Whatzup
Majic Miracle Music II
Various Artists

by D.M. Jones
Majic Miracle Music II

VARIOUS ARTISTS

MAJIC MIRACLE MUSIC II

Building on the success of last year’s inaugural effort, WAJI Majic 95.1 FM and Sweetwater have teamed up again to produce another stellar compilation of original tunes to raise funds and awareness for the Riley Hospital for Children (100 percent of the proceeds from sales of this disc go there). Besides being a great effort for a fine cause, this collection is chock-full of great songs from big names and locals alike. Most are stripped-down numbers with acoustic guitars and/or pianos, presenting these artists without all the layers that modern radio-friendly productions usually require — a real treat for fans and casual listeners alike.

Opening with a poppy/jazzy rolling piano and smooth, bright vocals from Sara Bareilles, “Love Song” fairly skips along, setting the tone for this fine sounding collection. Styles and genres shift throughout the disc, from the plaintive modern rock of Daughtry’s “Home” to the atmospheric yet marching inspirational tone of “Healing Rain” from Michael W. Smith. Another piano-based track, “Papa Here I Go,” continues the hopeful vibe with rich, emotive vocals from Ben Jalen. 

REO Speedwagon, recent visitors to Sweetwater’s recording studios, contribute “Dangerous Combination,” a foot-tapping acoustic number that manages to capture that classic “REO feeling,” sounding arena-ready despite it’s spare presentation. “One Thing” from Finger Eleven combines a delicate finger-picked line with an insistent kick drum, bolstering the sandpapery, immediate vocals. Jon McLaughlin’s “Indiana” balances its gorgeous piano line against lyrical ambivalence to the song’s benefit.

Augustana’s “Boston” features a soaring vocal atop elemental and stirring piano, acoustic and accordion lines, while Dan Nightingale (making a return appearance from last year’s disc) mixes Hendrixian blues riffage with vocals that veer from vulnerable to Springsteen-esque and back again. Madeline’s Toybox bring a friendly modern folk-rock sound and, well, sunny disposition to “Great Big Sunshine Day.” Bareilles returns on a special bonus track, “Gravity,” a fitting finale for a satisfying record.

Remember: every penny made from the sale of each CD goes to Riley Hospital, so you can rest assured your investment is going where it should, and you’ll thank yourself for the donation when you pop this great disc into your player. Head over to www.waji.com or www.sweetwater.com for more information. (D.M. Jones)

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