Totally Biased Fan Review: Blue Roses – Runaway June

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This trio of truly country gals, is: Naomi Cooke – Lead Vocals, Hannah Mulholland – lower harmony and mandolin and Jennifer Wayne, formerly a third of another trio, Stealing Angels and she co-wrote Eric Paslay’s top 20 hit, She Don’t Love you. She sings high harmony. Of course, she has a familiar last name – she is John Wayne’s grandchild.

The trio wrote 6 out of 10 tracks. 4 songs previously appeared on a self-titled EP. I am glad that I didn’t buy that one, because I would have been cranky when the EP ran out of songs.

The song that is attracting the most mentions on this album is ironically, a cover of Dwight Yoakam’s Fast As You. It is a great version of a fine song. However, there are some wonderful originals on here, that have drawn obvious comparisons to The Dixie Chicks and Trio – Ronstadt, Parton and Harris.

The first song that I heard was Buy My Own Drinks. I bought this album on the strength of that song. It has such powerful lyrics. I hope that much younger women than I listen to those words and learn from them.  It is up tempo, which may at first not take it so seriously, but that is a bit of a disguise….intentional, I think, to grab your attention.

Good, Bad and Ugly is an outstanding track, a love song with a twist.  The title track is probably one of my favourites, for obvious reasons and it definitely has that Linda, Dolly and Emmylou feel to it….which is probably one of the most complimentary things that I could write.

All of the girls have roots deeply imbedded in country music and the preservation of a certain style that most of us are grasping on to.

Some of the tracks are more up tempo than others, but they are not bubblegum songs. They have strong messages and they are fairly hard hitting tracks. Of course, I prefer the slow songs, but that is just my taste. As long as the message is coming through, or the musicianship is so strong that it can’t be passed as throw away music, then I am happy.

If you would rather just tap your toes and shift your shoulders, then you can do that, instead, but either way, it is an album with many layers and it can be listened to on many levels.

We Were Rich is another one that many will relate to from their generation and I can understand that ethic too. It has a catchy tune which is faster than a ballad and slower than a country rocker. The sentiment is lovely.

I know the way is another catchy song, with lots of guitars and an infectious drum beat. Interesting twist on a love story, playing the role of the new girlfriend saying how she is going to do things better than the old one.

There is a certain section of the male population that won’t like some of these songs – probably a bit too close to the truth for some. I see them as honest songs and probably a touch edgy, which is a good thing. Unfortunately, a lot of the things that these young women are singing and writing about happen these days, perhaps they have always happened, people have just been to worried to put them into a song.

Got me where I want you is a bit of a disturbing song, but a story that needs to be told and put out there. It can be taken a few ways, but it is an excellent if difficult one to process.

Producers Dann Huff and Ross Coppermann have done a fine job, but I get the idea that the girls had a bit of a say in how the album was put together.

We will be hearing and seeing a lot more of these young women. Hold on to your hats.

 

1.
“Head Over Heels”
Tommy CecilNaomi CookeHannah MulhollandJared MullinsJennifer Wayne
3:09
2.
“Buy My Own Drinks”
CookeJosh KearHillary LindseyMulhollandWayne
3:26
3.
“We Were Rich”
Ross CoppermanNicolle GalyonAshley Gorley
3:38
4.
“I Know the Way”
CookeMulhollandEmily ShackeltonWayneBen West
3:08
5.
“Trouble with This Town”
CookeChris DeStefanoLiz RoseWayne
2:59
6.
“Got Me Where I Want You”
Kat HigginsJustin MorganJames T. Slater
3:15
7.
“Fast as You”
Dwight Yoakam
3:15
8.
“I Am Too”
busbeeCorey CrowderRose
3:02
9.
“Good, Bad & Ugly”
Jacob AttwoollCookeMulhollandSamuel RomanWayne
3:04
10.
“Blue Roses”
CookeCaroline CutbirthMarcus HummonWayne
3:23

Totally Biased Fan Review: Coro Drive – Route 33

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These two Queenslanders have released their second album, Coro Drive. There are some pretty interesting trivia facts about these two, but one that hasn’t been written about, to my knowledge, is the first thing that I thought of when I heard one of the member’s names. One is called Jock Barnes. Now, for anybody from my vintage (much older than these guys), there was a famous tv show called Dallas (hard to get more country than Texas and J.R’s hat). Two guys on the opposite sides were Jock Ewing and Cliff Barnes. Hence my chuckle. To have a combination of those two polar opposites in a young man’s name is quite apt. Jock was raised on country music. His co-conspirator, Trent McArdle, is more of a 90’s rocker.  Opposites, in many ways, combine to make this fusion of styles and backgrounds work.

Jock’s brother is a former rugby union player, Berrick Barnes……Trent carts his keyboards to every gig….not sure if it is like Benny Allen’s set up, but it sounds close! Some of the guys that they used in their cover band  (Golden Child) are as diverse as their own backgrounds.

It explains a lot. Their band name and the subsequent album name came from where they hung out and lived and worked on when they moved to Brisbane. Coronation Drive is a main road in Brisbane and it is also known as Route 33. There’s more trivia, but enough of that. It does set up the music on this album, though, it explains who they are, in part, and it also explains why the songs are a mix of styles.

Co-produced by rock music and award winning producers, Steve James and Andrew Cochrane, Coro Drive also features the amazing Sarah McLeod from The Superjesus on the duo’s most poignant track,  Hands of Time, which is sadly, way too much of a reflection on the current times in our country music family.  It is also one of my favourites on the album.

While all the songs are written by the boys, they are not co-writes in the traditional sense. From what I have read, either Trent writes a song and Jock adds things or visa versa. They are working on actually sitting down together and writing songs. I guess that you do what works for you, and it certainly works.

The album’s tracks are a bit more of the country rock style, but despite the producers and Trent’s influence, there is more country in the country rock than rock in country rock.  I am, of course, more attracted to the slower tracks, by nature, but I am enjoying the country rock style here, too. Not everybody does this the right way. Trent and Jock do.

Alright is one of the tracks that is in my head and it got the old air guitar going. I really like Take The Lead….it takes me back to the Motown days. It has that Soul kinda feeling. A really great track. Soultry, I guess.

Laid back and lazy is a beaut track. It does make you feel like the title. A bit Keith Urbanish in his more mellow mode. Nothing wrong with that!

Sometimes a whisper is a very haunting, beautiful ballad. The musicianship on this track is very polished and top notch. I actually had a couple of tears on this one.

I think that Trent and Jock (who Trent named as the driving force), blend beautifully. Sometimes it takes opposites to get things balanced. Country music comes in many forms. I think that the boys have treated the genre with respect and at the same time, they have embraced change.

Thanks to Glenda and Brendan Deshon and Leonie McClure for alerting me to these young fellas.

 

 

Tracks:

01. Get over You
02. Showing Off
03. Kryptonite
04. Alright
05. Hands of Time
06. In Stereo
07. Take the Lead
08. Laid Back and Lazy
09. I Know You Know
10. Sometimes a Whisper
11. Heaven High

Totally Biased Fan Review: Michelle Gardiner – Michelle Gardiner EP

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I have been fortunate enough to meet Michelle and see her being filmed and singing all sorts of songs. These ones are originals and they are all beauties.

Sing me a memory is the single that has been played everywhere at the moment. It is a fantastic song and probably my favourite.

As I fall is a beautiful song that is a similar pace to the first one and more of the slower, mellow song style than the much rockier, get up on the dance floor Am I Doing This Right? This is her daughter’s favourite song!

Does he love me is the old daisy petal pulling story….you know, what we do with blokes that we have a crush on when we are about 10….he loves me, he loves me not. Michelle’s beautiful love song is about the feelings that she had for a guy when she was 19. She has since married said guy.

I met Michelle at Allan Caswell’s Songwriters’ session in Melbourne. She is one of the loveliest surprises in music that I have had this year.

Obviously, others feel the same, as it has raced up the charts this last week on release.

I am compiling a new album this year called “Australian Female Country Music Singers who Can Sing The Phone Book and make it sound Beautiful” – Michelle will be one of the singers.

Great songs….but way too short! We need some more!

 

Tracks:

Sing me a Memory

As I Fall

Am I doing this Right

Does He Love Me

Written and performed by Michelle Gardiner

Producer: Michael Zammit

Mastered by David Briggs

Totally Biased Fan Review: While I’m Livin’ – Tanya Tucker

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It is probably just a coincidence that two of my long time American Country Music heroes happen to release long awaited albums in the same week, and that they are probably their best collections ever.

I have been following the growth of this album since Tanya hinted about it a while back. It has been a long time between albums. One of my go to albums is her Love Songs album which was also one of my Ma’s favourites. The neighbourhood cleared out whenever Ma and I sang to that album. If we had just let Tanya sing, we would have kept our neighbours.

I am so glad that Tanya had Brandi Carlile at the helm on this one. I can see how those puzzle pieces would fit together – it does seem like a rather obvious choice.

While Tanya doesn’t pull any punches in her songs (neither does Brandi), she still delivers in the style and the genuine country sound that she always did.

She is still Sassy, Cheeky, outspoken, a cross between Loretta and Tammy and Reba. She twangs it, belts it out, growls it and hooks you from the first word. She can you rock you to sleep with her words and wake you the hell up with others.

I always felt like a bit of a rebel when I played a Tanya Tucker album or song. Part of me always wanted to party with her, another part of me always wanted give her a hug and say that it will all turn out ok. The deliberate, awesome cracks in her voice break you and make you. The husky, sometimes raunchy vocals and the change up in her songs from mellow to country rocking keep you on your toes.

Bring my flowers now is probably my favourite, for some personal reasons, but also because it is Tanya at her best. Piano playing and Tanya at her husky, twangy, yearning kind of sound. It is a Kaz song. Sad and sweet and honest.

I like all the songs, and I am so glad that this album has finally arrived, I was beginning to think that it wouldn’t. It goes so fast. I played it through four times without realising that I had played it four times.

Hard Luck is another favourite, for totally different reasons. It is one of those songs, along with Mustang Ridge that will probably stick in my head for a while.

I Don’t Owe you anything is so Tanya. It is one of those sassy, cheeky songs that she does so well.

Another favourite is The Day My Heart Goes Still. It is another one of those love songs that only Tanya can deliver. High Ridin’ heroes is so country that you can smell the hay stacks.

This is yet another contender for album of the year. It is everything that I thought that it would be and more.

Welcome back Tanya, though to me, you were never really out of the picture. I just kept playing your old stuff!

Track listing
No.
Title
Writer(s)
Length
1.
“Mustang Ridge”
Brandi CarlileTim HanserothPhil Hanseroth
3:37
2.
“The Wheels of Laredo”
CarlileT. HanserothP. Hanseroth
3:49
3.
“I Don’t Owe You Anything”
CarlileT. HanserothP. Hanseroth
2:34
4.
“The Day My Heart Goes Still”
CarlileT. HanserothP. Hanseroth
3:19
5.
“High Ridin’ Heroes”
David Lynn Jones
3:27
6.
“The House That Built Me”
Tom DouglasAllen Shamblin
4:12
7.
“Hard Luck”
John C. “Pete” BaileyDavid Lee MitchellRaymond L. TurnerJerry Ontiberoz
3:22
8.
“Rich”
CarlileT. HanserothP. Hanseroth
2:33
9.
“Seminole Wind Calling”
CarlileT. HanserothP. Hanseroth
3:35
10.
“Bring My Flowers Now”
Tanya TuckerCarlileT. HanserothP. Hanseroth
4:20
Total length:
34:48

Brandi Carlile – producer, background vocals, acoustic guitar, group vocals on “Hard Luck”, piano
Danny Clinch – back cover photo, interior photos
Dakota France – group vocals on “Hard Luck”
James Garner – A&R, group vocals on “Hard Luck”
Nate Haessly – assistant engineer
Phil Hanseroth – background vocals, bass, banjo, claps
Tim Hanseroth – acoustic guitar, background vocals, banjo, claps
Rich Hinman – pedal steel
Norm Howell – group vocals on “Hard Luck”
Tricia Howell – group vocals on “Hard Luck”
Shooter Jennings – producer, engineer, piano, organ, Wurlitzer, synthesizers
Ted Russell Kamp – bass, standup bass
Pete Lyman – mastering
Steven Lyon – cover photo
Chris Masterson – acoustic guitar, baritone guitar, electric guitar, tambo, mando guitar, 12 string guitar, claps
Josh Neumann – cello
Chris Powell – drums, claps
Dennis Quaid – group vocals on “Hard Luck”
Mark Rains – engineer
Ben Reed – group vocals on “Hard Luck”
Jerilyn Sawyer – A&R, group vocals on “Hard Luck”
Trina Shoemaker – mixing, shaker(s)
Carrie Smith – art direction, design
David Spreng – additional mix editing
Grayson Tucker – group vocals on “Hard Luck”
Tanya Tucker – vocals
Eleanor Whitmore – mandolin, tenor guitar
Nathan Yaccino – additional engineering
Jim Zumwait – group vocals on “Hard Luck”

Totally Biased Fan Review – Okie – Vince Gill

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This album review is dedicated to the memory of my Ma, Janice Melliger Johnson, who passed away in May and who loved Vince Gill very much (her Vincey).

My Ma would have loved this album. The long awaited new Vince Gill album, Okie. Okie was once considered a derogatory term for someone from the dust bowl of Oklahoma. Vince has now reclaimed the badge of being an Okie and he wears it proudly. He is not the only great country music singer/songwriter to come from there. If there is a theme to this album, it is in a line from one of the songs that goes something like too far left and too far right….as many reviewers have noted, Vince sits somewhere in the album.

There are a few subjects here that are difficult – sexual abuse, the right to choose, bigotry, religion, death and divorce. They are all handled in typical Vince Gill fashion – gently, with passion and honesty and with one of the most beautiful voices in the world.

He sings about his heroes, Guy Clarke and Merle Haggard and his mum and dad.

One reviewer called this album bland and predictable and what you would expect from someone from the old school of country.  The reviewer had a baseball cap on back to front, probably rapped a “country” song and had no idea who Hank Williams was……(any of the generations of Hanks).

Vince is as reliable as your old dog and he is not afraid of delivering a message, he just does it softly, softly and not in your face.

He mentions his wife, singer, Amy in a couple of songs and does so lovingly.  Vince opens the album with a train song….you had me from that moment, Vince….anyone can win me over with a train song. To be honest, this has been one of my most longed for albums of the year….the promise of it and the release of a handful of singles scattered through some long months has made me very impatient for the whole kit and caboodle.

It’s the voice, the music, the words, the messages. Vince Gill delivers in buckets.

Forever Changed is one of the toughest songs, an incredibly sad song and unfortunately very true these days. An Honest Man is probably my favourite, but there are some beautiful, heart wrenching only-vincegill-can-do-this songs.

He delivers a message without preaching, he gives us a lesson without ramming it down our throats. There are songs here that could just be songs to just wile away the hours to, or you can look deeper than the beautiful tunes and Vince’s haunting voice and really listen to what Vince is saying.

I was told once by a musician that they thought that in their role of ‘celebrity’ they had a responsibility to deliver songs that had messages that could help heal and educate. They were in a position to have a platform from where they could share kind and good messages and not just be entertainers. If you are going to write and sing about something, then you may as well say something that matters.

Vince always operates on two levels. This album is probably his most powerful and saying something important but it is also his most poetic and beautiful album for a long time.

A letter to my mama is beautiful and honest. All the songs are beautiful and honest. That’s Vince. He says sorry and means it. He says thanks and means it. He speaks of love and means it. He wonders why and means it.

The nods to Guy and Merle are not unexpected. People would have been more surprised if he hadn’t included songs about them.

The musical arrangements are almost like orchestral arrangements. They are not anthemic, they are like romantic sonatas at times, and at others, they are just beautiful rambling and rhythmic tunes.

The voice says it all really. There is such a rare quality in his voice and it is almost angelic, even when he sings the most difficult songs here.

Vince is one of a kind, yet he belongs in that beautiful group of great artists who featured heavily in the 90’s who will never fade. They will always be remembered for their stories, their voices, their genuine country sound and their longevity……long after the bro country, thrash country, bubblegum country evaporates.

Listen to the words.

Track listing

1. I Don’t Want To Ride the Rails No More (Vince Gill)
2. The Price of Regret (Vince Gill)
3. Forever Changed (Vince Gill)
4. An Honest Man (Vince Gill)
5. What Choice Will You Make (Vince Gill / Leslie Satcher)
6. Black and White (Vince Gill / Charlie Worsham)
7. The Red Words (Vince Gill)
8. When My Amy Prays (Vince Gill)
9. A Letter To My Mama (Vince Gill / Dean Dillon)
10. Nothin’ Like A Guy Clark (Vince Gill)
11. That Old Man of Mine (Vince Gill)
12. A World Without Haggard (Vince Gill)

 

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Della Harris self titled EEP.

DellaHarris

Unfortunately, this EEP can’t be included in the Kazzies this year, because it was made in 2017 – how in the hell did I miss this? What a splendid EEP, (extended, extended play) – this gal has a sound that it is a mixture of Olivia Newton John and Dianna Corcoran. (That ain’t shabby). Her new song, Roll of a dice (not on this EEP) is currently doing very well on the charts.

The six songs on here, Just a Number, My Bad, Two Girl Town, Lost Little Girl, She’s Still Here and My Turn Now are just brilliant. I really love them all. I got to see Della briefly at Moe on Saturday as part of the Taste of Tamworth and I will be seeing her soon with Jetty Road. She is a lovely lady and an amazing singer.

The songs on this EEP get into your head, via great vocals, catchy tunes and some lovely slower songs. The songs were co-written with Clive Young, who has written and co-written with many artists in Australia and he’s very underrated.

There are some of Australia’s best musos on this album, including my dear friend, Rusty Cochrane.

Della can flick between downright country to blues, soul and catchy country pop.

This is a very enjoyable taste of what is hopefully a springboard of what is to come.  An EEP to soak up and chill out to.

I hope to hear more of her in the future.

 

The Single Life: Episode 8

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One Step Away, the new poppy country song from Kate Hindle…catchy little number but very different from Kate’s usual stuff. Good to change up on occasion. Hell Freezes Over, long awaited new music from my dear mate, Allison Forbes, who has an album out soon. Yes, an album, not an E.P or an EEP, an album, cannot wait.  A rippa of a song and may there be many more. My young mate, Chandler Jay has another single, My Own Personal Pain. He has been busking for longer than any body that I know, and he is still very young. Can’t wait for an album. Roll of a Dice is Della Harris’s single. It went as far as no. 2, and her older EEP will be featured on here soon. The River is a beaut song from Mason Hope which is featured on the EEP review that I did here on the weekend.

Short list this week, but there are many more coming….and oh, the albums!

 

Do it country!