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Issue: March 2009

A Little Seclusion Goes a Long Way

Electric Light (Big Bud Green Records)

When Louisville jamsters Stonewheel entered the studio last spring to record the follow-up to their first album, 2006's acclaimed Dashboard, they unplugged the clocks, took off their watches, and blocked out all of the windows at Louisville's Downtown Recording Studios, locking themselves away for three days and nights in an unrestrained, marathon-jam session.

In the resulting Electric Light, it's quite apparent that the seclusion paid off. The record offers an unusually diverse, yet totally cohesive set of songs, managing to highlight the band's musical strengths as well as lead singer/songwriter Morgan Shallcross' song-crafting skills. Most importantly, the band succeeded in capturing the spirit of their stellar live performances. Consequently, E.L. grooves from end to end.

Shallcross' unpretentious, storyteller vocal stylings shine throughout the record, most notably on the sweet "Sleep to Dream," and the airy, strumming acoustic rhythms of "June Bug." The rest of the album's 11 tunes offer up everything from poppy cuts like the opening track "Let Me Know" to deep down, dirty grooves like those found on "Another Train Song" and "The September Song."

The latter two tracks, in my opinion, really show off what Stonewheel does well. The formula goes like this: bassist Sean Ayres, along with drummer Troy Campbell and rhythm guitarist Keith Burchett, weave together a thick, deep-pocketed groove while Shallcross sets the scene, leaving lead guitarist Chris Greenwell (also of Slackshop), and keys guru/Hammond B3 pilot David Taylor to drive the jams into the Ether.

All in all, the guys from Stonewheel have put in another great effort. The sheer musicality of the band combined with thoughtful accessible songwriting makes Electric Light an easy album to listen to straight through, or at least while your electricity stays on.

Check out www.thestonewheel.com for more.

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