Connie Smith's 2011 CD, Long Line of Heartaches. Photo courtesy of Sugar Hill Records.
Though nominated for a Grammy in 2010 on a duet with husband Marty Stuart, Connie Smith’s new album, Long Line of Heartaches, is the first time the classic country singer can be heard on a full release of her own since 1998’s self-titled effort. Long Line of Heartaches, a collection of 12 burning tracks, is a poignant return to form as Connie delivers the heartbreak beautifully through her timeless voice.
Connie wrote five of the album’s songs with Marty, who serves as the project’s producer. Opening with a trademark “Connie Smith Sound” pedal steel guitar lick, the record’s title track issues a statement that followers of traditional country should stand on high alert. Oh, it does you no good, when those burning teardrops fall/ sayin’ everything’s gonna be alright to a heart that’s seen it all, Connie sings with a vintage honky tonk touch on “Long Line of Heartaches,” reminiscent of greats like Loretta Lynn. Many of the songs on the album tell stories with heart-wrenching clarity about trying to be as strong as possible in the face of lost love. Surrounded by reverb-heavy guitar on the dreamy “I’m Not Blue,” Connie sings, You may think I’m falling apart/ but I’m just missin’ all the love we knew, before admitting, The truth gets hard to say when pride stands in the way/ So just let me lie to you/ I’m not blue.
“Ain’t You Even Gonna Cry,” a slow, acoustic-based ballad and one of the album’s standouts, features Connie’s voice richly conveying the hurt and dumbfounded disbelief of a woman realizing she cares more than the man she’s leaving. Continue Reading
Suzy Bogguss' 2011 CD, American Folk Songbook. Photo courtesy of Lotos Nile Media.
On her 13th studio album, American Folk Songbook, Grammy and CMA-award winning singer Suzy Bogguss takes a journey into the vaults of American music. With a pristine voice that is both technically savvy and emotionally charged, Suzy works with stripped down arrangements to add a modern touch to classic Americana.
Stemming from the idea that American heritage music was being lost on today’s children, Suzy set her mind to capturing traditional folk, bluegrass and Americana songs for a new generation. Paired with a separately-sold 96-page book that includes historical accounts of the songs, illustrations and sheet music, American Folk Songbook is an enthralling 17-song collection that succeeds in preserving many pieces of our storied musical history.
Suzy’s rich voice shines on the album as she masterfully approaches such iconic works as “Swing Low Sweet Chariot.” After an emotional measure of nothing but a single track of her singing, Swing low sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me home, banjo slowly enters to support her delicate voice as acoustic guitars and bass ease in. Suzy shows that she has a couple tricks up her sleeve with Continue Reading
Josh Kelley photo courtesy of UMG Nashville.
In the new issue of US Weekly, on newsstands nationwide Friday, Josh Kelley revealed “25 Things You Don’t Know About Me.” Among the things he disclosed? That he and his brother, Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, had a band called Inside Blue when they were teenagers; he was also in a jazz band with Lady A’s Dave Haywood in high school; and he and his wife, actress Katherine Heigl, found their dog Oscar in trash can in Mexico. You can read all 25 things on US Weekly’s website.
But way before Josh sat down with US Weekly, he let GAC in on some other personal details. Check out what he confessed to our cameras Continue Reading
Justin Moore's 2011 CD, Outlaws Like Me. Photo by Kristin Barlowe, courtesy of The Valory Music Co.
On his second album, Outlaws Like Me, Arkansas native Justin Moore wears his redneck heart on his sleeve, discussing topics ranging from love and family to guns and beer. With radio-ready hooks and accessible production, Outlaws aims to take the 27-year old singer/songwriter from “Small Town, USA” straight to Main Street.
Moore’s never been one to make apologies for his rowdy side – and he certainly isn’t about to start. Wasting no time to share stories, he jumps right in amidst big acoustic guitars and tight production on the up-tempo opener “Redneck Side,” detailing such exploits as when in-laws find him “in the pool at 2am wearin’ nothin’ but a farmer’s tan.” On the hard country-funk of “Beer Time” (written by Moore, Rhett Atkins and album producer Jeremy Stover), Moore muses in his heavy Southern drawl that “bird dog just had her puppies, that’s a hundred dollars cash a piece/ this ol’ boy struck it country rich, at least for a couple weeks.” After making a little money on the deal, it’s time for chillin’ down a 12-pack in the cooler and hitting the Hank Jr. concert before doing anything else.
Friends, a few good stories and Continue Reading
Ronnie Dunn's 2011 self-titled CD. Photo courtesy of Sony Music Nashville.
Ronnie Dunn has been a busy man. Barely nine months after drawing the curtain on his legendary career as half of the iconic Brooks & Dunn, the 58-year-old singer/songwriter isn’t considering retirement for a second. Takin’ it easy just doesn’t seem to interest Ronnie much as he returns with a hard-charging solo album about love, life on the road and what it means to be a hard working man.
From the amped-up honky tonk stomp of opener “Singer In A Cowboy Band,” it’s clear that Dunn is a man on a mission. “Mama don’t get it, Preacher don’t understand/ Why I’m a singer in a cowboy band,” he sings with conviction. And while the riffs and song structure are reminiscent of Brooks & Dunn favorites like “Play Something Country,” Ronnie is clearly taking charge here as he steps to center stage.
Besides serving as the project’s producer, Ronnie also wrote or co-wrote 9 of the album’s 12 songs. Along the way, he teamed up with such well-known Music City songwriters as Craig Wiseman, Terry McBride, David Lee Murphy and Dallas Davidson for collaboration. On the great up-tempo “How Far To Waco” (co-written with McBride), Dunn moves South of the Border by way of the Yoakam-Orbison expressway as his melodies cruise through mariachi horns and guitars with dirty distortion. Continue Reading
Carter's Chord's 2011 EP, Wild Together. Photo courtesy of Show Dog-Universal Music.
For sisters Joanna, Emily and Becky Robertson, country music has always been a way of life – it’s in their blood. In fact, the three sisters that are Carter’s Chord spent their childhood learning from some of country’s greatest heroes as their parents, Barny and Carter, were part of Outlaw legend Waylon Jennings’ recording and touring band. On Wild Together, the trio’s sophomore album for Toby Keith’s Show Dog-Universal Music, vocal harmonies shine as the girls blend their musical upbringing with a contemporary sound.
Co-writing all six songs, the sisters waste no time showcasing their dynamic harmonies, as they launch into the chorus of the uptempo title cut “Wild Together.” With layered textures that only sibling harmonies can create, they sing “We could be wild, wild together/ Just you and me and our crazy dreams,” in controlled chaos while their voices beautifully intertwine. On the album’s first single, the acoustic-based power ballad “A Little Less Comfortable,” deep piano undertones add extra drama while the girls sing of longing for a more unpredictable love. “Don’t wanna go through the motions just because it’s easy,” they sing before repeating in rising harmony, “A little less comfortable” to close the song. [Watch the video HERE.] Continue Reading
Frankie Ballard photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Nashville
From the ringing distortion and raspy vocals of the opening track “A Buncha Girls,” newcomer Frankie Ballard makes it immediately evident that he feels right at home with some back country soul and a heavy dose of guitar fire. On his self-titled debut, the 28-year-old guitar slinger offers up his own brand of heartland country, Dixieland blues and Mellencamp-influenced rock’n’roll.
Maybe it’s because he’s originally from two hours west of Motown, but Ballard is able to blur the lines between country, blues and rock with a nice bit of finesse. On songs like the radio-ready “A Buncha Girls,” Ballard sings, “They say ‘Sha-la-la, hey-hey-hey’ with the band and party all night long,” referencing Van Morrison’s iconic “Brown Eyed Girl” amidst bluesy guitar hooks and contemporary country lyrics. On his debut single, “Tell Me You Get Lonely,” palm-muted guitar chords plod away as a subtle organ melody swirls before Frankie cleverly sings, “Sometimes you’re up all night crying over me/ You gotta take off of work to catch up on your sleep” with a country twist to project his own feelings onto the one that left him. Continue Reading
Foster & Lloyd photo courtesy of Ellis Creative.
Twenty-one years after going their separate ways, Radney Foster and Bill Lloyd are reuniting for their fourth studio album, It’s Already Tomorrow. The 13-song collection, all co-written by Foster and Lloyd, finds the duo fully entrenched in their element, amidst country rock grooves and sharp lyrics with a focus on intricate vocal harmonies.
Though the duo hasn’t released a new album since 1990’s Version of the Truth, Radney and Bill continued to meet through the years, keeping their writing partnership very much alive. They reunited onstage for a recent Americana Music Association fundraiser and found that the magic was most definitely still there. Songwriting sessions became more frequent and eventually the decision was made to go back into the studio. Continue Reading
Sean Patrick McGraw's 2011 EP, My So Called Life.
Sean Patrick McGraw just may be one of country music’s best-kept secrets, but don’t expect that to last for too long after the release of his second EP, My So Called Life, which came out in late April.
For the constant road-warrior (McGraw and his band keep pace with 150+ shows annually), the release of My So Called Life comes just as several key accomplishments are stacking up. Clear Channel named him a 2011 “NEW: Artist To Watch.” He recently finished a stretch opening for Dierks Bentley on the Jagermeister Country Music Tour. Two of his songs were used during the 2010 season of the hit HBO-series “True Blood,” and “Git Yer Cowboy On,” the hard-charging party track that opens My So Called Life, was used to kickoff Westwood One’s presentation of the 2011 Super Bowl. Yes, it seems this may start becoming McGraw’s “so called life.”
McGraw, no relation to Tim, co-wrote all nine songs on the EP in addition to getting behind the control deck as producer. Continue Reading
Anna Wilson's album, Countrypolitan Duets. Photo courtesy of Jim Havey PR.
Anna Wilson & Friends
Drawing inspiration from “That Nashville Sound” of the late 1950s and 60s when country music began incorporating the sounds of mainstream pop, Nashville-based singer/songwriter Anna Wilson’s latest project blends classic country and jazz through duets with stars from both genres.
Ms. Wilson herself is uniquely positioned to take on such a genre-bending job. Though known from her own albums as a sultry jazz singer with a classic voice, she has written several hit contemporary country songs such as Chuck Wicks’ 2009 “All I Ever Wanted” and Lady Antebellum’s “If I Knew Then” from the trio’s 2010 album Need You Now. Countrypolitan, produced by Anna’s husband and current SESAC Songwriter of the Year, Monty Powell, features duets with some of country’s most recognizable names, including Keith Urban, Lady Antebellum, Ray Price and Kenny Rogers.
Set over mostly standard jazz arrangements and featuring clean electric guitars, smooth bass lines, horns, keyboards and percussion, Countrypolitan reinterprets classics like the album’s first single “You Don’t Know Me,” with American Idol finalist Matt Giraud. Anna also offers “Night Life” with jazz guitarist Larry Carlton and “For The Good Times” with Kenny Rogers. Anna’s voice is best on slow-burning songs, such as “Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues” with Keith Urban. Here, her sad vocal melody truly conveys the blues as she sings “I’ve got my pills to ease the pain/ Can’t find a thing to ease the rain” before sweetly harmonizing with Keith to sing “Some gotta win/ Some gotta lose.” Continue Reading