Review: Great American Taxi "Reckless Habits"

Fans of blues-infused Americana have reason to celebrate. Great American Taxi is back with "Reckless Habits," and this project will charm, enchant and inspire even the most hardened soul. Indeed, "Reckless Habits" is a feast for the ears that will be eaten up faster than peach cobbler at a church picnic.
The album begins with the superb "One Of These Days." Frontman Vince Herman (Leftover Salmon) offers a laid-back and confident vocal performance chock full of country goodness with a little New Orleans swagger. "New Millennium Blues" picks up the pace with a unique alt-country sensibility.

The biggest chance for a huge radio hit is "Get No Better." Concertgoers will be singing along at every appearance, and radio should take notice of this simple, but sparkling cut. A similarly infectious tune is the upbeat "Fuzzy Little Hippy Girl." It's impossible not to sing along with this track, and that's why Great American Taxi is one of the best-known bands on the jam circuit. "Albuquerque, NM" and "Good Night To Boogie" also deserve to be fan favorites.

The best song on the album is the reflective "New Madrid." The heart and soul of the band is on full display in a Grammy-worthy vocal performance. "New Madrid" crosses the boundaries of musical genres and can be equally enjoyed by fans of rock, pop, country or Americana. The lyrics show a new, vulnerable side of Great American Taxi with a richly understated vocal and instrumental performance. "Cold Lonely Town" has many of the same positive qualities.

Country and bluegrass radio may have a potential hit with the terrific "Unpromised Land," but the big surprise of the album is the instrumental cut, "Big Sandy River." Great American Taxi's instrumentation has never sounded better.

The title track "Reckless Habits" is a toe-tapping, traditional country tune, but "American Beauty" and "Tough Job" also do a good job of plowing traditional country ground.

It seems fitting that the album "Reckless Habits" ends with the instrumental track "Parade." An album this good is certainly worthy of something spectacular - so why not a parade? Seriously, Great American Taxi has put its talent to good use. In fact, fans around the world should be prepared to get hooked on "Reckless Habits."

Review: Eleven Hundred Springs "This Crazy Life" (Smith Music)

Eleven Hundred Springs set the country music world on fire with "Country Jam." Since then, the traditional country band has been working hard on "This Crazy Life," which delivers on all levels. Yes, Eleven Hundred Springs is back, and the band is better than ever.
The album begins with the title track "This Crazy Life," which is a surprisingly reflective and laid-back tune with superb lyrics about life on the open highway along with Eleven Hundred Springs usual top-notch production. "Great American Trainwreck" offers a timely analysis of the reality stars and D-list celebrities that are being enriched by their out-of-control behavior.

The best song on the album is the terrific "There's A Place For You." In a world filled with foreclosures and layoffs, "There's A Place For You" offers hope and happiness for the future. The traditional country "I'll Get On To Getting Over You Tomorrow" takes listeners back to a simpler time, and the pitch-perfect vocal performance dazzles on all levels.

"Get Through The Day" and "I'm In A Mellow Mood" are country gems that support Eleven Hundred Springs stated goal of helping take back country music from the grips of Nashville. But the album really gets rockin' with "Show Me The Money (Or I'll Show You The Door)," which has an infectiously catchy and hummable hook.

The album "This Crazy Life" offers stellar rockabilly-style country performances on "Straight To Bed" and "High On The Town" However, the biggest surprise on the project is "Some Things Go Together," which is a classic country masterpiece.

The album also offers penetrating social commentary in the lyrics. The love song "Honky Tonk Angels (Don't Happen Overnight)" is an ode to the secretly tender hearts of tough-looking barflies. "O.G. Blues" gives a sobering and thoughtful portrayal of the problems faced by men who can't seem to keep up with the latest iPad or other social trends.

Eleven Hundred Springs founders Steve Berg (bass) and Matt Hillyer (lead guitar and vocals) host The Country Jam Radio Show every Wednesday on  Dallas-Fort Worth's KHYI 95.3 The Range. Eleven Hundred Springs are workaholics, and it shows. Indeed, with music as good as this, Eleven Hundred Springs is bound to be living "this crazy life" on the country charts for the next couple of decades or so.

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Single Review: Dave Roberts "Fire Away"

As a Marine, Dave Roberts defended the USA, so "Fire Away" is an especially fitting title for one of Dallas/Fort Worth's most promising new Texas country vocalists. Radio program directors and DJs should take notice of this passionate and interesting new talent.

"Fire Away" is a bold, Red Dirt anthem with a comfortable, laid-back vocal performance that belies Dave Roberts' newcomer status. His extensive musical education at the University Of North Texas is also on full display on "Fire Away." Indeed, this educated military man is a superb songwriter. Watch for the complete album review of Dave Roberts "Rule #1" coming soon in Country Chart magazine.

Just back from Afghanistan where he entertained the troops and appeared on Armed Forces Radio, Dave Roberts is ready to conquer Texas and beyond with his new single "Fire Away." With a growing fan base and a rockin' new single, the world may soon watch the career of Dave Roberts catch fire.

Review: Tom Gillam "Had Enough"

Tom Gillam may not have always been a resident of Austin, but "Had Enough" proves that the move to Texas suits him just fine. In fact, the newly clean and sober Tom Gillam has never sounded better.
The album starts off strong with the anthemic "Real Thing." Tom Gillam is known as a master of Americana music, and "Real Thing" shows his skill in mixing Americana with Red Dirt. The reflective "Ready To Begin" seems to echo the feelings Gillam must have been having after a health issue briefly sidetracked him in 2005. These songs are deep and personal, and the lyrics are sung with conviction.

"Weary Game" has a cool Tom Petty meets Chris Knight vibe, and "Tear In The Rain" has an alt-country sound. But the best song on the album is "(When You) Come Around." The sincerity of the performance and penetrating lyrics make this track stand above all others. Plus the chorus is memorable and heart-wrenchingly intense.

The bluesy "Ride" oozes country soul goodness, and the instrumentation is superb. However, the title track "Had Enough" is the best example of pure bluesy Americana on the album. "I've had enough of all this crazy stuff," Gillam sings.

The hardest rockin' cut is "She Was A Dancer..." Gillam's performance is so passionate that it's obvious this track is drawn from personal experience. "Million Miles Away" offers the best Don Henley song Don Henley never recorded. That's a major compliment.

The laid-back "Nothing" has a familiar story with an infectious musical background. But the biggest surprise on the album is the final track "Good Morning" featuring Gillam's pure vocals and an amazing guitar solo. Producer Joe Carroll deserves special mention for his work on the album as well.

Tom Gillam's new album "Had Enough" from Smith Music is 48 minutes of pure music heaven. Gillam's musical genius has even grown stronger over the years, and his hard work has paid off with eleven songs that leap off the stereo to find a place in your heart.

Review: Michael Martin Murphey "Buckaroo Blue Grass II - Riding Song"

Michael Martin Murphey's hit album "Cowboy Songs" redefined cowboy country. Twenty years later, 2010's "Buckaroo Blue Grass II: Riding Song" proves that this cowboy's music is as relevant and vital as any country music album released in the last year.
Coming off a recent Grammy nomination (Bluegrass Album Of The Year) for "Buckaroo Blue Grass," Murphey's second volume has even surpassed the high standard of excellence set by the first. The album begins with the terrific title track "Blue Sky Riding Song" which is an ambitious amalgamation of bluegrass, cowboy country and traditional country that works on all levels.

"Running Gun," "Medicine Man" and "Rollin' Nowhere" continue the excellent bluegrass sound. Likewise, Murphey's traditional country roots shine on the laid-back "Backslider's Wine" which has a unique alt-country meets traditional country vibe reminiscent of the best work of Hayes Carll.

The quiet "Southwestern Pilgramage" (written by Murphey) offers superb lyrics and a nuanced vocal performance with beautiful instrumentation. "Southwestern Pilgrimage" is a towering achievement that allows the listener to step back in time and reflect on the best moments of life. Radio program directors should take special notice. "Swans Against The Sun" and "Desert Rat" offer many of the same quality traits of "Southwestern Pilgramage."

The best pure bluegrass tune is the amazing "Running Blood," which offers high energy and passion by the bucketload. But the favorite song of many fans might be the reflective (and humorous) "Cosmic Cowboy." Murphey's lyrics offer a little Brad Paisley-esque fun. For pure instrumentation, "Renegade" can't be beat, and "Wildfire" never fails to please.

Michael Martin Murphey is a unique country star, because he has the passion, vision and work ethic of the men and women who made traditional country music great. On the cover of the album "Buckaroo Blue Grass II: Riding Song" Murphey appears to be a happy man - content with his life and nature. And after hearing his wonderful new album, you'll want to head for the ranch, too.

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