Singer-songwriter and creator of NetteRadio Annette Conlon is preparing to launch her premiere platter as a solo artist titled Life, Death, and the Spaces Between. The 15-track disc features songs written while recuperating from a concussion in 2014 which might shed further light on much of the material on the upcoming new release.
Here on a sincere compilation of emotionally-born compositions, Conlon leads the way on acoustic guitar, tambourine, kazoo and lead vocals. She is backed by an assortment of additional artist including Doug Conlon (banjo, mandolin, electric sitar, electric guitar, cowbell, acoustic guitar, tambourine, kazoo and backing vocals), producer Ted Wulfers (pedal steel, dobro, lap steel, drums, electric bass, electric 6 & 12-string guitar, piano, accordion, organ, Wurlitzer, mellotron, cello, percussion, acoustic guitar, cowbell, kazoo, backing vocals and “filing cabinet”) and Matt Bunsen (acoustic upright bass and electric fretless bass).
The CD opens on the recollective “Cedar Box”. It works well enough to introduce Conlon but only offers a sample of what her talents include. The album is a touch of country, folk and Americana with a vague trace of pop attitude to remind you to enjoy the work.
“Live Like An Angel” is the second selection. It perhaps foreshadows the true focus of the release as well as presents the start of her solidifying signature sound.
The titular track, “Life, Death, and the Spaces Between”, follows here. By the end of this cut it’s obvious that her recent medical issues made her focus a bit more on what is important and what should be important. As Conlon commented: “We often get caught up focusing on ‘incidents’ rather than looking at life as a whole. There are big, beautiful moments in life; and there are enormous heartbreaks. We have to stand back and look at life as a whole and not focus on the details in order to see and appreciate the spaces between.”
At first “First Suicide” might strike the listener oddly and yet this is but another example of Conlon taking her then current concussion cloud and discovering a silver lining. The song may be a tribute to absent friends and thus notably sad but it is real and refreshing as she recalls their lives and not their deaths.
Conlon cleverly follows that up with “Signed, Love Me”. It’s no more than a simple little love song but one cannot miss the positive message here as she strikes a balance in mood and attitude.
The next number is “Fell”. It’s another personal piece that seems to hold special meaning to Conlon as, in truth, perhaps they all do.
Not to be confused with the David Guetta/Usher song or the classic Badfinger tune from 1970, “Without You” is (like the others) an original Conlon composition. Not that Conlon couldn’t confidently cover someone else’s song, it’s just this album is about her own perspectives regarding life, death and the spaces in between.
“Faceless Angel” continues to prove her songwriting skills and is perhaps all too quickly followed by the somehow familiar “Rodeo” which features Karen Hadley on the introduction and yodeling. Does yodeling skirt the edge? Perhaps and yet Conlon somehow makes it work in the big musical picture.
“10,000 Steps” is also extensively personal. In fact, it is one of the songs that makes one believe that Conlon survived her recent struggles solely because she wrote this material. It is fittingly backed with a song of acceptance and tolerance titled “That’s The Way It Goes”. (How do you feel about guys who wear brown hats though; they’re OK too, right?)
“Canyon Winds” works both in terms of genre and as a standalone track. So, too, does “Off The Rails” as a song about dealing with a loved one going “off the rails”. It’s a universal theme even if Conlon can speak anecdotally.
“You Gave Me Wings” is yet another tip of the hat tune. It was written in honor of her father’s birthday and again while personal it also contains a universal truth concerning life lessons learned from her dad.
The closing cut is a nice little number named “Sweet Sophia”. Feline Sophia Conlon is introduced on jingle percussion and "purrfect" backing vocals on an album that Conlon has hopefully included a musical mention of everyone important to her. Check out Annette Conlon’s Life, Death, and the Spaces Between when it hits the stores on April 17, 2015. Her music is really “Off The Rails”.