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New York's Li'l Mo and the Monicats are back, sign with Cow Island Music

Friday, February 20, 2009 – New York City honky tonker Monica Passin signed a record deal with Cow Island Music, the Boston-area country label with her first CD coming May 12.

Monica and the Monicats released two albums in the late 1990's before taking an extended break from recording.

Bill Hunt, the owner of the label, said via email, "In the fall of 2006, having heard little about Monica in a number of years, I picked up the phone and called her to talk about the label and what I was trying to accomplish. She welcomed that call and said that, coincidentally, she had recently written some new songs and was just starting to think about recording with her musical collaborator, Hank Bones. We stayed in touch and two years later, here we are, getting ready to release Li'l Mo and the Monicats' Cow Island debut, "On the Moon."

"From the beginning, Monica impressed upon me that this was going to be a departure from here first two records (1997's "Li'l Mo and the Monicats" and 1999's "Hearts In My Dream"). Yes there would be country shuffles, yes there would be rockabilly, but there was going to be a whole lot more. This was going to be Monica's musical journey through the terrain of American roots music. It sounded wonderful to me. The bottom line is that Monica has a beautiful voicem and she's a great songwriter, so I was confident that whatever road she traveled down would be the right one.

Passin called the CD "a stylistically varied record. Not a blues record, but bluesy - the forms are there, whether it's a country shuffle, a cajun/zydeco influenced tune, rock'n'roll; there is a jazz/blues tune and an R&B tune, and to shake it up, a 60s-style pop tune or two - hey, American Music! Some regional representation - mountain fiddle, Louisiana accordion and on to the Brill Building, which is where, if you're from New York, your musical roots might be. Nine of the 11 songs are originals. Bill Haley's Rockin' Chair On The Moon gives us the album title. And that tune might just say it all."

CD reviews for Li'l Mo & the Monicats

On the Moon CD review - On the Moon
It's tough enough perfecting a single facet of American roots music. So encompassing everything from soul to rockabilly to zydeco on a single album sounds downright schizophrenic. To be sure, Li'l Mo's first record in a decade covers a lot of ground. But the 20-year veteran of New York's country scene - with a huge assist from multi-instrumentalist and co-producer Hank Bones - deftly glides between styles with flair and confidence. Li'l Mo-otherwise known as Monica Passin »»»
Hearts In My Dream
With the release of her second fine album, you have to wonder just how long Monica Passin (aka Li'l Mo) is going to remain a deep secret even within the small chatty world of alternative country. While her first disc was split about evenly between rockabilly and country, New Yorker Passin moves a bit further to the country side on her new album. Whatever the style of music, she generally evokes the '50's both vocally and instrumentally. The album consists of seven originals and four well-chosen covers. »»»
Townhouse
Like Robbie Fulks' "Country Love Songs," this album sets its tone by opening with Tim Carroll's song "Every Kind Of Music But Country." But Passin's version, featuring banjo and her old-timey hiccuppy vocals, makes it clear that she's spinning the concept in a different direction. The New Yorker, who appeared on the 1992 Diesel Only compilation "Rig Rock Jukebox" (as did Carroll) cites Buck Owens and Wanda Jackson as major influences, and the music does nothing to contradict that. »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Kiah heats up – Amythyst Kiah's music career has seemingly been a slow burn, but that well could be changing. She was part of the quartet that put out the very fine "Songs of Our Native Daughters" earlier this year and is about to launch a tour with CD-mates Rhiannon Giddens, Allison Russell of Birds of Chicago and Leyla McCalla to bring out songs about... »»»
Concert Review: Sweeney maintains her musical integrity – Sunny Sweeney has gone the big label route and even earned a hit with "From a Table Away," but truth be told, she's better off without the baggage of the bigs, especially given the consistent quality and musical vision that was so clearly and admirably on display on this evening. When the East Texas native started her career, she was... »»»
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