Blue Sandcastle
"If You Only Knew..."

(Self-Released 2002)Blue Sandcastle - If You Only Knew...

The way to sell country-influenced music to the rock fans who swear up and down to hate the country genre is to mix it in with what they like. Don't let them know. To some extent, this is what Blue Sandcastle has done on their 2002 release, "If You Only Knew..." And while Blue Sandcastle are by no means a country band, there are tip offs of their country influences: a rocking cover of the Willie Nelson song that Pasty Cline made famous ("Crazy"), song titles like "This Here Changes Everything" or "Closing Time at the Fair," and there's something about singer/guitarist/bassist Jean-Paul Vest's vocals that lean ever so slightly towards that country sound.

But let's not get hung up on that. "If You Only Knew..." is fourteen modern rock sounding tracks that are catchy -- in lyrics, melody and rhythm -- and are performed well. Opening with the poppy, driving rock of "Starting Gun" and "I'm Sorry Now," Blue Sandcastle get your attention and hold it through the familiar sounding "Second Place Waltz" and "What Would You Have Me Say."

Offering up two covers, Blue Sandcastle earn respect. Their rock infused "Crazy" cover sounds little like the original, save for the final line, but works well. And accept for some extra distortion and turning the bass up, on their cover of "Art of Dying," the band pay tribute to the late, great George Harrison by preserving the song's original sound -- including the great guitar leads throughout the song.

Unquestionably "Guardrail" stands out on the album. With jangling guitar and emotions bubbling, "Guardrail" has many elements and it sounds great. (One that is, perhaps, worth dog-earing to rerecord acoustic.) Closing with the understated "Winter," Blue Sandcastle almost sounds like a different band, adding deeper, darker percussion in the background. "If You Only Knew..." showcases Blue Sandcastle in variations of their sound, offering something for everyone. The build throughout the album is balanced and natural. By the end of the album, you're looking for the repeat.

A-

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