Music from Italy – What,Really?

What,Really? is an Italian power pop and alternative pop including four members who once met in Bologna. Listen to their nice song “Ophelia (among the flowers):

Music from the UK: Nik Kershaw

Unfairly pigeonholed as an 80’s Artist, Nik Kershaw is a multi-instrumentalist, singer and songwriter from Ipswich, England.  He found huge success in the 80’s with hits such as ‘Wouldn’t it be Good’ , ‘I won’t let the sun go down on me’, and ‘The Riddle’, effortlessly combining instantly catchy hooks with deceptively clever songcraft. His attention to detail in production, recording and arrangement make him a stand out artist of the era. He’s also known for his work with Elton John, Genesis’ Tony Banks, and his hits for Let Loose and Chesney Hawkes. But it is his lesser known trio of albums from 1999 onwards that take him into the songwriting stratosphere alongside the greats: ’15 minutes’, ‘To be Frank’ and ‘You’ve got to Laugh’. On these wonderful albums, Kershaw matures gloriously as a writer, and the feel of the songs are a little more guitar based, with acoustics used to great effect. His lyrics at times border on genius. ‘Billy’ performed acoustically and live below, being one example.  They always say you can tel how good a song really is when you can just perform it on one guitar. This one speaks for itself. Nik Kershaw, one of England’s finest.

Kev Moore

Music from the U.S. – Owsley

Will Owsley, born in Alabama in 1966, very likely garnered his most public recognition as the guitarist in Amy Grant’s band, but he was far, far more than that.  Moving to Nashville, Tennessee in 1987, he later formed powerpop band The Semantics, featuring Ringo Starr’s son Zak, and releasing the promising ‘Powerbill’ album.  In 1999, he really came into his own though,  releasing the first of two magnificent solo albums to huge critical acclaim. His eponymous debut was nominated for a grammy. It would be a further five years before the follow-up – ‘The Hard Way’ – would see the light of day due to legal difficulties, but it was worth the wait. Coming clean about his obvious Beatles influences, it includes a note-perfect cover of McCartney’s ‘Band on the Run’ as a hidden track.

Sadly, his last ever release was a digital only single ‘Psycho/Upside Down in 2005. Owsley died April 30, 2010 at Williamson County Hospital in Franklin, Tennessee was 44.  The local paper reported the cause of death as “an apparent” suicide.  In my view, Will Owsley was one of the greatest pop writers of the last 50 years, and his untimely death has robbed us of incalculable musical riches. I hope he found his peace. His 2 albums are a wonderful, if painfully thin, legacy, and I treasure them.

This is ‘Matriarch’, from his Second Album ‘The Hard Way’.

Kev Moore