Search This Blog

Thursday 15 December 2022

Dec 2022

 Texan, BETH NEILSEN CHAPMAN has been one of Country music’s most successful songwriters over the past couple of decades, having given Faith Hill “This Kiss”, Martina McBride “Happy Girl”, Lorrie Morgan “Five Minutes” and Tanya Tucker “Strong Enough To Bend”, amongst many others.
As a performer, she has recorded 14 albums, the latest being “Crazy Town”. Like previous outings, whilst her writing has widely been acclaimed in Country music circles, her own music is much less defined, and is more all encompassing Adult Contemporary than Country.  
The album kicks off with “All Around The World”,  the bouncy call for the world to be better place. It’s a really catchy radio friendly number which crosses musical genres. 
“Put A Woman In Charge” is much more of a soul anthem, and similarly “Four Cleave Clover”,  and “The Universe” and “Pocket Of My Past” didn’t appeal much to me .  
Having said that, “Dancing With The Past” is quite a catchy pop-Country upbeat number.  
The ballads on this album are much more appealing. “With Time” is a piano led emotion filled number, which I really liked. 
But the stand out track is the beautiful celtic flavoured ballad “Walk You To Heaven”, which is the stunning finale to the album. It’s also been released here in the UK as a single. 
Beth Nielsen Chapman will be back in Scotland for Celtic Connections in the New Year. 

Someone who was in Scotland earlier this year, at the Millport Festival was SUNNY SWEENEY, who has also just released her 5th album, “Married Alone”.
The Houston native is one of these Country girls, who is just too Country for Nashville. Despite her 2nd album “Concrete” being a Top 10 Country album, generating three chart singles, she has never repeated that success with her later efforts. Despite that she has amassed over 100 million streams of her music, which suggests that her fan base is much bigger than the support she gets from Country radio.  
The title track is a delicate ballad that features harmonies from Vince Gill. It’s a beautiful emotional song about married couples in name only.  “How’d I End Up Lonely Again” is the sequel. An equally beautiful ballad, with some lovely steel licks. 
The album begins with the catchy, downhome “Tie Me Up”, and goes on to feature a mixture of ballads like “Fool Like Me” “Wasting One On You” and “All I Don’t Need” a the delicate “Still Here”.
“Someday You’ll Call my Name” is an upbeat racer of a song, dominated by a driving rock guitar.  
In between, there’s the  midtempo “A Song Cant Fix Everything”, which features Paul Caulthern (who also co-produced the album).  
“Want You To Miss Me” and “Leaving Is My Middle Name” have quite a rocky arrangements.
 The driving guitar makes several of the tracks sound much more rock sounding that they need to be. 
For me, it spoilt the sound, which, otherwise was shaping up to be a good Country listen. 

ISLA GRANT has been one of Scotland’s biggest selling recording artists over the past thirty years, especially in Ireland where she has charted on the pop charts. After a car accident in 1992, which forced her off the circuit for 5 years, she took up songwriting, which has been her trademark since, with “Cottage In The Country”, “A Dream Come True” and “A Single Yellow Rose” having been recorded by many other artists. 
Isla is a victim of the dreaded Covid-19, and was forced to retire from touring, following encountering the infection. 
Isla is missing meeting up with her fans on the road, but has put together a new album of Inspirational songs, “In The Time That You Gave Me”, which should be a best seller at this time of year. 
The album does feature a number of tracks that have been released previously, and not all the songs are Isla’s own compositions. 
The emotional title track, written by Nashville writers Shawn Camp and Dennis Morgan, was previously recorded by Joey & Rory. Isla has her own stamp on it. In contrast, the 12 track collection kicks off with the joyous, uplifting “Speak To The Sky”, an old Seekers hit, which is also a line dance favourite. 
Her own songs include the equally uplifting “A Train Called Glory”, and one of her older songs, “Will You Walk With Me”. The version on here, is from her live album from Daniel O’Donnell’s TV show.
Other songs include “Climb Higher”, “I Know Who Holds Tomorrow”, “Healing Time” and
“I Had A Dream Last Night”. 
There’s also two old Jim Reeves songs from husband Al, “Satan Cant Hold Me” and “Evening Prayer”. 
It’s a lovely album, showing Isla’s more inspirational side. 

South of the border, down Newcastle way, we find ROB HERON & THE TEA PAD ORCHESTRA, a musical genre denial quintet, who have appeared at such diverse events as Glastonbury to the Cambridge Folk Festival, to village halls & barns over the last decade, and now have five albums to their credit. 
Their latest, “The Party’s Over” is a broad mix, crossing western swing, Cajun, blues, traditional Country, rock’n’roll, brass and soul, and even a little yodel. The whole album was written in between January and May of this year, and recorded in three days in a Tyneside studio.
The album kicks off with the title track, a bouncy, old time Country/party foot tapper, which really wetted the appetite for the rest of the album. “She Hypnotised Me” which follows, couldn’t be more different. It has a classy brass presence, but had a really catchy hook to it. I really liked it. 
“My Salad Days” starts with a Hank Williams Lovesick Blues yodel intro, which leads into a stone Country sounding heartbreak song. Then “Snip Snap Shout” comes along with an authentic Cajun influence, courtesy of Colin Nicolson’s brilliant accordion. 
The old west is catered for, on the galloping “The Horse That You Rode In On”, whilst “Remind Me Tomorrow” is a 50’s style rock’n’roll ballad. 
Talking of ballads, “Right To Roam” is a folksy-old time ballad, complete with an effective harmonica from Tom Cronin.
The only song not written by Heron is Paul Weber’s “Trouble Is”, a simple slower number, which has quite a quaint appeal to it. 
This album covers a lot of ground, and Rob & the band do a great job with it. 
A very interesting album. 

Another Englishman with a new album. MICHAEL WESTON KING is better known these days as one half of the duo My Darling Clementine, but he’s still his own man, and has released a new solo album, “The Struggle”, his first such project in 10 years. 
His career stretches back over 30 years, after leaving home in Southport for the musical mecca of Liverpool and forming a country rock band The Good Sons. 
These days, drawing inspiration from the classic Texan songwriters of the 70’s, King has skilfully fused a love of country music with a distinctive political edge to produce albums that are always uniquely his own. “The Struggle” is an out and out singer-songwriter album, embedded in the late 60’s / early 70’s and inspired by artists and writers such as Mickey Newbury, Dan Penn, Jesse Winchester, John Prine, and early Van Morrison. I‘d also say there’s a bit of Charlie Landsborough in there too.
The album includes two co-writes with old friends. “Sugar” was written in Lafayette with the American troubadour Peter Case, while “Theory Of Truthmakers” was co-written with Michael’s much missed friend and collaborator Jackie Leven (from Fife), from an old unused lyric of Jackie’s that was passed on recently by a mutual friend.
Stand out tracks for me, include “Me And Frank” and “Valerie’s Coming Home”.
There’s a quaint celtic feel to the “The Final Reel”, which I really enjoyed. “The Old Soft Shoe” is a particularly nice, reflective song too.  
“The Hardest Thing Of All” is the featured single from the album, which is one of the more mid tempo songs on the collection. 
The album begins and ends with different remixes of the haunting “Weight Of The World”, which is inspired by the police incidents in the States.
Michael has a really strong voice, and delivers these songs with powerful emotion. 

One of the most interesting albums of the year has to come from THE WILLIAMS BROTHERS. Andrew & David are actually twins, and are nephews of the late crooner, Andy Williams. They had three albums released by Warner Brothers between 1987-1993, and had a Top 50 pop hit in 1992. 
In 1995, they recorded an album called “Memories To Burn”, and it’s finally been released at the end November. I have to say it’s been worth the wait, although their sound goes back much farther. Being twins gives them the family harmonies advantage, but I have to say their sound has an uncanny Everly’s influence.  Having said that, Greg Leisz’ steel guitar really adds to the sound. 
The title track is straight laced Buddy Holly/ Everly’s type of number, written by Marvin Etzioni, who plays bass throughout the album. He wrote four of the tracks. Others include the softer “Unanswered Prayers” (not the Garth one) and the bouncy “Cryin’ & Lyin’”, and “You Can Hurt Me”. 
The opening track is the first of two songs penned by Robbie Fulks, who hadn’t broken through as a performer at the time, as his debut album didn’t come out until a year after this recording. “Tears Only Run One Way” has a classic Country feel to it. Certainly a good opening track, and a great choice for the promotional single release. 
“She Took A Lot Of Pills And Died” is a rather blunt tribute to more than one aspiring actress or singer. It’s a catchy number, despite it’s tragic tale, which will stick in your head all day. 
The brothers themselves, who got their first break in an episode of The Partridge Family, back in 1974, wrote “She’s Got That Look In Her Eyes”, a very Everly influenced ballad.
Elsewhere there are covers of Iris Dement’s “Let The Mystery Be” and Buffy Sainte-Marie’s “Piney Wood Hills”.
I found this album to be a very enjoyable listen – albeit dated way back beyond its recording date, but a wonderful appreciation of music of that era. 

CROSBY TYLER sounds quite a character. He is a 30 year veteran of the music business, travelling with his songs across the world. He describes himself as “a folk singer who is the product of a schizophrentic father, abusive stepfather, and in general, a dysfunctional family”, which gives him plenty of scope as a songwriter.
His latest album , “Don’t Call The Law On Me” covers the world of the travelling trucker, biker and all round bad boy. 
At the same time, he’s influenced by the likes of Buck Owens, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Robert Earl Keen and even Shel Silverstein.
The title track opens the album. A light hearted, heartbroken honky tonk number of regret. “The Family I Never Had” is a stand out ballad of life on the road in a musical band, and how the group became his family.  “Stop Being An Ol’Redneck” is a real Country look at life, and another which I really enjoyed. Lovely harmonies, from Kimbra West, really added to the appeal of this track in particular. 
“Peace, Love & Beer” was also a good Country honky tonk listen, especially with Mike Khalil’s steel guitar being so prominent. “Fat Of The Land” is a good mid tempo number, which I enjoyed.
“Born A Bad Boy” speaks for itself. There are several road songs, including “Trucker On The Road” and “18 Wheels Of Steel”, whilst “Bikers, Hippies and Honky Tonk Cowboys”, is a shade more rocky. 
The album closes out with “Us Black Sheep Aint Like The Others”, a real anti-social anthem. 
Crosby Tyler certainly isn’t conventional, but that gives him much more of a landscape to draw his influences from. I did quite enjoy the album.  

No comments:

Post a Comment