Showing posts from August, 2015

Review: Roger Creager: Here It Is

Over the last 10 years, Roger Creager has established himself as one of the top acts in Texas country music by consistently providing talked-about live shows, popular radio chart hits and some great albums. With "Here It Is," Roger Creager has reached a career milestone with an album that is his best yet.

Roger Creager is known for his full, rich country voice that will warm the coldest of hearts. Creager's vocal talent is brilliantly displayed on the melancholy ballad "I Loved You When." This is followed by the excellent "Tangle Me In You" with a memorable and melodic chorus along with superb instrumentation.

Crowds love Roger Creager's live shows because they're a lot of fun. The #1 Texas radio hit "I'm From The Beer Joint" showcases Roger Creager's playful side most convincingly. This huge hit has helped draw new fans to Creager who later discover a more thoughtful side of his personality with songs like "A Good Day F…

Review: Carolyn Wonderland: Miss Understood

Take a little Bonnie Raitt, throw in a heaping handful of Janis Joplin along with a dash of Wynonna Judd and you've got Carolyn Wonderland, the amazingly talented Austin, Texas-based singer who has created a country, rock, soul and blues masterpiece with "Miss Understood."

Carolyn Wonderland is a musical genius. The powerful intensity of her vocal performance is without equal in the music business today, and her confident proficiency on the guitar is a revelation of musical bliss. To top it all off, Carolyn Wonderland has another unique talent - she can whistle with perfect pitch. Yes, Carolyn Wonderland aims to use every ounce of the musical talent God bestowed on her.

The best song on "Miss Understood" is the passionate country ballad "Bad Girl Blues." It is here that Wonderland allows listeners to glimpse the deep feelings from her soul. Her vocal performance is flawless, and this song deserves to be a major country music chart hit. Moreover, the a…

Review: Bob Simpson - Bob Simpson

If you ever wondered how Eric Clapton would have turned out if he grew up in West Texas, then meet Bob Simpson. This singer-songwriter is a triple threat: Guitar skill, vocals reminiscent of Marty Robbins mixed with a little Hayes Carll and, finally, a knack for writing heartfelt and penetrating lyrics. The combination makes this album a winner.

Simpson's debut album has a folk/country/Americana groove that would allow it to be enjoyed by both country and mainstream fans. The mood of the album is a unique mixture that is sometimes melancholy but always earnest. But the feeling in Bob Simpson's vocals and instrumentation on the guitar is intense without being overbearing.

However, it is the hopeful "Angel On My Shoulder" where Simpson gives his finest performance. Tracy Chapman had "Fast Car" and, now, Bob Simpson has "Angel On My Shoulder." The catchy melody, memorable lyrics and perfect harmonica interludes introduce a song that could be a hit o…

Review: Tom Cheatham - Restless Soul

Tom Cheatham's debut album "Restless Soul" is the biggest surprise of the year so far. Although the country and Americana artist's project was released in December 2008, we suspect that 2009 will be the year country music fans discover Tom Cheatham.
Fans of Wade Bowen, Chris Knight or Adam Carroll will find an instant bond with Tom Cheatham, whose lyrics reach deep into his soul and performance is smooth and remarkably polished for an indie debut.

The most radio friendly song is either the title track "Restless Soul" or "Runnin' Back To Texas" which should be released to Texas radio as soon as possible. But the best track on the album is the second to last song titled "Small Town Girl," This song has definite hit potential with its potent story and memorable melody. Plus, Cheatham's performance on "Small Town Girl" is a near-perfect country vocal.

Tom Cheatham's distinctive voice should be a benefit as radio listener…

Review: Ben Kweller - Changing Horses

The album "Changing Horses" is a revelation and a major surprise, because Ben Kweller is known as a critically acclaimed singer-songwriter and this is his first foray into country music. But "Changing Horses" proves that Kweller's first departure into country music should definitely not be his last. In fact, Ben Kweller's "Changing Horses" is an instant country classic.

Growing up in a small East Texas town meant that Ben Kweller came naturally to country music because he he was surrounded by it. As a kid, Garth Brooks and Travis Tritt ruled the radio in Greenville, Texas. Kids in cowboy hats were as common in Greenville as taxis are in New York City.

One of the finest songs on the album is the first single "Fight." Kweller's country vocals are perfect and the instrumentation rivals that of any country artist working today. One of the most unexpected elements of "Changing Horses" is the realization that Ben Kweller was born…

Review: Dierks Bentley - Feel That Fire

"Feel That Fire" is an appropriate title for Dierks Bentley's new album. That's because his fifth album from Capitol Records Nashville is smokin' hot and the best album of Dierks Bentley's career.

The first single from Bentley's album is the title track "Feel That Fire" which has been a country chart sensation. But Dierks Bentley was not always on the fast track to success. Only a few years ago, Bentley was singing in Nashville bars for tips, but his constant commitment to his craft helped this country boy with no music industry connections land a major label record deal.

One of the best songs on the album is titled "Beautiful World" and features Patty Griffin. Bentey's authoritative and earnest vocals are flawless and combine nicely with Patty Griffin's rich, raspy vocal delivery. Together, Bentley and Griffin have created a musical masterpiece that is destined for the country charts.

The finest song on the album is "I Wan…

Review: Bruce Robison - His Greatest

Growing up in Bandera, Texas gave Bruce Robison a perspective that shaped his views on the world, life and love. These small-town, southern values permeate every word of every song written by Bruce Robison, and "His Greatest" shows why this country troubadour is an American musical treasure and one of the greatest songwriters of his generation.

Robison's songs are widely sought after by the top artists of the day, and "His Greatest" includes newly recorded versions of #1 Hits Robison wrote that were recorded by others. These include: "Wrapped" (George Strait), the stellar "Travelin' Soldier" (Dixie Chicks) and "Angry All The Time" (Tim McGraw and Faith Hill).

Bruce Robison's vocals are unique in country music, because he has a knack for conveying an almost understated intensity that focuses listeners' minds on his always outstanding lyrics. It is Robison's everyman persona that endears him to his large and loyal grou…

Review: Terri Hendrix - Left Over Alls

Terri Hendrix is no shrinking violet. She is a talent powerhouse and a mighty savvy businessperson as well. But in the end, it's all about the music. Thankfully, that's what Terri Hendrix does best, and her new album "Left Over Alls" is a testament to good country music vocals and skilled instrumentation.

The 13 songs on the "Left Over Alls" collection are fully representative of the depths Terri Hendrix's soul and her passion for good music. This collection is so diverse for a reason: "Left Over Alls," as the title suggests, includes old and new songs Hendrix had been saving that had never made it onto one of her many albums.

One of the most pleasing songs on "Left Over Alls" is the self-penned second cut, "Wallet" which perfectly blends her vocals with Henrix's always perfect instrumental skills. It must be said that Terri Hendrix is one of the best musicians working today. Her skill with the harmonica, acoustic guit…

Review: Willie Nelson & Asleep At The Wheel - Willie And The Wheel

Two major artists have combined to create a Western Swing tour de force with "Willie And The Wheel," which teams the legendary Asleep At The Wheel with Willie Nelson. The famed, late music executive Jerry Wexler had championed this project for 30 years, and thankfully he got to hear this new Western Swing classic before his death.

Indeed, the genre of Western Swing gets a major shot in the arm with this crisp and original album that will introduce legions of new fans to a musical genre that is as American as apple pie but rarely gets enough attention. Jerry Wexler, known mostly for R&B, had been a personal fan of Western Swing classic artists such as Cliff Bruner, Bob Wills and Milton Brown who were popular when he studied journalism in Kansas City. His vision for this concept album was a masterful stroke of genius that we can all enjoy today.

As an album, the 12 songs on "Willie And The Wheel" all work together to ensure that listeners once again rediscover the…

Review: Don Edwards - Heaven On Horseback

With "Heaven On Horseback," singer-guitarist Don Edwards has created the definitive cowboy gospel album of this generation. Edwards' 14-song album is completely filled to the brim with the real-life spiritual journey of cowboys past and present in what can only be described as a career defining recording.

Don Edwards is America's preeminent western musician, and he drew international acclaim after appearing with Robert Redford in "The Horse Whisperer." People who have followed Edwards know that he never fails to impress or surprise. "Heaven On Horseback" blends the old with the new. Hank Williams and Kris Kristofferson are offered along with traditional hymns like "Amazing Grace" and traditional cowboy classics.

One of the best performances on the recording (and the biggest surprise) is the melancholy "Drift Along Lonely Cowboy" followed by "A Cowboy's Prayer/Dim Narrow Trail" which showcases a narration by Don Ed…

Review: Stevie Tombstone - Devil's Game

Stevie Tombstone grew up in the New Hope, Georgia, but he was not your typical Deep South church kid. In fact, his earrings and hair were different from the other musicians in the church he attended. And, basically, he only played guitar in the church band to meet girls. Nevertheless, those church days paid off, and his early country and gospel influences shine through in the album "Devil's Game."

This album is a collection/compilation of Stevie Tombstone's well received "Acoustica" and "Second Hand Sin" projects. These albums received significant airplay on US, European and Australian radio.

Stevie Tombstone's style is hard to definitively describe. In some instances, his sound is vintage Mellencamp or Springsteen while other tracks have a country gospel and Texas country sound. The term Americana is probably the best way to describe Tombstone's slightly scratchy and highly emotive vocal style, and this artist truly sings with passion.


Review" Trent Willmon - Broken In

Trent Willmon is an optimistic, country storyteller who has created one heck of an album with the terrific "Broken In." For his third studio album, Trent Willmon focuses our attention more closely on his excellent songwriting talent and spot-on country vocal skill. In short, this country boy has chops.

Trent Willmon wrote the Montgomery Gentry hit "Back When I Knew It All." And on "Broken In," Willmon records some of his own songs that offer glimpses of his past and remind listeners to embrace their country heritage.

Indeed, Willmon is at his best when performing his own music. Two of the finest songs on the album are "Dry County" and the unforgettable "The Good Ol' Days Are Gone" (where he is joined by Kevin Fowler and Roger Creager). But it is the stirring anthem "How A Cowboy Lives" that illustrates Trent Willmon's vocal talent the most.

The rousing, rockin' "Little Set Of Horns," which is Willmon'…

Review: Mike Runnels - Jukebox Boulevard

He has the mysterious persona of Roy Orbison, a voice reminiscent of Hank Williams mixed with a little Billy Joe Shaver and music that is old-time, classic country. His name is Mike Runnels, and he's not out reinvent the wheel. You see, Mike Runnels' goal on "Jukebox Boulevard" is to showcase traditional country music. By the way, he's good at it.

When you first listen to Mike Runnels, one word comes to mind: purity. His pure heart, pure emotion (as evidenced by his brilliant lyrics) and his pure, unadulterated love of his craft. With today's country music being inundated with "country pop" and bubble-gum lyrics, the traditional styling provided by "Jukebox Boulevard" is a breath of fresh air.

On "Jukebox Boulevard," Runnels'  provides a wonderful tapestry of old-fashioned country aimed at country purists who love George Jones and Merle Haggard. One of the best songs on the album is "Just Kiss Me Again" which is per…

Review: Micky & The Motorcars - Naive

What is the best Texas country album of the last six months? The answer is definitely "Naive," which is the hard rocking, 12-track country music masterpiece by Micky & The Motorcars. This album has the perfect mixture of great lyrics, fine production quality and authentic country vocals.

"Naive" is a worthy follow-up to the band's previous albums "Careless" and "Ain't In It For The Money." With "Naive," Micky & The Motorcars strike a confident tone from start to finish and, therefore, cement their status as leaders of the Texas country music movement.

Burning up the country music charts has become commonplace for Micky & The Motorcars, and "Naive" is filled with hits. The band also add a few elements to their trademark style. The hardest rocking cut on the album is "Bloodshot," which is followed by the excellent, traditional Texas country song titled "Seashell."

The best song on "N…

Review: Luke Olson - Red River Blue

For a young guy, Luke Olson has had an awful long career. That's because he started in the music business at the age of 8. "Red River Blue" continues his unique brand of casual country that has made him a popular concert draw. Plus, Olson has also appeared with everybody who's anybody in the Texas country music scene.

Luke Olson's songwriting is country through and through. His lyrics are straightforward and to-the-point. And the San Antonio native shines in the fun, country anthem "Gone Fishin." Two other standouts are also songs written by Olson titled "Everyday" and "Hello My Old Friend."

But it is the cover version Chris Knight's "Me And My Road" that showcases Luke Olson's country-tinged vocals the most. This is an excellent track that should be released to country radio.

The production quality on Olson's "Red River Blue" is sterling, and the pitch-perfect vocal performance was obviously honed fro…

ALBUM REVIEW: Cory Morrow - Vagrants And Kings

Cory Morrow makes a bold statement of faith in his new album "Vagrants And Kings." Morrow, a veteran of the Texas music scene hits his stride in what might be the best gospel-themed, country album ever produced by Texas country artist.

Cory Morrow begins the album with the excellent "He Carries Me," which finds the famed Austin singer in a reflective mood. It is evident that Morrow has had a spiritual revival in his own life, and he wants listeners to embark on this soul-seeking journey along with him. He follows with the superb songs "I Can Wait" and "All Is Said And Done." The latter track has an anthem-style quality that has made it a fan favorite already.

"Love Finds Everyone" is the kind of song that has made Morrow a Texas star. It has a great melody, memorable lyrics and includes the album's title. He sings: "Love finds everyone, Vagrants and Kings, and in between."

The rest of the album finds Cory Morrow in a stor…

Review: Meat Raffle Road - Eaten By Crows

Meat Raffle Road's music really isn't alt-country. In fact, it's probably best described as "alt-alt-country" or post-punk Americana. Whatever you want to call it, Meat Raffle Road's debut album "Eaten By Crows" is "awful good eating" to borrow a country phrase. No, it's not exactly pot roast at Sunday lunch. Its more akin to fried frog legs at your second cousin's house. Delicious, but different.

Reverend Horton Heat blazed the trail for punk and ska bands to more seriously embrace elements of country music, and the two members of Meat Raffle Road have taken their long background in punk and combined it with the roots and Americana music of their childhood to create a new genre of country - a punk-country fusion that is both trailblazing and startling with added elements of humor.

The album begins with the dark, ethereal "Thunder God," and it's followed by the best song on the project, the title track "Eaten By…

Review: Eric Hisaw - Nature Of The Blues

The new millennium has been kind to Eric Hisaw. This talented singer-songwriter debuted in 2000 with "Thing About Trains," and he hasn't looked back since. Today, the number one thing you can say about Eric Hisaw's new album "Nature Of The Blues" is that the music and the artist are 100% authentic. That's rare these days.

Born in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Hisaw moved to Louisiana at age 17 and settled in a condemned trailer for 80 bucks a month. From there, he took off to Memphis  (towards Millington on Highway 51) in a vintage Airstream. Needless to say, Eric Hisaw's country-blues lyrics draw on rich, and, yes, authentic, personal experiences.

The style of "Nature Of The Blues" is earnest, yet laid-back. It's a good combination that makes this album a must-buy for fans of Steve Earle, Chris Knight and Stevie Ray Vaughn. In fact, subtle elements of each of the aforementioned artists can be detected in Hisaw's musical style.
Eric Hisa…

Free 12-Song Album Download: Brett Crenshaw - Another Late Night

Brett Crenshaw and his band have the answer for tough economic times: A free download of their entire late 2008, 12-song album titled "Another Late Night." Thanks to Brett and the boys for the great gift!

UPDATE: This offer is now over. Thanks to Brett Crenshaw for giving so many people his album. However, it is worth every penny of the purchase price.

It will be delivered almost instantly. Ours came in less than a minute. There are no catches, and the website never even asks for your name or any other personal information.

Offering a free album download is an absolutely brilliant marketing idea by this new, rocking' Texas country band. "Another Late Night" offers 12 new recordings of Brett Crenshaw and his band. By giving away a free digital album, the band will certainly welcome many new fans. And this should increase attendance at his already packed shows.
Brett Crenshaw entered Texas A&M in 2004 with a goal of becoming a veterinarian. Then, he met his…

Single Review: Christen Lee Sawyer - Crazy

Christen Lee Sawyer is a 20-year-old woman on a mission: She wants to become a country star. And Christen Lee Sawyer's new single, "Crazy," shows that she is well on her way.

Christen, who writes many of her own songs and hails from Sugar Land, Texas, is a sophomore at Texas A&M majoring in economics. But her true passion is music. This passion took her to Nashville to record a 3-song EP titled "The Sampler" that includes the single she wrote titled "Crazy."

Christen Lee Sawyer said her major musical influences are Miranda Lambert, Carrie Underwood, Eli Young Band, Martina McBride, Dolly Parton and Faith Hill. Like her taste in music, Sawyer's style blends today's country with a little Texas country that makes her unique for new, country female artists.

In her single "Crazy," Sawyer sings with a relaxed country tone combined with a little Miranda Lambert attitude. It's a good combination. And with the right songs and career c…

Review: Brandon Jenkins - Faster Than A Stone

Brandon Jenkins is already a well-known singer and accomplished guitarist with 8 albums under his belt. But "Faster Than A Stone" is the artist's finest album to date. That's saying a lot since Jenkins has also produced creative gems like "Unmended," "VII" and "Down in Flames."

Brandon Jenkins is not an artist that can easily be pigeonholed. For instance, this album offers great blues with "Big Mama's Kitchen," southern rock with "Faster Than A Stone" and red dirt with "Just Like California." And that's just the first third of the album.

The musical talent on display in the album "Faster Than A Stone" is amazing. Jenkins songs and vocals are perfectly complemented by the artist's mastery of the guitar. Likewise, the other musicians on the record, including backgrounds by Stoney Larue on four songs, are also top-notch.
One of the best songs on the album is the final track "Got To B…

Single Review: Whiskey Myers - Lonely East Texas Nights

There's only one way to describe Whiskey Myers - a cool , red dirt band. And their latest single "Lonely East Texas Nights" dutifully showcases these rising stars from East Texas in a track that is probably autobiographical.
As a song, "Lonely East Texas Nights" is perfectly suited for country radio. The vibe is relaxed and the music is a nice mix of country and southern rock. Whiskey Myers style is a hybrid that mixes a little Allman Brothers and Led Zeppelin with some Randy Rogers Band and early Pat Green. It's a combination that works.

The boys started the group by writing songs in a rent house in small Elkhart, Texas, but they eventually became a mainstay in the Tyler, Texas area and built up a rabid fan base. The group's modest beginnings have helped craft music that has rich layers of personal experiences which are expressed in the heartfelt vocals and piercing lyrics.

The single "Lonely East Texas Nights" is taken from Whiskey Myers exc…

Single Review: Josh Abbott Band - Buried Me

The Josh Abbott has produced one of the best Texas music songs of the last year or so with the stellar "Buried Me" The single is successful on all levels and provides a powerful musical punch with thought provoking lyrics and strong vocals.

Founded by fraternity brothers on the campus of Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas, the Josh Abbott Band (also known as JAB among fans) has had a fast rise in the Texas Country scene. Their combination of country rock, a lead singer with a great voice, good instrumentation (drums. electric guitar, acoustic guitar and banjo) and little comic relief make JAB unbeatable in the the country scene.
If you just read the lyrics, you would think "Buried Me" is a dark song. But there's more to it than that. Yes, the track is rife with emotion, but it still successfully manages to provide a rocking beat that is perfect for country radio. Anyone who has ever been through a bad break-up or had a love-hate relationship will instantly identify w…

Single Review: Charlie Shafter Band - Not My Girl

The boys in the Charlie Shafter Band don't take themselves too seriously. But when it comes to their music, these guys are awful hard workers. All the proof you need is in their album "17th And Chicago" and their new single "Not My Girl" which mixes Texas country with a little Goo Goo Dolls/Lifehouse style. This combination is infectious - in a good way.

"Not My Girl" is a contemporary country song that fits well on radio and showcases the band's laid back style. The music is upbeat and the lyrics are reflective without trying to be too deep. In short, it's a perfect, catchy country radio tune.
Since Charlie Shafter and drummer Joel Dreistadt hail from Illinois, the band doesn't classify itself as Texas country. The Charlie Shafter Band's music crosses genres and can be appreciated by fans of both Bob Dylan and Ricky Skaggs. Indeed, the first single "Big City Baby" has a great Marc Cohn-goes-country vibe that masterfully suc…

Single Review: Pat Green - Let Me

Pat Green's vocals soar with the new single "Let Me." Green offers up a stellar performance and upbeat delivery that makes this track one of the most memorable and well-produced songs on country radio in the last few months.
Although the romantic lyrics of "Let Me" are more suited for an average Kenny Chesney country fan rather than Pat Green's original Texas music audience, this song is a winner that can be appreciated by both groups of fans. His romantic lyrics include:
"Let me be the one who sets your feet up on a road where you've never been, oh and baby then, you can let me take these arms and wrap you up inside a night that will never end." Like Jack Ingram, Pat Green has found a second life in mainstream country music, and this single could certainly catapult him to even further success.
While "Let Me" will certainly appeal to women, Pat Green has created a country love song with enough of an edge that men will enjoy it too. I…