‘Bellatopia’ is a 10-track album that is mellow, unique and packed full of talent. ‘Wooden Box Heart’ is one song on the album that you can’t overlook. It has a strong jazzy feel throughout as well as smooth vocals and unique lyrics that blend perfectly with the guitar and piano work to make it a song you’ll love without even trying. ‘Slippin’ Away’ starts with brilliant piano work that hooks you in immediately. When the vocals kick in it just makes a good tune better as they’re very catchy. This album is for anyone that doesn’t like your typical everyday music, but instead prefers mellow and unique music.
Black Velvet – Issue #88 (April 2016) - http://www.blackvelvetmagazine.com/issue88.htm
Americana, there's that overused description again, and for ten years this Wisconsin based sextet have been plying their trade within the environs of the genre. I'm loathe to use the name to categorize The Getaway Drivers even though they do use it themselves and they embrace the elements of Folk, Country & Rock which are the base ingredients of Americana.
But, I'm very pleased to reveal that they do offer something a little different, the airy and ethereal female vocals shine like a beacon throughout and are a welcome alternative to the usual inflections inherent in the genre. All the songs, without exception, are chock full of infectious melodies and a much smoother and polished sound with a very commercial edge which should appeal to a wider audience and also guarantee their place on radio station playlists.
A quite beautiful album of exquisitely crafted music, whatever the genre. SW
March/April 2016 Issue
Bellatopia, their fourth release, marks The Getaway Drivers’ 10 year anniversary, although only Wisconsin folk singer-songwriter Bob Manor (guitar, piano, vocals) and bassist Ken Keeley remain from the original line up.
Essentially an Americana/rock outfit, the band’s line up has changed considerably over the intervening years, but since 2006 they’ve been co fronted by Sheila Shigley (violin, mandolin, vocals) with the current line-up including Dan Butson (electric guitars), drummer Greg Thornberg, and post album recruit Iris Hutchings on backing vocals.
Crowd funded, Bellatopia ranges from rootsy folk/country to alt/country radio-friendly rock and opens on a sublime high with ‘Suburban Summer Shine’ – a piano riff leads off, Shigley’s lead vocals shine, the rhythm section kicks in, there’s a big hook chorus, and chiming guitars. It’s not a new formula, but it is a thing of considerable beauty in a vein not dissimilar to GRTR! UK favourites Katy Lied (who sadly, seem to have vanished since their excellent 2011 release Summer Lightning).
Elsewhere there’s melancholy folk/country ballads – ‘Warning Bones’ having a wonderfully bitter sweet mid-section guitar break, bouncy Jeff Lynne-style ditties, some wonderful harmonising à la early Deacon Blue on the up tempo ‘A Call Out’, and ‘Better Days’ captures memories of early Simon and Garfunkel.
Nothing is over embellished, and at times Bellatopia reflects the golden era that gave us bands like River City People and Love & Money in the late 1980′s. The other standout number is ‘Signs’ – where Manor’s Tom Petty-influenced vocals combine to marvellous effect with Steely Dan-ish jazzy vibes and some delightful lead guitar work. It’s another impossibly catchy number.
It’s an accomplished release, and one that offers a broad range of styles. Pursue the right one and The Getaway Drivers could just outrun the pack.
Review by Pete Whalley
11/2015 - Get Ready To Rock! -http://getreadytorock.me.uk/blog/2015/11/album-review-the-getaway-drivers-bellatopia/
Madison has its share of bands straddling the nebulous lines of folk, country and rock. It could be said that is what defines the Americana genre. Few embody the spirit of the Midwest as easily as the Getaway Drivers. For ten years Bob Manor and his band have been polishing their songwriting skills, each album successfully building on the last.Bellatopia is no exception and is the band’s best outing to date, one that may be a challenge to top.
There have been frequent changes in personnel but the recent lineup of Manor (guitar, piano vocals), Sheila Shigley (violin, mandolin, vocals), Ken Keeley (bass), Greg Thornburg (drums) and Dan Butson (guitars) has been solid. Just after completing the recording the band added another backup vocalist in Iris Hutchings, expanding the harmonic range of their already effective vocalizations.
Bellatopia also marks the Getaway Drivers’ tenth year and former member Barbara Chusid makes an appearance on two tracks. The Tenth Anniversary/CD Release event will include several former Drivers and this is part of the appeal of the group, it’s genuine, family-like nature. Once a Driver, always a Driver and one would suspect the same from the band’s fans.
For Bellatopia the group wisely chose to go to Brian Daly at DNA Creative Labs whose engineering and production skills enhance the material. As songwriters, the Getaway Drivers have really learned to hone their craft, chipping away at the construction of both the music and the lyrics, producing lean, tightly-wound compositions with few spare words or notes. Even Shigley’s artwork exudes fresh air and a dreaminess that is life itself, the blurred landscape on the cover setting the tone for the album’s simultaneously surrealistic and grounded-in-reality sentiments, reflecting the notion that life is not going to be predictable, a notion frequently visited in the lyrics.
The electric guitars and the rhythm section are ratcheted up a couple notches, the result being a more urgent, edgier sound. Manor also plays ample piano and several of the songs feature it as the central instrument. Having male and female vocalists is a strength for any band but on Bellatopia the Getaway Drivers emphasize vocal blending to maximum effect, the singing becoming another instrument in itself. They lean toward indie-rock on several occasions, giving the material its own distinct flavor and in this way they have begun to carve out a sound that is uniquely their own. These accoutrements are apparent from the get-go with opener “Suburban Summer Shine,” a radio-friendly rocker built on a bed of swirling backward effects created by Daly. The central piano figure gives way to crunching guitars, driving bass and a killer chorus. “Call Out” mines similar territory with synthesized strings adding heft and another strong hook in the chorus. “Signs” could be a Steely Dan outtake, a smooth, jazzy feel with a laid-back vocal accented by Butson’s scratchy guitar lines while Chusid’s organ adds subtle soulfulness.
Manor really shines on three pop-rockers. The keyboards on “Wooden Box Heart” are especially strong with Chusid wailing on organ while Manor provides a rollicking piano accented with some nifty glissandos. Butson turns in an especially tasty solo here and he has some strong moments throughout the recording. “Slipping Away” and “Poor Man” are Beatle-esque all the way, again with bouncing piano and cleverly phrased lyrics.
Shigley’s vocals grace two beautiful ballads, “Warning Bones” and “Hope Road.” She and Manor harmonize beautifully once again on the closer “No Matter Which Side,” a sumptuous melody and the only song to employ mandolin, which featured more prominently on their past recordings.
Bellatopia was sequenced to run like two-sided vinyl so while the sparse acoustic-guitar arrangement of Manor’s “Better Days” might seem like a perfect sendoff, it’s also a great side one closer.
The lyrics here are masterful, opaque enough to let listeners infer meanings of their own. Many seem to observations of everyday neighborhood life and a search for meaning and a way out from the mundane. Beautifully poetic without a hint of pedestrianism, these lyrical strengths are what build connections with an audience.
“Gonna say goodbye to all these streets / “Cause they never cared that much for me / Now the rain and wind are my best friends / They’ll see me through ‘til the end. / Hauling in the country miles / Sleeping under starry skies / Where I’m headed I don’t know / But I got my ticket to the show / And when it ends I’ll begin.”
They Getaway Drivers have begun a new chapter in their evolution and Bellatopia is a unique and artful statement.
Rick Tvedt - Local Sounds Magazine 9/2015
"Local music thrives when people get restless, confronting and challenging trends, letting ideas flare up and burn out in a natural and erratic way. That said, even a town like Madison needs it's reliable comforts, and The Getaway Drivers offer some, consistently writing solid alt-country songs that suit both the mellow and the curious. Bob Manor's songwriting and his vocal harmonies with fiddler-mandolin player Sheila Shigley certainly keep the band rooted in familiar ground in "The Truth is Where It's Always Been", a five song EP for release at this show. The energetic hooks of "Honey On A Razor" and "Beale Street" mesh nicely with simple, tense guitar figures and arrangements that also switch in such elements as cello and dulicmer." [Mandolin] Scott Gordon - A.V. Club Madison (Jan 3, 2010)
The A.V. Club's MAMAs shortlist: "The Shape Shifters: A glance at the list of MAMA nominations finds The Getaway Drivers in the country, folk/Americana, rock and pop catagories, with three different nods for song of the year. The rootsy group, led by Bob Manor, shows off a diversity of styles, moods and influences, from stomping rock to delicate folk. The laid-back happy-hour rocker "Oh Trudy" shows off Manor's gruff voice and crowd-pleasing attitude, while the graceful ballad "Won't Ask Why" spotlights the vocals of fiddler Sheila Shigley."
Scott Gordon, Randy Ballwahn - The Onion (May 10, 2007)
Singer/songwriter Bob Manor moves easily from amiable folk-rock to foreboding alt-country on the Getaway Drivers’ varied new Americana CD. His best performance comes on “Billy,” the fated tale of a young man who finally comes to terms with his decadent Daddy. He sounds sufficiently down-home on several tracks (see the John Prine-style “Bottle & Suitcase” and the Dylan-brushed “Mystified”), and many of his performances are amiable enough. But on “Billy” he adds some flinty reality to his grim narrative by employing a gravel-throated vocal style that fits hand-in-glove with its gray-toned vibe. Manor also scores points with “Shame,” a loping folk-rocker that borrows its beat and some of its moody ambience from Neal Diamond’s “Solitary Man.”
While the Getaway Drivers often follow Manor’s lead, some of the most balanced performances come on songs sung by fiddler Sheila Shigley, a veteran of the local Celtic music scene. Thanks to her bandmates’ spare work on mandolin and cello and her own shimmering vocals, the country-folk love song “Stay” wouldn’t sound out of place on Americana radio wedged between some Alison Krauss and Emmylou Harris.
The Getaway Drivers are clearly onto something. Once they find the right balance of their boy-girl
vocals, they could find themselves making inroads into a much larger market.
Tom Laskin - Isthmus (Jun 21, 2007)
The Isthmus Review: Salt Blue & Bone
Lots of songs tell stories, but few tell them quite as well as the tune "Salt, Blue & Bone" by The Getaway Drivers.
The song, from the group's about-to-be-released EP The Truth is Where it's Always Been, tells the tale of a Nantucket woman whose lover has gone on a whaling voyage. It's the early 1800s, long before GPS and most modern medicine, so this could easily be her beau's final trip.
What's more, though Nantucket's located in the Atlantic Ocean, sailors like hers had to travel to the Pacific to find the breed of whales they hoped to catch. This process could easily take several years, says band leader Bob Manor, who got the idea for the song by reading Nathanial Philbrick's Heart of the Sea.
"This left the island with a lot of lonely women, which is where this song comes in," he says. "If you read the history, a lot of times these couples would get pregnant before the voyage, in case the father did not come back. When he did come back, he came home to a 2-, 3- or 4-year-old child, not knowing for sure if a baby had been born at all."
But that's not all: The prospect of losing one's man to the sea led some women to be tempted by the townies who remained. As Manor explains, "Sometimes the sailors would come back to children that looked suspiciously like someone else in town."
In other words, the woman who's the focus of the song has a ton on her mind. Through the sweet vocals of singer/fiddler Sheila Shigley, she laments to her faraway fellow: "Four years have gone by / Baby's sweet sighs, and you've never heard them / When will you come home? / 'Cause I'm cold, cold as a stone."
The song swings and sways gently, like a cradle, doubling as a lullaby for the character's young child. Warm vocal harmonies and duets between the fiddle and cello also suggest an Irish mountain tune, though it's actually based on a sea shanty. By the end of the track, you're just as likely to feel haunted by longing as rocked to sleep.
"A sea shanty's a very old-fashioned type of tune, and a tune one could envision being written at the time," says Manor. "Sheila's experience with Celtic music came in handy here, and she did a beautiful job writing the melody line and portraying both the lyrical and musical sentiments in the song."
An MP3 of "Salt, Blue & Bone" is available in the related files section at right. More music by the Getaway Drivers is available on their MySpace page. The band will play a release party for The Truth is Where it's Always Been at the High Noon Saloon on Friday, January 8.
Jessica Steinhoff - Isthmus (Jan 6, 2010)
Madison Music Project -- Bob Manor & the Getaway Drivers
Kristian Knutsen on Monday 11/06/2006 3:32 pm , (1) Recommendation
Backed by a close-knit band dubbed the Getaway Drivers, singer-songwriter Bob Manor offers an alt-country-ish mix of acoustic rock and folk in both his records and live performances. Americana, as the terminology goes. Performing on average about once per month, the group has been busy lately with shows related to tomorrow's mid-term elections.
More about Manor and his drivers are detailed in their registry biography:
If you like rockin Americana with a touch of alt country twang you very well might fall in love with this band. Gritty enough to be authentic, Bob Manor writes honest -- from the hip -- songs and The Getaway Drivers bring them to life as each requires - be it a hard driving rock tune or a tender ballad.
Bob Manor is Bob Manor. He plays guitar, writes the songs and sings.
The Getaway Drivers, meanwhile, consists of Manor, Ellie Erickson (guitars), Steve Pingry (cello, guitar), and Ken Keeley (Bass), along with assistance from Peter Fee (drums), Gail Campbell (drums), and Sheila Shigley (vocals, violin, cello).
In 2005, Manor unveiled his latest solo album, Ghosts of Yesterday. Released by Uvulittle Records, the album is a suite of original songs featuring the acoustic guitar, bass, drums, piano and mandolin. Its stand-out track, "The Sweetness," won Best Americana Song at the 2006 Madison Area Music Award, while the album was also nominated for best Folk/Americana release at this year's MAMAs. Meanwhile, a review of the song "Stuck," the ninth track on the album, is described by one reviewer as a "a pleasant tune about the doldrums of life in a small town."
Ghosts was preceded by That Gospel Line, Manor's 2004 album featuring "old time country gospel" and recorded with the Americana band Tin Ceiling. Manor explains more of his background in that album's promotional notes:
“As a kid I attended an old country church on a dirt road in Northern Wisconsin, and got my start on piano and vocals there. Recently my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. I thought it was time give them something back for all the love and support they have given me over the years. I dedicated "That Gospel Line" to them and to the people in the church I grew up in.''
Manor and the Getaway Drivers are now working on a follow-up album to Ghosts of Yesterday.
The band's MySpace page features three songs from that album. They are: "The Sweetness," "Wrecking Ball, and "John Baker's Toil," along with samples of other songs. Other information, including a list of previous shows, photos, and reviews are available at bobmanor.com.
Bob Manor & the Getaway Drivers perform at many benefit concerts, such as one in late July for the teen self-injury documentary by Wendy Schneider titled CUT. Their performance in that show was described as "really cookin' (as per usual)" by their friend Pam Barrett of the Motor Primitives. The last week has been no different.
On Monday, Oct 30, Manor and the Drivers played the High Noon Saloon at a benefit for Fair Wisconsin, the state-wide group organizing against the proposed amendment to Wisconsin's constitution that would ban same-sex marriage and civil unions. Featuring appearances from elected officials like Russ Feingold speaking against the amendment, the show was praised on the band's blog:
The audience of freethinkers, dignitaries and fellow musicians had sat transfixed in the dusky saloon as The Getaway Drivers scorched through songs of fire and ice, love and loss, sweetness and destruction, the stage transformed into a whirlwind of flesh, steel, weathered wood and determination.
The band will be at it again on Tuesday night, when they will be playing an Election Night returns gathering at the High Noon Saloon. The show starts at 6 p.m., and the cover is $5, as the band gets things going for a night of TV and drinking, be it is sorrow or celebration.
Kristian Knutsen - Isthmus (Nov 6, 2006)
Madtracks Review: Fast Driver
The stately country-pop piano that animates the verses of "Fast Driver" is something of a ruse. It's so easygoing (think Bruce Hornsby-style mellow) that at first it seems to work against an otherwise edgy tune that concerns a hit-and-run lover and the confused dude she left behind.
But Bob Manor -- chief vocalist and songwriter of The Getaway Drivers -- knows what he's doing in this track from their new self-titled album. Those pleasant keyboard figures set up the song's urgent chorus about as well as anything could. It's the fuse that smolders before Manor's controlled explosion of confusion, regret and emotion. Consequently, when he sings "She left her red dress under my bed/And she disappeared," you don't just get a love 'em and leave 'em trope, you get a sense of a starry-eyed lover in free fall.
Simply put, it's quite a trick. Not to mention a strong indication that Manor and the Drivers plan on busting out well beyond the alt-country ghetto in which they currently linger.
A MP3 of the track is available in the related downloads at right. More music by The Getaway Drivers can be found on their MySpace page.
Tom Laskin - The Daily Page (Jun 28, 2007)