Craig Schumacher – New Shoes – Cy1Schu Music ****: 

It’s always nice to discover a wonderful new record from someone you’ve never heard of and that’s the case with New Shoes.  The band features Dean “Gloves” Granros (electric guitar), Kenny “Sticks” Horst (drums), Chris “Digs” Bates (acoustic bass), Gary “Lips” Berg (harmonica, saxes), Donnie “Dads” LaMarca (piano), and Craig “Shoes” Schumacher (vocals, guitars).  All the songs on the disc were both written and produced by Schumacher which is pretty impressive given the quality of the music and production.  The record contains a mix of musical genres and starts off with traditional classic vocal jazz and then on the second track shifts into a combination of George Thorogood and Mose Allison.  The electric guitar gives the music a bit of the blues feel and later tracks are boogie woogie, rock, funk, and soul.   Track four is folk music and very much like a Bob Dylan tune.  The horns on a lot of the tracks are implemented like the brass on a Steely Dan song or like other music from the 70s (while still maintaining a very current, up-to-date feel).  With the advent of artists like Norah Jones and Diana Krall, vocal jazz is more popular than ever and room is made for some crossover artists like Schumacher.

This disc has excellent sound quality.  If a small independent guy can record a disc with such high quality there is absolutely no excuse for the big record companies.  Voice is large and the soundstage is wide and focused while individual instruments sound natural and sweet.  I can’t get over how “live” this record sounds—I highly recommend it.  Songs included are:  Don’t Know A Thing About Love; Volume Goes Up When The Whiskey Goin’ Down; Holy Balcony; From The Other Side; Wonderin’ Why; The Right Thing; Can’t Remember To Forget You; New Shoes.

– Brian Bloom