One of the rare concept albums that lives up to its conceit while each song still able to stand on its own, Big Day in a Small Town demonstrates as well that Brandy Clark’s debut album wasn’t a fluke. She really is this good.
Released in 1998, Wide Open Spaces established the Dixie Chicks as superstars right out of the gate. It produced five top ten hits, including three #1 singles, and sold more than twelve million copies in the United States alone. It remains their biggest selling album to date. But is it among their best?
With a steady job as executive music producer for ABC-TV’s Nashville, as well as a hectic schedule in his own studio, Buddy Miller does not often release a new album. When he finally does, it’s bound to be excellent. Buddy Miller & Friends: Cayamo Sessions at Sea features Miller supporting some of Americana’s top artists. It demonstrates not only his sublime artistry, but his talent of nudging great singers into even greater performances.
Andrew Combs’ All These Dreams thrives in widescreen and close-up. It’s a lush, imaginative production that’s also a series of intimate character sketches.
On her first new release in 14 years, K.T. Oslin offers one new song and eight re-imagined incarnations of past singles and album cuts from throughout her thirty year career.
Since making her debut with 1997’s Alabama Song, Allison Moorer has been one of country music’s most consistent albums artists. The singer-songwriter has three unqualified masterpieces to her credit— the flawless stone-country heartbreak cycle of The Hardest Part, the politically charged The Duel, and the somber, heady Southern Gothic of Crows. Despite having those triumphs— and other excellent albums like Alabama Song and Good Fortune— to her credit, Moorer’s latest effort, Down to Believing, is perhaps the finest album of her career because it finds Moorer challenging both her singing and her songwriting voices to plumb truly difficult emotional depths.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.
George Strait has released a new album that is consistently good, with strong vocal performances that elevate even the middling material.
It isn’t easy to follow up a universally praised debut album, especially when you don’t have the novelty of the new in your corner. Sometimes what sounds so fresh is just by the virtue of being the first time your voice has been heard. The second time around, you can only rely on the strength of your material. Being different is no longer enough.
Django and Jimmie derives its title from the names of two of the biggest influences of Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard – Django Reinhardt and Jimmie Rodgers.
The greatest gift a music lover can give another is leading them to a great artist they have not yet discovered