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Metro Country CD Review's 2006

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Star Ratings; 10 Excellent, 8 Very Good, 6 Good, 4 Average, 2 Below Average.

PAM TILLIS
RHINESTONED
  SPOTLIGHT ALBUM
Tracks; Something Burning Out, Band In The Window, Train Without A Whistle, Life Has Changed Us Around, Someone somewhere tonight, Down By The Water, Crazy By Myself, Bettin' Money On Love, That Was A Heartache, The Hard Way, Over My Head.

After a five year hiatus, Ms Tillis comes up with a brand new CD, and boy was it worth the wait!!

There's no major label constraint's this time out, allowing this former CMA Female vocalist of the year to record her music as she want's it to be. Her sound is contemporary, but still essentially, COUNTRY. Just as in the mid 80's and 90's when the music changed to "NEW" Country, cohort's Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Reba, Patty Loveless, Lorrie Morgan and Suzy Bogguss, they all still retained that "COUNTRY" music identity. Even Shania Twain and Faith Hill were recording REAL Country music back then.

The first single to be taken from the album, "Band In The Window", is already out and getting plenty of airplay on radio around the world. The song refers to the artist's and bands who still to this day perform in the window boxes along Music Row, in the hope that they might get noticed by a music executive passing by. The song is doing very well in the charts and is a good advert for the rest of the album.

Although a prolific writer herself, Tillis take's 9 of the 11 song's on offer here from top writer's such as; Leslie Satcher, Lisa Brokop, Jon Randall, Matraca Berg and Andrew Gold, only finding room to add a couple of her own, such as the mid-paced, "The Hard Way" with it's acoustic feel, and the rollicking duet with John Anderson, "Life Has Sure Changed Us Around" a song she wrote with Gary Nicholson. This is a great track, with stellar performances from both artists, and I'm sure it will be a major contender for single # 2!

Throughout the album, the songs all have lasting and meaningful lyrics, not as many of today's throwaway hit's tend to be, and the musicianship is second to none!!! I don't know about Rhinestoned, this CD is a PURE gem!!!

M C STAR RATING: **********

KAREN LYNN
 
CHANGES
 
SPOTLIGHT ALBUM
Tracks; We Shouldn't Have Time For Love, The Circle Is Small, When I Close My Eyes, Roses In The Snow, It's Over, There Is A Reason, Changes, Jealous, The Healing Kind, Blue Mountain Rain, It Wasn't Me, Loving Arms, Once More.

I have admired Karen Lynn for quite some time now, with her wonderful, captivating vocals that are equally at home no matter what genré of music she sings. While her previous releases have wandered between Country, Folk and Bluegrass, even touching on pop at times as she strived to find her comfort zone, she seems to have found it with an excellent album of Bluegrass music.

Karen is a fine songwriter but, chose only to include a couple of her own co-writes, alongside an album of mainly covers from top writers like Dusty Owens, Wayland Patten, Ron Block and Gordon Lightfoot.

Whether singing Bluegrass classic's like "Roses In The Snow", visiting country for a truly wonderful version of, "When I Close My Eyes" (better than Kenny Chesney's chart buster) and the Dusty Owens penned and much covered "Once More", or folk/pop for Gordon Lightfoot's "The Circle Is Small", Karen's vibrato infused vocals shine throughout.

Of the two self penned songs, "Blue Mountain Rain"(written with Richard Porteous) sets a blistering pace while "Loving Arms"(written with Heather Field) is only moderately slower. Both very good songs.

Mention must also be made of, the major contribution from, the very talented musician's chosen for the project, who couldn't have been bettered had the album been recorded in Nashville.

A top class album from a world class singer!!!

MC STAR RATING: **********

Website: http://www.karenlynne.com/
E:Mail:
KarenLynne@bigpond.com

LEAVING Tx ANYWHERE ON GOOD ROADS

Tracks: State Of Mental Health, Be My Guide, Father's Son, Masquerade,Whiskey, Hard Luck Story, Drinkin' Again, One More Seven, Lies, Next Of Kin, Winter, For Years.
This Washington DC based outfit have a style that could easily be described as Country, alt.country, country/rock, or even Americana with their hard driving electric guitar rhythm's, soaring pedal steel lick's and Steve Earle - ish vocal's from frontman Chris Patterson, who also wrote, or co-wrote, the quality material found on the album.
From the first bars of the opening track, they command instant attention, with a catchy, electric guitar riff that opens up the hard driving country/rocker, "State Of Mental Health".

Then, as I start to make my way through the album, I find myself making comparisons with Idaho, singer/songwriter Pinto Bennett and his Motel Cowboys, (sadly, now disbanded, they toured the UK club scene extensively, in the early 90s) both in musical and vocal style, none more so than in one of my favourite tracks on the album, the wonderful "Whiskey", a great song that can't help but put a smile on your face.

Whether they're hard rockin' with "Lies" and "Next Of Kin", or playing solid country tunes with "Whiskey" and "Hard Luck Story", all colours of Country music are visited effortlessly, in between.

I predict a bright future for this band of very, talented musician's!! "Anywhere On Good Roads" is a class album that you should definitely have in your collection!!

MC STAR RATING: *********-

MARY CHAPIN CARPENTER
THE CALLING
Tracks: The Calling, We're All Right, Twilight, It Must Have Happened, On And On It Goes, You're Life Story, Houston, Leaving Song, On With The Song, Closer And Closer Apart, Here I Am, Why Shouldn't We, Bright Morning Star.
One of contemporary country's finest singer/songwriter's, Ms Carpenter records in a Nashville studio for only the second time in her career. Hardly a traditional country artist, her music has

always embodied elements of Folk, Rock and Country and apart from the studio location, the musical location is exactly the same here.

From a list of around 20 songs, 13 were selected for inclusion on an album of mainly thought provoking, observation's of life and event's. Hurricane Katrina and the devastation it caused, is remembered well in "Houston", with it's New Orleans, slow-dance rhythm. You can very easily visualize the picture's, shown on tv of the tragedy as you listen. In a rocky vein, "On With The Song" takes a swipe at those who, blindly follow, what others say, we should and shouldn't do instead of taking their own direction, and I can certainly identify with the equally rocky, "It Must Have Happened", as Ms Carpenter reflects on memory loss.

The album leans more towards the folk side of Ms Carpenter's repertoire, than the Country of, probably, her finest album "Come On Come On". But that is her appeal, she can cross many border's, go where her songs lead and reach out to many different listeners. The deep, meaningful lyrics on display here are more for serious, than casual listening, but I have no doubt that this will be another successful album for MCC.

MC STAR RATING; *********-
ALAN TYLER & THE LOST SONS OF LITTLEFIELD
Tracks: Cross Eyed Country, Guns, Little Big Man, Middle Saxon Town, Favourite Child, I'm Never Gonna Sing That Song anymore, Hat In The Road, The Meaning Of Love, Ghost Riders In The Sky, I'm Still Here, Ladder Of Years, Love Her Like A Demon.

Former frontman of U.K band "The Rockingbirds", Alan draws inspiration for the new band name from the hometown of his idol, Waylon Jennings who, also provides musical influence, on listening to, this eponymous album.

The album contains 13 tracks.....12 actual songs, as "Middle Saxon Town" is split in two, with a spoken intro...... the majority coming from Tyler's own pen, and are of a particularly good quality.

What is unusual is that most of the songs, while keeping to the American country/rock vein, are lyrically about UK places and values and in my book, Tyler is to be commended for that!

Tyler's vocals are good, his songwriting is strong, and the musicianship of his backing band is excellent.

Well worth a listen!

MC STAR RATING: *******---

THE WILDERS
THROW DOWN
Tracks: Hawk's Got A Chicken & Flew In The Woods, Honky Tonk Habit, It'll Never Be thru With Us (Until It's Thru With You), Won't You Sometimes Think Of Me, Squirrel Hunters, Belshazzar, Jenny On The Railroad, Together Apart, Blues Come Around, Goat Creek, Drivin' Nails In My Coffin, When I Get To Heaven, When The Levee's Gone, January Waltz, I'm Gonna Find Her - (Bonus Track), How Mountain Girls Can Love - (Bonus Track Recorded Live On KEXP 90.3 FM, Seattle, Washington, Au..., Honky Tonk Habit - (Bonus Trk Recorded Live On KEXP 90.3 FM, Seattle, Washington.

Formed in 1996, the band which consists of Ike Sheldon (lead vocals, guitar), Betse Ellis (fiddle, vocals), Phil Wade (Dobro, mandolin, banjo, vocals), and Nate Gawron (upright bass, vocals), resurrects 1940's and 50's honky-tonk heroes like Hank Williams and Lefty Frizzell. Totally unplugged, they all huddle around a single microphone and when the time comes for a solo, each player moves around as required.

On this, their latest release, they perform their very own original "hillbilly riot" songs and fiddle tunes, mixed in with a decent helping of vintage country, old time, and honky-tonk music. Containing a very generous 17 tracks (14 + 3 bonus), of these 7 are self penned, mixed in with covers from H Williams, Johnny Cash and Ernest Tubb. "Belshazzar" is performed at a slightly faster pace but with a lot more gusto than J.C originally recorded the song, while Ernest Tubb would be proud of the treatment given to his classic, "Drivin' Nails In My Coffin" with it's slowed down verses, changing to uptempo on the chorus'.

There's are also 5 instrumental tunes on here, 3 of these traditional, rearranged and given the Wilders own treatment, while 2 are written by the girl of the band, Betse Ellis.

Bonus tracks include a bluegrass version of Closing up the album are a couple of LIVE tracks to give the listener a feel of the band on stage.

If you like Bluegrass music, you'll love this album from a quartet of excellent, talented musician's and songwriters!!!

MC STAR RATING: *********-
OTHER ALBUM'S BY THE WILDERS

SPRING A LEAK

2001/07

Tracks: Jawbone, Settin' The Woods On Fire, Kansas City Star, Oklahoma Run, too Much Water, Night Train To Memphis, Going Across The Sea, Once More, Old Leather Bonnet With A Hole In The Crown, Hallelujah I'm Ready, Try Doing Right, Kansas City Railroad Blues. Bonus Tracks: Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy, Rabbit Up A Gum Stump, Ida Red.

A good selection of songs and fiddle tunes, both well known and obscure.

MC STAR RATING: ********--

ON THE WINGS OF A DOVE

2001/07

Tracks: The Great Speckled Bird, Are You Washed In The Blood Of The Lamb, Noah Found Grace In The Eyes Of The Lord, When The Stars Begin To Fall, In The Garden, Farther On, That Old Time Religion, Make Room In The Lifeboat, Trials Troubles Tribulations, 'Tis Midnight And On Olives Brow, I'd Rather Be An Old Time Christian/Waiting For The Boatman, The Fourth Man In The Fire, Brighten The Corner Where You Are, On The Wings Of A Dove. Bonus Tracks: There's A Higher Power, Angel Band.

The Wilders go Gospel. I didn't find this one as good as the other two album's, although the quality is still there in the musicianship.

MC STAR RATING: ******----

WEBSITE: http://www.wilderscountry.com/

E MAIL: angie@pressdarlingpr.com