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Tuesday 15 February 2011

Aug 2007

One Of The Boys - Sony

This Redneck Woman from Illinois really burst onto the scene in Nashville a few years ago, with no airs and graces. Some, including myself, doubted whether so would last the pace, but she proves her worth on this, her third major label album.
Despite the pressures to go mainstream, Wilson seems to sound more Country every time we hear her.
And this album is totally Gretchen. She has had a hand in writing all but two of the 11 tracks, and co-produced the whole project too.
Stand out tracks include the title cut, which is something of an anthem for her, “The Girl I Am”, which opens the album, and “If You Want A Mother”, which has influences of Loretta , or early Tammy. They had the same appeal to Country in the 60’s & 70’s that Gretchen has today.
The catchy “There Goes The Neighborhood” is much the same style.
She can also deliver a neat ballad, as she proves on “Heaven Help Me”, or “To Tell You The Truth”, which are quite soft, and “Pain Killer”, which is more powerful. Both styles are superbly handled.
John Rich (of Big & Rich fame) helped out by co producing and writing, and duets on “Come To Bed”, one of the tracks not written by the lady. The other is “There’s a Place In The Whiskey”, which is a bit rocky, and probably the least impressive cut. But it’s very much a Gretchen number.
Third time out, and Gretchen Wilson is here to stay. She’s a real good ol’ Country Girl !

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - Sony

Miranda is one of the newer names on the Nashville scene, and has been selected for international exposure, thus ensure this album’s release here.
Much of what we’ve heard from Miranda’s hits has been quite poppy, so it’s good to get the chance to hear what else she can do.
Dont be put off by the album’s opening track, “Gunpowder & Lead”, which is pretty loud and noisy. Track 2 won me over though. “Dry Town”, written by Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, is a fast moving foot tapping song, which really brings out Lambert’s catchy twang.
The twang stays for “Famous In A Small Town”, which works well for me.
“Down” with it’s gutsy outlaw vocals comes over well, and stands out for being different.
She can handle ballads too. the self penned “Love Letters”, has a real traditional sound, with some neat steel guitar from Russ Pahl. “More Like Her”,whilst a bit more modern, is still beautifully performed.
Her cover of Susannah Clark’s “Easy From Now On” is fantastic- on a par with Emmylou’s classic version from thirty years ago. It’s the stand out track for me, and worth listening right through to the end to hear it.
Having written all but two of the songs on this album, Miranda proves that she’s not just another girl singer thinking that playing pop in Nashville is an easy way to stardom.
I look forward to hearing more, and hopefully we’ll see her over here before too long to promote the album.

Until The Next Time...- Shargem

Ireland has some wonderful singers, some of whom have been modestly working the scene for decades without getting the recognition for it.
Gene Stuart is one example. I’ve heard Gene’s records since, well, since we still listened to vinyl, and yet he still sounds great on this latest CD.
He has one of these rich solid voices that warmly delivers with such ease.
Every track on this album sounds like a classic, yet the choice is such that the material has never been overdone, even his title cover of the Jim Reeves hit.
As such, it’s hard to pick out highlights.
I really enjoyed “You’re Still The Only One I’ll Ever Love”, “When I Found Her”, and the western influenced “Tonight I Read Your Love Lessons”.
It’s pure Country, not an Irish beat on the whole album. the closest would be the sentiments on “The Girl In My Home Town”, but, it could be anywhere.
There’s also a Hank Thompson styled bar song in “Honky Tonk Season”.
Gene has such a great Country voice, I really enjoyed this album, which was recorded in Tyrone’s Northsound studios.
The album would be available by calling 028 8776 7500.

Talking To Myself - Angel

I’ve been a fan of Patricia Conroy’s smokey and smouldering vocals, since first hearing her “Blue Angel” album some years ago.
This album has been a long time in the making, but has been a real labour of love for the Canadian sweetheart.
She wrote all eleven songs, and husband Bob Funk produced with Kevin Churko.
The instrumentation is a shade pop influenced for my liking, but Patricia’’s vocals win over, especially on the catchy “Everything You Do”
“Talking To Myself” also catches the ear. “Is anybody listening?” she asks, and given the airplay she deserves, plenty should.This is a particularly commercial track, which radio could really pick up on.
“When”, whilst being a more poppy, is also very radio friendly, and has a kinda Shania appeal to it.It’s certainly grown on me.
“I Know” is much more of a ballad, and works well.However, “Til I Hear It From You”, is the ballad that really shines. The simpler instrumentation on this track really emphasises Patricia’s vocal beauty.
The album closes with “Save Your Breath”, a much stronger ballad, which the lass delivers well.
I’m glad she didn’t save her breath. It’s great to hear her back.

5th Gear – Arista

You certainly cant say that Brad Paisley doesn’t give value for money. There’s no less than 18 tracks on this new album,(16 plus two hidden comedy tracks) covering many different facets of Country music.
The big hit at the moment, is track 2 on the CD. “Ticks” is a great song, but when he says “I want to check you for ticks”, is he really singing to the dog !
There’s quite a few ballads on the album, which Brad handles well.
“Letter To Me” is a nice reflection of what he would’ve done differently in life ; “I’m Still A Guy”, is about a woman’s crusade to change her man ; “If Love was A Plane”, salutes the bond between two people , and “With You,Without You” works really well.
“Oh Love” is a beautiful ballad sung with Carrie Underwood.
Brad has a good track record with duets, so you can be sure that this will be a huge hit before long.To be honest, it’s quite slow and dreary, and more a pop crossover track than anything else on the album.
Brad also turns out a good performance on more uptempo numbers,
“Online” tells of how he be someone else on his computer, and is much cooler, and “Mr Policeman” races along at car-chase speed”. I really liked “Better Than This”, which has a good beat.
One of the cuts is a talkie piece backstage at the Grand Ole Opry (although where the pistol shooting comes in, I cant workout). George Jones is a no show (will he ever live it down?), so in steps the New Kung Peo Buckaroos,Brad with Bill Anderson, Vince Gill and Little Jimmy Dickens. Dolly & Jones also make appearences, as does a Scottish connection – there’s a mention of Shetland ponies!
Anyway the New Kung Peo Buckaroos perform the next track, a definate Vince Gill influenced “Bigger Fish To Fry”, which stands out on the album.
There’s a really neat gospel number in “When We All Get To Heaven”, and the album finishes with Brad’s trademark closing track, an instrumental, which starts off slow but builds up to a superb guitar blazing western finale finale.
Brad is one of the few modern day real Country performers. He certainly delivers!

Between Raising Hell And Amazing Grace -WB

Listening to this album really concerns me. Maybe I’m getting too old, or too set in my ways. I always considered myself quite forward thinking in the progressing of Country Music, but I just don’t get the point of Big & Rich.
They got rave reviews for their first album and video’s for songs like “Save A Horse Ride A Cowboy”. In my mind, it was just a circus that diverted the fans attention from what really mattered- the music !
I don’t feel any different with this album.
Apart from some annoying presidential or preacher type intro’s, the songs lean more towards ballads than their previous hits. But they only confirm my fears- these guys are totally tuneless!
“You Took Me All Night Long” is quite a catchy track, and “Lost In The Moment” is a nice ballad, but the vocals are so flat.
“Please Man”, with the ryming line “Don’t call the police man”, and it’s rap verse, may appeal to the growing kids fanbase, but it ain’t for me.
There’s so much good Country talent out there that cant get a break. It hurts me to hear stuff like this being heavily promoted as “Country”. I despair !

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