Album Review: Stoney LaRue "Velvet"

On the TV show "Seinfeld," George Costanza mentions his desire to "drape" himself in velvet if it ever becomes socially acceptable. Well, George's mother can safely get out the cutting shears because Stoney LaRue has created a musical masterpiece with "Velvet" that will make you want to wrap a bolt of velvet around you and never let go.
It's been six, long years since Stoney LaRue offered up his last studio album, but the famed Red Dirt star has been a road warrior with more than 250 dates a year after his successful "Live At Billy Bob's Texas" album helped him forge a road-worthy band.

Now, after three years of hard work, the new album "Velvet" begins with "Dresses." No, Stoney LaRue hasn't gone soft or started a garment-making sweat shop. "Dresses is an atmospheric, Texas country cut that includes elements of folk and Americana. The bluesy "Wiregrass" showcases LaRue's stellar vocals, and the artist has never sounded better. "Sharecropper" has much of the same charm.

However, Red Dirt fans will feel more comfortable with the Texas music cut "Look At Me Fly," which is a sure bet to be another Number One hit for Stoney LaRue. Written by LaRue and Mando Saenz, the song is one of the most satisfying country tracks of the 2010s. It must be noted that "Look At Me Fly" has mainstream country chart potential, and Stoney LaRue may have a break-out song here.

The quiet "Travelin' Kind" has a terrifically memorable chorus, and the breezy Texas music track will please long-time fans. However, the radio ready cuts continue with "Sirens," which offers superb instrumentation from the band and confident vocals from LaRue.

"Has Been" is a thought-provoking song offering intelligent lyrics and a carefully nuanced vocal performance reminiscent of a sound that can be best described as Garth Brooks meets Brandon Rhyder. Traditional country music gets a boost with "Way Too Long." Once again, this song could find mainstream country chart success. The title track "Velvet" is the current single, and the love song ends the album on a perfectly positive note.

The 10 songs on "Velvet" have been carefully chosen - probably from dozens and dozens written for the album, and the skill of choosing the right songs has played a serious role in the success of this project which was three years in the making. Indeed, two or three songs on the project could land Stoney LaRue on the big stage of mainstream country music. But longtime fans can be sure he won't forget his roots. Indeed, an album this good may take Stoney LaRue from steer riding ropes to inside the velvet ropes of Nashville.  CountryChart.com

Album Review: Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward "Live In The Living Room"

Changing musical directions can sometimes lead to a burst of creative energy. This holds true for Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward in their new album - the stripped down "Live In The Living Room." Parker's fame comes largely from his stellar reputation in Texas country/Red Dirt music, but this acoustic set proves that the band could draw just as many fans from Americana and roots music.
Creating an atmospheric live album that does justice to a songwriter's music and a band's long hours of practice is no easy feat, but Rodney Parker makes it look easy on the first cut "Firelight." Likewise, the easy-going "Highway Blues" is perfectly performed. So fire up the subwoofer, close your eyes and pretend that you're in the living room with Parker, 50 Peso Reward and about two dozen friends in Corinth, Texas where the album was recorded.

The project really comes into its own with the track "Guitars," which slowly builds to a memorable melody. The biggest surprise on the album is "Ghost" which offers elements reminiscent of both Chris Knight and Hayes Carll. This Americana cut is musical perfection and deserves airplay on Americana radio and stations like The Coffee House on Sirius XM. "Where The Bright Lights Glow Me" has much of the same charm.

Traditional country mixed with bluegrass is showcased on the self-defense track "Bring Me My Gun." The wailing "The Ship" and "Atlantic City" bring a cool singer-songwriter vibe to the album. Anytime you have a house party with music like the one in Corinth, Texas, you have to have some fun. "I'm Never Getting Married" will lead to much party talk, and the chorus is highly memorable. Indeed, this cut might also score some serious radio airplay.

The album ends with the mysterious "Skin And Bones" and "10lb. Test." The song "Skin And Bones" has an intriguing REM meets Stoney LaRue sound, and "10lb. Test" was the perfect ending for the album with its laid back country sensibility.

"Live In The Living Room" will bring a variety of emotions to listeners during the 13 tracks that clock in at more than 53 minutes. There will be smiles, toe-tapping and maybe even some tears on songs like "The Apology" or "The Ship." However, at the end of the set, you will probably react like the audience on the album did after the final track - which is thoughtful appreciation for Rodney Parker & 50 Peso Reward who have managed to borrow the best elements of American music, tie them up in a bow and deliver them right to your living room. CountryChart.com

Album Review: Micky And The Motorcars "Raise My Glass"

The sixth album is the charm for the hardworking Micky And The Motorcars who don't disappoint with the eleven new cuts on the beer and whiskey-drinking celebration titled "Raise My Glass," which takes listeners on a rollicking Texas nightlife adventure that might leave you still feeling the fun in the morning.

The album begins with the title track "Raise My Glass," which is a classic Red Dirt cut that fires on all cylinders. However, the next song is somewhat of a surprise. "A Thousand Tears" starts off with a new sound for Micky & The Motorcars and slowly builds to a rousing crescendo.

The album's first single "Any Longer Any More" has a soaring melody and offers a tight vocal performance. It is followed by the album's biggest surprise - the tender love song "How Far I'll Go." The intense vocals and superb instrumentation allow the listener to clearly consider the thought provoking lyrics.

"Far From You" highlights the best musical elements of Micky And the Motorcars, but it is the cowboy song "Never Been Out West" which emerges as the album's best track. The sound is new and fresh mixed with classic cowboy country elements and hints of Red Dirt.

The anthemic "Big Casino" deserves to win Micky & The Motorcars hundreds of high-paying casino gigs, and it is a radio-ready cut that could be a Number One hit for the band. The project ends with the insanely memorable "Faded And Gone" and the quiet "St. Lucy's Eyes," which is somewhat of a musical departure for Micky And The Motorcars.

"Raise My Glass" is a full-bodied and rich piece of Red Dirt music that will have you and yours dancing on top of the bar in some parts and thinking about the girl/boy that got away in other songs. It is this relatable and stirring music that will hopefully drive these honest and talented country boys from the 6th album all the way through the 16th. So, tonight, let's all raise our glasses and offer a toast to the continued good health and inspired music of Micky, Gary, Kris and Mark. CountryChart.com

Album Review: Midnight River Choir "Welcome To Delirium"

The album "Freedom Wine" from Midnight River Choir impressed just about everyone who heard it, and now the fun-lovin' country boys are back with "Welcome To Delirium," which is just about as enjoyable as a 12:00 am river rafting trip - and, by the way, exactly where the group formed.
If Gavin DeGraw and Sunny Sweeney had a love child, he might sing a song like the first track "Mile Marker," which is breezy, radio-ready song that is extraordinarily memorable. However, the band's Red Dirt vibe is resurrected with the terrific "Arms Of A Stranger," that once again showcases the band's superb vocal harmony.

However, it is the quiet love song "Run Away From Me" that is the album's biggest surprise, and the tender, restrained vocals are pitch perfect. The Midnight River Choir manages to impress once again with the next cut, the bluesy rock "Take You With Me," which showcases the band's terrific instrumentation.

Traditional country does not escape the Midnight River Choir, and "My Friend" manages to embrace classic country while adding distinct Texas country elements. The smooth vocals continue on "Soul Food," but it is "Seven Sundays" that might prove to be the biggest radio hit of the album with a sound reminiscent of the best country rock bands. Likewise, the best song was saved for last with the inspiring "Church Of The Midnight Moon," which manages to be the right punctuation mark for the project.

"Welcome To Delirium" is a polished and accomplished album that will increase the buzz and critical acclaim for the Midnight River Choir. Indeed, "delirium" - defined broadly severe sudden confusion and rapid changes - proved to be the perfect word for the title, because the diverse album will be driving imitators and competing bands absolutely crazy.  CountryChart.com

Album Review: Reckless Kelly "Good Luck & True Love"

Texas country aficionados rejoice, because the world's best Red Dirt band is bringing fans "Good Luck & True Love" with a new album. Reckless Kelly carefully planned every detail on the project, including one of the best CD packages of any country album this year.
Great cover art is important, but it's the music that matters most to Reckless Kelly, and the album begins with the mid-tempo, Red Dirt anthem "Give It A Try." However, the cut "Save Me From Myself" really kickstarts the album, and the song with the melodic chorus is certain to be another #1 hit for Reckless Kelly.

"Guarded Heart" is a classic country love song and features angst-ridden vocals and superb instrumentation. Indeed, it proves to be the perfect intro for the album's biggest surprise, the hard-rockin' "She Likes Money, He Likes Love," which will please concertgoers and radio program managers looking for an upbeat country hit.

The traditional track "Weatherbeated Soul" is another radio-ready cut, and the current single "Good Luck & True Love" is already well-known for its contemporary Texas country sound and sterling vocals. The stripped-down "I Never Liked St. Valentine" also deserves special mention because it offers half sung/half spoken interludes that surprisingly work.

However, the album's best track by a mile is the amazing "I Stayed Up All Night." From the contributions  of the band to the song's intense chorus along with classic country lyrics, "I Stayed Up All Night" is a new country music classic that deserves all of the accolades it will no doubt receive. The album ends with the breezy "New Moon Over Nashville" and the hard-edge "Hit The Ground Runnin'" which is a song every red-blooded American male will gobble up faster than peach pie at the Georgia State Fair.

"Good Luck & True Love" is one of the finest examples ever of a fully conceptualized album in the Red Dirt genre. With excellent packaging, song sequence, lyrics, vocals and instrumentation, this album should bring Reckless Kelly good fortune in the form of more fans, a new-found respect, some major radio hits and probably more than a few phone numbers from females who are taken in by the charm of these country soothesayers.  CountryChart.com

Review: David Serby "Poor Man's Poem"

If political folk maverick Woody Guthrie were alive today, he probably would be inclined to go to iTunes and download David Serby's new album "Poor Man's Poem." However, Serby would likely feel so honored that he would give Guthrie a few cases of CDs for free.
David Serby's first song, the title track "Poor Man's Poem," takes its cue from the musical heritage of the past, and Serby's folksy style belies the serious message of his thought provoking lyrics. The next cut, the quiet "A Love Song From Miguel," offers a laid-back tale of love that is smooth like butter.

The song "Lay Down My Colt" blends folk and elements of cowboy country with remarkable success, but it is the story in song "Sugar Creek" that is the album's biggest surprise. The instrumentation is perfect, and David Serby's vocals are delivered in a half-spoken/half-sung manner that works.

Political folk comes easy to David Serby because his 9 to 5 job is as a Union Steward. That may explain his obvious bias towards the plight of hard working men and women that is on full display on "I Just Stole Back What Was Mine."

The best song on the album is the radio-ready tune "Wild West Show." This breezy song inspires a feeling of warmth in listeners' hearts, and the track also boasts a memorable melody. The album ends with the dark "Evil Men," which showcases Serby's considerable performance skill.

"Poor Man's Poem" is a worthy ancestor in the political folk family that will delight audiences in numerous genres, including folk, Americana and country. Indeed, David Serby has created a timeless collection of tunes that are pleasing to the ear while providing thoughtful lyrics that stimulate the mind on successive listens. That's no easy feat for a rich man or a poor man.  CountryChart.com

Review: The Greencards "The Brick Album"

Musical wunderkinds The Greencards have enchanted musicians like Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan so much that they invited the group to tour with them. Now, in their fourth studio project, "The Brick Album," The Greencards will once again wow the CD buying public with their brand of Americana/bluegrass/alt rock fusion that has led to a diverse and well-deserved following among young hipsters and older fans of traditional country.
Sam Bush is featured on the first song "Make It Out West," and the experimental cut is a satisfying musical experience. However, the album really amps up the country flavor with the quiet "Faded" and the intelligent lyrics of "Naked On The River." These two cuts ramp up the anticipation for the latin-infused country track "Heart Fixer" featuring country star Vince Gill.

However, it is the bluegrass instrumental tune "Adelaide" that emerges as the song with the best instrumentation on the entire album. The finest vocal on the project can be found on the radio-ready melodic gem "Loving You Is The Only Way To Fly." The production is top-notch, and the haunting lyrics are deeply satisfying.

"The Brick Album" is a creative musical journey that is elegantly layered - indeed, new elements will be discovered by listeners upon each successive listen. Needless to say, the Greencards will not exactly have to throw a brick in the window of the homes of Grammy voters to get them to notice that "The Brick Album" is the stuff that Grammy award-winning songs and albums are made of. CountryChart.com

Review: Moonshine Bandits "Whiskey And Women"

If the country music industry decided to hire some of their own to act as bouncers with the goal of keeping out the scourge of "pop" country, the first and only name on the list would probably be the hard-working, talented and extraordinarily intimidating "Moonshine Bandits." The only problem would be keeping the Moonshine Bandits away from the "Whiskey And Women," which is, unsurprisingly, the title of their very accomplished and entertaining new album.
The project begins with the country, hip-hop track "For The Outlawz" (featuring Colt Ford and Big B). The explicit song has a great beat and outstanding lyrics that will continue to roll around the brain long after the track ends. The sing-a-long cut "Whiskey River" is a classic country beer-drinking song with the Moonshine Bandits signature charm.

"Shine With Me" is a fast country track with shout-outs to groups as diverse as bloggers and juggalos - along with just about every other constituency in the 50 states, including campers, firemen, single moms and members of the armed forces. However, the melody is infectious and extraordinarily memorable.

The most surprising cut is "My Kind Of Country," which will actually warm the heart of any country boy or girl. "My Kind Of Country" shows the Moonshine Bandits as proud Americans who value the military service of their loved ones and respect the hard work of American men and women.

The Moonshine Bandits more hard-edged swagger continues on the dark "Whiskey In My Soul" (featuring Pruno). "Fire It Up" features Daddy X And The Dirtball Of Kottonmouth Kings, and it is a musical tour de force describing the joys of drinking, smoking and even trippin' over fans.

"Summer Girls" is cool, warm weather anthem, and "Whiskey And Cigarettes" (featuring Durwood Black) is also a worthy, radio-ready track. The hip-hop cut "Moonshine On Me" (featuring Danny Boone Of Rehab) is one of the best songs on the album and could find radio airplay as well.

The best production on the project is found on the mind-blowing "Get Loose" featuring Derrty D, which is pitch perfect in both production and performance, and the album ends with the equally pleasing "My Super Goggles" featuring Durwood Black.

Following their successful album "Divebars And Truckstops," the new project "Whiskey And Women" continues the high standards of the baddest guys in country music. What you see is what you get with the Moonshine Bandits, and that's a good thing because these guys offer a particularly satisfying plate of musical melodies that deserves to be lapped up faster than cold beer and hot dogs at July 4th picnic. CountryChart.com

Review: Gary Nicholson "Texas Songbook"

Home state hero Gary Nicholson has had a long and varied career that has taken him from deep in the heart of Texas all the way to Hollywood, where his work has been featured in movies as diverse as Crazy Heart and Major League. Now, Nicholson is paying tribute to his home state with "Texas Songbook," featuring Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel - along with many more Texan friends.
The album begins with the recent inductee into the Texas Songwriters Hall Of Fame singing the track "Texas Weather." Nicholson's quietly confident vocal delivery never fails to impress, and "Texas Weather" has a memorable melody.

The bluesy "Same Kind Of Crazy" showcases a more passionate side of Nicholson who is joined by Delbert McClinton on harmonica and Red Dirt vocalist Randy Rogers. The melodic "Fallin' & Flyin'" is just good old fashioned fun. Women occupy Gary Nicholson's mind on "Messin' With My Woman" and the next cut "A Woman In Texas, A Woman In Tennessee."

However, the best track on the album is the charming "Listen To Willie," which features a star turn from Texas country star Stoney LaRue and deserves significant radio airplay. "Texas Ruby" is a perfect song for summer, and Nicholson's mischievous side is evident by his cheeky vocal performance on this cut.

Joe Ely and Ray Benson join Nicholson on the terrific "Lone Star Blues" which brings back fond memories of supergroups like The Highwaymen. The retro "Talkin' Texan" offers the best lyrics of the year and will have live audiences rolling in the aisles with laughter.

"Bless 'Em All" featuring the McCrary Sisters is the album's biggest surprise and offers a gospel and blues fusion along with heartfelt lyrics. The final track on the album titled "Somedays You Write The Song" offers an intense - even intimate - performance by Nicholson. In fact, the chorus offers a deeply thoughtful lyric: "Somedays you write the song; somedays the song writes you." Indeed, Nicholson ends the album with a reminder that all of his songs are deeply personal and come from his personal experiences.

Gary Nicholson may have lent some songs to Hollywood, but "Texas Songbook" showcases the extraordinary talent of an accomplished man who has not forgotten his Lone Star roots. From the huge variety of Texan friends who lent their talent to the album to the masterful songwriting on display to the tender lyrics of the final song, Gary Nicholson has created a "Texas Songbook" that we'll all be singing out of for many, many decades to come. CountryChart.com

"Ready To Fly" by T.J. Broscoff Reviewed in Texas Country Chart Magazine

The hit Texas country single "Pillow" is taken from T.J. Broscoff's new album "Ready To Fly" which chronicles the artist's new-found freedom from addictions. Read the full review in our sister magazine Texas Country Chart by clicking here or click the album cover below to read the full review.

The 12-track album by T.J. Broscoff follows an early career in rock music. Read the complete review by clicking here or reading Texas Country Chart Magazine.

Review: Dale Ann Bradley "Somewhere South Of Crazy"

One could imagine that when bluegrass music legend Dale Ann Bradley sings, God himself smiles in heaven above. This may sound like lavish praise, but it only does if you have never heard the golden voiced singer who was named IBMA "female vocalist of the year" three years in a row (2007 - 2009). Now, you'll find Dale Ann Bradley in a place "Somewhere South Of Crazy,"  and it's one loony bin you'll never, ever want to leave
The album begins with the title track "Somewhere South Of Crazy." As usual with Compass Records' projects, the production is top-notch, and the song is a mid-tempo feast for the ears. Likewise, Bradley's voice has aged perfectly, and the artist has never sounded better.

"Round And Round" is a bluegrass/country track with superb instrumentation, and the artistic interpretation of "Summer Breeze" will leave bluegrass fans reveling in musical pleasure. However, the biggest surprise of the album is the sincere "Come Home Good Boy," which is a story in song about a mother who has to let go of her son who is leaving for war in the armed forces. Words cannot describe the authenticity in which Dale Ann Bradley sings on "Come Home Good Boy" which deserves widespread fan and critical respect.

The pace quickens on the ironically titled "In Despair" - if despair sounds this good, everyone will definitely want to get some. The love song "Restoring The Love" is a radio-ready country cut that deserves to be a #1 hit for Dale Ann Bradley and Steve Gulley who shares lead vocals. This is the stuff that Grammy award-winning duets are made of.

The upbeat "New Shoes" is the kind of track where Bradley's star shines most. The instrumentation brings a smile to the face, and Bradley's vocals are pitch-perfect. The award for toe-tapping goes to "Next To Nothing" which will leave any Dale Ann Bradley concertgoer twirling in the aisles.

The album ends with beautiful "Will You Visit Me On Sundays" and the quiet, gospel-tinged "I Pressed Through The Crowd," which showcases Dale Ann Bradley the storyteller. On the CD, live bonus cut "Old Southern Porches" rounds out the 13 track project and allows Bradley to tell one last story to great effect.

Bluegrass fans can rejoice, because Dale Ann Bradley is back. As the announcer in the final moment of the bonus cut says: "If that don't turn you on, you ain't got no switches." Couldn't put it better myself. CountryChart.com

Review: "Nell Robinson On The Brooklyn Road" By Nell Robinson

Bluegrass fans need to sit up and take notice: Nell Robinson's debut album was no fluke.This is conclusively proven by the fascinating talent on display in Robinson's sophomore release "Nell Robinson On The Brooklyn Road," which establishes the artist as a force to be reckoned with in roots music.
The album begins with the first full track "Woe Is Me," which has a charming bluegrass flavor mixed with elements of gospel. However, it is the folk cut "Mayflies" where Robinson's talent truly shines.

The biggest surprise on the album is the joyous sing-a-long song "Don't Light My Fire." This track has radio chart potential. The sincere "Wahatchee" has a cool Dolly Parton meets Loretta Lynn vibe that works. "Wahatchee" is by far the best song on the album, and Robinson's voice has never sounded better.

The classic "I Saw The Light" is given a fresh coat of paint with Robinson's terrific interpretation, and her cover of "Can't Help Falling In Love With You" is inspired - and surprisingly somewhat haunting. In fact, Nell Robinson's reimagination of the classic gives new resonance to the lyrics, and the production is stellar. "Turn Your Radio On" will inspire also joy in listener's ears.

"On The Brooklyn Road" picks up the pace with Jim Scott's "The Last Old Shovel," which features stirring instrumentation and winning vocals. "The Last Old Shovel" also deserves the attention of radio program managers who should immediately add it to their playlists.

"Nell Robinson On The Brooklyn Road" is an enchanting musical journey featuring a meaty 21 songs of varying lengths. However, the album has been very well conceived, and it is the musical equivalent of a seven course meal with cheese board. In fact, "Nell Robinson On The Brooklyn Road" should be in the music collection of every lover of Americana and bluegrass music. Heck, it might even be the right Christmas gift for any hard-to-please roots music lover. CountryChart.com

Review: Gwendolyn "Bright Light"

The nature-loving San Gabriel, California country girl named Gwendolyn is best described by one simple word: refreshing. With the current crop of over-produced country music fare, it is exhilarating and indeed comforting to hear an artist like Gwendolyn, who lets her voice be the star of the show on her stimulating new album "Bright Light."
Much of Gwendolyn's charm is derived from her pure country voice that has an air of innocence. "Bright Light" begins with the appropriately titled "Discover Me." However, it is the stunning vocal performance on the title track "Bright Light" that will begin to truly entice listeners to yearn for more. The catchy-melodic track is perfectly produced by Ethan Allen (Patty Griffin).

The country quotient rises considerably with the interestingly-titled "Tater Tots And Whiskey Shots," a song that would make legends of country proud. The next cut "Shake A Leg" may be the album's best chance for an Americana or country chart hit. The upbeat song is perfectly performed and will delight fans of traditional country.

The biggest surprise on the 13-song, almost 45 minute album is the sparse "Acorn," which showcases the more thoughtful side of Gwendolyn combined with a winning chorus. "American Gothic" has a cool Barenaked Ladies meets Tori Amos quality that surprisingly works.

The folk/Americana cut "Durango" features some of the album's most prominent production, and Gwendolyn's vocal performance features her more serious side. "Olden Days" has much of the same charm.

"Monster In My Heart" is the most unique song on the album, and it is a fun romp that is immediately followed by the delicate "Sing This Song." The final two tracks are among the best on the album "Bright Light." The cut "Songbird" utilises classic country elements mixed with folk along with Gwendolyn's sweet country voice. However, it is the inspiring final song - the gospel-tinged "Let The Light" - that steals the show. Gwendolyn's voice is in top form, and the production is flawless.

"Bright Light" is a musical tour de force that takes listeners on a journey through the life of a musician that is allowing us to shine a bright light and explore her most intimate thoughts. With beautiful lyrics, stellar production and catchy songs, Gwendolyn's "Bright Lights" is one of the best (and most original) Americana albums of 2011.  CountryChart.com

Review: Shawna Russell "Shawna Russell" (Self-Titled Album)

After her breakthrough album "Goddess," Oklahoma's favorite new country music star Shawna Russell has emerged with a new, self-titled album that is destined to take her to even greater heights.
If you ever wondered what a true country star sounds like, the album's first song will quickly let you know. The confident "Sounds Like A Party" shows that Russell's voice is in perfect form. The next track "Waitin' On Sunrise" has a retro-cool, country melody that is performed with rare musical flair.

The anthem "Phoenix" showcases Russell's soaring vocals and proves that Shawna Russell can compete with the top country music artists in the market today - both male and female. The biggest surprise of the self-titled album is the quiet "Was It Good For You," which could find radio chart success. Shawna asks: "Was it good for you?" Listeners will only be able to answer with a simple "yes."

The rockin' "Get Right Or Get Left" shows the harder-edge Red Dirt element of Russell's skill set, but it is "Carry Me Away" that steals the show as the album's best track. The song shows the maturity in Russell's voice since her last album, "Goddess." Likewise, the production is stellar.

Three remix tracks grace the album, and the best is the radio-ready "Everybody's Got A Story," which has a real chance to be given a fresh look by mainstream country radio. The theme is universal, and Shawna Russell's vocal performance is pitch perfect.

"Shawna Russell" is a bold and enchanting album that firmly places Russell in a new class among her fellow country musicians. Her polished vocals, charming personality and star quality is both inspiring and refreshing. Who can't root for a sweet country girl from Oklahoma who has managed to turn herself into a star?  CountryChart.com

Review: Katie Quick "Valley Between Love"

If Taylor Swift had a talented cousin, she could definitely be named Katie Quick. The artist's new album "Valley Between Love" could easily find crossover success, such as the kind enjoyed by the female vocalists of Lady Antebellum and The Band Perry. Indeed, "quick" might soon prove to be the operative word as she could have a meteoric rise on the country charts.
The meaty 14 song, almost 56-minute album begins with the pop country anthem "On My Own" and is followed by the country track "Valley Between Love," which offers elements of traditional country and country gospel.

"Best In Me" is a soaring cut that shows Quick's beautiful vocal gift, and it could be a major hit with some slight production adjustments. The biggest surprise on the album is "Chicago Summer Nights" which is by far the best song of the entire album. The song is sung with a quiet confidence that will tug at the heart. "Make You Mine" has much of the same charm.

The song with the highest quotient of fun is definitely the upbeat country cut "Bottle Of Wine." Quick surprises again with the inspiring cut "If Only I Could" which could have been this year's final American idol song for either Scotty McCreery or Lauren Alaina.

"Possible Good Day" is a beautiful ballad, and the sparse production actually helps showcase Katie Quick's distinctive young voice. The album ends with love song "The First Time," which offers a melodic chorus that builds a rousing performance by Quick.

"Valley Between Love" is basically an announcement from newcomer Katie Quick, because she is putting the country music on notice that she is an artist to watch. With carefully-planned career moves and a bit of luck, Katie Quick has the vocal chops to take on the divas of country. Here's hoping that good fortune is on her side. CountryChart.com

Review: River Rouge "Not All There Anymore"

If you're looking for a good time or even need a little break from the rat race of life, consider purchasing the fantastic new album from River Rouge appropriately titled "Not All There Anymore."
The fun begins with the uplifting blues-infused "Black Licorice," which also includes elements of rock and even gospel. "Murder Of The Crows" is a light Americana treat with efficient instrumentation, but it is "Usurper Hero" which is the album's biggest surprise. The retro-cool vibe is infectious.

The country rock quotient rises considerably with the terrific "Arc Welded Love," and the Foo Fighters-esque "Good At Goodbye" will please melodic rock fans. The album's best moment comes on the inspired sing-a-long "No Good For Nothing," which is an Americana gem.

The final song on the album continues the band's laid-back, fun-loving music. "Yes" is a perfectly performed piece of ear candy that ends the album on a winning note.

"Not All There Anymore" proves that River Rouge is a hard-working band that has massive talent, and the diversity of River Rouge's musical influences is awe inspiring. Even though they don't want you to know it, the faculties of River Rouge's members are all intact. And they are, in fact, "all there." Indeed, you will want to be there for this and all future River Rouge albums. CountryChart.com

Review: Folk Family Revival "Unfolding"

Creating a winning sound is no easy feat, but the four good ole boys of the Folk Family Revival make it look easy on their new album "Unfolding."
The front of the album cover is absolutely beautiful, but the back cover unexpectedly gives absolutely no clue to the age, ethnicity or gender of Folk Family Revival members. In fact, the cover leaves little impression at all except to suggest that some folk music will be on offer.

The album begins with a somewhat mysterious instrumental intro that leads into a great surprise: the uptempo cut titled "Unfolding." In fact, the song is superb and features elements of Red Dirt, traditional country and only hints of folk and Americana. The passionate vocals from Mason Lankford are intense - as is the instrumentation from two of Mason's brothers (Barrett and Lincoln). Adopted brother and friend Caleb Pace (Guitars / Mandolin / Lap Steel) rounds out the foursome.

The bluesy "Fallin'" offers a comfortable melody and a country rock vibe. It is followed by the haunting Americana cut "Have A Nice Life," but it is "Shade From The Storm" that shores up Folk Family Revival's country music credibility. The song should also be considered by country radio program managers.

The album's biggest surprise is the bluegrass-infused "Mountains," which also offers elements of gospel and rock. "Dream All Night" has a cool John Mayer meets Wade Bowen vibe.

However, it is "Addicted To The Road" which emerges as the album's best song. The melody is musical perfection, but for true radio success a mix without backing vocals and a slightly increased pace might be necessary. "Addicted To The Road" is a track that has an anthemic quality that could be a Number 1 country chart hit for a major male country star, and it would play well in both concerts and country radio. "Holding You Now" is another song with radio potential.

The four members of Folk Family Revival have a knack at creating memorable songs, and "Unfolding" is a major musical surprise that will leave you longing for more. Indeed, all the best revivals do. CountryChart.com

Matt Stell's "Vestibule Blues" Reviewed by Texas Country Chart Magazine

Singer-songwriter Matt Stell who hails from Morrilton, Arkansas has released a sophomore album which has been reviewed by our sister magazine Texas Country Chart. You can click here to read the full article or click the album cover below.

"Vestibule Blues" features 11 songs and a run-time of more than 43 minutes. Click here to read the complete review or click the album cover above to go directly to Texas Country Chart Magazine.

Review: Barefoot Mark "Let The Beast Run"

Country and blues artist "Barefoot" Mark Cullimore is about as Texan as they come, and "Let The Beast Run" proves that this west Texas country boy has an infectious passion for music. Indeed, like the cover suggests, Barefoot Mark's "Let The Beast Run" leaves a surprisingly impressive musical footprint, and, by the way, bluesy Barefoot Mark knows how to "saaang."
The album begins with the ironically titled "Florsheim Shackles." Yes, Barefoot Mark does seem to really have a musical vendetta against shoes. Country audiences will appreciate the gravel in Mark's voice. The second track "Her Shoes" is actually one of the album's finest moments. The instrumentation, vocal performance and lyrics all combine well to create a full-bodied musical experience.

The biggest surprise on the album is the title track which fuses rock, blues and country, but the best song on the album is the R&B-tinged "All Right To Be Me." This cut offers a subtle and even vulnerable performance by Mark Cullimore that is refreshing and honest.

"Let The Beast Run" showcases Barefoot Mark as the honest musician that he is. His friends certainly contribute to the project in a positive way, but the album is truly all about Mark Cullimore. Indeed, listeners will want to sit back, kick off their shoes off and enjoy the toe-tapping fun of Barefoot Mark. CountryChart.com

Review: Fiery Blue "Our Secret"

There probably isn't another American three-person band that has one member in New York City, one in Austin and the final member in California. However, Fiery Blue makes it work, and their stellar debut proved it. Now, the threesome have produced their best work yet with the new album "Our Secret."
Singer-songwriter Simone Stevens (NYC) starts the festivities with the mysterious "Crystal Ball," and the pace actually picks up slightly with the ironically-titled "Slow Down." This folk-country track has radio potential and effectively highlights Gabe Rhodes (Austin, Texas) musicianship and the songwriting talent of Paul Marsteller (San Diego, California)

To understand Fiery Blue, you first have to set aside any musical prejudices because these talented folks carefully fuse elements of rock, pop, country, folk, Americana and blues. Although the combination sounds disjointed, the unorthodox Fiery Blue has found a way to make it work.

"Wheels Up" can best be described as Bonnie Raitt meets Emmylou Harris, which is high praise indeed. "Tears Are Blue" has much of the same charm.  However, the album's biggest surprise is the tender "Little Red Shoes," and the reverent "Eventide" is pitch-perfect and slowly weaves a web that gently lassos the listener and gently brings him in.

"I've Just Seen His Face" is a cool retro-country cut that could actually find a willing audience on the thousands of traditional country radio stations across America. The song takes you back to days gone by. Likewise, "Half A Dance" could have been a Tammy Wynette hit during her heyday.

Fiery Blue saves its best for track 11 of the project with the thought-provoking "The Moon And I." This song could deeply touch the most heartless cynic, and the song is the finest example of the trio's success in blending their talent. "The Moon And I" is an anthemic gem that deserves a wide audience. However, the band's diversity shines through once again on the next song "Sharpshooter" which has a sixties rock vibe reminiscent of Britain's Cilla Black.

However, the band knows how to end strong with the last track "While The Music Plays." While not quite as stirring as "The Moon And I" (few songs are), it is a terrific punctuation mark that fully displays three artists with different skill sets living totally separate lives melding together to create art. "Our Secret" unwittingly exposes the terrific secret of the band, because Gabe, Simone and Paul are all three combining their talents due to their love of art. Listening to Fiery Blue is a intimate experience, and hearing the work of the group gives you the vibrant feeling of finding a unique musical work that you have to share with friends. While secrets are usually supposed to stay under wraps, here's hoping "Our Secret" spreads like wildfire.  CountryChart.com

Brad Dunn & Ellis County "Ranch Cat" Reviewed in Texas Country Chart Magazine

Featuring the band's current single "Red, White And Blue," Texas country band Brad Dunn & Ellis County have delivered a 14-song, almost hour-long album that has more than a few surprises. Click here to read the full review published in our sister magazine Texas Country Chart. Or click the album cover below.

The hard working newcomer to the Texas music scene is planning on making a name for themselves on the Red Dirt scene. Read the full review in Texas Country Chart Magazine.

Tom Cheatham "Scars That I'll Keep" Reviewed in Texas Country Chart Magazine

Texas-based singer-songwriter Tom Cheatham delivers an accomplished sophomore album titled "Scars That I'll Keep" which has been reviewed by our sister magazine Texas Country Chart. Click here or the album cover below to read the full review.
Cheatham's touring schedule has been hectic around the state of Texas, and his recent move to Dallas from Austin helped influence his songwriting and performance style. Read the full review by clicking here or visiting Texas Country Chart magazine.

Jeremy Steding "I'll Keep On Livin'" Reviewed in Texas Country Chart Magazine

The Red Dirt artist Jeremy Steding continues his creative prowess with the Walt Wilkins-produced "I Keep On Livin,' But I Don't Learn" which has been reviewed in our sister magazine - Texas Country Chart. To read the full review, click here or the click the album cover below.

"I'll Keep On Livin', But I Don't Learn" includes 11 songs, including the standout title track, the remarkable Americana cut "Arkansas Rain" and the tender "Brandi Sue." Read the full 500-word review by clicking here or visiting Texas Country Chart.

Review: Back Porch Mary "Life Is Now"

The indie troubadours that make up the melodic "power-tonk" group Back Porch Mary have much to be proud of. Without ever gracing the racks of even one record store, the group has managed to sell an impressive combined 50,000 units. Indeed, the fact that these country boys manage to thrive in the Austin, Texas music scene is just another reason that "Life Is Now" for Back Porch Mary.
The back cover of "Life Is Now" proudly notes that Mike, Joe and Ryan (no last names) are the group members, and their sound can best be described as Barenaked Ladies meets Reckless Kelly. If there is any doubt, this is a major compliment indeed.

The album begins with the melodic "No Bad News Today," which has an insanely memorable chorus that is even more impressive because most songs were written by Mike Krug. His lyrics sparkle, and Krug also knows how to write a hook. In fact, the band's self-described "power tonk" does offer some similarities in melody and lyrics to popular power punk/power pop bands. However, Back Porch Mary presents its music in a retro-Americana style that works.

The second track titled "Fast Car" is certainly not a cover of the Tracy Chapman song of the same name. This song is a feel-good, radio-ready cut that would be a welcome addition to any Friday afternoon radio playlist. Men and women across American should get ready for the weekend by hearing "Fast Car."

"Monty's Song" offers a more familiar Red Dirt sound, and "I'm A Soldier" has an interesting Chris Knight meets Wade Bowen vibe. "Drove Her To Drinkin'" covers classic country music ground in a fresh way. But the biggest surprise is the subtle "Next To You," which is a tender, bluegrass-tinged love song. "Next To You" is the best song on the album by a mile, and the laid-back vocal performance could warm the coldest of hearts. The instrumentation is perfectly produced, and Americana radio program directors should add "Next To You" immediately. "Dry Here In This Town" has much of the same charm, but the cut might have had more of an impact without the harmonic collaboration.

"You Don't Know About Me" offers a terrific punk-influenced vocal performance with a memorable chorus and a superb guitar solo. The album ends with the hard-driving "The Vegas Song," which is performed at a head-spinning pace. Surprisingly, it works. Vegas, anyone?

"Life Is Now" is so chock full of surprises that you will actually want to skip going to Vegas and attend a Back Porch Mary concert in Austin instead. Indeed, the evidence presented here indicates that Mike, Joe and Ryan are a little bit crazy and a whole lot talented. For now, we'll just call the boys of Back Porch Mary "crazy talented." CountryChart.com

Review: The New Black 7 "The Old Becomes New"

The evolution of the music industry over the last few decades has caused a blurred vision of country music that now seems to include music that used to be classified as 'pop.' However, there is no mistaking the hard-edged sound of The New Black 7 on their superb new 5-song CD titled "The Old Becomes New."
The album begins with an anthemic tribute to small town life in "Small Town Song," and the cut offers a winning country rock track with a memorable chorus. The next cut "Kick The Tires" is a cool retro-tribute that seems reminiscent of a mixture of the melodic vocal blend of Alabama and and the fire and passion of Waylon Jennings.

Love is in the air on the next track "That Ain't Love," which is the album's best cut by a mile. This Red Dirt-inspired song offers laid-back vocals and a confident vocal delivery. The New Black 7 (or NB7 as fans affectionately call them) should consider releasing this track to radio. It could be a major hit.

The album ends with the bluesy "Come On, Come On" and the Hayes Carll-esque "Here All Along," which is a joyous gospel-tinged track that will bring warmth to listeners hearts.

"The Old Becomes New" shows a band with a diverse group of talents, and NB7 have a bright future ahead. Hopefully, old will become new when the New Black 7 find the country chart success they so richly deserve. CountryChart.com

Free Download: Rodney Atkins "Take A Back Road"

Our friend Rodney Atkins new CD "Take A Back Road" won't be out until October 4, but you can download the title track "Take A Back Road" right now for free by clicking here.
You can also preview all 13 songs on the new album and even pre-order it by clicking here. Song titles on the new album include the title track, "He's Mine," "Family," "The Corner," "She's A Girl," "She'd Rather Fight," "Feet," "Cabin In The Woods," "Just Wanna Rock N' Roll," "Growing Up Like That," "Tips," "Lifelines" and "Farmer's Daughter."

Rodney Atkins never disappoints, and you will probably find your new favorite song on the 13-song Rodney Atkins album titled "Take A Back Road" that drops October 4, 2011.  CountryChart.com

News: Eli Young Band Turns "Crazy Girl" Into Download Gold

The Red Dirt dynamos of the super-successful Eli Young Band have hit a major musical milestone with sales of more than 650,000 to date of the group's hit single "Crazy Girl."
The single was certified gold for sales of more than 500,000 downloads, and the song has had a terrific average of 40,000 downloads per week since its release. This week, the cut climbed to #18 on the Billboard Country Songs Chart, and it also found a place at #17 on the USA Today/Country Aircheck chart.

On Monday August 8, 2011 the Eli Young Band attended an event at Republic Nashville where they received gold plaques. Bassist Jon Jones said the accomplishment was a dream come true: "When you walk into a recording studio, you see these gold records on the wall and wonder what it takes to get there." He added: "We're very lucky 'Crazy Girl' is gold. Making a gold record has been one of our goals since we started making music."

Label head Scott Borchetta said Republic Nashville made many promises to the Eli Young Band when they signed to the label. "Today, on the eve of the release week for their debut album on Republic Nashville, we get to check one of those promises off...'Crazy Girl' is a gold single!" Borchetta added that his label needed more groups like EYB, saying that he "always loves it when our brothers do good." CountryChart.com

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