You never know where or when the desire to become a musician will hit. For some, the desire is always there but only is realized once one phase of their lives has come to an end. Many ex-military personnel have the same dreams of making a living as a musician. And that may mean waiting until leaving military service.
For those musicians currently serving or now discharged from service, there is an organization working with veterans and military alike who wish to make music. That organization is called Operation Encore.
Taking some of the musicians within the organization who create their own music, an album of original music was created that incorporates several styles and genres of music. The resulting release of Americana tunes is simply entitled Operation Encore: A Veteran Music Project.
Operation Encore: A Veteran Music Project contains music from several singer-songwriters with many contributing more than one track to the release. Because of whom the artists are (or had been), the subject matter for every track is mainly about dealing with life as a soldier. While some of the tracks are sadder than others, each track gives some insight into what the songwriter experiences in their daily life.
The Operation Encore: A Veteran Music Project release begins with USAF Pilot Rob Raymond’s song entitled “To the Air”. The track features a folk sound with just a little Irish influence to it. The subject matter of a soldier in the depths of battle longing for home is told from several different soldiers’ perspectives as they fight for all they are worth and for those they love. While the subject matter is what it is, the music for the track has a light, upbeat feel to it.
The album continues with one of the most emotional tracks. “Another Trip Around the Sun” from Rachel Harvey Hill is told from the perspective of someone who lives day-to-day to be with the one she loves. The easy feeling of the piano-based music and the emotional lyrics makes for a gentle song with a powerful message.
Stephen Covell seems to be on the same wavelength with Rachel Harvey Hill with his track “Sand Hills to Sandals”. But unlike Hill whose song is about spending time with the one she loves, Covell sings about being able to enjoy life away from the fight and just relax with those he calls friends. The visual of the empty chairs to represent those lost in combat helps to add just a little reminder of what the artists on this album go through every day. The acoustic guitar and light fiddle featured on the track blend together to create an easy folk sound. The track ends up being one of the best songs on the release.
While many of the tracks on The Operation Encore: A Veteran Music Project seem to have a folk-like sound, the pace changes a bit with Tom Abbott’s track “In Tent City”. The track features an electric guitar that adds some energy to the track. The folk-rock approach on the track goes well with the reflective lyrics about thinking back to the days of combat when the war was coming to an end. The listener can all but see the pictures that Tom Abbott paints with his words.
Some of the songs on the release find the songwriters recalling certain things. But some, like the song from Christopher Kurek, expose some of the pain soldiers feel. In a song that could remind some of the musical style of the Black Crowes, “Never Be the Same” is a track that finds Kurek singing about living with sights and sounds that he will never escape. The track feels very commercial in its sound and is probably the track that could get played on radio. In fact, it would fit right beside several of the songs from the likes of a band like Pink Floyd who delved into that type subject matter.
Another track that could be considered commercial is from Steve Wilson. “Cold Steel Rain” actually feels the most like a simple rock song. The lyrics of the song do contain a certain amount of anguish that could come from someone who was dealing with things like PTSD. But when taken out of the context of this album, the track simply feels like any of Wilson’s songs that he has written for his band of The Black Doves or for his solo material. Like Christopher Kurek’s song of “Never Be the Same,” the folk-rock of Steve Wilson also has a sound that will remind people of the music of The Black Crowes.
The ukulele that begins the track Lullaby” from Theresa Denofre sets the song apart from any of the other tracks on the Operation Encore: A Veteran Music Project release. The song quickly becomes another track that could easily make its way onto radio. The track’s easy tempo and laidback feel would fit alongside songs like “Ordinary Day” from Vanessa Carlton. With this track, Denofre is one artist on this compilation that needs to be heard.
The Operation Encore: A Veteran Music Project album does a wonderful job of getting the word out about the hidden talent that lies within our military personnel and our veterans. With an album that contains 16 tracks, that are many shining moments. Throughout the tracks on the album, there are lyrics of pain, lyrics of joy, even lyrics about looking back. The various tracks on the album allow the listener to be exposed to plenty of new talent that they may never have heard of before. Give the artists on this album a listen and you might discover someone who catches your ear.
Operation Encore: A Veteran Music Project makes its way to Cleveland on Friday, June 17, 2016. Among other things which includes being in town to record the second volume of the project, several of the artists that are featured on the 2014 release will be in town to promote the album and the Operation Encore organization and everything it does for veterans of this country. The event will take place at The Bottlehouse in Cleveland Heights. It will be an entire night of music. Best of all, it’s a free event.