"Andy Palmer is a former New York City public defender whose three years of living and working in the city's trenches clearly provided fodder for the painful truths and ruggedness of his alternative folk-rock sound.
His distinctively gritty vocals and hard luck tales have garnered him favorable comparisons to Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Nick Cave, Johnny Cash, and Leonard Cohen. Westword Magazine has listed his music as some of “Denver’s Best,” calling it “timeless” and “epic”. At the national level, Palmer was named the 14th best new independent artist of by Indie-music.com. Interstatelive.com says: “Voices like this have not come to the forefront of the music scene since the likes of Louis Armstrong and Tom Waits.” Jive Wired enthuses: "Andy Palmer is an amazing talent and his honest and raw vocals serve to superbly compliment his wonderful arrangements." Target Audience Magazine says: “Andy Palmer is an artist to keep an eye on.” In addition, his music has been featured in multiple independent films. Based in part on these notable successes, producer Warren Huart (Aerosmith, The Fray) hand-selected Palmer to work with and produced Hazard of the Die.
Palmer was adopted at a young age and raised in the rural northeast on a small family farm. He has spent six winter months in near solitude in a yurt in Maine. He's lived on and volunteered at a Buddhist meditation retreat for many more months of silent meditation. He is a professionally trained massage therapist, river raft guide, and a licensed attorney. His songs capture and share these experiences through a unique blend of storytelling and poetry."
John Common and Jess DeNicola
"Bohemian, intriguing and introspective, this is an acoustic rock masterpiece. Gorgeously harmonized and deftly orchestrated, the album is a perfect 10. From the sneaky French-bistro sounds of “Go To Hell (With Me)” to the heartfelt, mature poetry of “Walter Whitman,” each track has a unique flavor. The instrumentation is soundtrack quality. Be ready to spend an entire weekend with Beautiful Empty before your ears will accept anything else."
– Music Connection
This critically acclaimed Colorado native brings significantly more lyrical punch and all-around heft than is normally found in the pop singer/songwriter genre, and -- on his just-released third CD, 'Beautiful Empty' -- he further spreads teh court by giving co-billing status to his finely-tuned chamber pop cohorts (including an accordionist, cellist and female singer; very pretty stuff.
-- Jim Musser, Music Beat, IOWA CITY PRESS-CITIZEN
"Beautiful Empty is Rich with songcraft, smarts, and emotion."
-- THE COURIER-JOURNAL, LOUISVILLE, KY
From the Rocky Mountains, straight to your soul
I've been going through Harry Partch's mind-bending tome Genesis of a Music, and all his talk about corporeality and the voice got me thinking, This must be what makes singer-songwriters so attractive: the directness of delivery and just enough accompaniment to support the voice and words. This is exactly what makes John Common's music so good. Check out "Love is a Shark," from his new album Beautiful Empty: the lyrics are full of honest truth, so bare that you can't help laughing to yourself, Yes, that's exactly how it feels. With his band of four "bad motherfuckers" (sorry Samuel L. Jackson) known as Blinding Flashes of Light, the Colorado musician's two decades of playing music has resulted in a perfectly balanced sound and a delivery so clear and sincere, he makes the most offensive words sound like they came from William Blake himself. This guy knowns what he's doing, even if he doesn't always take the credit he deserves.
— Jacob Sundstrom, UNVEILED ARTS, NEW YORK CITY
JULY 2ND, 2011
John Common has followed a career route that sounds familiar to devotees of Americana. The singer and songwriter led a cowpunk band in Florida before taking on a corporate gig he abandoned to wander through the country doing odd jobs and making lo-fi recordings on his own. Landing in Denver, he fronted an alt-country group called Rainville that received plenty of local notice. Common's latest project uses a loose Denver collection of musicians called Blinding Flashes of Light, who add cello, accordion and organ to their new full-length release Beautiful Empty. His grainy voice combines with the sweetness of second vocalist Jess DeNicola's controlled soprano, and the result is a thoughtful and carefully textured alt-folk record that examines the terrors of adulthood and busted relationships. Common makes maturity sound like a condition that thrives on the distance between us all — and that may be the point. — Edd Hurt | Editors' Pick | Nashville Scene
“John Common and Blinding Flashes of Light emerged through smoke dressed to kill in black and red. From the second they took the stage until the second they left it, they played with the sort of blind joy that will make you believe in whatever they're doing -- it's pure passion and happiness.” – Westword
"John's clever lyrics and perfectly crafted songs are outdone only by his huge and prolific body of work. This guy puts out a solid album twice a year. No wonder his songs are good." – Denver Music Scene, Top Ten Singer-Songwriters
"Beautiful Empty showcases a songwriter of remarkable depth and maturity." – Denver Post
“By the third song, I was a fan. By the fifth song, I wanted to join the band. The music was very nearly flawless. It was one of those “good for the soul” music moments for me.” – The Examiner
"Raw, yet sophisticated pop." – The Onion
Hailing from both Arizona deserts and Colorado mountains, singer-songwriter Lara Ruggles embodies a distinctly feminine and ear-catching modern folk style. Her rich, powerful, “soulfully fierce” vocals bring depth to honest, emotionally evocative lyrics and diverse piano and guitar composition. Lara began writing music at the age of eight with a piano composition titled “The Real Lara’s Theme,” but it wasn’t until her teens that she learned to sing harmony, stood in front of a mic, and picked up her first guitar. A common reaction to Lara’s performances goes something like this: “You sound kind of like a cross between Joni Mitchell and Tracy Chapman. But totally different, of course. And now that you’re playing piano, there’s some Tori Amos in there. Yeah, and Natalie Merchant. Oh, and when you did that thing with your voice, it reminded me of Alanis Morrisette, and maybe even…Shakira!”
The Tucson Weekly said it like this: “It was recently announced that Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair Tour, which rounded up some of the biggest female musicians of the day a decade ago, is being revived in 2010. While she's not yet big enough to warrant an invitation, Colorado singer-songwriter Lara Ruggles would fit the bill well. Her slightly ethereal songs, backed by her piano- and guitar-playing, fit nicely into the template forged by McLachlan (and Tori Amos, Jewel and the young Joni Mitchell)—and she sings the hell out of them.”