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Showing posts from September, 2015

Review: John Evans - Lucky 13

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John Evans rocks. And his album "Lucky 13" proves it. This album is chock full of subtle and not-so-subtle hints of the music that shaped the life of John Evans. In one song, the influence of Carl Perkins, Elvis and Hank Williams permeates the music. While at other times, John Evans channels Robert Earl Keen mixed with a little Dwight Yoakum, and this rockin' country album expertly pulls off a diverse collection of influences. This makes "Lucky 13" a delightful surprise.

John Evans moved to Houston, Texas as a child and was blessed with the city's rich musical heritage. He later moved to Pasadena, Texas where he was a star quarterback. Later, he became a professional football player and shifted his focus to music when his football career ended. Certainly, John Evans brings the passion of a champion football player to the stage and his musical intensity is a force of nature that is virtually unmatched by any Texas musician working today.

The musicianship and …

Review: Hot Club Of Cowtown - The Best of Hot Club Of Cowtown

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Listening to the 20-track anthology titled "The Best of Hot Club Of Cowtown" is like attending a western swing and jazz master class. This album more than proves why Hot Club Of Cowtown is a critical darling and a fan favorite. Yes, these talented musicians know how sing, play and entertain better than just about any artist working today.

Hot Club Of Cowtown began as a duo when Elena James and Whit Smith discovered they had a mutual love of artists like Bob Wills, Joe Venuti, Stuff Smith, Eddie Lang, George Barnes and Django Reinhardt among others. So they moved from San Diego, California to Austin, Texas and added a base player to complete the group.

One of the best tracks on the anthology is titled "I Can't Believe You're In Love With Me." The vocals have a casual elegance reminiscent of the popular music of the 1940s. The instrumentation perfectly compliments the carefully nuanced vocals. The upbeat "Forget-Me Nots" is another standout cut. The …

Review: Kyle Park - Anywhere In Texas

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Plain and simple, Kyle Park can sing. This country boy's new album "Anywhere In Texas" is just as irreverent and powerful as his mischievous Texas grin and confident posture on the album's cover suggest it will be. Indeed, Park's second album "Anywhere In Texas" boldly announces a new Texas music star vying for dominance with the likes of Jason Boland, Randy Rogers and Stoney LaRue. That's good company.

Kyle Park is first and foremost a brilliant songwriter, and he has written or co-written all 12 songs on the album. Park's tunes are universally melodic with bold, yet personal lyrics. Hard working men and country women can easily identify with his songs. For instance, "Cold In Colorado" shows Kyle Park in top form, and the chorus has a killer hook.

Kyle Park's current Texas Music Chart hit single, "Don't Look," is a memorable song that deserves all of the accolades it has received. But the best song on the album is th…

Review: Austin Cunningham - Made To Last

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You may not know the name Austin Cunningham, but you've certainly heard his music. Cunningham has been the writer or co-writer of songs recorded by his buddy Chris Knight, Big and Rich, Hank Williams, Jr, Dolly Parton, Faith Hill, Martina McBride and dozens of others. With his fourth album, "Made To Last," Austin Cunningham has produced 13 top-notch songs that cannot be ignored.

As a singer-songwriter, Austin Cunningham is unique. He has an identifiable country voice that fully encapsulates the thoughts and feelings of everyday, working country men and women. The album's first cut, "This Town's On My Nerves" is illustrative of the frustration of many in these days of recession and job losses. Likewise, "Go Easy On Yourself" is a powerful anthem for people facing tough times. This song is a simple, but powerfully uplifting song that could be a country radio chart hit.

The album's title track clearly shows the full range of Austin Cunningham&…

Review: Doug Stone - Live At Billy Bob's Texas

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There's a good reason Doug Stone is a country music star: This man has a golden country voice that is unmistakably his own. With his 18-song, new album, "Live At Billy Bob's Texas," Doug Stone once again proves that he is a force to be reckoned with in country music. In short, Doug Stone's voice in 2009 is just as potent as it was when he first became a star.

It is a pleasure and honor to revisit major Doug Stone country hits that dominated the country charts for so long. On "I Thought It Was You," Doug Stone puts a new spin on the classic song with subtle changes in his vocal phrasing. His deep, rich voice resonates with a passion that makes the song seem fresh and new.

"Little Houses" is also given a small, but noticeable makeover that allows the lyrics to be heard in a new light. But the major success of "Live At Billy Bob's Texas" is the classic "Too Busy Being In Love." Doug Stone wisely chose to keep the winning tr…

Review: Mo Robson Band - Live At Adair's Saloon: Deep Ellum, Texas

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The Mo Robson Band is one hard-working group of Dallas guys. For almost a decade, Mo and the boys have been crisscrossing America with their hard-driving brand of Texas country music. And the 16 songs on "Live At Adair's Saloon: Deep Ellum, Texas" fully capture the magic of the band's hugely popular live shows while delivering top-notch production and pitch-perfect vocals.

The album starts strong with the traditional country songs "Walkin' In My Shoes" and "Jim Beam Whiskey." But the live album at Dallas' famed Adair's Saloon really begins to hit its stride with the third song, the terrific Red Dirt track "First One To Go." This is followed by the memorable Texas music cut "Even Angels Fall."

The Mo Robson Band's third album also features the song "Rolling Down This Highway," which is a genuinely roadworthy, Texas music masterpiece. The diversity of the Mo Robson Band - or MRB as they are affectionatel…

Review: Stephanie Briggs - Birds Barely Know Us

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Stephanie Briggs "Birds Barely Know Us" is a uniquely wonderful, Texas folk-Americana album that never fails to surprise or impress from the first song to the last. Although the music of this New Braunfels, Texas native is difficult to categorize, Stephanie Briggs has more than her fair share of country fans, including Wade Bowen, Randy Rogers and Cody Canada of Cross Canadian Ragweed.

"Don't Come Calling" is the album's most compelling track and has the feel of an indie-rock anthem with rock-solid vocals by Briggs in a song she wrote. The tough lyrics and passionate delivery combine to create a memorable musical experience. Briggs doesn't pull any punches: "Don't see me don't touch me / Don't act like you can fix this dear."
One of the best tracks on the album is "Difficult Positions" which has a Tori Amos meets Bjork vibe that is refreshingly eclectic. Likewise, "Mix Tape" showcases Briggs as an artist with mus…

Review: Dean Seltzer - Lady Luck

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Dean Seltzer describes his music as "high energy, obnoxious, redneck rock 'n roll." Well, he couldn't have said it better, because Seltzer's terrific new album titled "Lady Luck" is a hard-driving, rockin' amalgamation of Red Dirt and traditional country that is bound to make Dean Seltzer the biggest new Texas music star this year.

Dean Seltzer's vocals pop with emotion and intensity on his new single titled "Anyway," which offers a memorable (and hummable) melody and catchy lyrics. This was the perfect choice for Seltzer's first single, as evidenced by the fast rise of "Anyway" on Texas country radio.
The one thing you should know about Dean Seltzer is that he is honest to a fault. In his unofficial bio, Seltzer says: "Like any male musician on the planet, I started playing guitar and singing to pick up girls." And it is this no-holds-barred authenticity that makes this album so successful on tracks like "V…

Review: Tommy Gallagher Band - Always Something

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The Amarillo, Texas boys that make up the Tommy Gallagher Band are an easy-going group of guys who have managed to create an album that honors the tradition of Tommy's legendary grandfather (honky-tonk hero Tommy Allen) while still pushing the envelope of contemporary Texas country music. This is no easy feat. And that's why the Tommy Gallagher Band will probably soon join the ranks of the top Texas country acts, such as the Randy Rogers Band, Stoney LaRue and Wade Bowen.

The album, expertly produced by Mike McClure, starts strong with the title track "Always Something." And the Tommy Gallagher Band - or TGB as they are affectionately known by longtime fans - have crafted a unique sound on the title track that will make them instantly recognizable to country radio audiences. The song "Always Something" is the band's first single and is already a big hit on the Texas Music Chart. The track "Smile" is another laid-back, Texas country-style song…

Review: The Cody Gill Band - King Of Your Hometown

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The four members of The Cody Gill Band hit the bullseye with "King Of Your Hometown," the upbeat and confident sophomore release from one of the most talked about new bands on the red dirt music scene. And these small town, country boys from Stephenville, Texas deliver eleven terrific songs that are genuine, real-life narratives put to music.

In 2007, The Cody Gill Band had a pretty good year. The band released its debut, full-length album, "Boxcars." Similarly, the single "Can't Let Her Go" was a fixture on the Texas charts and announced the band as a major force in Texas music. Formed in 2004, The Cody Gill Band started out playing at their local bar in Stephenville. Since then, they've criss-crossed America, and all of the band's hard work is more than evident on their stellar new album, "King Of Your Hometown."


Nine of the eleven songs on "King Of Your Hometown" were written by band members. The Cody Gill Band's ni…

Review: Drew Landry Band - BandryLand: Sharecropper's Whine

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Drew Landry's "BandryLand: Sharecropper's Whine" is a Cajun-influenced Americana masterwork that vividly illustrates the unadulterated passion of an authentic Southwest Louisiana country boy and storyteller who won't let rough times or hardships (like Hurricane Katrina) get in the way of his music. It's a good thing, because Drew Landry's "BandryLand: Sharecropper's Whine" is a personal and sometimes heart-wrenching mix of interesting, original tracks about politics, hard life choices and tough economic times.

The favorite memory of Drew Landry's musical career is when he played the Angola Prison Rodeo with the prison band. After the performance, Landry promised his new friends that he would get them out of jail someday. To the surprise of the prisoners in the band, Drew Landry made good on the promise, and the Angola warden allowed the band to play with Landry at a fundraiser held in his hometown of Scott, Louisiana.

"BandryLand: S…

Review: Pat Green - What I'm For

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Pat Green is a revered country music artist who helped launch a huge wave of excitement in the Texas music scene. While Pat Green has moved on to claim a huge fan base in the country world, "What I'm For" proves that Pat Green has not forgotten his Texas roots. "What I'm For" is a major achievement for Green, and is the best album of his long career. That's saying something, because Pat Green has a music catalog that any country musician would envy.
"What I'm For" debuted at number 2 on the Billboard Country Chart, and the first single from the album, "Let Me," is already a big hit on country radio. "Let Me" is a reflective and heartfelt track with a great melody and tender lyrics that deserves the success on radio that it has achieved.

The album "What I'm For" starts off strong with the cut "Footsteps Of Our Fathers," which is an anthem that urges listeners to embrace their family heritage. Th…

Review: Shawna Russell - Goddess

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Beauty, brains and talent collide on the breakthrough debut album "Goddess" from Shawna Russell. This Oklahoma native has been singing since age 7, and her professionalism and raw vocal skills are evident on every track of this sensational project.

Good debut albums from female country artists are remarkably rare these days, and Shawna Russell has pulled out all the stops to craft an album that pulsates with passion and raw emotion. The track "The Only One" gives romantic hope to people who have been rejected by a lover, and the sincere and powerful vocal performance by Russell makes this song a winner.

One of the best cuts on the album is "Shed A Tear." This military-inspired anthem, co-written by Shawna Russell, presents a compelling story about a female soldier going off to war. It is a highly successful track that should be of great comfort to soldiers and their families.

The current single, "Should've Been Born With Wheels" is an amazi…

Review: T and C Miller (T-Roy Miller and Candace Kunz-Miller) - By Request

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T-Roy Miller and Candace Kunz-Miller make a memorable and important contribution to Texas country music with their stellar album "By Request." This instant cowboy classic features 12 original campfire songs expertly performed by T & C Miller. And this is one campfire jam that would make any country music lover drive the length of Texas to attend.T-Roy Miller is a country boy who was already successful when he met fellow country recording artist, Candace Kunz. Their love of music expanded to a love of each other, and the couple's marriage formed the country duo appropriately named T & C Miller. T-Roy and Candace are both top-notch country artists in their own right, and their professionalism and raw country talent are on full display.

One of the best songs on the album is the track "Thanks For Putting Up With Me." This song features an understated and sincere performance by T-Roy who is singing a reflective song of thanks to his wife, Candace. She answe…

Review: Bo Cox "Rich Man's Gold"

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The debut album "Rich Man's Gold" by Texas native Bo Cox is a confident blend of Texas country, blues and Americana. Surprisingly, this bold album introduces a young singer and guitarist who has the skills of a veteran country act in his prime. In short, Bo Cox's "Rich Man's Gold" is a winner.

Bo Cox's musical skills come naturally, because this country boy grew up in a family-owned, homegrown Opry House. While family connections can open a few doors in the music industry, it's a musician's talent and work ethic that produces a sustainable country career. So Bo Cox constantly honed his guitar and vocal skills as a young man. He sang and brought his guitar everywhere he found a microphone and even places without one, like living rooms and holiday social gatherings. The tenacity of Bo Cox paid off in a big way, and his hard work shows in each of the 11, self-penned tracks on "Rich Man's Gold."

Produced by the legendary Mike McClu…

Review: Seth Walker - Leap Of Faith

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Seth Walker has had a red-hot blues career for a little while now, but the new album "Leap Of Faith" changes everything. This album is burning up with potential hits and should send the talented musician's career into the stratosphere.

Seth Walker was born to classically trained musicians who lived on a commune in North Carolina. Walker first took up the cello but he soon discovered his love of the guitar. And Walker hasn't looked back since. Likewise, his stellar new album "Leap Of Faith" is a fitting tribute to his musical heroes like T-Bone Walker, B.B. King and Snooks Eaglin.

On "Leap Of Faith," Seth Walker has never sounded so good. The artist's amazing passion and musicality are presented in a new and fresh way. Producer Gary Nicholson brings out the very best in Seth Walker, including the title track, "Leap Of Faith." According to Walker, this album was recorded at a difficult time. He said: "The idea of a leap of faith a…

Review: Zack Walther And The Cronkites - Ambition

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Fans of New Braunfels, Texas band Zack Walther And The Cronkites are fired up, and they have every reason to be. ZWC's new album "Ambition" fully lives up to its lofty title. This is one Texas country band whose star is on the rise. "Ambition" puts all the top Texas music band's on notice: Step up your game or move over for Zack Walther And The Cronkites.

ZWC's current single "Georgia Cane" is a Texas music triumph that slowly builds momentum leading into the powerful chorus. "Georgia Cane" boasts memorable lyrics and a confident vocal performance by Zack Walther. It is followed by the equally pleasing "Tumbleweed" which blends traditional country melodies with Texas music themes.

Zack Walther And The Cronkites are unique in the Texas music marketplace. The band is essentially a combination of Red Dirt and southern rock. This is a winning formula for success in both the Texas country and mainstream country markets. Indeed,…

REVIEW: Josh Grider - Brokedown

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Josh Grider must have a big set of kahunas.

Yes, you read the above sentence correctly - because it takes some boldness from the nether regions for a country music artist - or any music artist, really - to title a new album "Brokedown." To some lazy music reviewers, a title like  "Brokedown" is a gift from above that would allow them to simply banter on about how 'broken down' the album actually is. However, Josh Grider, a country boy who hails from Las Cruces, New Mexico, doesn't allow for any of that. He has created a tight Album-EP hybrid with six songs and a bonus cut that will knock any lazy, 'broken down' music critic right into top gear.

The album begins with the quietly intense "Only Life I've Ever Known (Suburban Song)." Grider oozes sincerity as he grapples with a man coming to terms with the cards life has dealt. The lyrics provide vivid imagery of a man with a not-so-easy life trying to make a living for a family he lo…

SINGLE REVIEW: Bo Phillips Band - Red Dirt Girl

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Red Dirt musicians don't come any better than the boys of Stillwater, Oklahoma's Bo Phillips Band, who have created a scorching new album titled "Fishin' With Grandpa" that highlights lessons and stories about growing up. However, the band has the potential of a barnstorming, mega-hit with the anthem "Red Dirt Girl," which could propel the Bo Phillips Band to a whole new level.

Bo Phillips grew up with his two brothers (Red Dirt musician Stoney LaRue and Stephan Phillips) without much money, but the brothers' rich family heritage created a unique work ethic that is proven by the superb new album that begins with the hit single "Front Porch."

Despite their relative success, "Red Dirt Girl" steals the show on the band's new album, and the Bo Phillips Band have likely found its signature song with the lighter waving track - which is performed with a piercing sincerity that is palpably earnest. Indeed, both male and female conce…