THE MAVERICKS are one of the best named groups ever. They are a phenomenon here in Britain, but never made the same chart impact in America. Their blend of Latin, Rock and Country provided the most original sounds to come out of Nashville in recent years. And Country fans across the world embraced their hits like “Dance The Night Away”, “All You Ever Do Is Bring Me Down” and “I’ve Got This Feeling”.
In America, they’ve built up a cult live audience, and it’s the live show that is featured in their latest album, “All Night Live Vol 1” on their own Mono Mundo label.
The album, available on CD, and a double vinyl LP, features 16 tracks. Unlike many “live” albums, this isn’t a set of hits, although, I have to say, many of the songs sound the same.
Most of the numbers are upbeat, danceable tunes, but the tempo does slow, on a few tracks like “Pardon Me”, and the cover of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon”.
The first radio single, “Come Unto Me”, is an epic 7 ½ minute Latin number.
The band these days is still lead by Raul Malo, with Eddie Perez, Jerry Dale McFadden and Paul Deakin. This live set also features Ed Friedland, Matt Cappy, Max Abrams and Michael Guerra.
What can I say? It’s a Mavericks album. One that really captures their electric live sound. If you’re a Mavericks fan, it’s one you’ll want to get your hands on.
And they have a new studio album coming up next year as well.
JOHN PRINE is something of a legend across Folk/Americana/Country fields, having recording over 20 albums in his career. But the latest album from the 70 year old, who was discovered back in 1971 by Kris Kristofferson is a real beauty. “For Better For Worse” teams Prine with a delightful team of wonderful female vocalists such as Iris Dement, Kathy Mattea, Lee Ann Womack, Miranda Lambert and Amanda Shires.
The songs are really appealing too. They include classic hits like “Storms Never Last” (with Lee Ann Womack), “Cold Cold Heart” (Miranda Lambert) and “Falling In Love Again” (Alison Krauss). They also include classics that weren’t as big a hit as they should have been. I’m talking of Ernest Tubb/Loretta Lynn’s “Who’s Gonna Take The Garbage Out”, and “Mr & Mrs Used To Be”, both recreated here with Iris Dement, and “Color Of The Blues”, originally a George Jones hit, covered here by Prine and blues singer Susan Tedeschi. It’s a superb version. The old Buck Owens/Rose Maddox duet, “Mental Cruelty” is re-created alongside Kacey Musgraves.
One of the most interesting covers is a slightly upbeat version of Vince Gill’s “Look At Us”, featuring Morganne Stapleton, wife of singer songwriter Chris.
Prine’s vocal style sounds a bit “lived in”, which works well on these songs. On several tracks, he has a distinct Merle Haggard sound. Indeed, my favourite track on the whole collection, is “Remember Me”, which Merle recorded on the 2014 Buddy Holly Tribute. It’s one of two songs featuring the beautiful voice of Kathy Mattea.
To wind up the album , he has recorded “My Happiness” with wife Fiona, and a solo story song, “Just Waiting” rounds it all off.
The traditional sound of the whole album, recreating hits from the days of Ernest & Loretta, George Jones and Conway, and yet sounding so fresh, really appealed to me. Forget the CMA’s Forever Country series - this is the real Forever Country album of 2016 !
In a year which we lost Joey Feek, Jackie Storrar and countless family & friends to cancer, it’s good to realise that it can be beaten. British born 70’s singer OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN had her own battle with the illness back in the 90’s, and 22 years on, and cancer free, she endlessly promotes breast cancer awareness.
Her latest project is “LIV-ON”, a collaboration with Nashville singer songwriter BETH NEILSON CHAPMAN and Toronto born songwriter AMY SKY.
This inspiring new project grew out of the three artists’ personal experiences with loss and illness, which they all survived to “LIV ON” and celebrate each day with a depth of gratitude. This labour of love stemmed from the trio sharing their stories together and expressing their deepest feelings from the most difficult to the most celebratory. It’s the hope that this music can uplift hearts burdened by grief while at the same time bring comfort to the listener.
“As a group, it's our intention with this album to create songs with a message of compassion and hope,” said Newton-John. “They are for anyone facing a time of challenge in their life, whether it is grieving a loss - or on the journey to health and recovery.”
The baseline of this album is stunningly beautiful harmonies. The songs are all quite thoughtful ballads. They include Beth’s “Sand And Water” and the upbeat “Stone In My Pocket”, and Amy’s “I Will Take Care Of You”, and a new version of Olivia’s “Grace & Gratitude”.
There are new songs too, like the haunting opening track “My Heart Goes Out To You”, and the rather spine chilling “Immortality”, It certainly gave me goosebumps.
The title track “LIV-ON” is quite an anthem for the trio.
It’s quite a heavy album. It’s one that won’t appeal to some, but will give great comfort to others.
Olivia, Beth & Amy will be bring the album to life, when they visit Glasgow for Celtic Connections next month. That concert will surely be something special !
When the Celtic Connections 2017 line up was announced, the name MARGO PRICE stood out. I wasn’t aware of her music, but decided to check her out. Was I in for a surprise!
Her album, “Midwest Farmers Daughter” (Third Man Records), released earlier this year, simply blew me away. And it’s not just me. Nashville Scene named the CD “Best Country Record of 2016”. Glad someone in the Music City media recognises good Country music when they hear it.
Originally from Buffalo Prairie, Illinois, she recorded the album in Memphis Sun Studio in just three days.
The 11 track album kicks off with “Hands Of Time”, a real personal journey through her 33 years, and you feel a movie coming on. Boy has this girl lived, and she’s happy to share her story, warts and all, with her audience.
“About To Find Out” has a distinct vintage Loretta feel to it, whilst “Weekender” is a catchy Country number that displays a cute warble that really catches your attention. “Hurtin’ On The Bottle”, for which the video is on the Celtic Connections website, is a real old fashioned Country Honky Tonk number that I just loved, and “Desperate And Depressed”, which closes the album, is another simple Country arrangement, but with a bit more of a message to it.
“Since You Put Me Down”, starts out with a real venerable vocal, before the band kicks in with some impressive steel and bass. This one really has a strong Texas beat to it. The same can be said for “This Town Gets Around”. If I was in any doubt, I’m totally won over now.
By contrast, the rather short “World’s Greatest Loser” is a much softer number, and the vulnerability of her voice returns.
There isn’t a whole lot of Country music coming out of Nashville these days, but this lady is keeping the tradition going, and will be a welcome visitor to our shores at Celtic Connections.
Everybody wants to sing with WILLIE NELSON. At 83 years old, the Texan institution just keeps on going. Hardly a few months go by without a new Willie album. But even with his own status, he still has the respect for other artists that gave him a helping hand all these years back.
Ray Price, who passed away in 2013, was an inspiration to many Texan and Nashville artists. Willie worked with Ray way back in the 60’s, and they have recorded together from time to time throughout the years.
Now, in latest Legacy Recordings release, Willie releases “For The Good Times: A Tribute To Ray Price”. Included are classics like “Heartaches By The Number”, “I’ll Be There”, “City Lights” and “Crazy Arms”. He also includes Hank Cochran’s “Make The World Go Away”, which maybe more recognisable as an Eddy Arnold hit, but Ray Price did do the original.
There are three of Willie’s own compositions, “Night Life”, “I’m Still Not Over You”, and “It Always Will Be”. Not a bad deal for Willie – record a tribute, and collect a quarter of the songwriting royalties!
The last of these, was featured on Ray’s final album. Producer Fred Foster and conductor/arranger Bergen White, worked on that last Price album, and also come together to produce this album, which also features The Time Jumpers on six of the tracks.
It’s a lovely tribute. So many artists would try to emulate their tribute subject, but this is just Willie being Willie, and that’s the way Ray would’ve wanted it.
A few years ago, the crowd at the Caithness Festival really gave a rising star, all the way from Kansas, a very warm Scottish welcome. The young man was RUSTY RIERSON, and he has just released his latest album, “What Happened To My Country”, which should further increase his following.
The album contains 13 tracks, 12 plus an alternative cut. Eight of the tracks were written, or co-written by Rusty.
A couple of tracks have already been radio singles, the catchy “Hey Hey Hello”, and the current “Something Bout You”, a Kevin Welch song, which Don Williams had a cut on. Don just happens to write a few words endorsing the album, and recommended the song to Rusty.
The title track is an upbeat anthem, which starts off about our music, before widening the title to cover America’s woes.
The song which features an alternative take is “That’s How Sure I Am”, which he does a solo version, and ends the album, with the song as a duet with Stephanie Layne, a Minnesota born Country singer, based in Nashville, but very much involved in the equestrian side of things too. The pair really do a great job on the song.
The album is a really good mix of upbeat, and gentler ballads, all Country.
One track which stands out for me is “Faith Ain’t Faith”, a beautiful ballad which really encompasses Rusty’s Christian life. On a more upbeat note, “Rain On My Parade” is a really catchy little number that I really liked.
A bit more downhome, and recalling childhood memories, is the gentle “Life’s Too Short”, which was another stand out track. On a similar note “More” tells of his mid life crisis by approaching 30 ! Life aint even started by then Rusty !
There aint a bad track on the album. It’s a really good listen, and if Rusty left you wanting more after he played in Halkirk in 2014, well this album’s just up your street.
33 year old DEREK RYAN began his career in a pop boy band called D-Side, but for the past ten years has been pursuing a Country career across Ireland and beyond. After six albums to his credit, the last two topping the Irish charts, Derek returns with, not one but two, new albums.
“Happy Man” is a good mix of 14 songs, mostly, but not exclusively, written by the singer.
Amongst the covers are Christy Moore’s “City Of Chicago”, Tom Waits “Jersey Girl”, Billy Currington’s “People Are Crazy” and a couple of Bryan Adams songs, the upbeat “You Belong To Me” and “When You Love Somebody”.
The CD kicks off with the rather pop sounding “Happy Man”, which works well as an opener to set the mood, perhaps more live than on CD. “You’re Only Young Once” and “Stay All Night” are similar.
I was really impressed with “Onto The Whiskey I Go”, a really catchy number, and really Country sounding. “Sax,Drums & Rock’n’Roll” is another really catchy number that I enjoyed. Probably more of a showband sound, but it’s a sound that still goes down well.
He adds some traditional Irish magic on the foot tapping “Won’t Ya Come Down To Yarmouth Town”. More of a folksy ballad is the lovely “Sixty Years Ago”, written by Seamus Doran. Derek explains that the style of this song, is one of his strongest areas, and I wouldn’t disagree. Another number which has a folksy feel to it is “Carry Me Home”, which Derek wrote with Marc Roberts. Again he really feels at home with this style of music.
His second album release, “This Is Me”, is his Nashville Sessions album, featuring 11 tracks, all written or co-written by the County Carlow native. The album covers quite a variety in styles.
The title track, written with Eleanor McEvoy, nicely sums up where Derek’s music fits in today. It’s a good strong song, which serves as an introduction to the album, which may be a little different to what his fans have come to expect from him.
“Some Days” and “Fine Line” are quite catchy little numbers, but I did think that “Brand New Day” and “100 Numbers” are quite pop sounding.
“Better Than Being Alone” is a strong ballad that would sound equally at home on US Country radio, or pop radio here. He also features a new version of his song “God’s Plan”, which has been recorded by several Irish based singers in recent years.
“Connemara Sky” is an interesting number, which I quite liked. It encompassed folk, country and pop/rock vibes, and blended together really nicely.
With so many Irish singers doing a lot of the same material, it’s always refreshing to hear one branching out and doing his own thing.
That said, I think, “This Is Me” may be a harder sell than “Happy Man”. Derek will be hoping one sells the other.
CLIONA HAGAN is this year’s biggest Irish rising star. With 2 ITunes chart topping singles, and her own TV show on Keep It Country, the Country Tyrone lass has certainly made her mark this past year. But she’s no overnight success. She was a finalist on RTE’s “All Ireland Talent Show” back in 2009, and at that time, was billed as an opera singer. She has Scottish connections too, having graduated as a secondary teacher at Edinburgh University.
But Country music was always her goal, and the advent of Keep It Country TV has really helped her career, as now she has her first album, “Straight To You” just released (Sharpe Music).
The title track, “I Came Straight To You”, her current single, is an old Patty Loveless number, but Cliona certainly puts her own stamp on it. It’s a good uptempo number that will keep dancers happy on the Irish scene. Her classical voice training has no doubt helped her reach the range of notes required for “The Cowboy Yodel”. It’s a classic song, but one few can sing. Cliona really excels with it.
For Irish traditionalists, she really adds something to “Let Him Go Let Him Tarry”. “Happy Heart” and “We’re All Gonna Die Someday” are also catchy upbeat numbers.
I was pleased to see a couple of covers from a generation ago from two of my favourite girl singers. She does a good job on “I Need Someone To Hold Me When I Cry” (Janie Fricke) and “Dancing Your Memory Away” (Charly McClain). Her version of Victoria Shaw’s “Never Alone” is also a winner.
She also has an original song, “Smile” from the pen of John Farry.
There are a couple of more pop sounding numbers on the album, including the earlier single, “Dance On” and the Sugarland cover “Stuck On You”. She also does a rather interesting version of “Travelling Soldier”. I’m a little undecided about Cliona’s take on the Dixie Chicks number. Having heard numerous version, all at the same tempo, Cliona has given the song a quicker beat. I’m not sure it really works, but good to hear someone do something different with the song.
On the whole, though, this is an excellent debut album, and one that can only add the cream on top of a great year for Cliona.
ANDY COONEY was born into a New York based Irish-American family, and has built up a musical career around that. His dozen or so albums capture Irish, Gospel, classics and Country songs.
He has recorded with The New York Tenors, Phil Coulter, The RTE Orchestra, as well as Crystal Gayle and Larry Gatlin.
Indeed he spent time back in the 1980’s writing in Nashville. Some of the songs he wrote are only getting an airing now, in his latest album, “Irish Country Skyline” (Sharpe).
One example, Andy tells us, is “On The Eight Day”, which he wrote 29 years ago. It was shopped around Nashville. And whilst it had a lot of interest, remained uncut until Andy revisited it here.
One of the catchiest numbers is “Country Music Was Born”, which features Mick Flavin and Johnny Brady. Not only that, but Andy wrote the song with Nathan Carter, Joe McShane & John Alexander.
One of the writers he worked with in Nashville all these years back was Sheb Wooley, and there are three of Sheb’s songs on this album. Songs that Andy says are being recorded for the first time. They certainly add the Country to an album, which does tend to lean heavily on the Irish side of things.
Recorded in Co. Longford, the whole production is very polished, and is a really good listen.
If you like your Country & Irish, then you’ll really enjoy this album, I’m sure.
CARMEL SILVER began her recording career at the sprightly age of 77 ! Before that, Dublin born Carmel had been a nurse in her adopted city of Coventry in the West Midlands. After giving up her work, she pursued more artistic avenues, including writing poetry, travelling and music. The latter saw her performing in churches across the Midlands, and as far as Spain, where she sings every St Patricks Day.
Like her previous albums, which sold over 15,000 copies, her new album, “The Colour Of His Love”, was produced by Terry Bradford, who has also worked with Charlie Landsborough and Dominic Kirwan.
The album is essentially an album of songs of hope and inspiration. Carmel has a gentle, pleasant voice, making the album easy on the ear. You’ll recognise many of the songs as gospel standards, like “In The Garden”, “I’ll Fly Away”, “Michael Row The Boat Ashore” and “Amazing Grace”.
The title track is an original, written by producer Terry, and his wife Susie Arvesen, and features a choir from The Gilbertson Primary School. It’s a very nice track, in line with the rest of the album.
It wont be everyone’s cup of tea, but we probably all know someone in our families who will appreciate Carmel’s music.
Next up, a new name to me, although apparently “Holding Patterns” is AMANDA RHEAUME’s fourth CD release. She’s an Ottawa based singer songwriter, who won a Canadian Folk award for Aboriginal Songwriter Of The Year back in 2014.
Her music is hard to pigeon hole. She has quite a modern sound, a bit of pop, a slight folksy feel, but quite a Country sound too. And she was involved in writing all 12 tracks on the album.
One of the stand out songs on the album is “Red Dress”, which features Juno Humanitarian Award winner Chantel Krevlazuk. Although a good listen, the song has a deeper message, dealing about Missing and Murdered Indigenous Woman and Girls across Canada.
On a brighter note, “The Day The Mountain Fell” tells the true story about a second cousin, who was labelled “a miracle child”, after surviving a landslide in British Columbia, back in the 50’s.
I liked the driving beat of “Wolf Of Time”, the catchy opening track, “Get To The Heart” and the softer, melodic “This Time Around”.
“Time To Land” and “Beat The Rain” are quite poppy radio friendly numbers, whilst “Dead Horse” and “On Disappearing” are pleasant ballads.
I really enjoyed the album. A little different from the usual Nashville fayre, and all original.
Amanda has been in Europe since the end of October promoting the album, and will be in Edinburgh on January 23rd.
I always find western swing music really refreshing, and THE WESTERN FLYERS didn’t disappoint with their new album, “Wild Blue Yonder” (Versa-Tone Records). The trio are Joey McKenna, Katie Glassman, and Gavin Kelso, all individual champions on their own.
The publicity suggests that their music is best savoured where Saturday night meets Sunday morning, and those who slide effortlessly into their groove end up partying like it’s 1949”.
The music here will certainly do that. You’ll recognise many of the songs, like “Along The Navajo Trail”, “I’m Gonna Sit Right Down And Write Myself A Letter”, “Old Fashioned Love” and “Tennessee Waltz”.
There’s also a number of fiddle and upright bass instrumentals to keep the party in full swing.
Using early Neumann, Telefunken and RCA ribbon microphones, and other equipment from the era, it all gives a very authentic feel to their sound.
It’s very much an acquired taste, but it’s a sound I just love. And Marty Stuart does too. He wrote the sleevenotes!
Our next album impressed me from the first track right through to the closing note. It comes from West Virginia raised MARTHA FIELDS. “Southern White Lies” is her second album, and is set for a UK release on December 12th.
She really grew up in a musically diverse family. Her father’s side are Texan/ Okie and her mother’s line is steeped in the traditions of Appalachia. Martha blends both, together with some southern blues, and it makes for a sound which has already won fans at Southern Fried and c2c Festivals, as well as events in Lithuania, Holland and Switzerland. Such is her popularity across Europe she is currently based part of the year in France, and she even has a bilingual website. This girl means business.
The album features mainly original self penned, but there are her interpretations of a varied choice of songs, like the traditional bluegrass number, “Lonesome Road Blues”, Jimmie Rodgers’ “California Blues”, and “Tell Me Baby”, written by Mickey Newbury, and best known as a hit for Jerry Lee Lewis or Brenda Lee. She even covers the Janis Joplin number “What Good Can Drinkin’ Do”.
But it’s her own songs that really make the mark for me.
The opening track, “Soul On The Move” is quite a nice taster for what lies ahead. It’s soulful, with a dash of old timey bluegrass. The title track, “Southern White Lies”, a story of family hardship, has also has quite a Country blues feel to it. The theme continues on the much the railroad racing “Hard Times”. It’s a real breezy feeling number, a stand out track for me.
“Do As You Are Told”, another upbeat number, this time with a distinct Appalachia feel to it.
On a softer note, her beautiful rendition of the traditional gospel song “What Are They Doing In Heaven” is truly stunning. The arrangement on her own “Where Do We Go Now”, is also worth a listen.
Hopefully we’ll get to see Martha return to Scotland in 2017. In the meantime, listen out for this album. It’s a cracker, just in time for Christmas !
CHICAGO FARMER, is the moniker of Illinois singer songwriter Cody Diekhoff. His 7th album, “Midwest Side Stories” has just been released. It makes for an interesting listen.
His songs deal with mid west issues, like job loss, long shifts, depression, used cars, skateboards and divided nations. His style is very much like Arlo Guthrie or Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. His voice isn’t the most melodic, but it doesn’t need to be to express the emotions required to get the message across. Good examples are “Two Sides Of The Story”.
I like the new genre label created for “Farms & Factories”. With a driving drum beat, and some fancy fiddlework, the label “workgrass” really works for me.
“Rocco N’Susie” quite appealed to me. It’s a six minute story of a couple and everything going on around them. I also liked the driving beat of “I’m Still Here”.
It’s a bit different, but The Chicago Farmer is growing on me.
Texan PAUL CAUTHEN was in a wild Texicana group called Sons Of Fathers a few years back, but is now out on his own with “My Gospel” (Lightening Rod Records). Paul is another singer songwriter who is hard to pigeon hole. But I did detect a certain Waylon Jennings influence on several tracks, He has the same smokey vocal style.
Despite the title, I wouldn’t call it a gospel album. He has gospel overtones through the songs, but they’re his own, down to earth messages, rather than anything from above!
Having said that “Grand Central” sounds quite “churchy”, It actually tells of low points in Paul’s life, shortly after leaving Sons Of Fathers.
It all kicks off with the Waylon sounding “Still Drivin”, which Paul claims to be his “don’t give up anthem”. It also features some neat Jerry Reed influenced picking. “Hanging Out On The Line”, is another I felt was quite Waylon-ish.
“Once You’re Gone” is quite a catchy number, but does develop into quite a rocky number.
The title track closes the album. Paul has a really captivating voice.
I really quite enjoyed this album. Quite different.
PAUL SACHS is a NYC singer songwriter, who was a new folk winner at the famous Kerrville Festival.
“Love Is A Live” is a pleasant listen. Paul’s voice is quite gentle, but some of the songs on the album have quite a message – even protest songs, but not in an angry tone. Harry Chapin, or Paul Simon comes to mind.
He deals with subjects such as Aids, a father of a new born daughter’s addiction, and subjects of a city shooting. Between the protest songs, are songs of love, like the title track.
“The Killer Inside” is a strange tale of a woman who leaves her family for a man on death row. The song is her story from behind the prison glass.
On “Every Mother’s Son” is about two school friends. One goes off to war, whilst the other stays at home. The subject of refugees is covered in “Families Of The Disappeared”.
Just so it’s not all gloom, the closing track, “The Best Hope Can Do” is a positive closure.
Paul has a pleasant voice, and he handles his messages well.
Another one for those that like their Country mixed with Old Time and Bluegrass sounds. RED TAIL RING are a duo from Kalamazoo, Michigan (yes, it’s a real place!), featuring Laurel Premo and Michael Beauchamp. Their fourth album, “Fall Away Blues” has just been released here.
The 12 track CD of mainly original songs kicks off with the lush, dreamy title track, featuring Laurel on lead vocals.
On “Love Of The City”, Michael leads the vocals, but Laurel’s harmonies really make this sensitive ballad really something to hear.
Several of the tracks have quite a folky feel, especially “Wonderous Love”, “My New Homeplace”, and “Come All Ye Fair And Tender Ladies”.
Although the music may be old timey in it’s feel, some of the subjects covered are real current. Take “Gibson Town” for example, which covers the mass shooting in their hometown earlier this year. Then, “Shale Town” deals with the fracking debate.
It’s banjo, fiddle, guitar and two contrasting old time bluegrass vocals. It makes for a very interesting listen.
OK, it’s December. Christmas times a coming. But I do feel violated when I get Christmas music in the post – before Halloween! Lots of Country stars release Christmas albums. This year’s selection includes Garth & Trisha, Rascall Flatts , Jennifer Nettles, Kasey Musgraves and Amy Grant.
But very few get a UK release. CHRIS YOUNG is spreading his Christmas cheer over here this year, by releasing “It Must Be Christmas” (Sony).
It’s a bit of the usual fayre with Mel Torme’s “Christmas Song”, “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”. Alan Jackson joins him on “There’s A New Kid In Town”, and Brad Paisley on “The First Noel”.
He stretches the Country tag by joining Boys II Men on “Silent Night”, and covering U2’s “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”.
He does include two co-written original tracks. “Under The Weather” and “It Must Be Christmas”. Both are rather unenthusiastic songs about the reality of Christmas, ie : Cold weather, long drives to visit family, and all you see is red and green.
It’s quite a listenable album, but one will be forgotten about by New Year!
The next couple of albums arrived too late to be included in the magazine, but couldn’t wait for the next issue.
KASEY MUSGRAVES has become one of the freshest voices on the American scene in recent years. On “A Very Kacey Christmas” she covers a mixture of standards like “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas”, “Let It Snow” and “Rudolph”, as well as some original numbers.
“Christmas Makes Me Cry” is a simple little sad song, which, for me is probably the highlight of the album. She also wrote “Present Without a Bow”, which features fellow Texan Leon Bridges. This one sounds quite pop to my ears. Getting Willie Nelson on board is always a bonus, and to include him in the title, is one way to do that. “A Willie Nice Christmas” is quirky, and really catchy.
She also features the talented Quebe Sisters on one of the Hawaiian influenced “Mele Kalikimaka”, and also features “Feliz Navidad”.
Kasey claims to be influenced by Bing Crosby, Gene Autry and The Andrews Sisters. She has certainly recreated a real old timey feel to this whole album. She even digs up the fifties novelty number “I Want a Hippopotamus For Christmas”.
It’s a nice listen, hardly in the same category as her two mainstream, albums.
Now, here’s an album that could really get me into Christmas music. It’s not Country by any means, but really appeals to me. “The Phil Cunningham Christmas Songbook”, features the ace accordion and keyboard wizard, alongside two of Scotland’s most highly acclaimed Scottish female vocalists, Karen Mathieson and Eddi Reader, as well as John McCusker, Kris Drever, Ian Carr, Kevin McGuire.
It’s a really pleasant easy listening selection of seasonal fayre. Some vocals and some instrumental tracks.
There are interesting versions of “Silent Night”, “The Little Drummer Boy” and “Away In A Manger”.
I loved the originality of “Winter Wonderland” with “The Bluebell Polka”, and “Waltz For Aly”, which blends seamlessly into “Silver Bells”.
The album kicks off with “Santa Will Find You”, written by Mindy Smith and Chely Wright. Mindy also co wrote “I Know The Reason”, two of the tracks that stand out for me.
The album is released in conjunction with the annual tour which kicks off in Stirling on December 16th, then calls at Perth, Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Now, this is an album that makes Christmas just that bit special.
Finally, on the home front, we told you before about Fife’s HEATHER DICKSON, who recorded her last album in Nashville, then went down to San Antonio to film the video, and got Bobby Flores, no less, to join her on screen.
Well, Heather has been back to Nashville, and recorded a new EP. The first single has been released via the usual digital outlets. It’s a raunchy little number called “Harley Honey”, which really suits Heather. It was recorded at Music City’s Midtown Studios with Nashville musicians.
Well worth checking out ahead of the full release in the new year.