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All the ingredients

Cowley Road EP
Cowley Road EP
By Gayle Skidmore

Raincoat Records: 2008

Buy it digitally now from

This review first appeared in the July 24, 2008 issue of the North County Times.

Where would Jewel be without "Who Will Save Your Soul" or "You Were Meant for Me"? Tracy Chapman without "Fast Car" or "Give Me One Reason"? Jewel might still be playing coffee shops in O.B., Chapman gigging around her hometown of Cleveland.

Talent alone isn't enough to guarantee national success in the music biz. Which would explain why Gayle Skidmore's third EP is being released on her own Raincoat Records, rather than one of the major labels. Because Skidmore sings with as much passion or Jewel or Chapman, brings as much talent to the recording studio. The difference between the worldwide fame of Jewel or Chapman and the Gayle Skidmores of the world is as thin as the difference between writing a song like "You Were Meant for Me" or "Give Me One Reason" and not writing that song.

The six songs on the San Diegan's newest EP are every bit as good as the non-hit songs on albums by Jewel and Chapman and other famous, rich singer-songwriters. All feature nice arrangements that show off the profiles of the songs and the acoustic virtuosity of Skidmore and her band, and let Skidmore's gorgeous set of pipes nestle in your head.

Did we write that the six songs here are as good as the non-hits of Jewel and Tracy Chapman? Make that five, because the fifth song here, "Crazy," could well be Skidmore's tickets to the big time. Great hook, old-timey charm, spare arrangement. Hypnotic is what it is.

The difference between making it and not making it? Sometimes it's not even the songs. Sometimes it's just sheer luck – having a record company executive, a Clear Channel programming director run into your song.

With "Crazy," Gayle Skidmore is one bit of good luck away from hitting the big time.