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Ampersandre is the brainchild and musical project of Andre LaFollette and his album This Is An Ampersand is a 14-song endeavor full of hard-hitting guitar work, energetic tracks and melodic creativity that flows effortlessly from the speakers. Citing influences such as the Police, YES, Led Zeppelin and Shinedown, Ampersandre could also be compared to Chris Cornell of Soundgarden fame and Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam. Elements of grunge, rock and mainstream alternative will leave fans of several different genres delighted with this album.

Quite a few tracks on the album are gritty and grungy, with hard-hitting guitar licks and elements of the Seattle movement coming through within the vocals. The opening track, “We Ain’t Made Of Stones,” is a great introduction to the sort of high-paced energetic songs that Ampersandre is known for. Other pieces that fall into this category are “Train 680,” “A New Way (To Show You I Love You),” and “Magic Bullet Blues.” Each of these offerings carries a faster-paced rhythm and elements of classic rock coupled with grunge. The vocals are strong and are the perfect compliment to the grittiness of the instrumentation.

Ampersandre isn’t just about hard-hitting, guitar screaming rock though. “Halo Of Misfortune” is a slower number with graceful guitar work and deep, seductive vocals. Lyrically, this track is thoughtful and well-written with honest emotion that shines through clearly in the delivery. Two of the more standout tracks on the album are “Come Il Mare” and “Your Gibraltar.” The former is a fantastic instrumental song that highlights Ampersandre’s exquisite skill on the guitar. This melodic and hauntingly beautiful guitar ballad is artistically composed and performed with perfection. It leads the way effortlessly into “Your Gibraltar,” which is seemingly an extension of “Come Il Mare,” but with a softer essence, acoustic guitar work, and vocals that emulate Eddie Vedder with eerie precision.

The last few songs on the album seem to go in a slightly different direction with a lighter, more poppy beat. “Sweet Kiss,” “Like I Like It,” and “The Journey’s Not Over Yet” are all excellent examples of the diversity this artist possesses, and the skill he utilizes to be able to play anything from gritty grunge to melodic guitar-laden ballads to upbeat numbers that can almost have a country flavor, if you stretch the imagination a little. The closing track in particular, “The Journey’s Not Over Yet,” carries an optimistic energy and a positive vibe that leaves listeners on a good note. As the song title suggests, we look forward to another brilliant journey from Ampersandre.

This Is An Ampersand is an album that is guaranteed to please lovers of quality music and enlighten and enrich the lives of those it reaches. There is no doubt Andre LaFollette will garner legions of fans with his raw style, deep vocals and exceptional instrumentation, especially his mastery of the six string. He is clearly a talent to be reckoned with, and his skillful composition, songwriting and performance are aspects of an artist who can go as far as he’d like in his career.

Artist: Ampersandre
Album: This Is An Ampersand
Reviewed by Rhonda Readence
4 stars (out of 5)

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