CD Reviews

My Turn To Howl

  • My Turn to Howl—Penny Jo Pullus
    Ruby Dog Music, 2002

    Penny Jo pulls out the stops when it is her turn to howl - unleashing a powerful singing voice that alternately punches and croons as the emotional content flexes. Starting with a Texas Two-step beat this disc takes that country sound and injects it with pop-singer/songwriter style to create a dynamic medium for storytelling. On this, her third CD, Penny Jo confidently uses many melodic styles to pull together a vision of a modern, complex woman showing us her strength through her feelings.

    True West Magazine - http://www.twmag.com/
    November/December 2003


  • Penny Jo Pullus - My Turn to Howl

    Penny Jo Pullus, My Turn to Howl (Art of Balance/Ruby Dog Music) - Spunky and melodic with a confident air, Austin-based Ms. Pullus walks the fine line separating country from pop, folk and rock. There are so few women in the Texas country scene, she's a welcome addition. Check out www.penny jopullus.com.

    -- Mario Tarradel
    THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS
    9/26/2003

  • My Turn to Howl—Penny Jo Pullus
    Self-released, 2002

    Texas songstress Penny Jo Pullus' My Turn to Howl provides a great blend of old and new country, throws in a dash of dirty rock and roll ("Same Old Magic" wouldn't seem all that out of place on a 1970's Rolling Stones album and "What About Tomorrow" will no doubt resonate with fans of Lucinda Williams) and, more often than not, comes up with a winning combination.

    It's true that there are less-than-effective tracks here, such as the throwaway, zydeco-flavored troubled-couple duet (with Kevin Fowler), "Baby Ride Easy," which doesn't seems as effortless as the songs that Pullus does solo. "What's A Girl to Do" has a beautiful soul (and chorus) but feels a little forced at times, while "Weight of Their Words" is decent title in search of a song equal to it. As the album's closer, it feels a little tagged-on and doesn't leave the kind of lasting impression it should.

    But the moments that work best are the beautifully bellowing title track, the poignant ballad-ish "Ever Be Mine" and the effortless "Same Old Magic," where Pullus doesn't veer too far to any emotional extreme (the fault of the aforementioned troubled tracks) and plays it straight. That's something she does with the tender rocker "Hold Me Close Again," an almost-duet with guitarist Craig Marshall, who wrote the song. That, like so many of the songs here, is perfect for dancing too slow with one hand on a cold beer and the other on an oh-so-warm body.

    by Jedd Beaudoin
    Alt:Fresh - http://www.f5wichita.com/
    Originally published June 19, 2003


  • Penny Jo Pullus - My Turn to Howl

    Penny Jo Pullus pulls in a bunch of her friends for musical assistance on the self-released My Turn to Howl, her third collection of catchy honky-tonk foot-stompers and buckle-rubbers. As Pullus lives in Austin, those friends are pretty danged talented, and the cast includes, amoung others, Ian Maclagan (Small Faces), Casper Rawls (LeRoi Brothers), and Herb Steiner and Paul Skelton (Cornell Hurd Band), along with Libbi Bosworth, Karen Poston and Susanna Van Tassel, who are established vocalists in their won rights. The songs tend to be on the upside - no pity parties here - and reflect the singer's determination and inner strength. "Romeo"'s creamy harmonies and Earl Poole Ball's ridiculously smooth piano, Chip Dolan's keyboards on "Don't Get Me Started," and Scrappy Judd Newcombs' fretwork on "Ever Be Mine" are highlights on a disc that boasts sexy-rockin' vocals from a blonde firebrand who sounds like she's enjoying he hell out of her music. The feeling is contagious.

    -- Buzz McClain
    Harp Magazine
    February 2003

  • Penny Jo Pullus - My Turn to Howl
    Art of Balance/Ruby Dog Music

    Penny Jo Pullus is one of those musicians drawn to Austin like a moth to the flames, attracted to the light and flying close to the fire. My Turn to Howl, her third CD, mixes country with solid pop influences. It's a long way from the girl whose first band in New York state was named Penny Jo's Trailer Trash.

    From Pullus' bitter-sweet take on Jeff Hughes "Same Old Magic (Now you see love, now you don't)" to the let-me-loose declaration of "My Turn to Howl," Pullus delivers a country CD with just a touch of pop, probably because of the influence of producer Ron Flynt (formerly of the power pop band 20/20) brings the pop element to the project. It's not the Nashville substitute, but real country and real pop.

    Other notable tunes include "What About Tomorrow" and Richard Dobson's "Baby Ride Easy," a duet with Kevin Fowler.

    Musicians include Earl Poole Ball, fiddlers Warren Hood and Mary Hattersley, guitarist Paul Skelton, organist Ian Maclagan, and vocal support from Kevin Fowler, Karen Poston, Libbi Bosworth, and Susanna Van Tassel.

    -- Tom Gedde
    Buddy - Dallas, TX
    December 2002


  • ***   Penny Jo Pullus - My Turn to Howl - Ruby Dog Music

    This copper-coiffed Texas-based singer-songwriter undertook her first UK tour this spring in the company of Karen Poston. Though she made some friends with the rather scant audiences, the tour was not as successfull as hoped for, but this new album might redress the balance, being a well-produced set of mainly original songs that walk that fine line between honky-tonk and Texas troubadour stylings. Penny Jo is a wonderfully expressive and big-voiced vocal personality who really struts her stuff on the opening My Turn To Howl and the dynamic Romeo with Earl Poole Ball tinkling the ivories in fine baroom fashion.

    Commanding and yet supple, Penny Jo sounds like a long-lived vet in her approach to Hardly A Day Goes By, a typical country ballad of rejection and heartache. The she turns in a rockabilly styling for Monte Warden's Crazy For You, while Same Old Magic is a more traditionally-slanted mid-tempo country tune enhanced by sawing fiddle and sweet steel. A neat little album well-worth seaching out.

    -- Alan Cackett, Editor
    Maverick - The new voice of country music
    Issue 4 - October 2002

  • Penny Jo Pullus

    Pop country in Austin? That's definitely contrary to the ordinary in Austin's "country" scene right now. But don't go casting dispersions at Penny Jo Pullus for taking the road less traveled. Having moved to Austin from Syracuse, NY just five years ago, after experiencing SxSW, Pullus' recently released her third solo effort, My Turn To Howl, and believe me Pullus does howl.

    If you compare the trite music coming out these days, both in Nashville, and Texas, to Pullus' music, the noticable differences in the music are the honesty, relatability, and the fact that there's not a single song seeking pity, or crying tears in your beer. While most of Pullus' writings on her latest effort are songs about finding, holding down, or losing a relationship there is a message in the songs that tell of a strong woman who deals with what life deals her, and should life or love not go her way, she simply picks up and moves on. There are no apologies here, and to me that's a refreshing change, and it says something about the artist herself.

    Pullus' throaty vocals might well be her selling point, as she can flat out wail one minute, and croon the next. Just an example of her vocal diversity can be seen between the title track, and What About Tomorrow. Backed by a fine group of musicians on the album, one listen will tell you why this album will be what gets Pullus' foot in the door for bigger and better things. The only real weaknesses on the album are the second and third tracks. What's A Girl To Do is nothing more than trite, pop-country fluff that just about any cookie-cutter female singer in Nashville could be heard singing, and Catch Me I'm Falling fails to say anything that can't be heard in the oh-so-cliché songs on mainstream radio. But, with covers of songs by Monte Warden (Crazy For You), and her duet with Austin honky-tonker, Kevin Fowler, coupled with the handful of other songs she's written, this will easily become a favorite of anyone who gives it a chance.

    Pullus can be seen touring all over Texas, and playing in a honky-tonk near you. If she's anywhere near you, go check her out, I guarantee you that we'll be hearing a lot more from Pullus for some time to come.

    -- Marc at Texas Troubadors web site, December 2002


  • CD Review - Penny Jo Pullus "My Turn To Howl"

    Penny Jo Pullus blends keening country vocals with smart pop sensibilities to come up with an album that has something for most everyone, whether the traditional-sounding "Hardly A Day Goes By" or "Romeo," which borders on power-pop. The disc really gets moving as you move into the second half of the batch of 13 songs.

    "Don't Get Me Started" features a burbling organ and rambunctious guitar while "What About Tomorrow" contains Springsteenian organ for good effect. Pullus tries her hand at range of genres and has just enough of a catch in her voice to make the recipe work.

    -- Brian Steinberg, November 2002, Country Standard Time

  • Penny Jo Pullus - Country

    Don't get me started on this whole "what's real country" debate again. Suffice it to say that 95 percent of so called "country music" sucks eggs and is an embarrassment to the remaining authentic five percent.

    Austin-by-way-of-Syracuse songstress Penny Jo Pullus is the genuine article. Her voice has a rich, sweet resonance; it could be what you hear the next time you fall in love across a crowded room

    My Turn To Howl (Art Of Balance/Ruby Dog Records) is Pullus's new and third album of unassuming, simple country. The pleasant difference in Pullus's material is her avoidance of excessive heartache and country cliches (even though she sounds like a heartbreaker, and some of those tried and true country cliches are pretty damn cool.)

    Instead, her songs have pick-yourself-up, dust-yourself-off confidence and strength. Some of this brass has, no doubt, been earned through heartache. The production is uncomplicated and outdoorsy; the songs get a chance to breathe. Pullus pulls off country with a personal and contemporary flourish, helping to keep American country music alive, vital and fresh, and real.

    Penny Jo Pullus plays at 10 p.m., on Thursdy, August 8, at The Dinosaur BBQ.

    -- Frank De Blase, August 2002, Rochester City News


  • PENNY JO PULLUS - MY TURN TO HOWL

    And howl she does. Pullus is legendary around Austin and this is her debut disc [not really, but that's ok. Ed.] It was well worth the wait. It's an easy going set of country rock that will have you singing along after just a few songs. She rocks, she twangs, but she mostly has a great time. The album is a mix of covers and some worthy originals that someone else should think about covering. Another in a long line of great Texas gals. (Self Released)

    Village Records CD Hunting Guide

  • CD Review - Penny Jo Pullus "My Turn To Howl"

    It must be something in the water. While Austin, TX has always been a musical hotbed, in the last few months three incredible albums have come from some of the classiest women making music today and all based out of Austin. The records I'm referring to are Mandy Mercier's "Wild Dreams Of The Shy Boys", Kelly Willis' "Easy" and my latest favorite disc "My Turn To Howl" from Penny Jo Pullus. All of these Austin dolls owe as much to the original Screamin' Siren Rosie Flores as to Patsy Cline.

    The title track begins the CD with a breezy feel that really kicks up the dust by the time Pullus gets to the refrain. "What's A Girl To Do" is a catchy pop/twang song (is there such a genre?) about falling in love with the wrong man. "Romeo", a roadhouse rocker ala The Blasters, hits you right between the eyes as Pullus continues her quest for the right man.

    Without a doubt the best track is "Crazy For You" a heart-felt ode to love written by Monte Warden and Ron Flynt. "Crazy For You" best demonstrates Pullus' amazing voice, a sweet tender sound with emotion not theatrics. "Ever Be Mine" is a simple song with an Everly Brothers sound. The blending of accordions, slide and acoustic guitars, piano and background vocals make for a truly beautiful song. "Hardly A Day Goes By" is reminiscent of the Springsteen song "I Wanna Marry You". "Same Old Magic" could have been a song by our own Steam Donkeys. "Don't Get Me Started" has Penny Jo showing her rocker roots from the drum intro to her growling vocal delivery. "What About Tomorrow" features some incredible organ playing form ex-Faces Ian MacLaghan. "Hold Me Close Again" is a tender number similar to the Kelly Willis song "Looking For Someone Like You". "Baby Ride Easy" is a duet with Kevin Fowler in the best tradition of Gram/Emmylou harmonizing.

    By knowing when to use loud chunky guitars or quiet fiddles and accordions the music speaks for itself. But you'll find yourself over and over coming back to that voice. Penny Jo Pullus has made an amazing record.

    By Bob Silvestri "Nightlife" Best of WNY 'Buffalo/Niagra at it's best...'


  • Austin's Penny Jo Pullus has one of those throaty, expressive voices that seems carefully engineered to fit perfectly on jukeboxes. On her third solo album, My Turn to Howl, she couples that voice with a handful of her smartly crafted songs and some of Austin's most seasoned roots players. The result is an extremely user friendly Texas roots CD....

    Pullus is backed by a Who's Who of respected Austin musicians.... That Pullus circulates in a crowd that includes guitarists Casper Rawls (Leroi Brothers), Scrappy Judd Newcomb (Beaver Nelson), Eric Hisaw, steel guitar legend Herb Stiner, keyboardists Earl Poole Ball, Chip Dolan, and Ian Maclagan, and fiddlers Warren Hood and Mary Hattersly (Greezy Wheels) gives more than a slight hint of her credentials in the Austin roots scene. Pullus is also supported by her cadre of Ginny's Little Longhorn singing sisters, Karen Poston, Susanna Vantassel, Libbi Bosworth, and Elizabeth McQueen.

    Pullus's vocal attraction lies in her ability to alternate between hellcat-on-a-tear and girl-next-door....

    Pullus may be primarily viewed as singer, but she is no slouch as songwriter. Her songs are mostly about love, the problems of finding it, keeping it, or losing it. She has a keen, wonderfully jaded eye for the intricacies of finding the right man....

    by William Michael Smith, Rockzilla World ezine. Read the full review here.

  • PENNY JO PULLIS
    My Turn To Howl... (self released)

    While Pullus is an excellent singer and songwriter, one look at the liner notes will tell you why this CD couldn't fail to be excellent: she's got great taste in backing musicians! Former Faces keyboard player Ian MacLagan is all over this record, as is guitarist extraordinaire Scrappy Jud Newcomb and solo artist/great songwriter in his own right Ron Flynt, who also produced and engineered this CD. So, the real question is if all of these excellent musicians somehow take away from Pullus' own efforts. The answer is a resounding no. Besides writing about half of the songs here, Pullus acquits herself very well in the vocal department and carries this whole album on her shoulders, despite all of the help she gets. It is her effervescence, technique and pure emotion that gets the job done and makes this album the success it is. It is ready for radio to these ears and if this album doesn't make it while a total no-talent like Shania's does, then there is no justice in the world of country radio. This will appeal to those who like female-sung country and twang-pop on a line with Martina McBride and Jill Olsen. Great stuff.

    Scott Homewood for Freight Train Boogie ezine.


  • I've been playing it in the car since I got it. Great band, great voice, lyrics to melt butter... Bottom line: Why ain't this on the radio?
    Buzz McClain, Washington Post

  • "My Turn to Howl" is certainly well titled... it is indeed Penny Jo Pullus' turn to howl; to howl in triumph over her most musically successful CD to date. This is the recording toward which every artist strives. Penny Jo Pullus brings all her singing and songwriting talents together on this excellent CD. It is a delightful mix of country-western, two-step shuffles and rockin' toe-tappers that produces a smooth, seamless sound with energy and freshness.

    Beautifully produced by Ron Flynt (20/20), Penny Jo's voice never sounded better and the instruments are clean, clear and do not overpower her vocals. Penny Jo skillfully blends country-roots sounds with a rock beat. Her voice is a force to be reckoned with on this CD, incorporating the classic country "break" as well as anyone can, along with a guttural burr like a punch to the gut. She can go from sweet, young girl to strong, powerful woman in "under 60 seconds."
    Bill Groll, Austin Americana
    You can read the full review at http://reviews.austinamericana.com/

  • This is a really strong CD! Anyone who buys it won't be disappointed.
    Bruce Newlin, TexasInternetradio.com

  • "My Turn to Howl" is truly Penny Jo's finest project yet... Her hard work and determination show through here with her maturing songwriting skills and a voice that won't quit! ...with a slew of guest artists and musicians straight from the heart of Texas, this only compliments this project and adds to Penny Jo's already well known talent for singing......A must have CD!!!!
    R.W. Shamy, Jr. PD/MD -- Twangcast.com

  • "Americana Rocks! The Byrds meet the Faces in Austin, Texas fronted by this blonde belter singin' her way through a way-cool mixed bag of folk, rock and Alt-country!"
    David Chamberlain, WRFG FM 89.3 Atlanta Georgia

  • After seeing Penny Jo at the 12 Bar Club back in March, I was quite eager to listen to this cd when it came through my letter box. She put on a great live set at the small London club, and had won over a lot of new fans who were aggrieved that they could not get her new cd at the time. Well any of you reading this review, now you can! The cd begins with the title track "My Turn To Howl" which is quite a racy number with some fine gritty vocals from Penny. It is then followed by the catchy "What's A Girl To Do".

    "Catch Me I'm Falling" is probably the weakest track on the album, as I personally found it slightly insipid, but the bouncy "Romeo" soon made up for it, with Earle Poole Ball adding some great sounds on piano. "Crazy For You" is the strongest track on the album, and is an excellent mid-tempo love song. The next two tracks, "Ever Be Mine" and "Hardly A Day Goes By", are both lovely ballads on which Penny sounds very much like another great Texan beauty Kelly Willis.

    From start to finish this album is exactly what you would expect from a singer-songwriter of the quality of Pullus, and also one that has honed her skills in Austin, Texas. She is also backed by some very fine musicians including guitarist Jon Notarthomas who accompanied her on her British tour. Penny has a lovely voice, and can go from sweet vocals to quite gritty and raunchy. But she sounded her most country on the wonderful duet "Baby Ride Easy" in which she was joined by Kevin Fowler, this is a great country song very reminiscent of Johnny Cash and June Carter. The album is brought to a close with a good strong country rocker "Weight Of Their Words".

    This is a very good album from a very talented Texan lass, and if you would like to find out more about Penny Jo Pullus and to find out how to purchase the cd, then you can do so by clicking onto www.pennyjopullus.com .

    DAVID KNOWLES - Country Music and More U.K. 9/6/02.
    www.countrymusicandmore.co.uk

©2002 Penny Jo Pullus and sources cited.