A legend leads the way today. Timeless treasure Dolly Parton comes out swinging with the first single from her Blue Smoke CD. She will be blitzing the media during the next couple of weeks, so get ready. And give the lady a Disc of the Day kudo.
It is true that Small Town Pistols aren’t “new” in the strictest sense. But when we last heard from these two, they were kids. Now they sound like fully matured adults, and nothing like they used to. So I’m giving them a DisCovery Award.
MIKE JONES & TWENTY PACES/Fast and Free
Writer: Mark Jones; Producer: Jeffrey Armstreet; Publisher: none listed, BMI
-An atmospheric depiction of small-town romance that’s loaded with vivid lyric images. Very promising. Send more.
SMALL TOWN PISTOLS/Colour Blind
Writers: Amanda Wilkinson/Tyler Wilkinson/Joey Moi/Jeff Johnson; Producer: Joey Moi; Chunk It/Plain Hooky/Big Loud Shirt/Bay Way Entertainment, ASCAP; 604 Canada
-You know this Canadian brother-sister act better as two-thirds of The Wilkinsons (1998’s “26 Cents,” 2000’s “Jimmy’s Got a Girlfriend,” etc.). Both Amanda and Tyler have attempted solo careers north of the border. Now they’re back together as the duo Small Town Pistols with a debut CD that leads off with this splendidly upbeat single. They harmonize as only siblings can. Tyler takes the lead on the verses with her harmonizing, and Amanda sings lead on the choruses with him harmonizing. In either mode, they are sensational. Essential listening. Give them a new U.S. deal, pronto.
KACEY JONES/Amen For Old Friends
Writers: Mickey Newbury; Producers: Kacey Jones/Duane Sciacqua; Publisher: JD Sandefer III, BMI; IGO (track)
-In 2006, Jones released an album saluting Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Mickey Newbury. She returns to his catalog for the title tune of her new CD. It’s a tender ballad filled with warm sentiment. Her dulcet, fireside vocal is cushioned by voices, piano and strings. There is also an extraordinary, fluid, beautifully executed guitar solo by Mark Dreyer. The collection includes tunes that remind us of her history as a comic (remember Ethel & The Shameless Hussies?). But this track and several others show that she’s just as good when she’s playing it straight.
Writers: Curt Ryle/Trey Matthews/Kerry Nicole Singletary; Producer: Curt Ryle; Publishers: Big Matador/Music of Cal IV, BMI; Margdon (track)
-Amateur night at the bar and grill.
RANDY ROGERS BAND/Satellite
Writers: McConnell/Rogers; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publisher: none listed; Thirty Tigers
-This popular group’s Homemade Tamales project is a two-CD live album plus a DVD. Two of the tracks on the second audio CD are studio productions by the esteemed Jay Joyce. This one is the driving, impassioned plea of a guy spinning out of control about a gal he yearns for.
CODY RILEY/Something I Wrote
Writers: Cody Riley/Mando Saenz; Producers: Wade Bowen/Ross Smith; Pubishers: Thirty Ought Sound/Scrambler, ASCAP; CR
-He has an ear-catching, wounded-boy vocal delivery. There are moments when he’s a little pitch-y, but the record’s real downfall is its dull-as-mud production and listless instrumental support.
THE OAK RIDGE BOYS/You’re The One
Writers: Bob Morrison; Producer: Duane Allen; Publisher: Arcane/Glenwood, ASCAP; Cleopatra (track)
–Boys Night Out is the new live CD by the Oaks. Their set kicks off with a thumping version of this 1978 mega-hit, complete with a rousing finale. It’s still a great song. When are they going to induct these guys into the Country Music Hall of Fame?
JASON ALLEN/I Did
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Smith
-This fellow is an old favorite of mine. He’s singing his hillbilly heart out here, with ultra-cool steel guitar lines echoing his every phrase. Solidly country. Supremely listenable.
Writers: Dolly Parton/Kent Wells; Producer: Kent Wells; Publisher: none listed; Dolly (track)
-Dolly’s Blue Smoke CD drops on May 13, but she’s already begun her campaign to publicize it. This will be the collection’s first video/single, and it is a chopping, bopping dandy. She is a living legend, but this track sounds as contemporary and “today” as anything by artists half her age. The album contains duets with Kenny Rogers and Willie Nelson, but this performance amply demonstrates that she needs no help whatsoever to kick up some dust. For a truly thrilling audio sensation, also check out her mountaineer arrangement of “Banks of the Ohio.”
STEPHANIE QUAYLE/Sugar High
Writers: Ashley Gorley/Kelley Lovelace/Steve McEwen; Producer: Ilya Toshinsky; Publishers: Music of Windswept/Taperoom/Bug/BMG Chrysalis/EMI April/EMI Blackwood/Birds With Ears, ASCAP/BMI; Rebel Engine
-Sweet sounding. Sunny. Summer-y.
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