Totally Biased Fan Review: Things That We Drink To – Morgan Evans

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Recently, I reviewed Aussie export, Morgan Evans’ EEP, which is integrated into this album, five tracks: Day Drunk, American, I Do, Kiss Somebody and Young Again.

By far the best song on this album is Dance with Me, the duet with his wife, Kelsea. The reviews that I have read are mixed. I try not to be too swayed by other reviewers, as I am not a critic, I am a fan who does reviews of her favourite music.  Some reviewers were quite savage, extremely brutal. While this album is probably a bit more poppy than my taste, there are some good moments and it is very polished.

There are a lot of likenesses between Morgan and Keith Urban, some for obvious reasons, others because they do sound alike on lots of their songs. The songs on the EEP gave you a taste for what you would expect on the album. It is a continuation on many levels, themes, sound, style, etc.

Morgan has a very strong, solid voice. Sometimes, I think that the songs he chooses are not good enough for him. I think that he could do much more with his voice and obvious talents. The title track showcases his voice a bit more. It is a tribute to Rob Potts, someone who was very special to the Australian music industry and of course, to Morgan.

There is a sameness about the songs on this album, which is probably the biggest criticism that I see, what others have said has been a bit cruel. There is one review which totally rubbishes everything on the album and that is not fair.

Essentially, I like Morgan and I am proud of what he has achieved. It is not easy for an Aussie to go over to the big time in America and absolutely smash it. Morgan has done that.

This album obviously comes at a time when Morgan is at his peak overseas….hit singles, an awesome and successful wife and everything is clicking for him. When the majority of country music in America these days has a pop edge, he fits right in.

In Australia, we have a more broad sense of country music….covering those 79 different types of country music. I hope that Morgan tries a few more of the types and does not get bogged down by one type. He is better than that.

Tracks:

American

Kiss Somebody

I Do

Song for the Summer

Day Drunk

Dance with me (feat. Kelsea Ballerini)

Me on You

Things that we drink to

We Dream

Everything Changes

Young Again

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Totally Biased Fan Review: Greatest Hits – Troy Cassar-Daley

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A few years ago, Troy released Born To Survive, The Best Of….but a lot has happened since then and there are 42 tracks on this album. Troy Cassar-Daley is one of the most loved Australian Country Music artists. He has a following beyond country music, and he is definitely one of the most genuine, down to earth blokes that you could ever meet. He has not always had a smooth ride in life or in his career, with some health issues in recent years that would force most into retirement.

One of the most endearing qualities about Troy is his ability to keep it country, in an ever changing and evolving music genre, which has 79 well celebrated and glorious types. He is true to himself and to what he loves most. That doesn’t mean that he isn’t willing to try a few different things or collaborate on a few things that traditional country artists may find difficult.

His songs are mostly about Australia and/or Australians. There are also songs like Slim’s Biggest Disappointment, Ramblin’ Man and River Boy as well as Bird on a Wire that he has made his own, teaming up with some legends to sing them.

Troy and I had a bit of a yack at Rooty Hill RSL a few years ago about trains…they feature in a lot of his songs, and they have featured a lot in his family and his life….I didn’t want to hog his company, so I let the poor man move on to the next fan, but we could have talked for hours. These songs are of course on this album.

All of your favourites are here….Little Things, Ladies in My Life, Lonesome but Free, Freedom Ride and Bar Room Roses and many others.

Troy will be 50 next year and that is hard to believe. The boy who went to busk at Tamworth as a kid will be half a century. I think that this magnificent collection from a man who has won just about every award that you can in country music in Australia and a man who is more Aussie than most people that I know, has only just begun to show us what he can do.

Above all, he has won the hearts of many fans, a bloke that you are proud to sing from the rooftops or from the top of the tallest tree that he is a fellow Aussie or to just shake his hand and cop one of those smiles or talk trains with.

Thank you, Troy for the music and for being such a great Australian.

A fabulous collection of some wonderful songs.

Forgive me for not typing up the 42 song titles….you know what they are!

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Live from the Ryman – Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit

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For quite some time, a lot of my Aussie music heroes have been telling me that Jason Isbell is the bees’ knees, the Country Music Messiah and the modern day answer to all of our American Country Music legends from the 90’s.

I have only ever heard a few tracks from Jason. I don’t listen to a lot of American Country Music these days, though this year has produced probably the best that we have heard from there for a while. I tend to concentrate more on homegrown talent, because I believe that it is closer to my heart, my head and my taste. I also want to promote my own country’s music and those who don’t get much of a go.

I thought that the best way to get to know Jason’s music was probably this latest offering, a LIVE album from probably the best known country music venue in the world. I always listen to the words first, particularly in these times, as I can usually tell whether I want to like the artist or not from what they are saying in songs. The melody is secondary to me, though it often helps me like the song. I guess that is the would be poet in me and the fact that I am a product of the 60’s and a lover of folks like Dylan, James Taylor and the like.

For those who know me, will not be surprised that the song that hooked me first was Flagship….with both words and music, White Man’s World, is an important song….which Jason concludes with the spoken words….thanks for listening.

I had heard 24 Frames before, which is lyrically one of the most interesting tracks.

Of course, the versions on this LIVE album are bound to be slightly different to the studio tracks. I can only judge by what I am hearing here.

Something More Than Free is probably one of the most honest songs on the album, though Jason tends to tell it like it is in most of the songs. A lot of working class men and women will be able to relate to this one. It is a real down to earth, gritty song.

I can see why a lot of my singer/songwriter friends like him. I guess that he is one of the modern day outlaws….the way that Waylon, Willie, Merle, Kris, Johnny would have written in current times….the way Willie is still writing.

He also has some original phrases and he plays with words that a lot of modern songwriters from America would not know the meanings of.  I would go so far to say that he is a thinking person’s songwriter, but at the same time, he writes about the average joe and the afflicted and the effected. Elephant is a great example of that.

A lot of his songs seem to express anger or anguish. I guess, technically, they are about the human condition…and how us human’s deal or don’t deal with the situations that we are in or exposed to.

Some have a very high energy value, full on guitars and percussion, others have the lilting sound of strings or soft guitar strumming.

Last of My Kind seems to be the singalong song which often means that the audience relates to a song more than others or that the anthem-like repetition and message seems to stick in a crowd’s head. I think that Jason speaks for a lot of us in this song. It is funny how often we think that we are the only ones that feel a certain way, until we share that thought with others and find out that we are not alone in that way of thinking.

Cover Me Up is probably one of the most “country” songs on the album. It has some conflicting musical variations. The tune is sweet and low, Jason’s voice goes from mellow to soaring. The words are sometimes borderline savage and then plunge into romantic notions. The crowd goes a little wild in this song, cheering on certain lines, either congratulating or agreeing with the singer/songwriter.

The beginning of Super 8 sounds like the start of a Status Quo song…..I wasn’t sure whether it was going to be about Rugby Union or racing cars and then I remembered where this guy comes from….it is about motels.  I guess it is a bit wild for me, but I can see it’s appeal.

The last song, the one about the Vampires…..had been mentioned to me before. In the old tradition of never judge a song by it’s title came to mind. I had been hesitant. A country song about Vampires? Most of my friends had said, no Kaz, you will like it. And of course they were right. It is probably one of my favourites on here.

I am glad that I gave this album a listen. It actually took me a few listens to get into it, but I am happy to say that my friends were right. If this LIVE album is anything to go by, I will be listening to more of Jason.

I’m clapping with the crowd.

Tracks:

Hope the high road

24 Frames

White Man’s World

Flagship

Cumberland Gap

Something More Than Free

The Life You Choose

Elephant

Flying Over Water

Last of My Kind

Cover Me Up

Super 8

If We Were Vampires