Search This Blog

Monday 6 June 2011

June 2011

JACQUI SHARKEY is based in West Donegal, but grew up in Glasgow, and found her musical footing in the city’s folk scene many years ago.
Despite her roots, “A New Dawn” is first album, and has been getting reaction everywhere from Shetland to Argentina.
Recorded in Donegal, the album has a lovely easy listening feel to it. She’s a big fan of Mary Chapin Carpenter, and has covered three of her less obvious songs, ”This Shirt”,”Haley Came To Jackson” and “Shut Up and Kiss Me”. She also covers Jessie Colter’s “I’m Not Lisa” , Anne Murray’s “You Needed Me” and Beth Neilsen Chapman’s “Sand & Water”.
The first single, and video, from the album, which has been featured on the “Hot Country” TV Show is a beautiful version of “When I Dream”. originally an early hit for Crystal Gayle.
“Restless Heart”, one of the strongest cuts on the album, was written by Ian Smith, from Kilmarnock, who also played acoustic guitar on the album. Ian co-wrote “Midnight Symphony” with Jacqui, and she wrote “Be My Valentine” on her own.
The album is really well produced, and Jacqui has chosen a nice set of songs which really compliment her vocal style, and the simple arrangements.
It is hard to pick a favourite, but her version of Tom Kimmel’s “If I Fell From Grace With You”, really clicks for me.
If you like the easy listening Anne Murray sound, then you’ll just love Jacqui Sharkey.

SLANGE AVA are one of the North of Scotland's top groups, who will be hardly recognised in the Central belt. The Caithness quartet features Keith MacLeod , Donny Mathieson, Chris MacIntosh and Jim Davidson, featuring a musical mix of guitars, keyboards, drums and mandolin.
Last year they brought out a DVD recorded at the Lyth arts Centre, before they recorded a CD. Now the CD has arrived, and what they've done is to copy the live set in the DVD, but went into the studio to re-record the tracks, so the sound qualityis better, especially for radio play.
“From The DVD In Concert” (Pan Records), was recorded in Wick, and features 15 tracks.
The material ranges from the uptempo “Why You Been Gone So Long” and “Every Second” to Country classics like Haggard's “Back In Love By Monday”, and Nanci Griffith's “I Wish It Would Rain”. They do a great version of “In The Shadows Of My Mind”, and it's no surprise that their version of “Walking On The Moon” is one of their most popular songs.
There's a couple of nifty little mandolin instrumentals which are really catchy.
For those who haven't seen the band yet, I'd recommend giving this CD a listen, and spread their popularity beyond the Caithness border.

THE GRASCALS are something different in today’s Country music. They have taken Bluegrass music to the masses, and brought with them , a totally unique fresh sound to the Nashville scene.
Their latest album, “The Grascals & Friends” (Cracker Barrell), features some Country classics, with some classic artists, given the Grascals bluegrass twist.
You’ll find Brad Paisley doing his bit on Buck’s “Tiger By The Tail”, Tom T.Hall on his “Year Clayton Delaney Died”, Darryl Worley joining the band for “White Lightning”, and Charlie Daniels on the superb “Devil Went Down To Georgia”.
I loved the joining of The Grascals with The Oakridge Boys” for “Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight”, but my favourite cut has to be “Pain Of Loving You” with Dolly.
Dolly also features on “I Am Strong” , a song inspired by their visit to St.Judes Childrens Hospital. There’s two versions on the song on the album, one with Dolly, and one with the cast, and more, of the album. It’s quite an anthem, and the video has been featured on a few of the Showcase TV shows.
It’s a real catchy foot tappin’ album.
A great listen.

LAURA CANTRELL is from Nashville, but lives in New York, where her iconic Radio Thrift Shop had a cult following (that even stretched to Radio Scotland for a summer season a few years back).
She is an admirer of the Country women who didn’t fint it as easy to break into the music scene as today’s pop princess’s do. One of these women would be Kitty Wells, of whom Laura’s latest CD is devoted. The album is released on the Glasgow based Shoeshine label.
The album kicks off with the title track, “ Kitty Wells Dresses”, which Laura co-wrote with Amy Allison, before treating us to some real memories, like “I Dont Claim To Be An Angel”, “Poison In Your Heart”, “I Cant Tell My Heart” and “I Gave My Wedding Dress Away”.
Of course, there’s “It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels” and “Making Believe” too, but my favourite track has to be “One By One”, which is duet with Chuck Mead (of BR 5-49 fame).
These songs suit Laura’s lovely vocal style.
I really enjoyed the album , a beautiful tribute to Ms Wells, and great to hear Laura on song again.

JOSH KELLEY is one of the new Country names to look out for in 2011.
The Georgia native isn’t new to the music business, however, having already charted 4 Top 100 Pop hits.
His music has featured in films, “Life As We Knew It”, “27 Dresses” and “The Ugly Truth”, which featured his actress wife, Katherine Heigl, best known for her part as Izzie in Grey’s Anatomy.
He is also the brother of Charles Kelley from the hit group Lady Antebellum.
But now Josh is making his mark on Country music , with the release back in April, of “Georgia Clay” (Hump Head) . The title track has already been a top 20 song for him in the Country charts.
The album features 11 tracks, all written, or co-written by the singer. The songs range from the uptempo “Rainin’ Whiskey” and “ Aint Letting Go” to the slow closing track, “Dont You Go”.
In between, I enjoyed “Baby Blue Eyes” and “Two Cups Of Coffee”.
Josh has a pleasent Country style, which should fit in fine with Nashville today.
I’m sure we’ll hear more from him,

It’s 19 years since TIM McGRAW first hit the Country charts, with a song called “Welcome To The Club”, which barely squeezed into the Country Top 50 chart. The next few releases didn’t even make the Top 50. But, how he’s made up for it since then.
He’s sold over 40 million album’s, and now Rhino Records have brought us a double CD, titled “Number One Hits” featuring no less than 24 of them , including “I Like it I Love it”, “Just To See You Smile” and his recent US hit “Felt Good On My Lips”.
Some of Tim’s best songs have been quite emotional ballads, like “Dont Take The Girl”, “Please Remember Me” and “Live Like You Were Dying”, which are all featured on this collection. There’s also the blockbuster duet, “It’s Your Love”, which features his wife, Faith Hill.
This is not the first collection of Tim’s hits, but, nevertheless a good collection , if you need to catch up with his hits.

GEORGE HAMILTON IV needs no introduction to Scottish fans. He has done it all throughout the years. I’ve seen him compere at Wembley, in a theatre setting telling us the Patsy Cline story, in church , and I’ve even seen him perform in prison (both of us just there for the gig, I hasten to add). But George has always been a pioneer. From starting the first Nashville tour of the stars homes, to the first Country music star to play behind the Iron Curtain, George has always been keen to broaden his horizons.
For his latest project, he’s headed for the Heart Of Texas, and teamed up with folks like recent Caithness Festival visitors Justin Trevino and Tony Booth, for what is a really refreshing album .
Hearing George accompanied with solid steel guitar licks, and tremendous twin fiddles, is a real transformation.
He’s covered some of his old numbers , like “Fort Worth, Dallas Or Houston”,”Truck Driving Man”, and “Abilene”, the latter, given a true Texas Country makeover, with Darrell McCall duet-ing.
Justin Trevino, who produced the album, teams up with George on the old Ernest Tubb number “There’s A Little Bit Of Everything In Texas”, and they keep the old ET style, whilst freshening it up a bit.
There’s sleevenotes from former Country Music People editor Tony Byworth, and DJ and Songwriter, Bill Mack, who wrote “Clinging To A Saving Hand”, which is featured on the album.
Great to hear George sounding so good !

Back to Ireland, where SUSAN McCANN has been at the forefront of Irish Country music, since 1977, and continues to play to loyal audiences live, and through her internet radio show (
In recent years, H&H Music have repackaged all her old vinyl albums onto double CD’s. The latest release , “Ireland’s First Lady Of Country Music” features the original album of that name, with her “Tribute To Buck Owens” live concert collection.
Songs on the 40 track collection include, “Once a Day”, “NeverEnding Love Affair”, “Noreen Bawn”, “Act Naturally” and “Crying Time”. There’s also tw o instrumentals from her band on the Owens CD.
She’a as popular as ever, and her fans will enjoy hearing her sing these songs again.

I’ve heard a lot about THE BENN SISTERS. Carrie & Leanne were born in London to parents from Co.Clare & Fermarnagh. “An Old Memory” is their second album, and is one of my favourites of the year so far.
Although one of Ireland’s most popular duo’s, they don’t appear to duet too often. Of the 14 tracks on the album, only two are duets between the sisters. There are other duets, with Carrie dueting with Shaun Loughrey on “Loose Talk” and Leanne teaming up with Nathan Carter on Dean Dillon’s “Still Got A Crush On You”.
The album features some good covers, with Allison Moorer’s “I Found A Letter”, Gretchen Wilson’s “When You Think About Cheating” and Loretta’s “Blue Kentucky Girl” standing out.
But there’s some good new material too. “We’re On Our Way To Heaven”, one of the girls duets, was written by Lawrence John, is my favourite track It’s a superb gospel flavoured hand clapping feel good song.
I also have to mention Carrie’s stunning version of “Connemara Marble Ring”. It’s a song that’s been recorded many times, but this version is just so beautifully performed.
I loved this album. Great stuff

SEAN WILSON has been one of the most popular Irish entertainers for many years. As with many other Irish acts, Sean’s versatility extends beyond Country music, but Country music is certainly a significant part of his repertoire.
“These Tender Years” (H&H Music) is his new double album collection, his first new release for four years, and he’s sounding as good as ever. The second CD is an accordian selection, with CD1 being “the country album”, which we’ll concentrate our review on.
There is an Irish sentimental feel to the album, as Sean’s fans have come to expect. You’ll find titles like “Shanagolden”, “It’s Really Nice To Meet Someone From Home”, “Sentimental Irish”, and the less than sentimental “Galway Girl”.
“Rosie” , which opens the CD, is the story of a traveller girl who was under privelliged and abused when she went to school. Rosie survived the trauma, and later returned to her childhood school as prinicpal teacher.
The title track is dedicated to mum’s everywhere, and was released as a single in the run up to Mothers day earlier this year.
There’s also a Country medley, one of Sean’s specialities, featuring “You’re My Best Friend”, “I’ll Need Someone To Hold Me when I Cry” and “I Wouldn’t Want To Live If You Didn’t Love Me”.

When you hear THE FOGHORN TRIO, you know you are listening to real bluegrass music. The trio feature Stephen “Sammy” Lind and Caleb Klauder , who were founding members of the original Foghorn String Band, who have teamed up with Quebec’s Nadine Landry, who certainly leaves her mark on the title track of their new album, “Sud de la Louisiane”.
With a lovely mix of banjo, fiddle, mandolin, bass and guitar, and some superb vocal harmonies, the trio take us on a music journey back to the music of Doc Watson, The Carter Family, and even Kitty Wells.
They have made no attempt to modernise any of the songs.
This is a truly authentic old time album- a delight to listen to.
The trio have recently been touring Ireland, and the South of England.

CIARA SIDINE is a singer songwriter from Dublin, who has just released her debut album “Shadow Road Shining”. It’s an album of haunting atmospheric self written songs, in the American roots tradition.
The 12 track album kicks off with the old timey flavoured “Riding Home”, and is a welcoming introduction to the album. The second track, “Take Me Down” , one of the catchier numbers on the album was released as a single a few months back.
Listen out for “The Arms Of Summer”, which is Ciara’s tribute to Johnny Cash.
The musicians on the album have played alongside The Waterboys, REM , Dylan and Van Morrison.

Who remembers DOTTSY ?
The Texan sweetheart was signed to RCA Records in Nashville, when she toured here with Moe Bandy and Roy Drusky back in the early Eighties. Since then, we’ve not heard much from her, but , she’s back, and is the latest name to appear on the Heart Of Texas label.
She hasn’t lost her rich deep, yet warming, vocals, as she revisits some of her old hits, including “I’ll Be Your San Antone Rose”, “Trying To Satisfy You”, “Storms Never Last” and “(After Sweet Memories) Play Born To Lose Again”.
She also cover’s Willie’s “Healing Hands Of Time”.
There’s also a duet with producer Justin Trevino on “We Talk About The Weather”, a soft ballad which suits both vocals well.
It was great to hear Dottsy again, Some nice memories , and some good new songs too.

After the Caithness Festival, I thought I’d maybe be all Tex’d out, but then I received an album from BLAINE GRAY. He has been billed as “the new face of traditional Country music”, and I have to say that I enjoyed this self titled album (Aaron Ave Records).
He co-wrote five of the songs with Bill Carnes , and one on his own, with others from the pens of the likes of Lane Turner, Bobby Randall and George Jones.
“The Corner Of Love And Life”, his new single, is one of favourite cuts, but I also liked “Why Baby Why”, which is not the George Jones classic, but nevertheless, a good uptempo catchy number. The Jones cover is “I’m Ragged But I’m Right”, on which he does a good job. “Life Without You”, has a bit of a Haggard feel to it, and there’s was a bit of a Strait sound to “Urban Cowboy Man”,
The first single “No More Cryin’” is featured in a forthcoming movie, “The Ex-Terminatoirs”, a romantic comedy, in which Blaine plays an ex to Heather Graham.
I’m sure, whether it’s music or movies, we’ll hear a lot more of Blaine Gray , and I hope it’s through his music.

It’s a long time since I heard anything from DES HORSFALL, one of England’s consistant Country rockers. Together with his band, KUSCHTY RYE, Des has come up with a beautifully packaged album called “The Good Gentleman’s Tonic” (Valve Analogue Recordings) , as a tribute to Ronnie Lane (of The Faces fame), and especially the period in the 70’s when Lane was working with the group, Slim Chance.
This isn’t an all out Country album, but there are Country influences blending in with folk, blues and pop.
Most of the songs are Horsfall originals, with “Nothing New”, with it’s uptempo Cajun beat being the stand out track for me, although I also liked “Little Girl” and the traditional “Careless Love”, which opened the album.
It does have more of a 70’s pop feel , but a good listen all the same
The album is packaged with a booklet, and even has a little refreshment included.

No comments:

Post a Comment