Diana Rein has a new album out, and it’s her best yet. It’s called Queen Of My Castle. But first, for those not familiar with the artist in question, a bit o’ background.
Diana Rein, also known as “the six-string siren,” is a singer-songwriter and musician. She was born in Romania but raised in Chicago, Illinois. As Daiana Campeanu she appeared alongside Macaulay Culkin in the movies “Home Alone” and “Home Alone 2 – Lost In New York.” She played his sister Sondra McCallister.
Presently based in Temecula, California, she began her career playing acoustic rhythm guitar in the fabled Windy City. Her rock resume also includes two full-length albums and a number of singles. Rein’s premiere platter is called The Back Room. It hit the record racks in 2007.
Her critically-acclaimed previous platter is titled Long Road. It dropped in 2016. She performs regularly at various venues including The Double Door, Fitzgerald’s, Lucille’s, and Joe’s Bar.
She’s also played numerous festivals and colleges too. She was also last year’s Guitar Girl Magazine calendar gal for April. She has been compared to the likes of Liz Phair and Bonnie Raitt. Influenced by Stevie Ray Vaughan Philip Sayce, and Prince, her signature sound is a robust blend of blues, blues-rock, modern blues, and rock.
Queen Of My Castle
Queen Of My Castle is the anxiously awaited follow-up to Long Road and was co-produced by the Walter Trout Band’s Michael Leasure. Rein initially focuses on standard blues structures then divinely digresses into material that relies more on elements of rock. On this disc, she leads the way on lead and rhythm guitar and vocals.
In a recent e-mail, she noted: “I am so grateful that I had great musicians working with me on the project.” Indeed, on this platter, she is backed by several select performers including Dave Osti (bass), Drake Munkihaid Shining (keyboards), Leasure (drums and arrangements), and Lisa Bonning, Steve and Vaughn Polacek, and Lincoln, Julia and Mackenzie Clapp (background vocals).
Track by track
The 11-track CD opens on the autobiographical “Yes I Sing The Blues.” It’s a strong lead-in that somehow reminds one of Buddy Guy.
“The Midnight Line” is very much Chicago blues but with an up-tempo drive that draws in the listener as Rein sings a song-story of two people meeting on a train.
The titular “Queen of My Castle” reveals her strength and confidence. It’s a blues shuffle song meant to empower women.
“I Can’t Quit You” has a great groove and one of those inventive, “down and dirty” progressions that she really makes work. (Stay away from those bad boys, Diana.)
The upbeat blues bit “One Foot In” makes it clear that if Rein does have relationship issues it is because she now knows what she wants and will not settle.
Her signature sound remains solid yet fluid on “Walking Along.” This one somehow reminds your rockin’ reviewer of the 1959 song “Hippy Hippy Shake” by Chan Romero. It matters not though as the song works.
Rein and company continue to demonstrate a welcome cohesiveness and consistency on “Pure Soul.” It has a liveliness that works well as a lead-in to the next number.
The next number is the tuneful train ride “It’s You.” The track is also an early favorite of the critics.
Not to be confused with Paul McCartney’s 1973 hit of the same name, this “My Love” is a song that comes complete with a great bossa nova/Latin rhythm thing going for it.
“Get Down” goes off in yet another slightly different direction. Call it pop-tinged blues or anything else that floats your boat but it sounds like she is having fun and letting herself go.
“Chill of the Night” is almost an old school torch song. Her vocals are sexy but in a special “If-only-an-at-her-peak-Linda-Ronstadt-could-really-play-a-guitar-like-that” way. But understand that Rein neither relies on nor denies her gender.
“Worth” is a strong and bluesy fan fave meant to encourage and empower others.
“Time’s Ticking Away” contains some nice musical moments. The song is about love, treating others right and remembering what matters in life.
The aptly named “Heat” is blues-rock at its best. Yeah. “Roll up your sleeves, it’s about to get dirty” and hot too.
“Zoe” is a beautiful closing cut. It is a welcome instrumental that wraps up the record and proves Rein knows the showbiz adage “always leave them wanting more.”
Overall the album is a reflection of her confidence as a blues performer and a tuneful tribute to her inspirations from multiple music genres and an ample audio expression of her originality. It is, quite simply, her best work yet.
Rein shared her thoughts while making this album saying: “I really had high hopes for this album because I felt that the songs are so great as a collective and a great representation of my affinity and love for the blues.”
So check out Diana Rein’s Queen Of My Castle on Gulf Coast Records and feel the “Heat.”
Gulf Coast Records