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Archive | March, 2008

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CD Review: George Strait Troubadour

Posted on 31 March 2008 by Bill West

Troubadour is the new George Strait CD (out Tuesday 4/1).  It’s also the name of one of my new favorite songs.  

"Troubadour…travelling ballad singer from the Provence region…Composers of epic poems, such as the Chansons de Geste, and love songs, often sung by wandering minstrels…Or: Troubadour is the fourth album by J.J. Cale. It was first released in 1976…"

Troubadour – the CD and the song – both live up to most all the heritage that those definitions convey.  There’s a real timeless, almost old fashioned, feel to most of the songs. I’ve never been a typical Strait fan.  I liked individual songs.   After tracking through what will become his 38th album
I’m hooked.  Come to think of it – I doubt Strait ever really loses a fan… just keeps gaining them.   Just as he keeps gaining accolades and awards too; the album’s stellar first single, “I Saw God Today,” already set a personal mark when it debuted at No. 19 on the country radio charts—higher than any other song he’s released in his career.
Strait returned to Jimmy Buffet’s Florida Key’s recording studio after recording the last CD (and it won Album of The Year).  You can hear a bit of the island vibe on one track "River of Dreams." Otherwise the tracks have an old fashioned kinda feeling (in a very good way).  There’s a Texas swing reminiscent of Haggard’s "Great Afternoon" plus plenty of classic steel on the waltz "It Was Me." "Make Her Fall in Love with Me" is a honky tonker best described as "The Big One" part two.

Many will really love the expected cowboy songs here.  Others, like me,  will appreciate  the writing on songs like "House with No Doors" (George didn’t write any… give thanks in part to "Give It Away co writer Jamey Johnson and other word smiths).

Strait still owns the all-time record for the most No. 1 singles in any genre. He has more career nominations than any other artist in both the Nashville-based Country Music Association awards and Academy of Country Music honors. He has more gold and platinum albums than any other country artist.

Look for "I Saw God Today" to be another #1… there will be more here too… and I can only hope the title track will be sanctioned for radio play.

The “King of Country Music” joined the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006, making him the only performer who’s earned a plaque in the hallowed halls while still consistently racking up hits.  This CD will guarantee a few more.
Overall Grade: B+

Don’t Miss: The tile track may become a signature song.“Troubadour…you know it does tell a pretty good story that fits my whole career from start to finish.” He says on his website “cause that’s really what I’ll be when I grow to an age I can’t do this anymore. I’ve always wanted to be around as long as I could for sure. I’m still after longevity."

Fast Forward: "House Of Cash" a well deserved tribute to the man in black with help from Patty Loveless wasn’t as strong as it was potentially set up to be.

>>More George Strait<<

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CD Review: Full Nelson

Posted on 06 March 2008 by Bill West

Willie Nelson has been so prolific over the last few decades it’s easy to forget that he’s one of modern American masters of music.  Now at the age of 74, wit over 100 albums under his belt, you have to wonder how much longer Willie can keep up his touring and recording pace.

Now, at a time when he could be slowing down, he has released one of his best albums to date;  an album produced by country superstar Kenny Chesney (and longtime Chesney Producer BuddyCannon). The CD "Moment of Forever" is in stores now and is a solid  offering.

Nelson fans will love the fact that, no matter how influential the producer, if you have Willie singing it will always sound like a good old Willie Nelson CD.  Chesney and Cannon do nothing to tarnish Willie’s catalog.  In fact they add some really special tracks to the library.  

When gaging Chesney’s contribution it’s obvious to first look at his duet with Willie "Worry Be Gone."     With Kenny’s latest single (another duet with another legend George Strait) skyrocketing up the charts it’s unlikely "Worry" will be a radio single but I think it couold’ve worked. 

The reality is mainstream radio has always been fickle with Willie.   The airplay love affair ended about 1989 after 21 or so number one country hits.   Nown it looks like he has to packaged in a duet to get airplay (like Mendocino Country line and Beer For My Horses).  Plus I’m not sure the label machine ever gets it quite right with him.

Nelson – the songwriter – contributed three songs: "Over You Again," which he wrote with sons Micah and Lukas, and two that he wrote solo, including the hilarious "You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore" ("Did you hear the one about the dirty &%$!/Oh, I forgot . . . you don’t think I’m funny anymore"). Chesney and Cannon also delivered songs for the project.

Willie’s Grave Digger Video
Jessica Simpson in Willie’s "You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore Video

My Grade: B+
Don’t Miss: "The Bob Song" (A pirate treasure. Yes that’s Big Kenny who wrote the cut).
Fast Forward: "Louisiana" (written by Randy Newman is about 2 years late and misses the mark unless you’re from the state.)

Track List:
1. Over You Again
2. Moment of Forever
3. The Bob Song
4. Louisiana
5. Gravedigger
6. Keep Me From Blowing Away
7. Takin’ On Water
8. Always Now
9. I’m Alive
10. When I Was Young and Grandma Wasn’t Old
11. Worry B Gone (duet with Kenny Chesney)
12. You Don’t Think I’m Funny Anymore
13. Gotta Serve Somebody

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