Online Reviews

Independent Songwriter Magaizine, January 1998


"Coloring Outside The Lines" has plenty of tonal, vocal coloring that marries so well with the idea of the lyrics. This is superb songwriting debuting as a simple, uneventful composition. Listen closely and you'll learn something.

"How Was It Justified?" Oklahoma City remembered for the tragedy in '95 that took the lives of so many people. Although many songwriters have covered the topic, Sandy gives it a depth and honesty that was sorely lacking in many previous interpretations. "

Something That I Didn't Know" ....Standing naked, afraid that I would go / I did not know at the time that later I'd find, The sequel meant more than the show".....How true. When you think that what you are going through is the most important thing, life turns things around and you learn how the events yet to come will be what shapes your destiny. This is great songwriting that should be studied and analyzed by novices and professionals alike.

"Don't Call Me Late For Dinner" a cool, shuffle that feels good. Attitude in an Elvis-like environment. "Kansas Skies" this was my favorite song. It brought tears to my eyes and the lump i n my throat was not comfortable at all. I didn't intend to feel this way but it couldn't be avoided. Sandy's voice is so fragile, imperfectly charming and real, it touches a core that's undeniable. One of the best songs heard all year. This is a gem.

"Mary Ann" about a girl of seventeen who wants to be on her own but her parents aren't ready for her to grow up and go searching for her through the press. "Five Coins In" Girl knows how to write a fun, perky song for the masses. "God Bless The Child" a nice variation on a sensational Billy Holiday classic. Sandy has a way of making a timeless jewel even sound like it was written just for her. God bless, Sandy.

"Takin' It Slow" about leaving the city and moving to the country. Slightly edgy and totally Sandy. "I Remembered A Song" serenity defined.

IN SUMMARY: Sandy Ross' music isn't something that you can experience in just one listen. It kind of grows on you. It evolves slowly and moves in a strong, persistent direction. Sandy has a different voice that you don't hear every day. At first, you might not know what to make of it. Her tonal gymnastics are unpredictable and her dynamics are rather unprecidented but when you allow the music to take hold of you, you begin to really enjoy all the wonderful sounds that Sandy creates. You can appreciate what she has to offer and the individual stylings that she can bring to the table. Sandy is truly a spirited songwriter with the knack to invite fond, vivid memories as well as indulge in the darker emotions in life. She is special lady with insight and wisdom and the new, upstart songwriters of today would be wise to listen to what she has to say.

Indie-Music.com, May 6, 2000


Les Reynolds

Sandy Ross is a great one for crossing borders, but in a way, she stays safely inside what she knows and is so good at -- a clever mix of acoustic jazz, country and blues, some very contemporary and some as retro as it gets. While there is some exploring going on, she never really strays too far... Ross, a Californian, is a veteran and road-tested performer from the late 60s who has thrived in the coffeehouse scene (and larger venues) and criss-crossed the country in the process. During those years, she's honed her style and learned the craft like a pro.

Her latest CD is a wonderful showcase of those talents... Ross begins with the title track, mostly a monologue about what that eventually has come to mean for her life, spoken in that sweet, earthy and Southern-sounding voice of hers. She works it into a nice acoustic blues tune and it goes retro with the jazzy horn section blowin' in late in the song to give it a bit of a swing flavor.

Then, a jolt. The very next tune is a haunting social commentary called "How Was it Justified?" - - dealing mostly with the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing in '95. Her guitar is percussive and her vocals a bit stronger and rougher -- a little like Rory Block. Instrumentation, always important in this CD, is really effective here. Jerry Peterson and Tim Emmons (bass player) arranged the horns and strings respectively for a dramatic, emotionally stirring sound to complement Sandy's passion.

On the next tune, a brand new comparision can be drawn -- the poignant yet assertive "Something That I Didn't Know" is a country-folk-blues number that makes you think of Sarah Elizabeth Campbell (Texas). Switching gears, "Don't Call Me Late For Dinner" is a cute, snappy, acoustic, old-time honky- tonk piano-driven ditty with some cool, 50s-sounding male backup vocals from Charlie Davis (bass), John Hostetter, Jon Rubin and Harvey Shield as the Mighty Echoes and Sandy leads them beautifully.

One of the best tunes on the CD is a ways down in the 10-song order. Titled " Five Coins In," it's a great, bouncy acoustic showcase of Sandy's true bluesy finger-style guitar picking and a great grumbling upright bass by Emmons. Sandy's soulful, sincere voice seems to let loose a tad and have a little fun on this song.

Sandy Ross can color in or outside the lines, whatever she chooses. It's a pretty picture either way.

Shock Value, January, 1998

DJ


Sandy Ross - Artist of the Month

Veteran artist, Sandy Ross, has been writing and performing since the late 1960's. She started out in her hometown of Phoenix, Arizona and quickly moved to New York City then signed with Chappell Music who sent her on to Los Angeles. Sandy's latest album, Coloring Outside the Lines, is an intensely emotional blend of blues, folk and jazz. Her style is like a mixture of Janis Joplin, Bonnie Raite and Michele Shocked, circa Short, Sharp Shocked.

The title cut, in fact, brings back memories of Shocked's Graffiti Limbo from said album. Sandy tells a great spoken story at the beginning about learning how to color inside the lines of a coloring book as a child. Coloring Outside the Lines develops into a clever metaphor for life. One thing that really adds a lot to the feel of the entire album is the instruments. In addition to Sandy's six and twelve string guitars, there is also a horn section and a string section as well as piano.

Listening to this album, I can see why Chappell Music hired Sandy as a staff songwriter. She has a gift for well written lyrics as well as music. One of the most standout songs on this release, and also one of my favorites, is How Was it Justified. This song was written about the Oklahoma City Federal Building bombing. As you might expect, it's extremely powerful and emotional. It begs the question, How Was it Justified, to the perpetrators of the horrible crime. It's both sad and very blunt, starting right off with an image of the famous baby rescue scene that we all watched with bated breath. Most remember watching the one year old being pulled from the debris, very burned, and we were all saddened when she died. This song relives much of the horror of the bombing with strong, angry lyrics. Sandy creates great parallels from the bombing to Judas' betrayal of Jesus. Here is just a taste of Sandy's intense lyrics: "In Oklahoma City where the Federal Building stood, here's a chain-link fence that documents the fall of brotherhood. All covered up with flowers, teddy bears, and poems an' wreaths. It's a sacrifice of innocence to all of our beliefs."

Sandy stays mostly with a folk/blues sound, but Something That I Didn't Know ventures into the country music field with great guitar riffs. Don't Call Me Late for Dinner crosses over into yet another genre, early rock n' roll. This sock-hop type tune is a tongue in cheek play on the old saying "call me anything you like, but don't call me late for dinner." It has a great do-whop chorus with male back-up vocals.

My pick for best song is Kansas Skies. Here, Sandy displays her rare gift for writing about nature. Her use of beautiful images of Kansas Skies place her in the ranks with John Denver and James Taylor. Sandy never oses her creative edge: "I've been twice around this country now and I still don't understand just why I seem to need applause to find out where I am."

Twice around the country is no exaggeration, Sandy has toured the U.S. several times, playing in over 40 states. Her songs have been performed by Anne Murray and Kim Carnes, among others, and her music s receiving airplay on over 150 radio stations in the U.S. and all over the world.

Another powerful song is Mary Ann, written about a young runaway. For you gamblers, there's Five Coins In, and for those who like the slower country ife there's Takin' It Slow. I was very impressed with Sandy's remake of the classic Billie Holiday song, God Bless the Child. I have never heard this song performed in this style, with a guitar. I've always believed if you're going to remake a song, you should make it your own, i.e. Phil Collins doing True Colors. That's exactly what Sandy did with God Bless the Child. Finally, the CD goes out with a bang with I Remembered a Song. It starts out with a slow guitar and Sandy's voice, then evolves into a duet with Severin Browne, with a huge finale at the end with a full choir. Sandy recently signed with Chartmaker Records and her CD will soon be available at Tower Records, Borders, Barnes and Noble and Best Buy.