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Wednesday 18 November 2020

Dec 2020

As the pandemic is still heavily impacting the live Scottish Country scene, the planned December issue of "Country Music & Dance In Scotland" magazine wont be published. But we're pleased to let you read the CD reviews which would've appeared in the magazine.

Louisiana born ALECIA NUGENT made her name on the bluegrass scene, with three highly acclaimed albums for Rounder Records between 2004 and 2009, crowning it off with an IBMA Female Vocalist Award in 2009. 
Now she’s back, with a much more traditional Country sound on her latest album, “The Old Side Of Town” (Hillbilly Goddess Music), and I have to say she’s come up with a stunning collection of songs.
The title track, which opens up the album, is a Tom T Hall song. It kicks off with a twin fiddle intro, and I’m instantly hooked. She does a brilliant version of the uptempo song. 
The single released as a taster for the album, “They Don’t Make Em’ Like My Daddy Anymore”, is a superb upbeat number, written by Alecia and Carl Jackson, who worked on her previous albums. There’s Country and a bonus bluegrass version on the album. 
“Too Bad You’re No Good” is upbeat, although different from the other faster tracks on the album. It’s a bit more bluesy, and shows a lot of personality.
Following the title track opener, is a Paul Franklin steel laden ballad called “I Might Have One Too”, proving she can deliver a killer ballad. Other strong ballads include, “Way Too Young For Wings”, which is another co-write from the singer. In fact, she has co-written five of the songs, alongside Nashville top notchers including Larry Cordle, Roger Murrah and Keith Stegall, including the soft and emotional “Sad Song”. Stegall also produced the album. 
She does a fine take on “The Other Woman”, co-written by Brandy Clark and Mark Stephen Jones 
But stand out track for me is “Tell Fort Forth I Said Hello”, written with Larry Cordle and Kevin Denney. It’s a really catchy shuffle number, with some impressive fiddle, steel and honky tonk piano. “I Thought He Never Leave” also has quite an infectious swing beat, after a soulful bluesy start. 
I remember enjoying Alecia’s bluegrass stuff a decade or so ago. It’s been too long, but this knockout album was certainly worth the wait. Certainly one of the highlights of 2020 !

JOSH TURNER made an immediate impact of Country music when he first appeared in Nashville, with his deep rich, Southern drawl. His first album, “Long Black Train” released in 2003 went platinum, and the rest as they say, is history.
Now, on his eight studio album, “Country State Of Mind” (MCA) he honours the Country legends who have been his influences over the years. 
The title track features Chris Jansen, whilst he opens up the collection with a cover of Keith Whitley’s “I’m No Stranger To The Rain”. Many traditional fans consider Whitley to be last great Country singer, but Josh, with his unique tone, certainly delivers a great version of this song, and sets us up for a superb collection of real Country music.  He also takes on Vern Gosdin’s upbeat “I Can Tell By The Way You Dance”, the theme to the “Dukes Of Hazzard”, and the less than obvious Johnny Cash story of “The Caretaker”.
He has quite a few guests from Kris Kristofferson on “Why Me Lord”, John Anderson on “I’ve Got It Made” and Randy Travis on “Forever And Ever Amen”. This is Randy’s first recording since his stroke, back in 2013. 
On the more modern front, Runaway June join Josh on “You Don’t Seem To Miss Me”,  the old Patty Loveless/George Jones song, and Maddie & Tae guest on the old George Strait number “Desperately”. 
He even takes us back to the days of Hank Williams, with the haunting Alan Jackson hit, “Midnight In Montgomery”, as well as the sad and dark “Alone And Forsaken”, with harmonies from Allison Moorer. 
Josh, himself, has one of the most Country voices around these days. For him to honour some of the legends, is a real musical treat. And what I like about this album, is that whilst, he has a number of really well known songs, there’s a good few less obvious choices as well. It all comes together in one of the strongest “Country” albums around! 

MY DARLING CLEMENTINE are Michael Weston King and Lou Dalgleish, who both had individual careers before launching the duo a decade ago. Although influenced by the great married duets of Johnny & June, and George & Tammy, their music is much more modern, yet doesn’t lose that traditional touch. The Birmingham based duo have a number of acclaimed albums to their credit, but their latest project is “Country Darkness”, featuring songs from the pen of Elvis Costello. They released the album across 3 EP’s in the past year, and now the whole collection is released as a full album. They have recreated the songs for duet vocals, and with vocals that work so well together, this makes for a really good listen. They have also enlisted Steve Nieve, Costello’s long time keyboard player, who gets equal billing on the whole project.
The project is a reincarnation of one of Lou’s earlier projects – she wrote and appeared in a play, "They Call Her Natasha", based around a series of Elvis Costello songs, which was first performed at the Edinburgh Festival. 
Costello had a Country side to him over the years, best highlighted in his cover of George Jones’ “Good Year For The Roses”, but it never really come to the fore in his hit records, but more so in his writing. None of the songs on here were hits for Costello, but you may recognise a few of the songs. 
“Stranger In The House” has been recorded as a duet with George Jones, and I recall a version from Rachel Sweet back in the late 70’s. I always loved the song and Lou and Michael do a great version here. 
Loretta Lynn co-wrote “I Feel The Chill Before The Winter Came” with Costello. I’m not sure if Loretta ever recorded it, but the version on here certainly is one of the stand out tracks. 
“I Lost You” is quite breezy & upbeat number which Costello co-wrote with Jim Lauderdale. There’s a lot of Lauderdale’s influence in the version here. 
“Heart Shaped Bruise” has been sung as a duet between Costello and Emmylou Harris, but I cant find an audio recording of it, as a duet before. 
“Different Finger” has a lovely tex mex accordion intro, courtesy of Piero Tucci, before turning into classic Country song which could have come right from Marty Robbins. There’s also some neat Spanish guitar playing from Shez Sheridan. It was a single released from Vol 2, and a really good radio song. 
I love the sound they make together, and picking up a whole realm of songs that have largely remain unknown to a mass audience until now is brave, but enterprising. There’s a bit of everything in these tracks from My Darling Clementine - it works, whatever way they turn.

ROBBIE PETRIE has been a longtime favourite on the Scottish Country music scene. He’s also one of the most traditional sounding singers still performing today. 
Following on from his last album, “Nashville On My Mind”, Robbie went one better, and recorded his latest collection in Music City. “Ever Changing Woman” is a stone Country collection of 13 songs, all produced in a pure Country fashion. 
The title track is a Curly Putman/ Dave Kirby composition, which Merle Haggard recorded for his “Back To The Barrooms” album. It’s just one of seven Haggard songs on the collection. Other include “Shelley’s Winter Love”, “Swinging Doors” and “Here In Frisco”. Robbie is a huge Hag fan, as you can tell.  But Buck Owens is also well represented, with 3 covers, including opening track “Foolin’ Around” and “Together Again”.
Other songs include Mel Street’s “Borrowed Angel”, Tommy Collin’s “New Patches” (a hit for Mel Tillis) and George Strait’s “The Cowboy Rides Away”.   
Robbie engaged the services of Steel guitar player Rusty Danmyer as producer. Over the years, Rusty has worked with Martina McBride, Lee Ann Womack and Leann Rimes. The album also features Joe Spivey on fiddle, an inductee of the National Fiddle Hall Of Fame, and member of John Anderson’s band. Nikki Nelson, from Highway 101, is on harmony vocals, rekindling a connection made at the Caithness Festival a few years back. Keith Nixon also adds vocals, Eddie Lange and William Bagby provide guitar, Joey Schmidt on piano, and former Hag drummer Randy Mason complete the credits. 
Robbie sounds great throughout the album, and the production is superb. 
If Merle & Buck is your kinda Country, you’ve love this album ! 

A year or so ago, I told you about an album from Western Isles band, “Tumbling Souls”. Well, lead singer WILLIE CAMPBELL is back with a new solo album, “Nothing’s Going To Bring Me Down” (Invisible King Records).
This was intended to be the next Tumbling Souls album, and studio time had been booked in Glasgow back in March. But as lockdown took effect, Willie chose to take the bull by the horns and self-produce the album. 
Willie describes the themes across this album as “the internal struggle that he lives with, of loving the place that you’re from, but knowing that you have to leave it to make a living or to achieve the goals that you’ve set”. 
All ten songs on the album are self penned. It’s not all Country, but there is quite a Country feel running through some of the songs, probably a throwback to his songwriting expedition to Nashville a decade ago, where he learned so much about honing his craft. The touches of Steel Guitar, courtesy of Lloyd Reid plays a part too. 
The title track was released as a single, and crashed straight into the Scottish Top 40. It features some impressive piano from Keith Morrison, and a real catchy hook line. 
The album kicks off with “Leave Home”, which sets the agenda for the rest of the album. It has influences of Country, rock, pop and celtic music, and is a nice taster for the listen ahead. 
“Keep My Dreams Of Yesterday” is a pleasant ballad, as is “Pages Of The Past”. “Lay Your Burden Down”, whilst more pop inspired, is a really catchy number, which really got into my head. 
The closing track, “Home To Say Goodbye”, has a particular Country feel to it. It’s a very simple, yet melodic, arrangement, and stands out as my favourite track.
Although crossing a number of genres of music, I really liked the album.

DAVE SHERIFF has been one of the real mainstays of the UK Country music scene, and shows no sign of slowing down. With live performing greatly curtailed this year, Dave has still been busy writing and recording, and this new 14 track album, “How Long Is Forever” (Stomp label) is his second album to be released since lockdown. 
Whilst some of his recent albums had had themes (Irish/ driving, etc), this comes across as a general mix of Dave’s differing styles and themes. That said, there are a few songs which touch on old age, notably the very catchy “Too Late Now”, “As I Grow Old” and “Old Age Don’t Come Alone”. “Make Me Love You More” is about sharing life’s journey with a loved one, whilst “I Wish” is a sentimental song about losing a loved one.
Even “The Tourist”, is a haunting realisation that, in our lifetime’s journey, we’re all passing through, just like tourists, appreciating what we have around us. 
The album starts off with a gorgeous steel guitar laden title track, which is one of the album’s highlights. Also worthy of note, are the celtic influenced “Always Have, Always Will” and “We All Need A Friend” both with lovely sentiments, which will appeal to the Irish market.    
“Dance Till The Music Stops” has a catchy holiday/party theme, and it should appeal to the line dancers. “A Little More Loving” has a similar beat. 
With a top team of musicians, like Stephen Smyth, Derek Thurlby, Pete Ware and Adam Linsley, the production is superb. The songs all come from Dave’s own pen, covering a range of styles. 
A thoroughly enjoyable album. Another winner from Dave Sheriff!  

WAYLON JENNINGS’ music spanned four decades from the sixties right through to the late nineties. His best known, and most successful music comes from the 32 albums he recorded for RCA, including his famous Outlaw era. 
He moved to MCA Records in 1986 and recorded 4 albums, which have now been released by Humphead Records here in the UK as the double CD “The MCA Recordings – The Ultimate Collection”. 
The first album, “Will The Wolf Survive” was a big No.1 album for him, and featured Steve Earle’s “The Devils Right Hand” and Top 10 singles “Working Without a Net”, “What You’ll Do When I’m Gone”, and “Will The Wolf Survive”. 
“Hanging Tough” produced the number one hit, “Rose In Paradise” and a cover of Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street”!
“A Man Called Hoss” was his third album for the label. It was a concept album, written with Roger Murrah, which chronicled Jennings' life and experiences in ten "chapters", each of which corresponds to a single track on the album. Hits from this album, included “Rough And Rowdy Days” and “If Ole Hank Could Only See Us Now”. 
And this collection is completed with the tracks from “Full Circle”, which produced another two Top 40 hits with “How Much Is It Worth To Live In LA” and “Which Way Do I Go (Now That I’ve Been Gone”. 
I do recall Waylon created a more edgier, rockier sound with his move to MCA, with the exception of the “A Man Called Hoss” tracks, which are classic Waylon. 
These aren’t his most memorable tracks- you’ll find them on various RCA collections, but it’s great that Humphead have broadened the material available from another era in Jennings’ long career. As ever, with Humphead releases, there’s a very informative 12 page booklet, written by Alan Cackett.  
This is a collection that deserves to be in your collection.

Singer songwriter LORI McKENNA has been active in the music business for over 20 years, primarily in the American folk scene. Back in 2005, she caught the attention of Faith Hill, who recorded four of her songs for her “Fireflies” album.  Since then, her songs have been recorded by the likes of Sara Evans, Keith Urban, Alison Krauss, Ashley Monroe, Reba McEntire and Carrie Underwood. Her most notable songwriting hits are Tim McGraw’s “Humble And Kind” and Little Big Town’s “Girl Crush”, both CMA and Grammy Country Song of the Year award winners. 
Lori has 10 previous albums to her credit, and now releases her 11th collection, “The Balladeer” (Thirty Tigers). The album has been  described by McKenna as the "most personal album" of her career. Of the ten tracks featured on it, seven of them she wrote solo while the remaining three were co-written with frequent collaborators Hillary Lindsey and Liz Rose, all of whom are collectively known as the Love Junkies. All three feature on the track “When You’re My Age”, which was the taster single. It’s a sensitive, emotional ballad. 
It all kicks off with “This Town Is A Woman”, another vocal collaboration, this time with Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild and Kimberley Schlapman. It’s a soft reflective ballad, which really shows her vocal prowess, and the harmonies just help top it off. 
This is followed by the album’s title track, which has quite an old west story song feel to it, whilst having a bit Kacey Musgraves sound to it at the same time. A really interesting arrangement.  “Marie” is quite similar. 
“The Dream” and “Uphill” quite a reflective ballads, which really highlights Lori’s vocals.
“Good Fight” is an upbeat number, which she handled really well. “Two Birds”, is really catchy. It may be one that radio may pick up on.
“Stuck In High School” is quite a reflective number, again quite upbeat, then on a similar theme, she closes the album with “Till You’re Grown”. 
Lori’s writing is firmly embedded in Country music these days, but her recent albums have still been better acceptable in folk circles. I think this could be the album which really gets her noticed as a performer on the Country music scene.

GRANGER SMITH has been around the Country scene for over 20 years, recorded 10 albums and 23 singles, but it’s only the past couple of years that Country radio have picked up on his music, with hits like “The Backroads Song” and “If The Boot Fits”. Now, the Dallas native continues to pursue his career with “Country Things” (Wheelhouse Records), and I think his time has come. 
This album has been a long time in the making. He had starting working on the album, when tragedy struck the family, with the sudden death of his youngest son.  
The 18 track collection beings with “Country Things”, one of the few tracks, which Smith didn’t co-write. There’s a nice banjo intro into a song with appreciates down home family values. 
“Hate You Like I Love You” is a modern Nashville sounding song, about getting over a relationship, which has been getting a lot of attention of late with over 6 million streams.
“I Kill Spiders” is a real family song, playing the part of a father and protector for his children. Without being over sentimental, I think it’s a song which fathers will relate to. 
“That’s Why I Love Dirt Roads”, follows on from his first chart album, “Dirt Road Driveway”, and is his latest single. It’s a good upbeat number, which should do well for him. There's a bonus track, which features rapper Lathan Warlick. I have to say, I prefer the first version. He keeps on the driving theme on “Chevy’s, Hemis, Yotas And Fords”. 
“Heroes” is a great anthem, which can be adapted for all the heroes we take for granted in the world today. 
I enjoyed a few of the ballads on the album too, including "Man Made", "That's What Love Looks Like" and "Six String Stories". 
Granger also performs under the name of Earl Dibbles Jr, and it’s with this fun moniker, that he performs a few of the songs, including the rather repetative "Workaholic" and the rather rocky "Diesel" andd "Holler", but it's  “Country (And You Know It)” that really makes its mark. It’s hardly original, based on the nursery rhyme “If Your Happy And You Know It”, but Granger and three others are credited, alongside Joe Raposo (who holds the copyright) for coming up with the Country version. It’s catchy, it’s fun, and could really catch on. 
Altogether, a thoroughly enjoyable album.

25 year old COLTER WALL is a Canadian singer-songwriter from Swift Current, Saskatchewan, who has a distinctive old western sound to his music. That’s in stark contrast to the AC/DC & Led Zeppelin covers he was playing a decade ago.
His third album, “Western Swing & Waltzes and Other Punchy Songs”, (Thirty Tigers) was released a couple of months back and has already hit No. 1 of the UK Country chart and top 10 on the US country chart.
Despite his young age, he sounds much older, which makes this album sound just so much more authentic. 
The title track leads off the album and sets the scene. “Western Swing & Waltzes” is a real old western song, with some great fiddle, steel and harmonica breaks.  
His cover of Marty Robbins’ “Big Iron” is really impressive. And his version of “Cowpoke” is much more authentic than Eddy Arnold’s smooth version. 
There’s story songs about people like “Henry And Sam”, Diamond Joe” and “Talkin’ Prairie Boy” and a horse called “High And Mighty”.
And there’s an uptempo ramble across the plains with “Rocky Mountain Rangers”
What I really like about the album is that the songs are about his own area of Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Montana. He’s not tried to impress a bigger audience by adapting to southern states like Texas or Arizona.
If you like real old time western music, this is definitely for you. It is an acquired taste though! 

THE PAWN SHOP SAINTS are a quartet, who have emerged over the past couple of years from the Berkshire Hills of New England. The group are led by Jed Barry, who has built up a solo career at the same time as the group has grown. Their third album, “Ordinary Folks” (Dolly Rocker Records), follows on from the success of “texas, etc…” which made an impression on the Euro Americana charts a year or two back. Supporting Jeb are Michael O’Neill, Josh Pisano and Chris Samson.
Two years ago Jeb wrote fifty songs in fifty days whilst travelling through Appalachian areas of the US, including three he wrote in a Nashville hotel room. “I began pulling off the interstates to hit the small towns where ordinary people live”, he says. “You can drive a couple of miles, and find other worlds”. 
That’s the background to this album. It’s an album of simple observations, with simple arrangements. 
The nine track collection begins with “You Don’t Know The Cumberland”, which tells of the effect of social effects as life changes. “Southern Mansions” has much of the same theme running through it. “New Year’s Eve, Somewhere In The Midwest”, was co-written with Jason Isbell. “Ain’t No Mama Here” is a bit different to the rest of the album, dealing with the loss of parents, and the issues faced by the family left behind. 
“Lynyrd Skynyrd” is about the generation inspired by the iconic Southern Rockers.
The album leaves us with a love song in “Dry River Song” which was really appealing. 
The album was recorded in Massachusetts.  I really enjoyed it. Released here December 11th. 
One of the most surprising albums of the year came from TENNESSEE JET (real name TJ McFarland), who actually hails from Oklahoma. You would never label Jet’s music as straight Nashville- but theirs is some magical Country sounds on his third album, “The Country” (Thirty Tigers). 
The album’s gets your attention from the opening beats of “Stray Dogs”. It has one of these driving road song beats, that just smell of freedom. I was hooked! 
“The Raven & The Dove” is a bit slower, but picks up nicely. It’s about the sort of days you have- “some days are raven, some days are dove”.  
“Off To War” and the closing “Sparklin’ Burnin’ Fuse” are both gentle acoustic numbers. 
There’s some beautiful steel guitar on the intro to the “Someone To You”, one of the mellowest, and straight Country tracks on the album. It’s certainly my favourite track on here. The title track is hidden away on track eight. It’s a gentle simple love song, which I adore for its line, “I miss you like the country radio don’t play no more.”
Just when you were settling into a real Country experience, he hits us with a rockin’ tribute to “Johnny” – Horton that is! I don’t quite get why the “North To Alaska” legend is honoured by such a rocker. He also rocks his way through “Hands On You”.
He covers Townes Van Zante’s “Pancho & Lefty”, with the help of Elizabeth Cook, Cody Jinks and Paul Cauthern. It’s a solid version of the song, but given his originality elsewhere on the album, this track came over as just a little uninspired.  
He also covers “She Talks To Angels”, a Black Crowes song. But with its banjo, fiddle and steel, he really Countryfies it. The harmonies from Elizabeth Cook add something to the mix.
He is considered a bit of an open spirit when it comes to life and music, He says he has “got a head full of metal, but a heart of country gold”. This album, in the main, comes straight from his Country heart. 
Do check it out!

Gifted singer-songwriter ARLO McKINLEY released his debut solo record at age 40 on John Prine’s Oh Boy records - after he almost gave up on music altogether. Indeed he was the last artist signed by Prine, before his passing earlier this year.
“Die Midwestern” is deeply rooted in street soul, country, punk, and gospel and draws on personal stories, set against the backdrop of his hometown of Cincinnati Ohio, and crafted downriver in Memphis’ legendary Sam Phillips Recording Studio. 
There, McKinley recorded ten remarkable songs -some dating back fifteen years - all penned with a weight, honesty and gritty-hope that comes from living in the rustbelt city where his songs were born. 
On “Die Midwestern”, McKinley’s songs bleed truth and emotion from a heart scarred by wild nights and redeemed by soulful Sunday morning confessions. His lyrics are laid bare, stark and arresting in their honesty, and often penned from real-life experience.
The title track reflects on his love/ hate relationship with his home state of Ohio. “I love it because it’s everything that I am, but I hate it because I’ve seen it take my loved ones lives” he says. “I’ve seen it make hopeful people hopeless”. It debates whether to leave home, because, it he doesn’t do it now, he never will.
“Bag Of Pills” is an autobiographical and frank account of the drug issues which affect his hometown. It seems to be a song which embraces the whole album in one song. 
“Suicidal Saturday Night” is one of the strongest Country songs on the album. It’s about criminals on the run or “heartland wanderlust” as The Tennessean labelled it. 
I liked “She’s Always Around”. It’s a traditional Country ballad, and he handles this style of song particularly well.
“Gone For Good” sees McKinley share his lessons from broken relationships, “It’s about me realising how short I fell on even trying to make it work,” he says. 
The album rounds off with “Walking Shoes”, another song of wonderlust, like the title track- if I don’t do it now, I never will theme. 
This album has been a long time in the making. It’s a life story – so far. I really enjoyed the journey. 
The album “Halfway From Nashville” is the next stop on songwriter SEAN HARRISON’s long, twisty, up-and-down road back to music from a long time gone. Sean was born in Music City and raised mostly in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where he grew up in the literary home of his father, the late novelist/screenwriter William Harrison, probably best known for the movie “Rollerball”. 
Sean lived some years in Europe, then Texas, with a lot of traveling and finally back home to Fayetteville. He has busked in London, Paris, Florence and Venice, southern Spain and other parts of Europe, New York City and Dallas/Ft. Worth. 
In his early twenties, Sean played full-time in Texas and shared the stage with some legendary songwriters and players. 
After many years playing  music , and writing ,“Halfway From Nashville,” is Sean’s debut album. He kicks off the album with the title track “to let folk know this is a Country album”. It’s quite a slow, acoustic , reflective song, which references to The Hag, Cash and Dylan along the way. 
“Ode To A Goner” is another of the most obvious Country songs on the 12 track album. It’s a co-write with novelist, John Dufresne. “I read a line in one of his books and I just had to have it” Sean explains, “Emailed him, he said cool, and he wrote some beautiful verses for this song, just trading emails with me”. 
Some of his songs sound quite quirky including “Big Decision”, a tongue in cheek relationship song, and “Wake Up Dead”.  “Fingertips”, although a love song, sounds quirky. It’s also one of the tracks featuring Tim Alexander from Asleep At The Wheel, recorded shortly before he died. “Psychedelic” is a fun throwback to the pop culture of his youth. “Paydays” is a Roger Miller inspired song, which worked really well. “Water Towers” is a source of curiosity-and Sean’s viewpoint is “why have them if you cant climb them”.  
 “Go To Girl” is quite an upbeat number, which is should get a bit of radio attention. “Gravel And Dirt”, is steeped in Southern roots, and “Worried” veers towards a driving rock sound, but the vocals still dominate, whilst the album closes with the most delicate “Breath Out Her Name”. 
There are echoes of Shel Silverstien, Ray Stevens and Roger Miller running through the album, but Sean’s not cloning any of them. It’s a very original approach, and an album that’s really growing on me. 

Gary Van Miert is a local cult figure around New York.  Known for looking as if he stole his clothing from Ernest Tubbs closet, the singer-songwriter, musician and all around entertainer honed his skills playing the nightclubs of New Jersey, Manhattan, Brooklyn and beyond. THE SENSATIONAL COUNTRY BLUES WONDERS started as a vehicle for Van Miert to start performing and take advantage of the vibrant art and music scene in Jersey City. The band’s name is an homage to all the great groups from the golden age of Country & gospel. The band was designed to replicate the original instrumental lineup of acoustic rhythm guitar, electric lead guitar and upright acoustic bass used on the first rock and roll records made by Elvis at Sun Studio in Memphis, TN. 
With live performing off the agenda, he began work on his first original album “The World Will Break Your Heart” (he released an album of covers in 2012).  
The music on the 10 track album sounds refreshingly dated, ranging from the Bakersfield sounding “Second Fiddle To A Steel Guitar” and “I Can Hear The Music Play” to the ragtime influenced “Double Barrell Blues” to the old timey feeling on “I Wont Change Anything”.
“I’m Afraid Of Every Goddam Thing” is superb vintage Country that is just so appealing. And I just love his catchy murder ballad, “My Baby Stabbed Me With A Steak Knife”.
The single, and video released from the album is “Privilege”, which is more of a ballad, and closes the album. 
It’s an interesting album. It certainly doesn’t fit with today’s Nashville sound, but is really refreshing, vibrant, and real !
I really enjoyed it. 

Back in 2017 I introduced you to the music of THE 19TH STREET BAND, an adventurous band, crossing genres from bluegrass and Irish roots to rock, led by Caolaidhe Davis, from Hollywood, Northern Ireland, who emigrated to America’s East Coast back in 2005. Joining Cally in the band is his wife Meghan, a trained violinist, whom he met when she was working in a Washington DC Irish Bar. Fast forward a few years, and the couple found themselves living on 19th Street in Arlington, Virginia, and the band name was born.
They are joined by Greg Hardin and drummer Patty Dougherty , to make up a refreshing, exciting sound that you just cannot pigeon hole into any one genre. 
“Diamond In The Rough” is their second outing, and was recorded in Maryland and Tipperary. 
The album kicks off with three numbers, each of which run over 5 minutes. The opening track, “I Just Had To Say”, has a full minute intro, focusing on different instruments before launching into a catchy, hi-energy fun numbers. The music covered various genres, but the vocals came across as bluegrass.
“Nothing To Do (All Day To Do It)”, which is where the album title comes from, and “Firefly” have quite bluesy inspirations, although switches to an upbeat tempo mid songs.
“Hillbilly Boy” is a fun sounding old timey number, with band chants, which just add to the magic. It works well.
“I’ve Been Waiting” is a catchy, upbeat number, with a folksy, bluegrass approach. “Away From Our Happy Home” tells of taking trains away from the home place. Again it has quite an old timey feel. 
“The Cajun Rock And Roll Stanza” is an interesting, and quite infectious track. On my first listen, I wasn’t too sure about it, but it quickly had me hooked. It’s probably the least Country track on the album, but, as I say it’s quite infectious.
By contrast, “True Love” is a probably the most straight Country song on the album.
Meghan takes the lead track on a couple of tracks, including the lovely “Your Love Is Like The Lone Ranger”, which has superb harmonies, and some catchy fiddle. Probably my favourite track.
Like their previous outing, I really enjoyed the mix of music on this album. Do check them out. 

OWEN MAC is one of the young breed of Irish Country singers, and by young, we mean young!  At the age of 17, he has just released his 5th album. It’s a gospel album called “How Beautiful Heaven Must Be”. 
The album kicks off with “Praying”, which he has also released a video for. 
I like how he, in the main, stays clear of the most obvious gospel songs that everybody does. 
That said, he does include “Jesus Loves Me” (which he really speeds up), and is joined by Tony Allen (Foster & Allen) on “Far Side Banks Of Jordan”. He also features “If We Never Meet Again This Side Of Heaven”, which has previously been recorded by Elvis, Cash, Merle and Ricky Van. 
There’s a couple of songs originally recorded by The Easter Brothers, a gospel group in North Carolina. Desi Mac features on “Jesus Is Living With Me”. And Shauna Mac joins in on “Thank You Lord For Your Blessings On Me”.  
He has dug into American southern gospel for the songs, with songs like “Look For Me” (Howard Goodman) and “Build My Mansion” (Dottie Rambo).  The title track, which closes the album is a traditional song, done in a simple old time style. It’s another hymn from America’s deep south. 
Owen has built up quite a following in his young career. I think many of his followers will appreciate this latest offering. 

Finally, Louisiana native MARGIE SINGLETON has been part of the music industry for the past seven decades, charting nine Top-40 Country hits, including duets with George Jones (Waltz Of The Angels) and Faron Young (Keepin’Up With The Joneses). As a songwriter, Singleton wrote and co-wrote numerous hits for others, including “Laura (What’s He Got That I Ain’t Got)?”, as well for Brook Benton, Johnny Tillotson , Tammy Wynette, Charley Pride, Lynn Anderson, Trini Lopez and Jerry Lee Lewis.
Now at the age of 85, Margie is back, with a new 5 track EP, “Never Mind”. 
I see one of her albums back in the 60’s was called “Sings Country Music With Soul”, and that would be a good description for this set of songs. She starts off with the title track, which is an autobiographical song. As Margie points out on the sleevenotes, “I started singing the first line, ‘I was born in Coushatta Louisiana’ (was going to say in 1935) and my son, Steve joined in with ‘19 never mind.’ That was it!” It’s quite a bluesy arrangement, but that works well for her. Steve also collaborated on “Who’s Gonna Love You When I’m Gone”, which found a creative vibe between mother and son. It’s bright and breezy, and is the most Country track on the collection.
“Lie To Me” is an old song, which she wrote with Brook Benton. Brook had a hit with it in 1962, but Margie had never recorded the song herself- until now!
“Wonder What She’s Doing” and “Missing You” both have a real soulful feel to them. The latter is the one track which Margie didn’t have a hand in writing, having been written by son Steve, who also co-produced the project. 
There is a noticeable blues and soul influence, but still fits within the Country genre. There is steel, courtesy of Steve Hinson and some neat harmonica from Jimbo Sales. 
Good to see that she’s still sounding great.

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