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Sunday 31 January 2016

Feb 2016

We’re kicking off this time with a new album from GEORDIE JACK. Geordie was very much the voice of British Country music in the 1980’s as front man of Colorado. Various attempts to move on from the Colorado days, through name changes to Caledonia & The Jacks, didn’t distract his legions of fans. Having retired The Jacks a couple of years ago, nobody believed that we had heard the last of Geordie Jack.
And, sure enough, he’s back. He’s still got that unmistakable Sutherland accent, and sounding better than ever, on a new album, “Choices” (Pan Records).  The arrangements are quite simple, just sons Kevin & Trevor, and some fiddle from Gordie Gunn.
The title track is the old George Jones anthem, which Geordie delivers well.
The album kicks off with the first of three self penned numbers. “No Can Do” is a catchy up tempo number, which was a little different to what I expected, but worked well.  The other two self penned numbers are “The Bride’s Song”, a lovely song for a wedding, and “Unconditional Friends”, a bit of a life story, the sort of song Geordie has put his trademark on throughout the years (think “Making Friends” and “We’ve Got Something To Say”). He really has a knack of writing life reflecting songs.
There’s a cover of Hugh Moffatt’s “Loving You”, which is suits Geordie’s style just so well.
There’s also covers of Conway Twitty’s “Hello Darlin’ “ , Wendell Atkin’s “Falling For You” and John Anderson’s “Would You Catch A Falling Star”.
Merle Kilgore’s “The Folk Singer” is given an interesting arrangement, with some lovely harmonies from daughter Kim.  Kim also features on a haunting version of the rather tragic “The Butcher Boy”. This song is so atmospheric that you can feel Geordie & Kim sitting in your living room performing it.
Having missed our annual fix of Geordie Jack at the Caithness Festival over the last couple of years, it’s just so good to hear him in such fine voice, performing songs so suited to his vocal style.
It’s a lovely album. One to be proud of.

Regular readers will remember MARY K BURKE from her days in popular bands Nevada and Tanya & Sneaky Moon.  She has spent the past few years performing with more of a folk sound, but her new album, “Sweet is the Melody” (MKB Independent Records) sees her return to Country music, albeit with Irish influences.
The album kicks off with a pacey cover of Nanci Griffith’s “I Wish it Would Rain”, and she covers Tanya Tucker’s “Hanging In”, Tom T Hall’s “I Miss A Lot Of Trains”, Patsy’s “Stop The World” and “Here Today Gone Tomorrow”, made famous by Philomena Begley. Mary’s version of the latter is a shade slower and features Joe Davitt. It’s a really nice version of the song.
Being a bit fan of Iris Dement, two of her songs are featured here, the title track, and the wonderful “Mama Was Always Telling Her Truth”.  I just love the old timey, piano arrangement on this song. The song has special appeal for Mary, as it says so much about her own mother, who passed away recently.
The old Rita MacNeill number, “I’ll Accept The Rose” also has the old timey feel to it, which works really well.
One song that really stands out for me us “Broken Stones”, written by fellow Glasgow songwriter Charlie Sharkey. It’s a particularly strong Country number. It’s really catchy, and suits Mary’s Country style to a tee. It’s a stand out track for me.
“Bright Blue Rose”, written by Jimmy McCarthy has an interesting arrangement, featuring some impressive mandolin from Lar Kenny. “The Banks Of Mulroy Bay” has a strong Irish influence, a style that obviously suits Mary.
There are two songs, which Mary was involved in the writing. Both numbers reflect her life, being born and brought up in County Derry, and living over here.  “Ireland I Miss You” is a beautiful homage to her homeland, whilst “Glasgow” is a really catchy song about her adopted home city. It’s a song that the whole city can associate with.
Recorded in Arklow in Co.Wicklow, the sound throughout is superb. She’s sounding great, with a great mix of songs, well chosen & well produced. I thoroughly recommend you check her out, and hopefully we’ll see her back on the Country scene before long.

LEE MATTHEWS is one of Ireland’s young breed of entertainers, who have really built up a career in the past few years. Yet, Lee is something a veteran- at the age of 28. He was a child star, performing from the age of 8, had stints in boyband Streetwize, and electro-dance outfit Nxt-Gen with Pete Docherty, before embarking on a Country music career.
I do feel the dance influence hasn’t left him entirely. His latest album, It’s A Great Day To Be Alive”, is largely aimed at the Irish Country dance market, with covers of “Cotton Eye Joe” (more Rednex than Bob Wills!), as well as The Waterboys’ “Band On The Ear”.
He covers George Harrison’s “Got My Mind On You”, Darrell Scott’s “It’s a Great Day To Be Alive” and Diamond Rio’s “Norma Jean Riley”, and slows it down on Garth’s “If Tomorrow Never Comes”.
He does feature three of his own songs. “Your Sweet Love” is an upbeat danceable number. He also wrote the recent foot tapping single “Girl Next Door”.  Then he slows it down on the sentimental “The Irish Way”, which is a really nice song.
It’s a well produced album, one that supports Lee as a top draw across the Irish dancehalls.

EVI TAUSEN made many friends when she made the long trip from Pokeri in the Faroe Islands, to Halkirk a few years ago for her UK debut at the Caithness Festival. By her own admission she’s “Old School Country”, but her new album, “Make This Life a Dance”(TUTL)  surpasses all my expectations. This is pure Country, and I just love it !
The 9 track album kicks off with the title track, a home grown song, from the pens of Jacob Zachariassen and Lena Andersen. It’s a really catchy song, with a great message for life.   That’s followed by a beautiful ballad, “Teach Us To Forget”, written by former member of the Toto rock group (Africa), Bobby Hyatt, who is now a producer, musician and songwriter in Nashville. Hyatt produced most of the album in Nashville, with a couple of tracks recorded back in The Faroes.
Other ballads that really show off Evi’s beautiful vocals, include “When You Call Me Baby” (the single from the album) ,”In God’s Hands”, and a classy reworking of George Jones 1963 hit “You Comb Her Hair”.  Evi has a neat video on YouTube performing this song with her daughter Anna.
Other covers include Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon” and Hank Williams’ “You Win Again”, both really worked well.
She can rock it up a bit as well, proved by the driving “Restless Heart”. Evi brings her music right up to date with this track, and it sounds just as strong as the old school ballads.
For me the stand out track, which I just cant stop playing, is the upbeat “One Heartbeat Away”. Evi’s style on this track in particular reminds me of early Loretta Lynn.
The production on the album, and I have to say the Faroese produced tracks are just as strong as the Nashville recordings, is really first class. Steel guitar from Scott Sanders, Brent Mason on guitar and fiddle from Molly Cherryholmes (from the wonderful bluegrass family band) really make this album something special.
In a genre of music dominated by Nashville pop, it’s really refreshing to hear real Country music like this. Evi Tausen is the real deal !

Camaron Ochs, a pretty 31 year old singer songwriter from San Francisco, is being hotly tipped, or perhaps I should say promoted, as the next big Country girl singer. Known as CAM, her debut major label CD (she did have a previous small label album five years back), “Untamed” (Arista) has just been given a UK release, amid a blast of publicity and social media frenzy.
Listening to this album does fill me with some despair.
Yes, she has a nice voice. She has co-written all 11 songs on the album, which always plus points from me, but the musical arrangements are just too pop for my Country ears.
There are some good songs. “Burning House”, her current US hit (her first) is a smouldering ballad, with a pleasant, simple arrangement.
But for me, her previous single, “My Mistake” (which only reached No.52 on the Airplay chart) is the stand out track. It’s a good upbeat number, which her vocals soar above the musical arrangement.
I did also quite like the catchy ”Half Broke Heart”. Then she digs into “Country Ain’t Never Been Pretty”, which is about life down on the farm rather than our music. It really is quite a fun number.
Train songs and Country music have a long tradition together, but I’m afraid Cam’s “Runaway Train” has really ran as far away from Country as a train song can get.
I don’t know if Cam fits into Country music. It is an extremely broad church with little boundaries these days. But I suspect she’ll cross over into pop very quickly.  Let’s just say, she’s more Taylor Swift than Tanya Tucker!

Following on from her acclaimed “Old Postcards” album, the much travelled AMELIA WHITE returns with a new album, “Home Sweet Hotel” (White-Wolf Records) this month.  Amelia was born in Virginia, but travelled via Boston to East Nashville, where she currently calls home.
As a singer songwriter, Amelia spends a lot of time on the road, and the title track was born in a motel room in Pennsylvania.
Amelia’s sound is quite guitar driven, with powerful deliveries of moody, seductive and dark songs.
I quite liked the opening track, “Dangerous Angel”. It’s quite melodic, and with its’ quite simple backing, allows us to appreciate Amelia’s vocal prowess. Other tracks that stood out for me, included the upbeat “Leaving In My Blood”, and the haunting “Rainbow Over The East Side”.
Amelia wrote, or co-wrote, all 10 tracks on the album, Her collaborators include J Fred Knobloch, John Hadley and Reckless Johnny Wales.
More of an Americana album, but it’s a pleasant listen all the same.

ROBBIE PETRIE is one of the North East’s favourite Country singers, and his band, The Brothers, are one of Scotland’s biggest supported bands in recent years. The Aberdeen based lead singer recently headed over to Donegal to record an album of his favourite songs, now released on the album, “ What Have You Got Planned Tonight (Diana).
The production is first class, a great job done by Ryan Turner, and featuring some neat steel guitar from Paul Gallagher and fiddle from Tom Sheerin.
Being a huge Merle Haggard fan, it’s no surprise that the album is pure Country music. Indeed, there are no less than four of The Hag’s songs, including the title track, “Sing Me Back Home”, “Mama Tried” and “Running Kind”.
There’s also a superb version of the beautiful Rory Feek song, “Chain Of Love”, and a catchy version of Keith Whitley’s “Birmingham Turnaround”. You’ll find covers of Gene Watson’s “Carmen” and “Thank God For The Radio”.
Irish songwriter Shunie Crampsey provides “Morning Sun Memories”, a beautiful song which could easily have come from the Hag’s own songbook. Robbie really does the song justice.
Another interesting song is the oldie, “If Teardrops Were Pennies”, which is a really catchy duet.
If you’re a fan of Robbie, I’m sure you’ll already have the album. If it’s real traditional Country music you’re after, then be sure to check out this CD.

THE LOCUST HONEY STRING BAND are a wonderful old timey Appalachian bluegrass band, and they’re back with a really refreshing sound on their new self released album, “I Never Let Me Cross Your Mind”.
The band are led by Georgia born Chloe Edmonstone and Meredith Watson, with some ace banjo
picking from Ariel Dixon and Hilary Hawke, with Andy Edmonstone adding some bass for good
There are three original songs written by Chloe, including the bright & breezy opening track, “When
The Whiskey’s Gone” and the harmony rich “How You Must’ve Felt”.  There’s a couple of classic
Carter Family covers, including “Righten That Wrong” and “Lonesome Song”, and a superb bluegrass
version of Kitty Wells’ “Whose Shoulder Will You Cry On”. I was also impressed with the
arrangement of the old Davis Sisters hit “I’ve Forgotten More Than You’ll Ever Know About Him”,
and they even lend some superb harmonies to George Jones’ “Just One More”.   Plus there’s an
array of traditional tunes like “Henry Lee” and “Four Cent Corn”.
I thoroughly enjoyed this album. It sounds dated, without doubt. But it’s real music, and sounds so
They are on tour over here next month. It would be well worth catching them.

Regular readers will know about the monthly Hotdisc which is where independent artists can get
their music onto CD and distributed to hundreds of Country music DJ’s around Europe and beyond.
You can read about these CD’s in our regular Hotdisc column. Although these CD’s are not available
to the public, each year the most popular British & Irish acts are featured on an annual compilation.
The “Best Of British & Irish 2015” has been just released, and is available for £9.99 from
This year’s compilation features 22 tracks, and includes long established names like Frank Jennings
(two tracks), Dave Sheriff and Susan McCann, to newer names like Christina Kulukundis and
Stephanie Cheeks Teague. As well as Jennings, The Diablos, Rob Allen, Tony Clarke and Owen
Moore all merit two tracks each.
There are only two tracks from Scottish acts, which may say more about our acts belief in promoting themselves, rather than the actual talent we have on offer.
George Inglis is featured with “I Am The Train”, the song he wrote for the opening of the new Borders Railway back in September. Check our Diana’s linedance for this song in the December issue of CMDS.  The other Scottish act featured is Janey Kirk, with daughter Carla, dueting on the BeeGee’s “First Of May”. It’s a lovely ballad, well produced, and the family harmony really stands out.
For me, Blagards & Cowboys, with their self titled ballad is one of my favourite tracks on the album.
Elsewhere, the Irish acts stand out. Susan McCann is on top form with “Old Man On The Porch”, Pete Kennedy delivers his own “Crazy Country Girl” and Aidan Quinn has a great version of “A Friend Of Mine”.
This CD series really captures the Country scene in the British Isles, proving that it’s not just an American format. These guys deserve our support as Country fans themselves.

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