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Please Re-Release Me

April 18, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 7

When Pam Tillis was at her commercial peak, I thought it was only a matter of time before Warner Bros. capitalized on her sucess by issuing the 1983 pop album she made for the label, Above and Beyond the Doll of Cutey.

They didn’t, so I had to settle for a cassette copy that a friend transferred to CD for me. Now, a full 26 years after its initial release, the album is being issued on CD for the first time, courtesy of Wounded Bird Records. It streets June 9.

It’s far from the best album that Tillis has released, but the completist in me will appreciate having it in digitally remastered sound. I’ve spent the past two weeks transferring old Dolly Parton albums, with and without Porter Wagoner, from vinyl to CD. It’s nice to finally have the songs in some form, and Paul W. Dennis of The 9513 was generous enough to fill in the gaps.

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Kate & Kacey, “Dreaming Love”

April 17, 2009 Guest Contributor 3

“Love, love, love, love…” crazy love? Unfortunately, no. There is a brief moment at the beginning of “Dreaming Love” where you think Kate & Kacey might break into Van Morrison’s “Crazy Love.” But no, we’re not that fortunate.

Kate & Kacey do have some songwriting chops. In fact, they have a co-write with Jamey Johnson coming out on George Strait’s upcoming album. However, “Dreaming Love” is not a shimmering display of those abilities. Overall, the song is plagued with a pretty but forgettable tune (slightly reminiscent in parts of Heidi Newfield’s “Johnny and June”), decidedly unmemorable vocals and unimaginative lyrics expounding on that n’er-written-about subject, love.

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Emily West, “That Kind of Happy”

April 17, 2009 Guest Contributor 16

Emily West’s latest single “That Kind of Happy” genuinely makes me “that kind of happy” while somehow managing not to be “fake happy” (i.e., “country radio happy”) in the process. Finally, someone got it right. West shows us that a fun song, a fascinating vocal performance chalk full of personality and genuine talent are not mutually exclusive. This is far and away my favorite single of the year so far.

I wasn’t sold on West’s music with her last single “Rocks in Your Shoes,” but I was sold on the artist. Her personality was infectious. This time around, I’m sold on the music as well. Her appreciation for older artists isn’t superficial and that comes across in her production and vocal choices. This single is very modern, yet at the same time feels surprisingly traditional. It’s a good combo and it works very well for West.

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Before It’s Too Late

April 16, 2009 Leeann Ward 22

In May of 2004, Bill and I were excited about the prospect of seeing Willie Nelson in our small town, in Maine, of about 13,000 people. We knew it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to see such an icon without even having to travel ten minutes to reach the venue. Furthermore, he was on both of our lists of people to see before we died.

Sadly, we did not get to see Willie after all. On the same week he was supposed to visit our small town, he had to get carpal tunnel surgery. We had the option of either getting a refund or using our tickets for the rescheduled show in September. Once again, our luck was bad, because we were moving to Michigan the month before Willie’s make up date.

If you can’t tell, I still haven’t completely recovered from that disappointment.

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The Untouchables

April 15, 2009 Guest Contributor 23

The following is a guest contribution from Charles H. Geier. Charles runs two excellent sites of his own – The Widening Geier and Sports Statistics: By the Numbers.

Country music is a genre which I have come to appreciate largely through osmosis. My parents did not play it in the house or the car when I was growing up. New York has had trouble maintaining a quality country station, and even when it has, the radio dial did not find its way down there often.

My youth occurred before the internet and satellite radio, and our tape deck for car trips tended to be filled with Phil Collins, Paul Simon and the soundtrack to various musicals (being the youngest, my objections were drowned out by “Diamonds on the Soles of her Shoes”…etc). My mother did occasionally refer to my father’s affinity for Glen Campbell’s “Wichita Lineman”, but mostly because he would never sing past the first seven words.

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Reba McEntire, “Strange”

April 14, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 21

The contrast between “For My Broken Heart”, a #1 single for Reba McEntire in 1991, and “Strange,” her new single, speaks volumes on how the portrayal of women has changed in country music over the past two decades.

When “For My Broken Heart” peaked, Reba McEntire was at the height of her amazingly long run as the genre’s most successful female artist, but she was also the last of the truly great heartbreak queens. When she goes to bed with grief over being left, she wakes up the next morning and notes, “The sun is blinding me as it wakes me from the dark. I guess the world didn’t stop for my broken heart.”

Eighteen years later, she’s going to bed with a heartache again, and the sun is waking her up in the morning once more. But “strange,” she now sings, “talk about luck! I woke up and the sun was shining. I oughta be in bed with my head in the pillow crying over us, but i ain’t.”

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Heidi Newfield, “What Am I Waiting For”

April 14, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 2

The third single from Heidi Newfield’s solo debut is the strongest track on the album.

Rather than taking the traditional routes of empowered bravado or weak-kneed self-pity, Newfield is simply unsure of herself. “I’m five years into a two-year plan,” she notes, “still standing here with the walls closing in behind this open door. What am I waiting for?”

I love songs with bravado and I love songs dripping with self-pity, but this is one of those rare singles that just feels real. Life unfolds in a series of small moments where little opportunities for change are overlooked. It’s easier to put off that big step for one more day, to keep dipping your toe in the water without ever getting in.

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The Beauty of Susan Boyle

April 14, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 13

I was going to connect this somehow to country music, perhaps by discussing K.T. Oslin’s sudden stardom at age 45, or seeing award show winners like Cal Smith or Suzy Bogguss completely stunned and humbled by the recognition of their talent.

But I’m really just sharing this because it made me smile broadly and think of the world as a better, brighter place.

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Dan Milliken is “Goin’ Green”

April 13, 2009 Leeann Ward 34

In conjunction with Earth Day and the global Earth Hour initiative, Belmont University is holding a contest to find their official “green” song. Five songs were chosen by a panel of professional songwriters, faculty members

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John Rich, <em>Son of a Preacher Man</em>

April 12, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 68

I guess I should say from the outset that this review isn’t being written in the real world, but rather in “that New York City town.” For what it’s worth, here’s the view from New York City: this album stinks.

I’m going to keep this review brief. There’s honestly not much to be said. There are only three types of songs on Son of a Preacher Man anyway:

1. Power ballads, minus the power.

John Rich may be the least convincing love singer in history. He doesn’t sound desperate when he’s trying to sound desperate (“I Don’t Wanna Lose Your Love.”) He doesn’t sound head over heels in love when he’s trying to sound head over heels in love (“Another You.”) He doesn’t sound fully committed when he’s trying to sound fully committed (“I Thought You’d Never Ask.”)

2. Loud rockers, minus the rocker.

He may sing that “Everybody Wants to Be Me”, but his timid vocal and anemic backing band suggest that there wasn’t a single person in the studio who believed that line. His ode to the “Trucker Man” has all the potency of an eight year old boy playing with a toy big rig on the living room carpet.

3. Message songs, minus the message.

The album is dominated by messages large and small, personal and political, and every single one of them is garbled and incoherent. Any woman with dignity who believes John Rich’s advice on how to “Turn a Country Boy On” will know that she’s better off alone than lowering herself to do what he suggests.

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