CD Reviews

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Vince Gill & Paul Franklin - Bakersfield

First of all, let me say that words - mine, or any other record reviewer or writer - can't begin to do this one justice. I believe this might be one of the best albums I have ever heard. Now, of course, this is what is known in the industry as a "Passion Project." (Truthfully, I don't think that term exists, but go with me.) The fan who this album was made for is going to absolutely love it - just like me. The premise of the disc is you take arguably...
 
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Steve Hunter - The Manhattan Blues Project

As a veteran of the twin guitar attack of Alice Cooper's band (with Dick Wagner), Steve Hunter has never really been recognized for a lot more than that. But on The Manhattan Blues Project, Hunter shows a completely different side of himself as a musician, with 12 instrumental tracks that are laid back and introspective but with an edge. This album isn't exactly new age, but it's also not exactly what one would expect from a classic rock legend. Guest guitarists like Michael Lee Firkins, Chickenfoot's...
 
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Slaid Cleaves - Still Fighting the War

Slaid Cleaves is one of the under-the-radar Americana figures who really does deserve the accolades he gets, and doesn't deserve the dearth of commercial success he has long lived with. On Still Fighting the War, an album inspired by the plight of a soldier dealing with PTSD, Cleaves addresses the struggles of everyone in America, rich or poor, blessed or not, intentionally or not, to great effect. Standout songs like the title track, the minor-key "Gone" and the John Prine-inspired "Whim of Iron...
 
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Guy Clark – My Favorite Picture Of You

Ask most any singer or songwriter in Nashville about their ten favorite composers, and Guy Clark is a name that more often than not will appear on that list. He returns to the record-making field with a disc that showcases his unique musical genius. Writing ten of the eleven songs on the album, his legendary prose is very much as strong as it ever has been. The opener, “Cornmeal Waltz,” is fine evidence of this. It’s a sweetly nostalgic tune that he...
 
Robert Kinsler & TJR

Music Worth Buying - Kacey Musgraves and Dawes by Robert Kinsler

Orange County Register (CA) music critic Robert Kinsler and his co-host, TJR review new CDs. This week we look at: Same Trailer Different Park by Kacey Musgraves & Stories Don't End By Dawes.
 
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Bill Anderson - The Atlanta Sessions

The years 1982-1992 could be called the "Lost Years" of Bill Anderson's musical career. His long run with MCA Records had just came to an end, and he was still a decade away from Steve Wariner's successful cover of "The Tips Of My Fingers," which re-launched Anderson's songwriting career - which continues to blossom to this day. The veteran Grand Ole Opry performer was still performing, but also devoting...
 
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Kara Grainger - Shiver & Sigh

Every now and then, I hear something from outside of my comfort zone of Country Music that just flat knocks me out. Australian-born Kara Grainger is one of those artists. She blends Pop, Jazz, and R&B in what seems to be (because it never is that easy as the great ones make it seem) an effortless manner. And, all along, she demonstrates a swagger and a sensuality that will grab your attention. Heck, at times this disc...
 
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The Wheeler Brothers - Gold Boots Glitter

How would one begin to describe the music of Austin-based The Wheeler Brothers? Well, there are several different options from which to choose. You could call them Folk, Texas Music, Rock, Americana, and there's even a dash of Country Music in what they do. The main thing is - not matter what style they are doing, they seem to do it well, and in an entertaining manner. All throughout this disc...
 
Robert Kinsler & TJR

Music Worth Buying - Deep Purple, 'Ghost Brothers of Darkland County'

Orange County Register (CA) music critic Robert Kinsler and his co-host, TJR review new CDs. On the latest episode of Music Worth Buying we review the latest album from Deep Purple, the playfully-titled Now What?! as well as the ambitious Southern gothic rock musical Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.
 
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Blues and Americana Releases Rouse Roots Movement

The last recording from Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, a classic performance featuring the late rock 'n' soul giant Solomon Burke, as well as sterling new releases featuring singer-songwriter Steve Earle, rock 'n' roll poet Michael Ubaldini and blues trio Trampled Under Foot add up to an especially forceful wave of early summertime releases. Artist: Ray Manzarek and Roy Rogers. Title: Twisted Tales (Chops Not Chaps). You might like if you enjoy: The Doors, Roy Rogers, Otis Taylor...
 
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Zane Williams - Overnight Success

I have to admit when I heard the opening lines of the title cut of the newest CD from Texan Zane Williams that he was a little different. There's a wry sense of humor that comes across in his songs that is a little bit different. In other words, it's not all about his truck, a red dirt highway, and Betty Lou or Bobbie Jean. Williams is traditional - and proud of it! He goes for a more dramatic approach on "Sure Feels Like Goodbye," which shows...
 
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Omar Dykes - Runnin' With the Wolf

Omar Dykes is another of those guys who got close to the brass ring but was never quite able to put it on his finger. As the namesake of Mississippi's Omar and the Howlers, Dykes established himself decades ago as an artist to watch after moving to Austin, with a bluesy vocal and stinging guitar that should have made him far more successful than he became. The Howlers sold hundreds of thousands of copies of their late '80s album on Columbia, and have labored in near...
 
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Groundbreaking Artists Excel On First-Rate Releases

The far-off corners of the musical universe are offering up plenty of sonic stardust thanks to the return of Big Country, Julian Lennon and Irish rock heroes The Fenians, as well as the latest collection from Americana hero Michael Ubaldini. Artist: Big Country. Title: The Journey (Mri Associated). You might like if you enjoy: Big Country's 1983 debut "The Crossing," U2's early '80s albums. Tell me more: Thirty years after the release of their epic debut "The Crossing," Scotland's Big Country has returned ...
 
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Lorrie Morgan & Pam Tillis - Dos Divas

Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis have been two of Country Music's most trend-setting females since they burst upon the scenes in the late 1980s. Additionally, they also share the distinction of being second-generation Country Music stars, so it only made sense for them to team up for their successful "Grits N Glamour" tour. The two enjoyed working with other so much that they decided to team up for a record, and the resulting factor is...
 
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The Brothers Roberson - Self-Titled

In days long past, Springfield, Missouri was a hotbed of country music activity because of radio. Performers like Chet Atkins and the Carter Family would appear on radio station KWTO-AM in the days when radio was the main source of musical entertainment, and Springfield was as popular as Nashville for a minute. For a relatively small town, Springfield has exported quite a bit of talent, like hard rockers King's X and the Ozark Mountain Daredevils. Now we can add the Brothers...
 
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