Six Pack

Six Pack: Iris DeMent

January 13, 2013 // 7 Comments

Iris DementEven long-time readers of Country Universe could be forgiven for getting to #2 on our Top Country Albums of 2012 list and wondering, “Who on earth is Iris DeMent?”

Iris DeMent came out of nowhere in 1992 with a stunning debut album, Infamous Angel, that received rapturous critical acclaim. The general consensus was that it heralded the arrival of a new singer-songwriter for the ages.

Two years later, My Life only strengthened that sentiment, and DeMent was widely seen as a critical voice in what would eventually become known as the Americana music genre.

Veterans Day Six Pack

November 11, 2011 // 6 Comments

If history had played out the way Woodrow Wilson planned, we’d be celebrating the 92nd Armistice Day today. When first proclaimed a national holiday, Wilson declared the following:

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations.

If the Great War had been the last war, we wouldn’t be celebrating what is now known as Veterans Day. We also wouldn’t have an incredible legacy of songs about soldiers in the annals of country music.

Here are five classics that celebrate those who have served our country and the ones who love them, along with one tale that has a returned soldier that’s not being loved quite enough.

Chely Wright Six Pack

August 20, 2009 // 26 Comments

Chely WrightIt seemed like Chely Wright was on the cusp of stardom for her entire career, releasing several albums in the nineties that garnered enough interest to keep her signed but not quite enough to make her an established star. She finally scored a big hit when “Single White Female” went #1, and the album of the same name would eventually be certified gold.

But she wasn’t able to maintain the momentum with her follow-up project, and that #1 hit remained her only trip to the top ten. In recent years, she released an outstanding EP called Everything and a full-length album called The Metropolitan Hotel which was one of her most consistent efforts.

“The Love That We Lost”
from the 1996 album Right in the Middle Of It

Her biggest pre-MCA hit was remarkably intriguing, especially on the first listen when you’re trying to figure out what she’s looking all over the house for.

Deana Carter Six Pack

August 20, 2009 // 9 Comments

Deana CarterDeana Carter was one of the first post-Shania Twain female country stars, and she quickly proved she could sell in big numbers. Thanks to the omnipresent smash “Strawberry Wine”, she soon owned a debut album that went platinum five times over.

Radio and retail weren’t as kind to her follow-up projects, and she’d establish a pattern that would later be repeated by Gretchen Wilson – big hit, big debut, sophomore slump, third-album bomb, go indie. Her more recent albums are worth checking out, but acquaint yourself with these major-label essentials first.

“Strawberry Wine”
from the 1996 album Did I Shave My Legs For This?

In an instant, Carter became a star. She was nominated for five CMA awards on the strength of this hit. She won Single of the Year, and Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison shared Song of the Year.

BlackHawk Six Pack

August 19, 2009 // 10 Comments

BlackHawkA group of veteran industry songwriters and performers came together as BlackHawk, and were quickly signed to Arista Nashville, a label that had already had success with Exile and Diamond Rio. Their debut album was a smash, selling double-platinum and spawning five hits.

The band wasn’t able to match that success with future projects, despite scoring a handful of hits from their next three albums. Their sophomore set managed to sell gold on the strength of lead single “I’m Not Strong Enough to Say No”, but future projects would miss that mark. The act also left a bad taste in the mouth among some industry members when they publicly complained that less successful acts were winning Vocal Group over them, a blatant reference to The Mavericks.

Still, they produced some great songs that any casual fan of nineties country will be familiar with.

“Goodbye Says it All”
from the 1994 album BlackHawk

Their debut single demonstrated their ease at crafting hooks tailor-made for country radio.

The Mavericks Six Pack

August 19, 2009 // 20 Comments

The MavericksEven though they never made it into heavy rotation on country radio, The Mavericks were still one of country music’s most lauded bands in the mid-nineties. The CMAs named them Vocal Group in both 1995 and 1996, and they won similar honors from the Grammys and the ACMs.

Despite not reaching the top ten with a single, they enjoyed a platinum-selling and a gold-selling album. In Canada, their albums continued to reach the gold threshold. “Dance the Night Away”, which barely dented the country chart in America, was a sizable hit in the United Kingdom. Lead singer Raul Malo has gone on to record several solo projects, along with producing other acts, including yesterday’s Six Pack featured artist Rick Trevino.

“What a Crying Shame”
from the 1994 album What a Crying Shame

Essentially their breakthrough hit, it found them ditching the political themes of their debut album for Orbison-channeling heartbreak instead.

“O What a Thrill”
from the 1994 album What a Crying Shame

A wonderfully romantic ballad that’s remarkably sophisticated.

Wade Hayes Six Pack

August 18, 2009 // 27 Comments

Wade HayesHe could’ve been – heck, still could be – one of the genre’s great traditional vocalists. The depth of his baritone was matched by its nuance, making Josh Turner sound like an amateur in comparison. Here’s hoping he’ll resurface sometime soon, since he could blow most of today’s young guys out of the water.

“Old Enough to Know Better”
from the 1995 album Old Enough to Know Better

A twenty-something anthem that exudes youthful energy.

“I’m Still Dancin’ With You”
from the 1995 album Old Enough to Know Better

It doesn’t have quite the elegance of “In Between Dances”, but his spin on dance floor loneliness is still effective.

Rick Trevino Six Pack

August 18, 2009 // 16 Comments

Rick TrevinoThe nineties brought some artists who never became full-fledged stars, but were a heck of a lot more than one-hit wonders, either. One of those was Rick Trevino, who showed great promise with a solid gold-selling debut album. Though he strayed too far down the radio fodder road with his next two projects, that approach still produced a #1 hit in “Running Out of Reasons to Run.”

As is often the case with the young stars of the nineties, his more recent work has been strikingly compelling, even though radio hasn’t played it. Here’s a good sampling of underrated artist Rick Trevino.

“Just Enough Rope (Bilingual Version)”
from the 1994 album Rick Trevino

Trevino’s debut single is best heard in both of his native tongues.

“She Can’t Say I Didn’t Cry”
from the 1994 album Rick Trevino

Six Pack: K.T. Oslin, Part Two

February 19, 2009 // 5 Comments

The following is a continuation of a guest contribution from Country Universe reader Cory DeStein, who wrote Part One. You can read that entry here. There have only been a handful of exceptionally literate female singer-songwriters that have become successful country music stars. K.T. Oslin was the second in a trio of such women, following Rosanne Cash and preceding Mary Chapin Carpenter. Cory did a wonderful job with the first Six Pack, noting six of Oslin’s most impressive compositions and performances.  My Six Pack is not a counterpoint to his, but rather a continuation of it. He already named many of my favorite Oslin songs, most notably “Hold Me” and “New Way Home.”  Thankfully, her catalog is more than deep enough for me to contribute six more to the conversation. I highly recommend seeking out all of her studio albums, but the twelve tracks listed by Cory and myself should Read More

Six Pack: K.T. Oslin, Part One

February 15, 2009 // 14 Comments

The following is a guest contribution from Country Universe reader Cory DeStein.  An additional Six Pack written by Kevin J. Coyne will follow later this week. K.T. Oslin appears to most often enter a conversation with the line, “Older woman who broke into the music business.” A better introduction would be genius songwriter. She was the first woman to win the CMA award for Song of the Year. Her first two albums sold platinum and in three short years, she was awarded three Grammys, four ACM Awards, and two CMA Awards. With theatrical videos such as “80’s Ladies,” “Come Next Monday” and “Mary and Willie,” along with her masterful songwriting skills, her work has a timeless quality, with the themes she addressed back then still being relevant and fresh today. I first knew of K.T. Oslin through the video “Come Next Monday” when I was just a child in 1990, Read More

1 2