There's so much to appreciate about Gail Wade in this excellent debut recording, it's difficult deciding where to start. First, Gail's enticing vocal range permits her to move with ease from sultry and mischievous to poignant and heartwarming. Her diverse musical apprenticeship prepared her to feel at home in a broad variety of musical styles, whether it is bluegrass, blues, jazz/swing, folk, or country. In addition, she plays guitar, clawhammer banjo, wrote six of the compositions, and she produced the CD.
The standard "Ain't Misbehavin" opens the collection with Gail's playful, romantic vocals, along with a jazzy rhythm guitar, backed by Kevin Lynch on mandolin, Peggy Ann Harvey on soprano sax, and John Urbanik on upright bass. From there, she changes moods nicely on her lovely folk original, "Anna's Owl," with Peggy's plaintive fiddle runs.
Gail gets down and bluesy on "Try It On For Size," which includes some smoldering guitar work by Kevin. Then it's off to Brazil with the Latin "Rio De Janeiro Blues" before returning to American folks with "All The Old Men Are Gone." The one instrumental of the CD is Gail's lilting "Down The Kennebec," with everyone taking a turn on guitar, fiddle and mandolin.
With her broad and very tasteful musical and vocal range, it's easy to envision Gail showing up, and excelling, just about anywhere: the Grand Ole Opry, your local jazz venue, a Top 40 country , or pop radio station.
She and her band are a refreshing treat and a musical force deserving of big-time discovery. ("cd Reviews" by Joe Faletta)
Gail Wade, Journey
Online Independent Review (Joe Ross / April 2007)
Being an eclectic musician with many interests can help a versatile performer land many engagements, but it can also make an artist difficult to categorize. No matter because who needs categorization? Grounded as a singer/songwriter and guitarist, Gail Wade demonstrates comfort with folk, blues, jazz, and swing idioms. With regular performing during the past 25 years, I suspect that she's built a considerable fan base for her approach to music. She's sung on the Tall Ships in Maine, toured Europe as a member of "The Hot Flashes," and completed an Irish tour with singer/songwriter Gary Ferguson (who harmonizes here with Gail on her self-penned song, "Harder Every Day").
On "Journey," the core band includes Gail Wade (lead & harmony vocals, guitar, clawhammer banjo), Peggy Ann Harvey (fiddle, flute, sax, harmonica), Kevin Lynch (mandolin, lead guitar, National steel guitar), and John Urbanik (string bass). On one track apiece, she's joined by Stephan Wade (lead guitar on "Rio"), Ian Wade (percussion), and Gary Ferguson (harmony vocal).
"Journey" will launch Wade to new heights as more folks discover her earthy and enchanting material. Her relaxed and seamless set offers plenty of intelligently thoughtful sentiment. Wade opens with an interesting rendition of "Ain't Misbehavin'," with some countering sax riffs that impart a personality of their own. Other covers come from Roseanne Cash/John Levanthal, Deborah Hornblow, Pam Gadd, Richard Torrance/John Haeny, and Mark Irwin/Irene Kelley. Her scat in "Rio De Janeiro Blue" shows another way that she embellishes a song, and my guess is that she learned this song from Nicolette Larson's cover of it in the 1980s. The banjo and flute in "Will You Remember Me?" give that piece a haunting old-time, almost Celtic, flavor. With a more erudite, poetic approach to songwriting than Wade's more direct style, Deborah Hornblow's "Winter" is a beautiful love song that requires contemplation. Gail's rendition of bluegrass songwriter Pam Gadd's "All the Old Men are Gone" is quite different than the version I've heard Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver do.
Most impressively, Gail Wade wrote six of the songs on "Journey." Lyrics aren't included in the CD jacket, and I hope she'll find a way to upload them on-line. To analyze her skill development as a tunesmith, I started with her blues at track #8, "Hurry Home Daddy," that Gail wrote way back in 1980. It's rather standard fare, enhanced by Harvey's harmonica and Lynch's guitar. Written between 2000-2004, Wade's other originals have thoughtfully flowing melodic twists and lyrical turns. I appreciate songs that are straight-forward, conversational, and that have a beginning, middle and end. Such is the case with songs like "Try it On for Size," Harder Every Day," and the spiritually-tinged title track, "Journey." Her messages are clear and sincere. A ballad like "Anna's Owl" has lyrics that set a stage, pull us into the story, grab our attention and hold it until the song's conclusion. Gail's bouncy instrumental "Down the Kennebec" conjures imagery of river rafting in Maine.
Similar to Karla Bonoff's singing, Gail Wade's alluring voice is silky smooth, and her folk/blues-based repertoire makes for an enchanting listen, especially at dusk when in a reflective mood. I'd like to hear Gail sing some more duets with a male voice. Perhaps a song like "That's How You Know" (recorded as a duet by Steve Wariner and Nicolette Larson) would work for her and Gary Ferguson. I wonder if Gail has ever had any interest in singing solid roadhouse R&B. That type of production could convince a major label that she's more than just a versatile folkie with a sweet voice. No matter what direction she takes, I'm certain that major recognition and success are just on the horizon for Gail Wade. (Joe Ross)
On first listening there's a lot of music in Gail Wade's CD Journey and it continues to grow with each succeeding listening. It's been playing for a few days now, and I think I've finally begun to take it all in.
Wade is unique in that she's both a fine songwriter as well as a good interpreter of other people's music. There's a range of styles here, from the Fats Waller classic Ain't Misbehavin' to Roseann Cash' Will You Remember Me, to Mark Irwin and Irene Kelley's Cajun flavored, finger-picking, highly syncopated, It Wasn't Me.
Although her roots are firmly planted in the folk, singer-songwriter tradition, she's a complete musician. She's difficult to categorize and that's a good thing. If you were forced to categorize Gail Wade, you'd probably come up with the hybrid title of folk, blues, and jazz oriented ballad singer. While she shows her talent on tunes such as It Wasn't Me, I really like her work as a songwriter and singer on her own blues-oriented Try It On For Size, her gospel-tinged title track Journey, as well as on the Richard Torrance-John Heany composition, Rio De Janeiro Blue.
It doesn't hurt at all that she surrounds herself with good musicians, especially the multitalented Peggy Ann Harvey, who graces this album with her work on fiddle, soprano sax, viola, harmonica, and flute. That's five instruments, and it wouldn't surprise me if she played five more too. But Gail Wade is a fine lead and rhythm guitarist in her own right who's backed by Kevin Lynch on mandolin and guitar, John Urbanik on upright bass, guitarist Steve Wade, and Ian Wade on percussion. Even Gary Ferguson lends a harmony vocal on Harder Every Day.
This is her first CD, and I'd surely like to see more from her. Six of the tunes are her own compositions, and judging from their stunning quality, I'd like to see an entire CD of her own songs. She's got enough variety in her work and style to pull it off too. Gail Wade has gone far beyond that bedeviling hobgoblin of many singer-songwriters: everything a medium tempo, syncopated, finger picking tune. This collection has some of those tunes, but it also has blues, ballads, ragtime flavored jazzy elements, and even a bit of Cajun flavoring for lagniappe.
"My only disappointment is that you're 3,000 miles away... and that's too bad for me. But I can hope. After all, Steve Gillette lives in Vermont and he comes out to California every winter."
Lou Krieger ~ Palm Springs, CA (November 2005)
Lou is a columnist/author/instructor/expert player of the game of poker.
Wade has an exquisite voice that ranges easily between delicate and robust on her first album. The Colchester singer wrote six of the 12 songs here and chose covers that span genres. There's a jaunty, low-key version of Ain't Misbehavin' and a melancholy take on Rosanne Cash's Will You Remember Me?. The title track, an original, is a folk-gospel number with sputtering harmonica in the background, and the bluesy ballad Try It On For Size is reminiscent of early Bonnie Raitt.
~ Hartford Courant ( Hartford, CT / October 2005)
"Sound Check: Music News & Views" by Eric R. Danton