CD REVIEW: Kurt Winikka - Says the Rain
by: Cyrus Rhodes
Artist: Kurt Winikka
Album: Says the Rain
Label: Dilly Dally Records
Genre: Americana, Celtic Folk
Sounds Like: John Denver, Bob Dylan, and maybe just a splash of Don McLean and Peter, Paul and Mary
Weakness: Winded Songs, More Vocal Harmonies, More Vocal Emotion
Singer/Songwriter Kurt Winikka just released his latest CD entitled Says the Rain in 2013 Dilly Dally Records). A returning veteran disappears into a Midwest landscape of night trains, truck stops, and prairie fires. A former baseball star fades into the tattered memories of his dreams. A holy roller faces judgment for a life of hypocrisy. These are the folks who inhabit the songs of Kurt Winikka. Growing up in the Southwest, raising a family in the Midwest, and finding his bearings as a singer/songwriter in New England, Kurt meticulously crafts engaging narratives informed by the breadth of his American experience, and conveys them with precise guitar work and a dulcet voice.
The CD kicks things off with a “Leaving Again” an emotional intro piece that serves up impressive Americana crescendo, delivering heartfelt fretwork, impressive storyline that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. Track 2 “Tom Duchesne” shifts gears a bit with Americana-folk rhythm guitar, against inviting Celtic ambience and heartfelt lyrical content from Winnikka that will make you hair stand on end. Track 3 “Maybe This Time” is a passionate ballad, with amazing slide guitar, inviting groove painted against well placed percussive accents. As this CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical influences reminiscent of classic John Denver, Bob Dylan, and maybe just a splash of Don McLean and even Peter, Paul and Mary. The music itself is a delightful blend of Bluegrass, Country and Rockabilly Blues that goes down extremely smooth song for song, note for note. The most impressive thing about Says the Rain is the fretwork and overall Americana instrumentation throughout from Winikka and company. The CD also offers a rich melodic vocal foundation, coupled with lush layers of instrumentation. With things like pedal steel, dobro, mandolin, 6 and 12 string acoustic guitars, banjo, percussion, harmonica, Hammond Organ, Fiddles, and accordion. From grooving “Rocket Girl” to good time “Babymoon” mesmerizing “Everybody Knows” to Celtic “John Barleycorn” to hypnotic “I Remember Steve” easy flowing this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Tack 12 “Poodles In the Wild” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.
All songs over 3.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line. I wish I head more in the way of vocal harmonies from Winnika. This would add more variety and mix up the vocal delivery a bit better. I also wish I heard more heart stopping vocal emotion from Winikka throughout his more emotional moments of this catalogue. The type of emotion reserved for the pin drop moments that will stop you dead in your tracks.
From start to finish Says the Rain by Kurt Winnika is an impressive collection of music. From start to finish it’s very passionate, and extremely melodic in nature. To say the least it's packed to the hilt with musical variety. The writing, playing, & singing abilities of Kurt Winikka and company are impressive and will be sure to lift your spirits without even trying. As the CD progressed I became more and more impressed with him as an artist. The musicianship is first rate, each song possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Lastly - the playing, writing, and singing abilities of Kurt Winikka and company are rock solid.