DISClaimer (8/21/09)

GregForesman-Kodiak150We live in an era of singles and tracks, but there are still a few out there who buck the trend.

It pleases me to report that there are several folks in this week’s stack of platters who still make true ALBUMS. There is an art to this that many mainstream country artists seem to have forgotten. To them, I say listen to the collections of sounds that are being released by Chuck Cannon, John Arthur Martinez and Greg Foresman. These three know how to vary audio textures, sequence songs and create deeply satisfying listening experiences.

LadyA-NeedYouNow150Greg Foresman has evidently released earlier albums, but since I
was unaware of them, he earns the DisCovery Award.

Not that there’s anything wrong with singles, mind you. In fact, you’ll find one of the finest examples of that craftsmanship here as well. That would be “Need You Now” by Lady Antebellum. It is unchallenged as the Disc of the Day.

BECKY SCHLEGEL/So Embarrassing
Writer: Becky Schlegel; Producer: Becky Schlegel & Brian Fisher; Publisher: Lilly Ray, BMI; Lilly Ray/IGO (www.beckyschlegel.com)
—Her fragile-rose, soprano delivery wafts lightly from the speakers. The acoustic production and softly layered country harmonies add to the enchantment.

Writer: James Dunning; Producer: James Dunning & Sean Isbell; Publisher: J. Mulligan, BMI; Lo-Fi Tofu (www.lostimmigrants.com)
—This Texas-based four-piece band drawls and twangs in all the right places. The label is aptly named, for the sound is, indeed, low fidelity. But in a pleasant kinda way.

Writer: Dave Haywood/Charles Kelley/Hillary Scott/Josh Kear; Producer: Paul Worley & Lady Antebellum; Publisher: Warner-Tamerlane/DWHaywood/Radiobullet/Hillary Dawn Songs/Foray/Year of the Dog/Big Yellow Dog/Darth Buddah, BMI/SESAC/ASCAP; Capitol Nashville
—Utterly delicious, from the echoey production touches to the flawless harmonies in the hyper-melodic choruses. Stardom is on the march.

Writer: none listed; Producer: Cliff Downs; Publisher: none listed; Timbob
—She was profiled recently in The New York Times in an article about new country females. The piece failed to mention how completely ordinary sounding she is.

GREG FORESMAN/Something I Can Use
Writer: Greg Foresman; Producer: Greg Foreseman & Howie Gano; Publisher: Communion, no performance rights listed; Greg Foresman (track) (www.gregforesman.com)
—Greg is Martina McBride’s lead guitarist. He also makes solo albums, and his newest is titled Kodiak. This slinky track burbles with nifty licks, thumping percussion and a bluesy vocal. There’s also something faintly Dylan-y about it. His other self-penned tunes are just as interesting. “Suicide Bomber” tries to get inside the head of a terrorist. “Big Sky Country” is a guitar-vocal ode to the great outdoors. “In Your Light” is chiming and uplifting.

Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Word/Curb/WB (track)
—A CD titled The Reason will mark this durable band’s CCM debut next month. Its single is a stately ballad about finding grace in the most unlikely places. As you might expect, it is performed with pristine perfection. Highly listenable. Also coming next month is Beautiful Mess, a book telling the remarkable story of six guys who have stuck together for all these many years.

Writer: Kent Finlay/John Arthur Martinez; Producer: Lew Curatolo; Publisher: none listed; Apache Ranch (track) (www.johnarthurmartinez.net)
—This former Nashville Star star drops his new album next month. Its title tune is a bluesy, downbeat look at these rough economic times. It swirls with drama that climaxes in murder. Gripping, to say the least. The production textures are superb throughout the set, from the Latin groove of “Que No Puede Ver” to the rolling country-rock of “On the Run” and the rumbling, accusatory “You Can’t Outdrink the Truth.” Heartily recommended.

LEON RUSSELL/Ballad Of Jed Clampett
Writer: Paul Horning; Producer: Leon Russell; Publisher: Carolintone, no performance rights listed; Leon Russell (track) (www.leonrussellrecords.com)
—The Best of Hank Wilson reprises many of the tunes that Leon has previously recorded in his country persona (”Rollin’ in My Sweet Baby’s Arms,” “I’m Movin’ On,” “Oh Lonesome Me,” “I’ll Sail My Ship Alone,” “Jambalaya” etc.). Among the bonus tracks is this banjo-driven bopper that served as the theme song of The Beverly Hillbillies TV sitcom that became one of the biggest ratings bonanzas of the 1960s. Leon’s humorously drawling delivery is absolutely perfect.

CHUCK CANNON/God Shaped Hole
Writer: Allen Shamblin/Chuck Cannon; Producer: Lari White & Chuck Cannon; Publisher: Built on Rock/Wacissa River, ASCAP/BMI; Nashville Underground (track) (www.chuckcannon.com)
—Among my favorite things to collect are albums recorded by members of our songwriting community, so I was thrilled when this arrived in the mail. Chuck is not only supremely gifted as a composer, he’s a vocalist of rare charisma. The title tune to his set is a gorgeous meditation on the limits of love. You will bask in its audio beauty. Much of the rest of the CD explores spiritual matters, but there is also the political “Something’s Wrong with the World,” the anti-alcohol/faithless love saga “Poison” and the prison ode “Bad to Worse.” This is one cool record.

Writer: Jerry Salley/Billy Yates; Producer: Dirk Johnson; Publisher: EMI Blackwood/Pay the Bill/EMI/Foray/Sea Keeper, BMI/SESAC; Shanachie (track) (www.genewatson.com)
—Gene’s forthcoming CD A Taste of the Truth includes guests such as Alison Krauss and Rhonda Vincent. This track is this year’s “Murder on Music Row” ode to preserving traditional country music. The “heartbeat” percussion thumps are nifty, and Trace’s verse ends, appropriately, with a basso profundo “sing it, Gene.”


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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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