…we again are able to enjoy another effect from guitar…as if we deserve anymore - he executes an impression of an ambulance in the background, racing up to, by and then away from you…obviously on the way to the collision site. Brilliance.
I could speak forever about “Hit and Run”, but I’ll do just as it does…and just as quickly as it began – with a single, perfect cymbal crash the song ends.
Danny Jones – Independent Writer
“Catch them as they go by, for CTS is a moving entity…moving up that is – quickly!”
Danny Jones - Independent Writer
Track #12 "The Stager" - "Quarter Mile" Intro
Track #12 “The Stager” "Quarter Mile" Intro
Simply said, this will not be easy.
It will not be easy to describe the next piece of music on the CD, or even remotely obtain any degree of accuracy in reviewing this. The next track is called “The Stager”. I cannot tell you what this sounds like, I really shouldn’t even try…however I will. Forgive me if this makes no sense at times…but you’ll need to understand that I have returned empty on my search for words to describe this.
“The Stager” is an instrumental/introduction to a really great song on the album that I’ll speak of soon, but if you think of it as an instrumental then you aren’t getting it. An instrumental is obviously a recording of instruments. If you listen to this and hear instruments – an acoustic and electric guitar; then you’ll never get it. You’re listening and not hearing. The guitars played here aren’t instruments, they are…well they are thoughts, feelings, unspoken words, memories, powerful emotions, strong whisperings that exist deep within each one of us…these beautiful sounds are extremely powerful tools that will not exclude anyone with their ability to actually take you far, far into yourself….in a very good way! I can describe it in a manner as such that it will begin to take you wherever, or whenever you have strong feelings or memories in your life – past or present. It is in that fashion that I can say that “The Stager” will touch everyone.
Let’s back up. First, you should use headphones for this experience. If you don’t have any, borrow some, if you can’t borrow some – steal some, if you can’t steal some…give me your address and I’ll loan you mine!
Then, close your eyes, that is a must. Lay back, let it begin…hear the music. Then allow yourself to go where it takes you. Some may experience the happiness that something in your past brought you, some may feel pain. At times you will feel lost and helpless, another listen and you will feel the feelings of enthusiasm to live life to the fullest well up inside you and just choke you up. Most often you will feel love, in its entire array of feelings.
Technically speaking…and only that, Jeff begins, leads you through, and then releases you with a beautiful series of extended acoustic chord progressions. They flow seamlessly within each other…as if to describe or communicate a story to us. You can easily hear the story, differently each time you listen.
This is not without the background accompaniment of Eric’s electric guitar. I have truly heard it range from weeping in the background, screaming to be heard, actually almost having a conversation with…or agreeing with what Jeff is relaying to us. He is so far back…back in the distance - yet heard perfectly. Eric’s ability to express himself through his instrument is absolutely haunting! His guitar cries almost with swells and single notes extended with his tremolo bar. As Jeff seems to express a thought or emotion through his acoustic, the electric guitar instantly answers.
While continuing to listen with closed eyes; you may have images of canyons in the wilderness or possibly an amazing sunset…then you’ll know that you’ve been touched, touched in a manner that was sought by the artists – and people these are artists here.
I actually do have one complaint here with this piece…and it is a large one. As beautiful as “The Stager” is, I truly wish it weren’t half of the band that I was hearing. I wish I could hear the Drummer and Bassist as well…I’ve become to really love them.
Danny Jones - Independent Writer CTSfan1@hotmail.com
Track #12 - "Quarter Mile"
Track #12 - "Quarter Mile"
Drums, Drums, Drums! Each song has many elements – “Quarter Mile” is no exception, but here let’s definitely begin with the drums!
Throughout this song, and it’s an unbelievable one – trust me, you will seem to “ride” on top of them. Joe just absolutely pounds this thing into the dirt with a perfectly timed delivery of bass drums and alternated toms that frame this infectious beat. It’s so damn cool. When I listen to this track the drums carry me through the music and lyrics i.e. I “ride” on the drums. Without the way he plays this song it would not achieve the feeling it has. As he plays in a fashion dissimilar to other songs, the power felt through the chorus may be a result of his playing slightly off time with Jeff’s singing. He lays down beats that aren’t just a single sound as you may first think. The effect he achieves is a result of what’s known as a “flam”. This is where he strikes one beat, slightly diminished, sheer milliseconds before the major beat played….so you are actually hearing two separate strikes executed on the deeper toned toms to seem like one. The result is such a feeling of presence, strength and utter power. It has a specific mood to it…this is directly as a result of the talent Joe shows off here…and it’s only a piece of the pie – just wait!!
I really don’t know where to start here; it seems as if I have a million words to say about this song – all wanting to come out at once. I can and will tell you one thing…look around, find something solid – and hold onto it for dear life…this will beat you to hell in such a cool way!! Think of it as preparing to experience categorized hurricanes!
Also, before I go any further – when you play “Quarter Mile” you do not hear or listen to it…you are “in” it. As much as I have meticulously studied, broken down, and just heard to enjoy the music, for the life of me I have no clue how this experience of alternated presence is achieved…but it rocks BIG TIME!
OK, let’s back up, I realize I’m getting a little “all over the place” we’ll start at the beginning.
This song, as with many others on the CD, begins slowly and calmly as the layering effect is apparent. It’s awesome…I’m no expert here, but I believe I can hear seven overlays clear as a bell. The bass line is really cool sounding and will stick in your head, the percussion never waivers from “Swiss watch” timing. The lead guitar in this introduction actually has to pull off the most technically difficult progression on the entire CD. He must seamlessly, and more importantly execute three separate components of his intro, all at the same sound level…and can only do so with volume knob trickery. He must double pick a single note, strum a clean chord…and then execute very difficult “tap harmonics” (tapping the neck with one finger on your strumming hand at exact locations while holding a chord with your left – really hard to do…especially live) but he can only have the harmonics heard if he really swells up his volume after the clean chord, without sounding too loud. Sounds like a bunch of technical nonsense, but I just want to point out that even the most overlooked parts of these songs are far more than they appear. Also, don’t miss the fills and changes as the timing alternates that the drummer executes, it’s like bullets coming at you…so cool!
At this time they have reached the summit of a nice powerful repetitive series of bass bars that establish the tone and texture of “Quarter Mile”. It then let’s go of you just in time to begin to hear Jeff’s voice.
Holy crap – watch out. There exists an almost “intimidating” seriousness to his voice. You feel that the focus and intensity of each word and lyric that he releases could just melt lead. Folks, he’s for real here as he sets us up for his story in a straight up, honest, whip your butt kinda way. He immediately gets you jacked up and jazzed to an extent that you begin to believe you could take on the world or at least anything that came your way. As the first few moments of listening to him sing you can almost feel your heart rate increase and your senses heighten. THERE is another perfect example of talented musicians and brilliant songwriting can manipulate your feelings. They have made you really “feel” different here, and they wanted to do it – NOT an easy task (maybe that’s why you feel like you’re “inside” the experience)
He sings of being aware of the burning desire within himself to reach any of his goals and dreams. He’s living proof that you can do that. He paints a picture of the analogy that living your life a “quarter Mile” at a time, and living that race to the finish line is similar to reaching and (if we try hard enough) achieving our goals. Um, brilliant. Hearing the song you totally feel like you’re in the race he describes.
I’m getting known now for quoting a particular line sung in each song that I like…here I’ll state that not only is it my favorite in the song…but this line is my favorite of the CD. The first line of the second chorus has just hit me like a 2” x 4”…and keeping in mind that I’m “in” the song – I can just picture myself standing by Jeff’s side and turning to him as he sings “my motor’s hot –I can feel the heat wave”. Hold Christmas!! – That’s it for me…it is just the most amazing line. Keep in mind I’m in the music…Have I mentioned that CTS is incredible?
You will find a favorite part…because you WILL by the CD…but that’s my favorite lyrically executed line, there are so very many…but that one takes the cake, as well as the bakery!
Another very critical element that I feel the responsibility to make note of is as follows: Most songs heard (and this is by no means a bad thing) the music from the individual instruments is heard in a cumulative sense to end up to a finished sound…often times a sound that rocks. But in “Quarter Mile” to my ear, I can clearly distinguish all of the instruments each separately and cleanly for the length of the track. The “driving right at you” bass laying down the power, the drums and percussion are equally discerned throughout the song from start to finish heard constantly (you can’t help but keep time with this song…I dare you). Both guitars never fade into anything, but only remain true to the song, never “leaning” on one another. You are happily aware of everything the guys are doing as the “parts” of the sum result in a rare occurrence in music. People again, don’t miss that. Now to be honest; just because I can pick something out – or notice a specific element doesn’t mean that I know how they did this…then again I have lots of questions that remain unanswered with this track. Maybe I should just leave it open and remain a mystery – with the exception however that, as this song has now pumped enough adrenaline in me that could fuel my truck for about a week or so…I’m very aware that it was completely pulled off by CTS, ‘nuff said.
Danny Jones - Independent Writer.
Track #7 “Eye on You”
Track #7 “Eye on You”
There are things in your daily life that just sound good to your ears, with no specific reason – they just do. The introduction to “Eye on You” just sounds so damn good! Not that the rest of the CD isn’t great…at this point of my reviews it should be painfully obvious that I love it – it’s more of a matter that the beginning 24 seconds of this track is played for you in such a “right” way - your ears will love this!
To be more specific, Jeff begins the song playing alone; strumming away acoustically for about four bars or so. I’m no expert but, to my ear, it sounds like he is playing a binary triad of a drop-D tuned chord…or possibly a composition of two chords – one major - the other minor; one being played diminished, also dropped in tuning. In lamens terms…he plays for us a series of three separate discernable tones arranged in such a manner to be pleasing to our ears. Then repeats it, playing it once and then again. Not to sound too technical, but I have often found that getting specific it’s a useful tool in describing the framework of sound…in this case it’s one of the best ways I know of to convey how this tune begins. Simply stated – it’s good, it’s catchy. Arranged to produce an addictive sound and – well, to cut myself off – it sounds like something you would hear Don Henley play on an Eagles album.
People, this band is so good, I cannot stress enough that I’m only speaking of the first 24 seconds here! Imagine the next few minutes coming at you.
With just a hint of echo and delay, the trademark vocal signature of CTS shows up – Jeff Senour style! I suppose I’m really tuned into the talent I hear; but in this song – the manner in which he drapes the lyrics over his continued acoustic strumming just really “pops”
In all vocal instances; two distinct components can be easily detected – one, the actual lyrics written and two, the delivery of them. “Eye on You” is a great song constructed of some really well written and fun words, lines, lyrics and thoughts…but I like the number two here, the delivery of them. They don’t necessarily start from or land on the measures of the beat…sometimes they’ll fly right over a natural phrasing intersection. But people don’t miss this subtle technique, for you’ll find that it’s not only repeated lyrically - but you will notice it musically as well. Well, you may – or may not…but you’ll notice a slight difference in this song’s “texture” as opposed to others on “No turning back”…I’m here to suggest that this is one of the contributing factors.
I find that Jeff combines his thoughts here into the lyrics to “Eye on You” in an interesting manner. The intro isn’t really written to rhyme – nor sung to fit snugly into the tempo. Think of it this way: generally speaking - if music were mathematics, Jeff has ended up with a jammin’ algebraic equation that you’ll tap your foot to – and/or get stuck in your head.
Now, let’s move forward to where his band mates jump in and the fun starts!
To crank this thing up a notch or 20 into what Jeff has prepared for this track, the guys give the song their own introduction electrically. Remaining true to the acoustic chord progression they jam out a few measures of controlled chaos, almost just to announce their presence. Then, through an alternated beat I heard the coolest thing – just like the prize at the bottom of a Cracker Jacks box…tambourines. You’re kidding, and they sound cool!! I love when their used really well, and here they definitely are.
Finally we arrive at the first verse. This must be pointed out. The groove that the guys achieve here is not an accident, it’s a result of a pretty technical process that will never be heard in garage band playing…just know this-what you’re hearing is obtained, it is on purpose, well planned, thought out - and by no means easy…and yes it is the reason for the awesome groove – because this is feeling and emotion heard through the instruments as they are only a pathway to the musician’s hearts without obstruction. Before the songs end you’ll be jammin from this alone.
I’m probably going to fail; but I’m going to take a stab at describing it. The drums and percussion are laid down at tempo-and then remain clockwork precise. Then the bass and guitars (at the beginning of a single beat) are palm-muted twice then strummed away… just to be pulled back like a rubber band to land perfectly at the next drum beat, and so on. Kind of a “thump, thump, wow...thump, thump, wow” result. Don’t see any simplicity in this, as it’s a tool to be combined with Jeff’s singing. Now remember how I spoke of his lyrics and that they didn’t necessarily “land” right, and are sometimes sung over predicted stopping points? Well now piece the two together and you’ll hear that the end result is a complicated tempo designed to augment an incredible delivery of vocals. Guys, these people are very, very talented – but better than that…they are fun. This is definite “feel good” sound…wait a minute –it’s CTS sound. To repeat myself…they can blister your ears with power, move your heart in ballads, have fun with songs like this…and never, ever lose their talent and quality as they surprise you with diversity. BUY THIS.
I’ve turned this CD in circles for miles I’ll bet since I’ve had it and I finally have to ask…who is this woman he continually sings about? She must be pretty incredible – and really fill his heart. For in she shows up again in this song as well. My interpretation of this song is that during a sleepless night somewhere in nowhere, he begins to reflect back on his past. How it’s been a crazy ride, sometimes maybe a little out of control, he allows his thoughts to turn to her, for she’s been there for everything he remembers as important, and is the basis for everything filling his chest. How she was there during good and bad…not necessarily just to witness it – but he’s realizing now, maybe almost put up with it sometimes. Though, he never –ever would have intentionally tried to cause her any pain, the awareness that how could his actions not have hurt her leads him to recommit his love…state that things will change, and from now on he tells her I’m gonna have an “Eye on You”. He means it, he really does. This interpretation was easy for me to form in my heart…because Jeff is a songwriter, not just a singer.
This song for me is no exception where I can draw parallels in my life and kind of hear me singing these words to my wife. Holding true to: “his – at least one per song – line” that becomes my favorite, in this instance it is “I made you my mistake” – especially when it’s heard later in the song, but sung at an unexpected elevated pitch…I just really, really like his songwriting. “I made you my mistake”, think about that. With no intent at the time, he now reflects back and can see that the sum total of his errors inadvertently funneled to her. His mistake was treating her the way he did, but how many artists could have written that occurrence in this manner?
Allowing my attention and focus to turn back towards the actual amazing music that I’m hearing, a smile pulls the corners of my mouth up to wide eyes as I slightly shake my head back and forth. In a millisecond I admit to myself that I could truly listen to this sound, and these guys creating it, without any vocals at all. That suggests nothing at all about Jeff, but everything about the guys. They play like they’ve been best friends since boyhood and grew up in CTS. It’s so natural and flows so well. Anyway, it was something I noticed effortlessly as I listened.
Without describing each instrument, their role in each element of the song, or how amazing it sounds – I can quickly remark on a few things that jumped out from my first listen. The drummer plays with feeling – PERIOD. Yes, he’s technically adept and will never drop time or waiver in keeping the framework for essentially everything upon which the song rests…but past the point where many – no most players would call their comfort zone and play all day long…he adds what they lack. Heart and feeling. I would notice that my ears would fade in and out of focusing specifically on him, but moreover I sensed my entire body, not just my foot waiving back and forth to his efforts. Heart/ feeling +emotion x talent/ability = the humble drummer in CTS. The guy could act like an arrogant rock star with possessing this quality…but you seem to sense, at least I do, that he couldn’t be further from that. OK people, watch this….don’t miss it, this is just another sliver of the pie that comprises the cumulative description of CTS and everything they are about. Do not miss that!!!
Finally, and probably due to the fact that I key in on guitars to a freakish degree, I must close on a remark concerning his work. I think this is the only instance on the CD “No Turning Back” where he uses a slide in his playing. (a small tube of varying materials metal/plastic that slips over his finger, usually his pinky or ring finger on his left hand – that when used results in a unique “tinny” sounding sliding effect…very cool) At any rate, he uses the slide for the beginning of his solo (AWESOME) and then returns to his regular mechanical style for the balance. Stay focused here so I don’t lose you. I could go into any degree of technical detail to describe how the solo sounded…or how good he is, probably to the point where you’d be lost, but no. I don’t wish to do that. Not that he’s not really good, or that the solo sounded great – because both are true – I want to bring your attention to such a small detail you’ll probably think I’m crazy (although I am) I’ll be as clear as I can so this is easy to key in on. The amount of time it takes for a player to remove his slide, and return to playing in his normal manner, is something that – especially when executed live is extremely difficult to do without sounding like he just did something like that. NOW, the solo in “Eye on You” only has a period of time lasting 1/10th of a second between the two styles of playing…you need to be really, really good to pull this off. Especially when needing to continue after the transition and not make an error in finger placement. This guitar player burns through this action without missing a beat nor missing the accuracy of his next note. To illustrate, put your keys in your left hand…begin to blink as you drop them to the ground and then touch your finger to your nose before your eyes open. That’s pretty much what I’m trying to say.
I understand that may seem minute, but it’s massive.
Talent oozing from the smallest of things.Talent just laying everywhere, talent right in your way, enough talent to trip you, enough talent to…oh hell with it…enough talent to be CTS!!
Danny Jones – Independent Writer
Danny Jones - Independent Writer
Track #3 - "My House"
Stop whatever it is that you’re doing and go search for the first person you can find on the street. Ask them what would be the first thing to come to their mind if you said the word “Anthem”. Of course, you and anyone else reading this knows that the answer will be “The National Anthem”.
Most of us are aware that the song was penned by Francis Scott Key in 1814, after the bombing of Fort McHenry by Great Brittan had ended. An uneasy Key looked to see that our Flag had been risen signaling victory. To be extremely succinct, this moving experience inspired the “Star Spangled Banner”…later to be named our “National Anthem” by Congress.
I would like to submit that, if I had been the one you found on the street, my answer would have been rapid and different. Without question, Track #3 – “My House” is nothing but an Anthem in my mind by the purest of definitions. No kidding. No joke. Believe it or not that’s what I said…”ANTHEM”!
In an act that as I strike these keys I will even surprise myself, I’m getting prepared to use a word in describing a song released by an amazing Rock Band that seems a bit out of the ordinary. “My House” is an absolutely…unequivocally…BEAUTIFUL song!!!! Have you ever actually felt something physically move in your chest? Of course you have – wanna feel it at will whenever you desire? Simply listen to this with eyes closed. Try to pay attention to how quickly you will do nothing but remain completely immobilized with a smile that, if seen by others would warm their heart also.
There have been numerous songs released by CTS, my now permanent favorite band I have in my library, that I have written about. Sometimes I’ll take a direction of trying to convey to you the content you will hear – and then convey the true meaning…while others I will meticulously paint a detailed musical picture with carefully chosen words…or both. An undertaking I find to be as effortless as enjoying the music itself. While reflecting on what to write for “No Turning Back’s – My House” (something I do in its entirety in my head prior to a single word written, because it comes from the truth of this man’s heart) I came to the conclusion that I’ll employ neither approach or technique here.
With absolute spontaneity I wish to express to you something you may also find to be true after you listen. Now follow and appreciate the simplicity of this.
As if, when viewing a captured sunset burned into your mind’s eye - deemed by your vision to be the most incredible you’ve encountered…you’ll never – ever stray from the experience and magnitude of seeing the sight in its entirety – as opposed to trying to only focus on its individual elements. You would never pick out and then describe the setting cloud by cloud…color over color. Inasmuch as I’m certain you can understand that sentiment – I’ll not disrespect the experience “My House” in its Anthem state. I will not include a single sentiment regarding the lyrics that will move you, or implement a descriptive use of my words to actually allow you to hear what I have and you haven’t. I don’t want to see its clouds or colors. I only wish to portray the complete sunset of “My House”
I wish not to err in the slightest when undertaking such responsibility as I approach trying to define it. So I shall begin now to not do just that. Sometimes the less you say, the more can be heard.
Do yourself a favor, no I’m not going to say listen to this song…that wouldn’t be a favor, it’s a damn right you’ll earn…no, do yourself a favor and understand that you possess more loose change between the locations of your nightstand by your bed and the floor of your car…than the sum total of this entire CD. Not just for the song I have in the spotlight now…but people, for the gift that there are 15 more behind this one…all different, all straight from the heart…all can be yours as soon as you click “buy now”.
As a bonus, you’ll add to your vocabulary used every day the words Jeff Senour and CTS.
Oh yeah, I have to do at least this.....if you’ve ever read anything I’ve had the privilege to write prior to this regarding the sound and songs of CTS you will understand the following…..
- In this one, far and away it’s- “ … it’s not easy to be a hero inside your heart… “ Damn…!
Unlike Francis and Jeff – through all of my efforts I shall never hold a pen that from which words like that would flow.
I’ve said too much. The gift is you’re now. Run for it….it awaits your heart and smile.
Danny Jones - Independent Writer
GOTTA CHECK THIS OUT!!!
GREAT FOR ALL AGES....What an amazing CD! I really enjoyed all of the songs, you should definitely check it out. .Rock on!!