GAIL DAVIES - THE SONGWRITER SESSIONS - LITTLE CHICKADEE RECORDS
This collection of songs, all written by Gail (with 7 co-writes) includes her better known songs, plus some that should be and some that probably will be. “Bucket to the South” “Someone is Looking For Someone Like You” and “”Soft Spoken Man were the songs that introduced me to Gail's music while “Hometown Gossip” “Where does love come from” “Love ain't Easy” “I'm Hungry I'm Tired” “Tell me why” “The Game” and “Pretty Words” (all on Volume 1), held my attention and the radio listeners over the years. On Volume 2 there's more of the same, quality songs, great arrangements and that wonderful voice on “It's no wonder I feel blue” “What can I say” “ Not a day goes by” “ The other side of Love” “ Love is living around us” “ Careless Love” and 16 more tracks making 45 songs in total . Gail writes great songs with full emotion throughout, each song is a personal thing to her and are mainly taken from her exciting and varied life. There's broken hearts and magic moments in many of the songs and you can hear the smile in the happy songs and see the tears in others. Her haunting voice cuts across the recordings giving them a unique vocal sound that has not diminished over the years. This collection includes earlier recordings, and some are recent new recordings but its hard to tell the difference, due to the fact that Gail has produced this set as well as most, if not all of the earlier recordings. The well known chart hits like Singing the Blues and I'll be There are not included but when you write songs like these yourself, you don't need the others. The list of musicians and vocalist would fill any recordings artistes wish list and the credits read like a who's who down the years. But this is all about the songs and the voice and Gail Davies sings like a dream and writes like emotion is exclusive to her. You will probably have to visit her web site www.gaildavies.com to get a copy unless you catch her live show on her frequent UK visits.
OTHER SONGS . Volume One : With a friend like you-A love that could last-Heat it up-You need someone like me-Better love next time-With a boy like you-I've had enough-It's just a matter of time- Tell me why-Never cross that line-Remembering how it was-Waiting here for you-Reaching out for him. Volume Two : Ready to fall in love again-Wedding invitation-Burning in hell for you-I need my baby back-He comes to me for the answers-In the worst way-I don't know-Boys like you - Just to satisfy you - Grandma's song - Your mamma works so hard- Holding out for you-Lean on you-Sorry that you're leavin'-Drifting farther away-I will rise and shine again.
JERRY REED - JERRY REED LIVE STILL! - R 2 K RECORDS CDR2K2005
Jerry Reed returns to prominence and captivated a live audience in Kansas last year featuring 10 songs and anecdotes taken from that live show. From the opening notes of his hits “Guitar Man” to the very last note played on the reprise of “East Bound And Down” there's no mistaking the unique guitar style and vocal gymnastics that gave us “Jerry Reed the Hit-maker” during the 60's, 70's & 80's. The race is on as he rips through more of his smash hits "When You're Hot You're Hot"; "She Got The Goldmine (I Got The Shaft)"; "Amos Moses"; "Thing Called Love"; "Lord Mr. Ford" and "Jerry's Breakdown Revisited". His own gut-string and electric guitars are prominent, and his long-time band members join him. They include Bobby Lovett on gut-string & electric guitars & 5 string banjo, Mark Thornton on electric guitars & gut-string , John Riffe drums and vocals, Ms. Priss keyboards and rhythm guitar, Mike Bush on bass, Jerry Roe percussion and Hargus "Pig" Robbins keyboards and piano. This is his first live album and he adds 2 new songs to the 8 hits, a fun song called “Father Time and Gravity” (his latest single hit) and “A Brand New Me” which adds a down-home-country-church-gospel-feel popularised by the Statler Bros (great track).This is an outstanding collection and a sample of Jerry Reed at his best, in front of an audience. What a wonderful album to release after 51 years on the road and in the studio and a timely reminder to a younger generation of what they missed with Jerry Reed.
CHARLIE DANIELS - SONGS FROM THE LONGLEAF PINES - BLUEHAT RECORDS/KOCH RECORDS - KOC-CD-9823
Charlie Daniels returns to his bluegrass roots with a 13 song collection of country gospel songs recorded with bluegrass musicians. The GrooveGrass Boyz is the name given to the collective of musicians, Ronnie & Rob McCoury on mandolin and banjo, Jason Carter on fiddle, Michael Bub on bass, Andy Hall on dobro, Tim May on guitar and Scott Rouse Guitar, Kit & Harmonica . They are joined on some tracks by Charlie on guitar & fiddle, Earl Scruggs on banjo and Chris Thile on mandolin. The vocals include guests Mac Wiseman, Ricky Skaggs, The Whites,Cyndi Wheeler and Scott Rouse. The selection includes 2 recitations, (The 91 st Psalm and the 23 rd Psalm) and one instrumental “I'll Fly Away”.There's no mistaking the passion Charlie has for the music whether it's country with a rocky edge (as we know and love him) or country with the soulful feel of this content, bluegrass from the bottom up. Mac shares the vocal on 5 songs and sings backup on one other, while Ricky Skaggs guests on “Preachin, Prayin Singing”. Cyndi Wheeler guests on “Softly & Tenderly” The Whites add their unique vocals on the background on 3 songs and Scott Rouse sings backup on 5 songs while Earl Scruggs adds voice on one and his banjo on 2 more. It's a lovely collection of old time country gospel songs given a fresh musical backing and slightly new arrangements, all produced, engineered and mixed by Scott Rouse. Further details are available from the following web pages:-www.bluehatrecords.com Â orÂ www.charliedaniels.com Â orÂ www.kochrecords.com
OTHER SONGS:- Walking in Jerusalem-I've found a hiding place-I'm working on a building-Keep on the sunnyside-The old account-How great Thou art-What would you give (in exchange for your soul) -The old crossroads.
RICKY SKAGGS & KENTUCKY THUNDER - BRAND NEW STRINGS - SKAGGS FAMILY RECORDS
Back in the early 80's Country music was given a fresh face and sound by Ricky Skaggs and ever since, every time there is a new movement within the industry, Ricky seems to be in the forefront. Ricky founded Skaggs Family Records in 1996 and set about recording with a freedom he desires himself and needs to remain creative and at the forefront of his genre. This is Ricky and his current Kentucky Thunder line-up with additional guests like daughter Molly on dulcimer and wife Sharon on vocal. This 13 track Cd is a blend of tradition and today, with old and contemporary songs from old and contemporary writers. The traditional bluegrass sound is not forgotten but enhanced. The old songs are given a new lease of life and alongside the newer songs its hard to tell the difference. Guy Clark, Harley Allan, Keith Sewell, Shawn Camp and Shawn Lane lead the modern songwriters while Bill Monroe and Doug Kershaw hold tradition and Ricky adds to both. Some of the songs have a Christian even Gospel content and could stand alongside most country Gospel albums. There are 4 instrumentals were the musicians shine and the lack of a drum kit is hardly noticeable. “Spread a Little Love Around” “Love does it Every time” “ and “My Father's Son” are outstanding songs and my favourites on this great collection. This was released last year and is now an award winning album so look for your own copy and enjoy the man and his music today, its as fresh as a set of “ brand new strings ”. More details on www.skaggsfamilyrecords.com
OTHER TRACKS:- Sally Jo-Sis Draper-I Corinthians 1:18-(inst)-Enjoy the ride-Lonesome and dry as a bone-Brand new strings-Appalachian Joy (inst)-If I had it all again to do-Why did I wait so long-Monroe Dancing (inst).
CHELY WRIGHT - THE METROPOLITAN HOTEL - DUALTONE8030-2012-002
Chely Wright was named the 1994 Best New Female Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music, had 4 top 20 hits including the No1 “Single White Female” and that album was certified Gold. She recorded with Polydor and MCA but quit Nashville some years ago, sadly disillusioned with the scene there. After a stay at the Metropolitan Hotel in London with some friends and discussing the state of the music scene she decided to return to the one thing that brought into the music business, the song. She set about writing the contents of this CD aptly named after the place where it all started. She writes 5 songs, and co-writes another 3 and she produces 5 songs herself and co-produces 6 with Jeff Huskins and one with Stephony Smith who also co-writes “Wheels”. The sad songs include “The River” a tale of the loss of 2 friends by drowning ( features Vince Gill on haunting backup vocals) and “Between a Mother and a Child” is one of the most personal songs I've ever heard a songwriter sing about. “Wheels” is another broken heart about to crash, while “What if I can't say no again” is the triangle from a different aspect, and the “Back of the Bottom Drawer “ holds her past. This is what you get when a songwriter opens up her heart on record and writes some great personal songs. I did feel that the Chuck Berry song “C'est la Vie (You Never Can Tell) although well sung etc was a little out of context in this otherwise great conceptual album. I also loved “The Bumper of my S.U.V”. Great musicians, great arrangements, classy vocals from a stunning singer and the opening track “It's The Song” written by Bonnie Baker & Katrina Elam could have been written by the singer. Check out www.chely.com and www.dualtone.com for more details.
OTHER SONGS :-I got him ready for you-Just the way we do it-Your shirt-Southside of lonesome.
BUTCH MARTIN - COME RIDE THE WAGON - B.S.W. RECORDS BSW 2412
Back in the February issue I reviewed Butch's CD WHITTLER'S CORNER (BSW 4320) and that could have been titled Volume 1 and this Volume 2. If you liked Whittler's Corner then this is right up your street. Another 11 songs, C&W with a distinct cowboy feel covering the old, traditional, recent and the new. Jimmy Driftwood's “Tennessee Stud” , Tim Spencer's “The Everlasting Hills of Oklahoma” and Kent Lewis's “Song of Wyoming” get an outing here along with the traditional “Colorado Trail”. Nice to hear Red Stegall's “The Wagon Tongue” once again, great story song. David MacKechnie adds 3 songs as co- writes with David Sexton, Kim Vassey, Tony Hanson & James Moore. “Little Bear Station” by Jefferson Glass, “ Mojave” from Ken Graydon and “Goodbye to Montana” written by Alex Harvey & Tim Rouillier make up the 11 songs that run for 36 minutes. Lovely songs set in a traditional backing of fiddle, acoustic guitars, mandolin, dobro and bass, (unfortunately the musicians are not listed on this release but I expect they are the same as on his last CD). Butch's voice is mature and sincere and there's a narration or 2 on some of the verses included here. Not a lot left that I can add except if you like the country-cowboy songs then this is a must to join the previous CD and hopefully there will be another to pass our way soon. Most enjoyable country fare from Butch. Check out the web site at www.bsw-records.com for more details.
ANN-MARITA - ANN-MARITA GARSED RECORDS
Norwegian born and now an Australian resident, Ann - Marita is a new name to country in Europe with the release of this 9 track self-titled Cd which runs for 37 minutes. She has her own style of country, formed as she grew up listening to her parents record collection of Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, and Kenny Rogers, with influences from other musical styles soft rock, blues, and Americana music which have led her to where she's at today. She describes this debut Cd as being about “growing up, and having to do it a little faster than expected. It's about heartbreak, survival and finding your place in the world. When someone tells her that they were moved by one of her songs, she knows that she's hit the mark”. She writes all the songs and co-produces with husband / musician Brett Garsed, who also plays electric and acoustic guitars, resonator, mandolin and adds backup vocals. Not traditional country she doesn't sing about cowboy hats, rodeos, or bars but takes a more personal approach to her music, singing about heartache, regrets, and living life. From the catchy country-pop about the "Class of '93" to the more haunting "Face in the Crowd" about love gone bad to the sultry "Sounds Good to Me", and the best ballad on the Cd “You said forever” she covers it all, and her strong songs are held together by good musicians and production all out of the top drawer. If you are looking for something new, fresh, soft country rock with great songs seek this won't be in your local shop so try www.annmarita.com.You won't be disappointed, like the last song on the CD, “Sounds good to me”. She recently topped the Australia International Country Music Chart and was also No. 20 on the Worldwide Mainstream Most Played Major & Indie Artists Chart.
OTHER SONGS ;- Alive & kickin-(No slowing)The hands of time-The ex-boyfriend song-That girl-More than meets the eye- You Said Forever.
MAGGIE AUSTIN - TIME & AGAIN - GULFWING RECORDS
Here is a 6 track CD from a new name that came to attention via the Country Hot Disc back in January this year . Maggie Austin's blend of traditional country themes and contemporary country delivery have made her an innovative and ground breaking artist. Her music is enjoying worldwide exposure, and she is generating an exceptional buzz on an international scale with this demo Cd, “Time and Again” .She is an exciting artist whose vocals have won critical acclaim from artists and music executives. 5 of the six song are co-writes with the same songwriter and she does have a way with words, composing good songs. Her great cover version of Faith Hill's hit “Breathe” makes up the 6th song, the Cd running for 20 mins approx. Musicians and production details are not included on this 2002 Florida recorded CD. On the strength of this demo outing I would expect Maggie to record and release a full CD anytime soon as I'm sure her future as a singer-songwriter-performer is well assured. Maggie recently became a sponsor of Cell Phones For Soldiers, a program helping soldiers call home to their families from overseas. Maggie will donate $1 from every “Time & Again” CD sold from CDBaby www.cdbaby.com/cd/maggieaustin or check out her web pages on www.maggieaustin.com
OTHER SONGS :- I still need-Touchdown-Kiss me-Taking time.
SHERIFF JOHNNY DENIS & THE RANCHERS - COPPER CANYON - BRITISH ARCHIVE OF COUNTRY MUSIC - BACM CD D 105.
In 1943 Johnny Denis began his recording career with Decca Records backed by his Novelty Quartet and I guess many will know his first recorded songs Pedro The Fisherman, Gene Autry's classic Be Honest With Me, the popular cowboy song Ragtime Cowboy Joe, and Al Dexter's Pistol Packin' Mama. In the next three years he recorded 16 songs before changing his format to his "Sextet". He then toured Germany and returned for a 14-week summer season at theatres throughout the UK. 1947. His records were issued in America, where they billed him as Sheriff Johnny Denis and his Ranchers. They consisted of Denis on guitar; Haw and Span, guitar and vocal; Desmond Maloney, clarinet and tenor sax; Pete Huggett, bass; Ivor Raymond, piano and electric accordion; Sam Prager on drums; as well as vocal duets from Netta Rogers (1950), Diane Denis (1943) and a girl trio, The Cactus Kids, who also appeared in West End clubs around 1949. Welsh duo Miki & Griff started their career with Denis before joining Lonnie Donegan. Just about every theatre in the British Isles had booked Denis between 1946 and 1953. In 1952 he recorded in Ireland for Radio Eireann where Val Doonican also appeared on the same shows. The recordings here come from 1943 through to 1953 when he recorded “No Help Wanted” and “Kawliga” popular then. As well as the above named some other well known songs included are “Yellow Rose of Texas“, “Kentucky Waltz”' and “Three wheels on my wagon”. There's 27 songs over 73 minutes, with the occasional whistle and yodel added to a most pleasant voice which is never stretched or strained. Pure nostalgia from a pioneer of what we call the “British Country Music Scene” today. Strange that a person who was so popular, just faded away. Hardly anyone today even remembers his name let alone his singing. Nothing has been heard of Johnny since 1953, but if anyone has more information on him whatsoever BACM would love to hear from you. You can order direct by telephone at 01304 205000 for their catalogue or check www.bacm.users.btopenworld.com for more of the same.
OTHER TRACKS :- Mister & Mississippi-Satins & Lace-Old pardner-Copper canyon-A Gay ranchero-Wait for the wagon-Down in the dreamy valley-Featherhead-You‘re gonna be sorry-Pony Express-Gaucho Serenade-Going to the barn dance tonight-Down where the rainbow ends-Somebody stole my horse and wagon-Old square dance is back again-We're happy right here-Don't eat biscuits in bed-River of Gold-Mountain Laurel-Don't trade your love for gold-Quicksilver.
JIMMIE REVARD & HIS OKLAHOMA PLAYBOYS - NAUGHTY NAUGHTY - BRITISH ARCHIVE OF COUNTRY MUSIC - BACM CD D 100.
This is another fine collection of 1930's western swing featuring some of the top musicians from that period. Never a big name in their era the band saw many changes in their line-up as they moved from Oklahoma through Kansas and Texas in search of elusive fame & fortune. They recorded between 1936 and 1940 featuring different vocalists and band members, (mainly the songwriters sang their own songs or so it appears). Jimmie writes 7 songs, Joe Malloy 4, Adolph Hofner 4 more ( one with Joe), Leo Seago 2 songs, Curly Williams 2 more, Cotton Cooper and Chet Carnes one each, making 24 titles in all ( including 3 instrumentals).They toured with bass, fiddle piano, guitars, steel guitar and banjo, later adding drums and clarinet for some sessions, performing as a 6 or even an 8 piece at times. All the tracks were recorded in San Antonio Texas except one 4 song session recorded in Dallas in 1940. Its lovely to listen to the music from that period to hear how it sounded and to find that some of the song survived to be re-recorded over the years . Check www.bacm.users.btopenworld.com for this and their catalogue or you can order direct by telephone at 01304 205000.
TRACKS:- A bundle of old Southern sunshine-Come up and see me some day-Don't waste your tears over me little girl- I'll take her back-I'm waiting Mabel-It's all so sweet - Under the moon - Smiles - My Ozark mountain home-There's a picture in my heart-Gee! but it's great walking back home-Just a good time gal-You're as pretty as a picture-Playboy's Breakdown-Am I Blue-You're mean to me-Tulsa Waltz-Naughty Naughty-Fox and the hounds-Let me live and love you-Old waterfall-Cats are bad luck-Hill Billy swing.
RYAN HOLLADAY - NEW KID IN TOWN - SKAGGS FAMILY RECORDS
First off let me clarify something, when I received this Cd is was from Music Valley Records but within a few days I discovered that the Cd had changed labels, as had the artiste, now signed to Skaggs Family Records who have now issued the CD on their label. Not only the New Kid In Town but the hottest new ticket in Bluegrass I'd say after hearing this Cd, its AWESOME…and I've never said that about a CD I've reviewed. Ryan Holladay has accomplished more in his brief twelve years, than most musicians accomplish in a lifetime. His first Grand Ole Opry performance was aged 5 and he's been back over a dozen times since. He is credited with being the youngest performer on The Grand Ole Opry. Ryan and his band made their Opry debut in early May 05. His previous 2 CD's include guest appearances by Earl Scruggs, Mike Snider and Ronnie Mc Coury. Tom T. and Dixie Hall produced and wrote songs for Ryan's "Old Soul" CD including the title song. He plays banjo, mandolin, guitar, and dobro and sings lead and harmony vocal. "Ryan has an exceptional ear and an almost eerie grasp on every aspect of bluegrass music." says Chris Thile-Nickel Creek while Ricky Skaggs said before he signed him “…I'm truly amazed. He just keeps getting better. He truly has a special gift…”. OK so lets talk about the CD. 12 tracks, 40 minutes long, 5 outstanding instrumental tracks and 7 vocal tracks. The musicians are The Ryan Holladay Band which consists of Ryan Holladay - banjo, mandolin, guitar / Mark Holladay on Guitar / Mike Holladay on bass and Tyler Andal - Fiddle with additional guests Jason Carter on Fiddle, Gretchen Priest-May on violin, Chris Joslin on dobro and David "Doc" Holladay on guitars, acoustic and gut -string , bass, cello, percussion and he also produces the CD. All the Holladays sing (except Doc) and that adds variety to the album. The choice of material is great including traditional pieces like “Boston Boy” and “There is a God” (with voices only), newer pieces like the Mike Ward Dierks Bentley song “Midnight Radio” and the Eagles' “New Kid in Town” . This is all about musicianship talent, and the future of bluegrass in young hands.
OTHER TRACKS :- When It Rains - My Caroline in Carolina - Shadow Ridge - Kaymoor Mine - The Road to Donnelaith - Blackjack - Hurry Sundown - 99 Years (And One Dark Day).
DARREN BUSBY - SURE LOVE - MJ RECORDS MJMDB-0501
Darren follows up his award winning album “You Can't Walk This Road Alone” with this 12 track CD using the same musicians ( apart from a change of steel guitarist), production, recording studio and team. So why change the system when your winning and I agreed. The new songs are supplied by Wayne Golden who writes 5. “Remind Me” is a mid-paced love song, “There'll Always be You” is a love ballad delivered with great sincerity, “When you Waltz in Here” is a slow waltz-tempo broken hearted ballad, “That's the Thing with Memories” is another broken love affair slow love ballad. “I know a Heartache” is a great shuffle paced dance tune,a good song that would make a great single. In fact all the new songs are well written and well performed. The remaining 7 are all covers, but some great songs never the less. The selection opens with Hal Ketchum's “Sure Love“, and then Billy Dean's “If I could Find The Heart to Love again”, while “Lay Down Beside Me” (Don Williams) gets a revival, as does Harlan Howard's “Gone Gone Gone” which lifts the album and its rounded off by “In this Life” which Darren does it justice too. Right in the middle of the Cd at track 6 & 7 are “The Definition of Love “ and “Just Cause I'm in Love with you”, two great radio friendly songs that would grace any modern radio programme. Wayne also produces as well as playing all guitars and sings backup vocal along with Maria Futter. John Permenter guests on fiddle while Scott Newstead plays keyboards, and Jimmy Martin steel guitar. Recorded at Oasis Studio in Kings Lynn it's engineered by Mervyn J. Futter who also does the artwork (another new talent discovered?).Overall another quality country Cd for your collection. It's available from Darren at his gigs or on the internet at www.mjmusicshop.co.uk where you can buy most British Country releases on Cd nowadays.
RED CANYON - AS PROMISED…REDC01
Popular singer Red Canyon has finally recorded a CD for his many fans on the Scottish Country circuit.17 songs over 62 minutes and this will surely be snapped up by his followers. Apart from one self written song “The Search”, all the songs are covers but I'm delighted to say they are not your usual done to death selection. Pleasant vocals over keyboards, electric and acoustic guitars, steel, dobro, bass and drums makes for easy listening country mostly at a relaxed pace. “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground” opens the selection and the story songs are the main ingredients with “The Box” “The Search” “ Wayfarin' Stranger” “Lonesome Fugitive” “Della & the Dealer” “Fox on the run” “City of New Orleans” “Evangelina” “Out Among the Stars” “Busted” and “Carmen” (both at a quicker pace that usual) to the fore. Some nice pickin from the musos but in the main the arrangements follow the originals and remain true. (The songwriters & publishing details are missing so Djs will probably shy away from airplay, which is a pity, as it hold some nice radio friendly songs not heard too often).Place this one among the country & western section in your collection. It is available from Red at his gigs or you could call 07949 657 929 for details and price.
OTHER SONGS:-I wonder where I'll find you at tonight-Yellow Moon-It's me you're not talking too-I've done it all-Oscar.
DEBBIE NUNN - ALWAYS IN MY HEART - AMBITIOUS RECORDS
Here's a new name that debuted on the Country Hot Disc in their April Disc and the 1 st single from this CD “What A Woman Wants” reached No 27 on the main chart and No 4 on the British Independent Chart. It's been a busy start to the year for Debbie with her unique country-pop sound starting to hit the radio airwaves, it appears that success is just around the corner for this talented singer from Milton Keynes. She co-writes all 11 songs with Spencer Jaye, who also plays acoustic guitar, produces, mixes, engineers and sings backup . The musicians include Bob Francis Dole on drums, Joseph Scott on bass, Rob Bond pedal-steel guitar, Max Milligan plays electric guitar & acoustic guitar, Kevin White plays electric guitar. Other backing vocals from Kevin White, Phil Mitchell and Elliott Frisby. It's a great blend of light pop with soft rock and modern country, with a closeness to the Nashville Scene and the opening song and title track sets the pace. Good country love songs, well sung, good production, fine musicianship and lovely presentation makes for another quality album from a newcomer to the British Country Scene. I'm sure Debbie will have a future with more than just country music as this album is certainly aimed at the broader market and quite rightly too. It should be available in record stores but their web pages are at www.ambitiousrecordsuk.co.uk
SONGS ;- Always In My Heart - Perfect Kiss -Be a Better Man -What a Woman Wants -Born To Love You -Nights In Paradise -Gimme Love -Forever & Always -Wish -Roll with the Punches - Always In My Heart (dance mix)