Andy May’s grasp of what makes good listening is impeccable. His warm and mellow voice invites the listener to relax and let the music move around the edges of consciousness.
The man who can encourage young talent to blossom under the Kansas sky at the Walnut Valley Festival’s Acoustic Kids sessions has just released another album, titled “Café Americana”. With samplings of bluegrass, country, folk and acoustic swing styles that evoke many nuances of emotion, this is a great album for any collection.
The CD begins with “It’s a Brand New Day” (which I’ve got programmed to play when my alarm goes off). It’s a simple two-chord feel-good-in-the-morning song, and it awakens a sense of the day’s possibilities. To play along with Andy and the band, capo the third fret and alternate between a D chord and Em with D and F# in the treble. Then, switching to a bluegrass ballad style, he aims for the funny bone on “Old Pain.” Losing the pain produces a big gain. Track 6, “Comin’ ‘Round,” is sort of he says she will be sorry she left and come crawlin’ back, whereas in, “If She’d Never Been to Boulder,” he seems to realize it’s beyond salvaging and though she has come back, the lure of someone she left behind in Boulder is too great. “Lord I’m Gonna Find a Way” and “I Want to See my Master Smiling” celebrate faith with very different approaches. One is a personal prayer put to music and the other is a bluegrass gospel toe-tapper. Several tracks will remind you to take another look at the beauty that surrounds you.
Andy has assembled a talented crew to back him on “Café Americana.” Kenny Malone, Dennis Crouch, Kenny Kosek, Jim Heffernan and many others are definitely ‘n’ Synch with May’s soulful singing. Though there are no instrumental only tracks, these people enhance the songs professionally with great riffs and instrumental interludes. Harmony backup singers are likewise seamlessly woven into the rich sonorities. Those accustomed to hearing Andy play solo or with one other artist will find this offering a nice change of pace, but the essence of his music hasn’t changed. He still cuts to the heart of a concept and brings it to life in song.
— Paul Stamper, Walnut Valley Festival program, 2005
Visit the Cafe’ Americana page: