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CD: Stephen Hunley – THE OTHER SIDE OF NEVER

Stephen HunleyTHE OTHER SIDE OF NEVER


More
and more, it’s getting harder to fit albums or even single songs into a
slot such as country, pop, rock, folk, blues and so on.  (That’s
probably why ‘Americana’ got invented.)  That’s not a bad thing. Why
should an album or a song – or a singer – get pigeonholed into a
particular genre?  As jazz giant Duke Ellington said, “If it sounds
good, it is good.”  
However, radio programmers are intent on shoehorning songs into slots to fit their stations’ formats such as Adult Contemporary (AC), Contemporary Hit Radio (CHR), Hot AC, or some other combination of initials. And that’s where programmers might skip Stephen Hunley’s new project, ‘The Other Side of Never.’  If they DO skip it, it’s their loss… and their listeners.
Hunley’s new project might be hard to categorize but one thing is undeniable: It is superb.
Hunley is
emerging as a master songwriter (all twelve tracks here are solo
self-penned) who could hold his own with any of Music City’s grizzled
veterans in a Nashville Songwriter’s Round.  But he is more than that,
with a voice and melodies that meld strains of contemporary jazz, soul
and folk that 
add a unique touch to the evocative lyrics on each cut.  
If
that wasn’t enough, the recording is technically close to perfect with a
warm analog vibe that evokes thoughts on ‘vinyl’ even when listening to
an electronic version.  
Kudos to producer Burton Akers, along with the legendary Billy Sherrill who supervised the album’s tracking and (with Van Atkins) the mixing.
Standout
tracks: the unforgettably catchy “Elizabeth;” (His wife name) — the
poignant “Oklahoma;” the full-throttle brass-powered “Call Me Baby.”
 But there isn’t a dud in the pack.
“The Other Side of Never” deserves a GRAMMY nomination (or two) and maybe that will nudge radio programmers to add one of these cuts to their rotation.  But even if they don’t, this is still one of the year’s best projects in any genre.
CD Review by Preshias Harris for Country Music News International

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