Time to browse through another selection of new releases
ISLA GRANT...A DREAM COME TRUE...ROSETTE RECORDS
Following the successes Isla's had over the last three years in Ireland with her releases there, CMR have now licensed her albums to the recently formed Rosette Records for release in mainland UK. Here's the first on 3 new releases, her most recent recording, now double platinum in Ireland and already a top ten hit album there. 14 songs in all from Isla's pen running for over 51 minutes makes for value, but content is the most important feature. Once again it's recorded in Greenfield Studios in Galway, Ireland, with the same production team and musicians as on her other albums. Having found the formula for success there, why change it. The opening track is a lovely Irish ballad about the 'Circle Of Gold', while the tempo changes for the title track 'It's A Dream Come True'. More love songs follow with 'You're Always There For Me' and the catchy waltz 'Will You Love Me'. The folk song 'Island Of Memories opens with the time whistle, and I can see Isla closing her stage show with 'We'll Meet Again My Friends' and I'm sure other artistes will adopt this song for the same reasons. More love songs follow with 'Keeper Of My Heart', 'I Miss The Biggest Part Of Me' and 'My World Revolves Around You'. 'Within My Fathers Arms' is another family oriented song, while 'Spending Time With Friends' also needs no explanation. The folksy 'This Wonderful Land' could apply to either Scotland or Ireland, while 'Fiddle On The Wall' is again one for the family and I loved the tempo change. Isla closes with another gospel song 'Precious Lord'. Overall I have to say if you liked her other albums you'll like this one too, and like the others, I have to say here's another OUTSTANDING CD from Isla Grant. (AND THERE'S MORE MISSUS).

ISLA GRANT...CLASSIC DOUBLES...ROSETTE RECORDS
This is a double CD and a straight re-issue of 'ONLY YESTERDAY' from 1999 plus 'MOTHER' from 2001, both in one package. 14 songs on CD1 and 15 on CD 2. Isla has written all the songs and there's more than a hint of folk music included. Lovely arrangements throughout and full marks to all the musicians who play on both CDs. Isla's voice has that lovely Scots/Irish lilt to it that makes the crossing from country to folk and back believable and with great ease.
CD 1 opens with Isla sharing 'Partners In Rhyme' with Johnny McEvoy in a lovely duet. He also sings harmony on the other songs when called upon. 'Will You Walk With Me' is a catchy bouncy country gospel song. 'Only Yesterday' a beautiful ballad, 'Love Me Tonight' is country with that Irish quick step sound, while 'Like You Always Could Do' is an Irish waltz tempo with dobro and mandolin. Then there's 'A Single Yellow Rose' and 'What's A Girl To Do' both country heartbreakers. 'Over The Years' is a travelling song, and the CD closes with another lovely country gospel song 'He's There For Me'. CD 2 was reviewed back in the Aug/Sep issue and I'll quote from that review.."this could be called Isla Grant's greatest hits".."newly recorded in Co. Galway with the cream of Irish musicians giving their all".."Isla has the gift of telling a story in song"...I summed it all up with the word OUTSTANDING and I'll stick by that, as it now applies to both CDs. Songs include Listen to the Children/Mother/Mother's Chair/Cottage In The Country/There's Nothing New I'm Missing You/Life's Storybook Cover/Til The Day That He Met You and 8 others.
ORIGINAL LOUISIANNA HAYRIDE ARCHIVES...CLASSIC GOSPEL
RADIO SUNDOWN/TKO MAGNUM RECORDS

Another collectors item for you. It's the next in the series of radio cuts from the famed Loiusianna Hayride between 1946 and 1969. This one is a selection of country gospel songs from various artistes. 20 tracks from Eddie Arnold, Roy Acuff, George Jones, T. Texas Tyler, Red Foley, The Louvin Bros, Cowboy Copas, Johnny & Jack & Kitty Wells, The Deep South Quartet, 2 songs from the Plainsmen Quartet and 4 from the Jordanaires. The songs include popular classics like 'The Family Bible', 'He'll Understand', 'I Saw The Light', 'He Lifted Me', 'Deck Of Cards', 'What A Friend', 'He's Got The Whole World' and 'Peace in The Valley' rounds out the 50 minute CD. Interesting to note that Mallie Ann and Rose Maddox are the only female vocalists on the CD, apart from Kitty Wells singing with Johnny and Jack. This is a good collection of what we now call 'vintage' country, and it's still very enjoyable.

PATRICK FEENEY...I'LL FLY AWAY...GIG CD
This is a 4 track CD well presented and well produced. It features John Flatley playing keyboards, rhyth & bass guitars and all programming. Electric guitar is from Michael Buckton. John co-produces with Ronan Courell who also engineers the recording. It's a first time release from Partick Feeney. The title track 'I'll Fly Away' and the 'Old Rugged Cross' are the two middle songs with 'Will You Love Me' as the opener in waltz tempo and 'The Next Time We're In Town' as a closing quick step. Patrrick's voice is rather sharp to my ear and his diction at times a little unclear.
Having said that, I can see no other reason why this should not appeal to the Irish-Country lover, more than to the country music fan. No song details available although there are 2 blank pages in the sleeve, so I see no reason why the songwriters would not receive their due credit. It's available from 0116 212 2353 and he will be appearing at the Pontins Irish Festival in Southport on 31st July.

O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?...Soundtrack from the motion picture ...UNIVERSAL RECORDS
How do you review the Country Album of the year, taken from the biggest motion picture success of recent years, and probably one of Country's biggest selling albums in years? It's also a 5 times award winner at the recent Grammy Awards, including Album of the Year there too. You've probably heard some of the music already on radio because this is certainly radio friendly. The variety of styles and sounds keeps your interest all the way through, but I have to say that 4 versions of the one song (the award winning "I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow") on the same CD is not one of their better ideas. The tracks range from solo accapella to full band, from voice and guitar recorded 'live' on the movie set to great studio recordings. The Whites singing "Keep On The Sunny Sie", Gillian Welch-Alison Krauss singing "I'll Fly Away", Emmy Lou Harris with Gillian and Alison on "Don't Leave Nothing But The Baby" and the Cox Family with "I Am Weary" are all great tracks with great harmonies. There are 19 tracks and it runs for over 60 minutes. Much has been made about the CDs success and the return to old timey/bluegrass/country music, but one has to bear in mind that "one swallow does not a summer make". While there may be a rush to record in the same vein, I doubt if many will have the success that this album has had...and that success is well deserved.

DUANE MICHAELS...LITTLE BIT OF LOVE...TOP NOTCH RECORDS
After 11 years on the road Duane finally rea lised his ambition and life long dream to become a recording artiste. Here're 10 songs recorded in the comfortable setting of a Nashville studio. Tom Pick as engineer, producer Tommy Casassa and 7 musicians all giving of their best to make it all a success. Lead guitar from Greg Galbraith, fiddle from Rob Hajacos, Mike Doucette plays steel and rhythm guitars, Mike Leech on bass, Terry Feller on drums and Mike Schrimpf on piano and B3 Organ. Hank Singer plays fiddle on 2 songs. Duane co-writes 2 songs with Terry Heban who also writes one song himself. Producer Tommy co-writes 2 songs and other songs are from Cindy Walker, Early Bud Lee, Steve McCorvey and others. He rounds off the album with Paul Anka's 'Put Your Head On My Shoulder', and vocally Duane reminds me of Narvel Felts at times. Overall a very pleasant listen. His web site is www.duanemichaels.com

FREDDY LOVVORN...TOWN OF FEWER PEOPLE.. SIDEWINDER RECORDS.
Freddy first came to the notice of the UK and European audiences with 2 singles on the EMS Euro Chart (plus a duet with Paul Mateki called 'Best Friends', which also charted). Now the CD is available with 10 songs running for 32 minutes. It's solid country with John Hughley on pedal steel guitar, Jim Unger and Pat Atula on fiddles, Bill Gordy on bass. Mike Headrick guests on mandolin on one song. This was recorded at different studios with different engineers, but the sound stays remarkably unchanged. Good songs well sung and I thought he sings the ballads 'As Long As I'm Dreaming' and 'Take That Smile From Your Face' particularly well, loved the swing version of 'Crazy Arms' and 'I'll Take The Fall'.
Freddy is at www.sidewinderrecords.com.

TIM HOLCOMB...COWBOY ON THE RUN...UNION COWBOY RECORDS
Singer-songwriter Tim comes up with a lovely laid back country album in the true sense of the word country. Recorded at Padernales Studio in Spicewood, Texas, it fetures an eight piece set of session players including the usual set of drums, piano, steel and fiddle. Kimmie Rhodes is added as backup vocalist on some of the songs along with Kira Small and Layton De Penning. Tim writes 7 of the 10 songs, Bristol Pete writes 2 more, 'Along For The Ride' and 'Another Single Day', and then he covers the Buck Owen-Red Simpson song 'Gonna Have Love' to make up the 10 songs. It runs for nearly 35 minutes. It's a nice mixture of ballads mainly with the occasional Texas Shuffle and Texas Swing tune included. Produced by Joe Gracey, he also engineered the sessions. The overall sound is pleasant listening with great runs on fiddle and steel at times. The vocal is crystal clear and very enjoyable. Should do well with a very radio friendly CD.

KIM NOVAS...BLUE SKIES OVER GEORGIA...UNIVERSAL SOUNDRECORDS
"Former beauty queen/model and actress turns country singer" makes a great headline. Kim is all that and more having lived and worked in Nashville for seven years as a demo singer, background vocalist and commercials writer and performer. She had 3 songs released some years ago as singles, and this is the follow up album of 12 songs. The opening track and CD title (written by Mark Mosely/Tom Hamilton) is a catchy country song, while 'Mama's Cedar Chest' with its dobro opening is a memory based family story. She does the Walter Haynes classic ballad 'Days That End In Y' and the Mark Mosley-Marie Lester Ballad 'Everybody's Talking' full justice. Loved the change of pace with 'How Are You' and 'Big Bad Wolf'. Great playing from the musicians who vary with the different sessions and producers, but the overall sound is great. It may have been a long awaited CD, but well worth the wait.
GEORGE LEE Jr & The Crazed Cowboys...IT FEELS GOOD TO BE A COWBOY! CRAZED COWBOY RECORDS.23 tracks running for 73 minutes is certainly value for money nowadays, and I suppose you can get this CD from their website www.crazedcowboys.com. Tom Lee contributes 9 songs himself, 4 more with Chris Webb and another 3 with Stuart Heck. There's one from Steve Kaspar and 6 covers. The band is a basic four piece playing fiddle, lead and rhythm guitars, organ, drums, bass piano and other instruments between them. There're 2 lead vocalists and one harmony singer between them. It takes clever and talented musicians to pull of the "We're Playing For Fun" trick, and this band have it in abundance. It's well produced, the vocals are good, the songs all stand on their own as well written, and it's a fun CD. The mixture of songs cover all the tempos and styles you can think of (with the one exception of a waltz) and even adds "You Never Can Tell" (the old Chuck Berry song) and Van Morrison'e "Brown Eyed Girl" for good measure. Certainly worth a listen and I'd love to see this outfit perform 'live', as I'm pretty sure they put on a good show.
'till next time, Gerry Ford

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