Single Reviews: March 19, 2006

The stunning new Chicks single is one of many highlights of the latest singles roundup. I’m changing the game a little bit and starting to include stand-alone tracks that are impacting as downloads. The era of a “single” just being what’ s sen

t to radio is clearly coming to an end; Willie hitting the top half of the pop chart just on downloads last month is a clear indication of that. I think this format works better for my needs. It’s not like we have country radio here anyway, so who cares that they won’t touch some of these great songs?

New Singles & Tracks
March 19, 2006

Where the heck did this woman come from? A voice that sounds like one of those classic stylists where you just can’t place the name. Welcome to the party.

After songs like “Little Moments” and this treacly, condescending love song, how does any woman resist the temptation to smack Paisley upside the head until he wakes up in the 21st century? This sounds like something Archie would’ve sung to Edith.

DIXIE CHICKS Not Ready To Make Nice
A stunning, glorious catharsis of a record. Praise the Lord, the Chicks are back.

DOLLY PARTON Travelin’ Thru
I agree with the Beastie Boys – Parton was robbed at the Oscars. In the tradition of her very best gospel-tinged classics like “The Seeker” and “Light of A Clear Blue Morning”, this ranks among the greatest compositions and performances from the most significant female artist in the history of country music.

EMMYLOU HARRIS A Love That Will Never Grow Old
The Golden Globe-winning love song from
Brokeback Mountain is standard-issue Emmylou: understated production, excellent song and flawless vocal.

JULIE ROBERTS Men and Mascara
There’s the core of a very good song here. The production and performance don’t seem to come together strongly enough to make it happen.

Generic radio fodder.

MEGAN MULLINS Ain’t What It Used To Be
Great song. I wish the vocal was stronger.

PHIL VASSAR The Last Day of My Life
This is a pretty shameless attempt to recreate “Live Like You Were Dying” as a love song.

RAY SCOTT Gone Either Way
I like the song, but his voice grates on my nerves. It’s a deep monotone completely lacking nuance.

SCOTTY EMERICK What’s Up With That

This is much better than “Corn Fed.” Smart and authentic.

SUGARLAND Down In Mississippi (Up to No Good)
Here we go. This is an instant classic that should help their debut album to triple platinum.

TIM McGRAW When The Stars Go Blue
The same brilliant artist who made hits out of failed singles by
Rodney Crowell (“Please Remember Me”) and Bruce Robison (“Angry All The Time”) slams this Ryan Adams song out of the park. An ambitious and deeply affecting performance. He’s the master.

One of the greatest country songs of all-time gets a very satisfying reading by the genre’s most distinctive vocalist. It’s very difficult for a song this familiar to have fresh impact, but Nelson’s in full Stardust mode here, and there’s a beautiful, timeless quality to his cover. The definitive version remains Emmylou Harris’ heartbreaking take from Cowgirl’s Prayer, but this is a worthy rendition.