Saturday, March 26, 2011

Music Review & Giveaway: "Calico" by Tin Cup Gypsy

CalicoCoincidence can be fun.  Recently bandmember Tyler Oban of the group Tin Cup Gypsy ran across The Calico Critic.  This eclectic musical group has produced their first full release in the CD “Calico”, and they were gracious enough to send me a copy to review.  Fortunately, we not only share our preference for the word Calico, but we also share a love for instrument and harmony-driven music as well.  What follows is some information about the band, my review of their album, and your chance to win “Calico” for yourself as well!

From their Facebook page:

The tale of Tin Cup Gypsy is one of undeniable providence. It tells the journey of four successful musicians on a fateful quest for genuine artistry. In an attempt to revive a diluted art form, Tin Cup Gypsy has created a patchwork masterpiece from remnants of its past.

At the core of Tin Cup Gypsy you’ll find a fusion of Folk, Jazz, and Bluegrass with earthy lyrics and rich melodies that captures the essence of their Roots-rock genre. By featuring a variety of instruments such as Mandolin, Violin, Concertina, Acoustic Guitar, Percussion, Bass, and three-part harmonies, the group’s unique blend attracts a diverse group of listeners. This grass-roots trio weaves a fresh sound with the classic groundbreaking styles of the Eagles, James Taylor, Turtle Island String Quartet, New Grass Revival, and rocker-diva Bonnie Raitt.

Although in their early twenties, the members of Tin Cup Gypsy have collected a wealth of experiences that have far exceeded their time. Collectively they have worked as musicians for multi-platinum recording artists, appeared on national television programs and played various roles in music videos for prominent artists like Leeland. With the release of his self-produced EP Firefly in 2005, Jonathan was soon after commissioned to co-produce independent artists Don Derby and Jessica Lofbomm.

While these young guns from the deserts of Arizona took Nashville by storm, lightning struck when an unexpected collaboration took place at a homecoming concert in the summer of 2004. It didn’t take much for the members of Tin Cup Gypsy to start the process of writing and producing their own debut album entitled, Self Portrait. Within a few short months the trio quickly gained the interest of several regional markets in Missouri, Arkansas, California, and their native Arizona and show no sign of slowing down. Accomplished as they may be, live performance lies at the heart of their résumé and the three wayfaring musicians bring in a new level of fresh talent with a current of musical gusto and magnetic presence.

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My Review:

I’d heard a snippet of Tin Cup Gypsy on YouTube and thought I’d enjoy their sound, but other than that I didn’t know what to expect from them.  Fortunately, I was delighted with what I heard.  Here’s a rundown of the tracks:

1. Headlight in the Sky – Tin Cup Gypsy (TCG) really doesn’t fit into one box musically, but in this case they open the album with a decidedly country feel.  I’m not a huge country fan— Shania Twain and Taylor Swift are about as honky tonk as I’ll go, and some fans would argue that those artists aren’t really country anyway.  That being said, I still like this one.  The harmonies are great, the sound is upbeat and I can’t help but sing along.  A good start!

2. Words – Totally different sound.  I was amazed at the metamorphosis when the song started.  Lead singer Cassandra Lawson has a great voice, and I love the driving piano line.  Billy Joel and Paul McCartney would like this one.

3. To the Sea – Oh this track is divine.  It’s somewhat melancholy, with a beautiful mandolin line.  Once again we hear those wonderful singable harmonies.  And again, a very different sound with just a touch of country with the violin line.  This one’s quiet, slowly ambling and romantic.

4. She Just Is – The sound’s a bit of a cross between “Headlight in the Sky” and “Words”.  There’s a touch of country, with  a prominent piano tempo.  Not my favorite on the album, but still good.  I like Mr. Lawson’s voice.  And Bobby McFerrin fans will like the appearance of a bit of whistling as well.

5. Chase the Sun – Not sure how to nail down the sound on this one.  Pop, country, blues maybe?  Eminently singable, with tight harmonies and fun melody.  I’m not even sure how someone would chase the sun, but I like singing about it with TCG.

6. Jack & Jill – This one has a decidedly pop feel to it, and it’s my favorite track on the CD.  The song has become wedged into my head so much that I find myself singing it during the day.  Maybe it’s the Superman reference (I’m a sucker for that stuff), I don’t know.  One morning I woke up singing a TCG song, and I think this was it.  If you can’t get the whole album, definitely download this one from iTunes.  To quote Tyler Oban, “Jack & Jill” may just take on new meaning after a couple of listens.

7. The Other Side – Another somewhat country song, with a nice melody and harmonies.  It’s got a gentle and somewhat forlorn feeling.  Pay attention to the lyrics, as there’s a bit of an eternal perspective there.  Love is forever.

8. Secret—This one’s a bit quirky and fun.  It reminds me of something you’d hear in the musical “Chicago”.  Once again Cassandra’s voice is just wonderful.  I envision her in a vintage dress, sitting on top of the piano with the banjo player nearby.

9. Wildfire – Maybe I’ve got the genre wrong, but “Wildfire” seems to have a bluegrass flavor in the country sound.  Not my favorite track, but it still has those tight harmonies that I like.

10. Bury Me – The album closes on a quiet note, with the voice of someone who’s a bit world-weary and needing strength.  While not a specifically spiritual song, it reminds me of Psalm 31, which I was reading last week.  Sometimes life gets hard, tears are shed and we just need Someone to lift us up when we feel like going under.  You can hear this in Cassandra’s words and in the voices of the strings, which bring together all the elements of Tin Cup Gypsy quite well. 

Overall this is a great first album for this young group.  Their sound is sophisticated, and their working with Steve Bishir at Studio 24 shows the talent and clout that they’ve already exhibited and attained.  Choosing the title “Calico” was a great choice, as it communicates the spirit of musical diversity with a downhome, comfortable feeling.  My hope is that word will spread about Tin Cup Gypsy, and we’ll not only be hearing more from them in the future through the media, but in the recording studio as well.

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Calico Giveaway!

Here are the guidelines:

  • Leave a comment below; this counts as your only required entry.  In order to filter out spam, all comments will not post until I've had a chance to approve them.
  • Entries accepted until 11:59pm EST on Sunday, April 24th.
  • The winners must supply a US mailing address for prize shipment.
  • Make sure at least one posted comment includes your email address. If you'd rather not have your email posted here, you may contact me directly to give me that information after you've entered here.
  • I will compile the entries and the two winners will be chosen by, so even one entry can make you a winner.
  • Should you win, I will contact you on Monday, April 25th.  Please take measures to ensure that my email will make it past your spam filters, lest you miss my message. ( You'll have 72 hours to respond before I pick another winner.
  • I will forward your mailing information to Tin Cup Gypsy, and they will send out the CD.
  • More information on the giveaway policies can be found on the Contact / Policies page.

Bonus Entries

Please make note of all your bonus entries in your comment(s).  You may post either separate comments or a single large comment.  Here are your bonus entry options:

  • Follow The Calico Critic by clicking on the Google "Follow" button on my sidebar (old or new followers both get the bonus entry, just please let me know your follower name).
  • Follow me (@LHartness) on Twitter and tell me your @UserName.
  • Tweet about the giveaway on; be sure to use an URL linking back to this blog posting in your tweet. You may do this as frequently as every 8 hours between now and April 24th at 11:59pm EST.  For each tweet, please come back and post the direct URL link to that specific tweet, not just your @Username. Here's a sample tweet you can use:

 @LHartness is holding a contest to win the new @TinCupGypsy CD "Calico". Enter by 4/23: #free #music

    That's it!  Thanks for stopping by, and good luck to all the entrants!

    Tin Cup Gypsy is on tour NOW. This weekend they're in Colorado.
    Check out their schedule for a concert date near you!


    1. I am following you on twitter and will to enter all my tweets about the contest! I am also going to email you my email address. Thanks!


    2. Heidi Vargas tweeted on April 9th:!/HeidiVargas/status/56853510536445954

    3. I have posted about this twice on twitter!!/stupidkid2150/status/59463388127952896!/stupidkid2150/status/52049458824888320



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