CD Reviews

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Various Artists – The Betty Swain Project

This project is a testament to the belief that it’s never too late to begin something that is a passion in your life. In 2010, Betty Swain was searching through her cedar chest and found some lyrics she had put to paper over fifty years ago. She had never found someone to put her lyrics to music,and bring her songs to life. She sent the songs to her niece, who was a music attorney in New York. From there, the path gets a little...
 
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Buddy Guy - Rhythm & Blues

There's a saying that usually comes up when one is discussing May-December romances - "Age Is Just A Number." That could also apply to the music business. Legendary Grammy winning blues man Buddy Guy just turned 76 years old. That being said, you definitely can't tell it on this double-disc collection that showcases an artist still at the top of his game - doing it as well as anyone else. Disc one kicks off...
 
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The Tina Adair Band - Born Bad

Sometimes, artists take a while between projects. But, in the case of Tina Adair, it's been a long "while." This is her first project in thirteen years, as she stepped away from the stage in the late 1990s to pursue a career behind the scenes in the music business after obtaining her degree. When an artist takes that amount of time, you must wonder if the fire is still there, or is the music as compelling as it was once...
 
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Kayla Calabrese - Self Titled

One thing is apparent pretty early on Kayla Calabrese's debut EP - She definitely has a range! She can belt out a power ballad as few newcomers can these days. Listen to the notes she hits on "Kiss Me," the opener on this collection. She reminds me very much of Sara Evans on this particular cut, as she isn't afraid to let her twang-filled (by way of New Jersey!) voice show plenty of personality. Producer Kent Wells wisely...
 
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Lisa Lambert – Come On Home

A resident of the beautiful state of Mississippi, Lisa Lambert is a throwback to a bygone era in Country Music. She takes you back to a time when people still sat on the porch during the afternoons in the summer, when a trip to the lake for a fishing experience was a bigger deal than the new video game on Xbox or PS3. There’s a lot of fiddle and steel here, and it’s played beautifully by session masters Joe Spivey and Steve...
 
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Gungor - I Am Mountain

Together with his wife Lisa, Michael Gungor has quite an interesting sound. He describes it as "liturgical post-rock." I won't begin to describe what that definition means, but I will tell you this is a very eclectic album - with a variety of sounds and moods for the listening experience. The album kicks off with the title cut, which contains a very dreamy feel, balanced by the fact that the harmony between the two is...
 
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Rachel Solomon - Love Ourselves

Sometimes, the quiet ones can be the most lethal. Now, in saying that, let me stress I have never met Rachel Solomon. But, upon first impression via her press kit and CD, she seems like a very stunning young woman with a tenacious voice - who has no idea just how strong she really is. On this album, it's almost as if she is playing the role of seductress in a way. She spins her web, where you might not think...
 
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Logan Brill - Walking Wires

In the notes that accompany this album, Knoxville native Logan Brill says she’s not trying to be Carrie Underwood or Taylor Swift, but at the same time, she’s not trying to be Bonnie Raitt or Patty Griffin. “I’m just trying to be authentic to myself, and make music that means something to me,” she states. More often than not, she hits the mark on this brilliant debut album. There’s tinges of roots music, Americana, and a dash...
 
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Alan Jackson - The Bluegrass Album

Alan Jackson has made no secret about his love of Bluegrass Music over the years. In the 1990s, his version of "Seven Bridges Road" was a highlight of his live show - done in classic Bluegrass style. Finally, after all these years, Jackson has decided to release an album in that laid back style. As you might expect, the Georgia native had no trouble attracting some of the genre's finest musicians to back him...
 
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Michael Martin Murphey - Red River Drifter

Since the release of his Cowboy Songs disc back in the early 1990s, Michael Martin Murphey has turned his musical focus to the western type songs that first influenced him years ago. He has often stated that one of his favorite albums of all time is Marty Robbins' Gunfighter Ballads & Trail Songs, so it's only natural that he has taken this career route. In doing so, he has become one of the most respected and...
 
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Kenny Rogers - You Can't Make Old Friends

Kenny Rogers has been at the top of his game for well over five decades, but it wasn’t until he signed with Reprise in 1967 as a member of the First Edition that his career truly began to take flight. Though his solo career took him to United Artists, Liberty, and RCA – among others, he has returned to the company where his career really began to soar into the stratosphere. As an artist that has kept himself viable over...
 
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Tyler Farr - Redneck Crazy

I know I am going to sound like a traditional-minded prude that doesn’t like anything recorded after 1964 here – well, at least in the beginning. In the lyrics for “Dirty,” Tyler Farr refers to tobacco as “Baccer” (or “Bakker,” take your pick), and my first thought was...well, we won’t go there. It’s actually a fun track, but there were just an inordinate amount of cliches in the song, and vocally, there was nothing there to set him...
 
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Chris Young - A.M.

As a big fan of Chris Young over the past few years, I do have to admit that I was , somewhat skeptical when I heard the first single from this collection, "Aw Naw." That's not saying anything against Young - who has built one of the most consistent careers in the marketplace right now. I just was not that big a fan of the song. It sounds like something that another artist might have done, and didn't have the lyrical meat that a...
 
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Randall Bramblett – The Bright Spots

“It’s pain and joy simultaneously,” says roots singer/songwriter Randall Bramblett when asked about his latest release, “The Bright Spots,” on New West Records. The long-time sideman to legends such as Traffic, Gregg Allman and Levon Helm has had compositions recorded by others, notably Bonnie Raitt, who opened her Grammy-winning “Slipstream” with his “Used To Rule The World.” Recorded in Nashville and Athens in his home state of Georgia, these twelve new tracks make up his ...
 
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Billy Currington - We Are Tonight

One listen to the latest album from hitmaker Billy Currington, and you know that the motto that he and the producers must have went by sounded something like "Don't worry.Have fun." The singer seems to be in an overall positive place these days, as evidenced by the overall tone of this album. There's nothing real heavy or negative here, just some music that features some nice grooves, and subject matter that keeps...
 
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