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Metro Country CD Review's

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

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TRACKS; Sunshine, Cowboy, One Last Look At Love, Ask Me No Questions, Angel, Highway 109, Lovin, Thank You, Excuse Me, Mistake, Rodeo Man, Goodbye.

INFO; Born in the UK, this singer/songwriter didn't consider singing until she was 13. Her dad took her to Nashville and whil'st there, she had her first studio session, paying $10 to record "You Were Always On My Mind" at Barbara Mandrell's pay-as-you-go studio, in a Nashville theme park.

Back home, she finished her schooling and then spent the next few years in a local studio, singing backing vocals for visiting bands, in exchange for studio time for her own material. Forming her own band in 1996, the band toured for about a year, until Rachael decided to go it alone and recorded an acoustic EP that sold enough copies to finance a trip back to Nashville. Producer Mark Moffatt was so impressed that he put her straight into Nashville’s legendary Emerald Studios, with Reba McEntire's band, where she recorded six song's..

In September 2004, her debut single, Mistake, was released into the country market. The single shot up to No 17 in the Texas Music Chart, 47 in the Music Row Chart in Nashville, 14 in the MPAK chart and spent Christmas 2004 topping the European CMA chart. Following the single, the full six tracks recorded with Reba McEntire’s band were released as an EP entitled Maverick, and Highway 109 was released as the 2nd single, charting at number 33 in the Texas chart and Number 1 in the British Independent chart.

Winning several UK awards, most notably, the "New Music Award" and "Presenters Award" at the 2005 "UK Country Radio Awards", she was also nominated in the "Female Vocalist of the Year" category, by the "European CMA".

Rachael again returned to Nashville and the Masterfonics Studios, again with Mark Moffatt, to record nine new tracks for a full album, this time enlisting the help of George Marinelli, (Bonnie Raitt, Faith Hill, Dixie Chicks, guitarist), Bruce Bouton (Keith Urban, Shania Twain, Garth Brooks) steel player as well as Reba McEntire’s band. Containing 12 songs, 10 co-penned by Rachael with various other writers, "Anglo Americana" takes in all forms of the genre'. Country, Rock, Americana, Pop, it's all there in these 12 tracks.

VERDICT; Stand out track for me, is undoubtedly, the former Country Chartbusting single, "Mistake". After the many times that I have played this track, it still makes the hairs stand up! With a few minor alteration's and the right promotion, I feel, the track has the potential to make the crossover into the POP charts over here!

Other tracks that stand out, for me, include; "Sunshine", "Cowboy", "One Last Look At Love" and the well placed "Goodbye", while "One Last Look At Love", from the combined pen's of Alex Call/Jon Robbin and Mark Moffatt, is another that I think could do well in the country charts if released as a single.

"Anglo-Americana" is a real breakthrough as far as Female, British, country music is concerned. For many years, women in the main, have been content to roll out the covers, but Rachael is like a breath of fresh air! Right from the first verse of the opening track, you know that she isn't going to be anything like all who have walked the country path before her. With a powerful voice, original material, and ....importantly.... an original style, this English diva is plenty good enough, to rustle more than a few feathers on both sides of the water.

Go get 'em girl!!! Highly Recommended!!!


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TRACKS; Railroad Spikes & Shotgun Shells, Get Started, Crashyertown, Subterranean Homesick Blues, Good Days, Jordan, That's All Right, Highway Song, Nobody's Business, Long Way To Heaven, Fast Train.

INFO; The two voices behind the Believers are Cynthia Frazzini and Craig Aspen. Living in Seattle, Frazzini began performing in rock bands, listening to Metallica and the heavy sounds of Seattle’s grunge explosion. Then she was introduced to Bluegrass Music and from that moment on she was determined to pursue and learn more about the Appalachian style and its influences on American-Folk music.

Aspen was born and raised in New York. With guitar in tow he wrote and sang his way up and down the East Coast, traveled through the mountains of Peru, lived and died in New Orleans before finally landing in the Pacific Northwest.

Frazzini and Aspen were encouraged by a mutual friend to sing together on a solo project that Aspen was recording and within weeks after meeting each other, "The Believers" were born. They began writing and recording songs for their first critically acclaimed album “Row” which they recorded in the living room of producer/drummer Stevie Adamek’s home in Everett, Washington. Respected, Nashville producer, Ray Kennedy heard the album and was suitably immpressed, that one Saturday afternoon the duo unexpectedly got a call from him. Kennedy had long been respected by Frazzini and Aspen, so they talked about maybe, working together on a future project.

When, in their home town of Seattle, they recorded "Crashyertown", they called Ray and asked him to master the new record, with the result that, in September of 2004, the singer/songwriter duo, grabbed their musical instruments and moved to Nashville. In April 2005 the album was released to the public! Cynthia and Craig both play acoustic guitars on the album. Craig also plays harmonica, electric guitar, Dobro, mandolin and steel guitar on the western swing styled “Get Started”. The other musician's featured on the album are their band mates: Dan Tyack, on pedal steel; producer Steve Adamek on drums & organ; and Garey Shelton on bass. Guest appearances are made by: Nova Devonie on accordion (Ranch Romance) and Danny Barnes, (Bad Livers) world renowned banjo picker, who also debuts on tuba.

VERDICT; The fade-in intro and driving rhythm of the wonderful, "Railroad Spikes & Shotgun Shells", sets the stage, for me to sit back in presentiment of what other gems this intrepid duo might have to offer. Almost as if they know that I am a sucker for a good country shuffle, they have me well on their side, as a crying pedal steel opens "Get Started", a great little song that is guaranteed to have your feet tapping along! The lock goes on the door as I look forward to the rest of this 11 track album, uninterupted!!

10 of the songs on here are penned by the duo while the other is a cover of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues", which I felt suffered from having too much going on. The following ballad "Good Days", sounds like it could also have come from Dylan's pen, with it's harmonica intro, while "That's Alright" has shades of Steve Earle.

Overdriven guitar introduces the grungy and very 60's sounding "Jordan". I loved the Hammond organ on this one! There also some good ballad's on here too as they state that their love is "Nobody's Business" while the closing "Fast Train" is nothing like, as it is taken at a snails pace and runs for an overly long 6min 12secs. Favourite's on here include afore mentioned shuffle, "Get Started", the opening "Railroads & Spikes", the Banjo driven, 'Smokey & The Bandit' style, and aptly named, "Highway Song". Roll that top back Great!! While the 12 string 'Ricky' sounds great on "Long Way To Heaven" and the title track, "Crashyertown".

Craig and Cynthia's voices complement each other very well, as they mix country with rock and folk influence, dating back to the sixties. I really like this album, so much so that, the first time I played it, I hit the replay button twice!! If you tire of hearing the same old 'safe' sounds coming out of Nashville, then take a listen to this emerging duo who are destined for big things!! Recommended listening!!

E:MAIL; Rob Ellen