Lean With Gin, Chocolate & Bottle Rockets

Bruce Von Stiers

Mike Farley heads up Michael J Media, a PR firm that I've worked with many times over the years. A recent newsletter from Mike's firm listed several of the artists and groups they represents. One of those groups is Gin, Chocolate & Bottle Rockets. I was intrigued by the name of the group so I thought they were worth checking out.

The members of the group are Beth Kille, Shawndell Marks and Jen Farley. Beth and Shawndell worked together on music projects. A change meeting with a performer new to the area, Jen, cumulated into a cooperative effort that became Gin, Chocolate & Bottle Rockets

They recorded and released an EP back in 2014. The group since then has played various venues and taken away awards at various completions.

This year finds the group with a brand new album. This one is titled Lean. It was produced by Jake Johnson for Paradyme Productions. The album has ten songs and a play time of thirty-eight minutes.

Beth does vocals on all of the songs and does the lead vocals on one song. She also plays acoustic guitar on eight of the songs on the album and mandolin on one other. Shawndell does vocals, and has the lead vocals on three of the songs. She plays the keys on eight of the songs and accordion on one. And Jen has lead vocals on two of the songs and complementing vocals on all the rest. She also plays the kazoo on one. With the exception of one song, the album was written by the members of the trio.

Additional performers on the album are Jenna Joanis, Brady Bachmann, Dan Kennedy and Jake Johnson. Jenna does drum and percussion on all but one of the songs. She also plays bass on seven of the songs. Brady plays cello on two songs. Dan is on electric guitar for a song. And Jake plays uke bass and acoustic guitar on one song.

The title track, Lean, is up first. It has some nice guitar backing great vocals. The song has sort of mix between pop and folk music. It is about not giving up or giving in, just push forward and don't let people or things get in the way. As the lyric goes, “you've got to lean into it.”

Flesh On Fire is a toe-tapping tune. It's about this guy who's super-hot and how her emotions and other things are affected by him. And that she prays to never be alone with him as dreams coming true might not be the best thing.

Shine is more of a light folk ballad. There are terrific lead and backing vocals.

I started bopping my head to the beat of Flash Flood. It is a bluesy piece with fluid yet somewhat aching vocals. There is some cool guitar in the background.

Uphill & Into The Wind is about being down but having someone there to lift them up. It is a beautiful, lyrical song.

Bringing things back to a lighter tone is Stand Close To Me. It has toe-tapping music and melodic vocals.

Truth deals with life and the truth behind the façade that we sometimes show. It is a lyrical yet somewhat sad song.

One surprise I found on the album was a cover song. It is the trio's rendition of the Eurythmics song Sweet Dreams. This rendition has a definite alt folk / pop tone to it. It is a bit different but pretty cool.

To me, the song Choreographed was a mixture of the classic country duets and folk harmonies. It is a beautiful song.

The album closes with This House. It is a smile effecting song that will have you tapping your feet and clapping your hands.

I was pleasantly surprised by the talent of this trio. Not only do the songs have heartfelt lyrics, the vocals are terrific and music is well done. It's no wonder that collectively the members have garnered both awards and accolades.

In addition to performing at selected venues, the trio also do a motivational seminar. The theme is about empowering yourself and is consistent with their music. They perform some of their songs as part of the seminar.

Lean is available on amazon and selected other music retailers.

The official web site for Gin, Chocolate & Bottle Rockets is http://www.ginchocolateandbottlerockets.com/ . They also have a page on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/GinChocolateandBottleRockets/

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© 2018 Bruce E Von Stiers