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Walter Hyatt - Some Unfinished Business Volume One6 bulletsWalter Hyatt - Some Unfinished Business Volume One
It's really difficult to describe just how much this record means to me. I'm not a Walter Hyatt fan who had been eagerly awaiting the release of any available tracks he may have laid down before his untimely death in 1996. I am just a guy who heard Walter's widow, Heidi, on the radio one day talking about a new project; who then looked up Walter on the internet and saw the story of an interesting man; and who, after that, requested the record for review. And now I am just a guy who is telling you that this is one amazing record. Hyatt's songwriting is very strong, and the production on the album is just about perfect, but it's really Walter's voice that is the bread and butter. It's not a voice that's been overtrained, and, despite the previous metaphor, it's not even buttery smooth. It's just a warm, comfortable baritone that will resonate through your soul like the silky tones of a fine saxophone in the hands of a master. Whether he's crooning ("The Standoff") or rocking ("Rollin' My Blues") or soulsearching ("I'll Come Knocking"), Walter Hyatt will bring you to your emotional knees like no other singer I've recently heard. 'Nuff said. Just go buy the record. And now I have to go before I start gushing.... What's that?... Yeah, too late.... Allow me to summarize: Great record. (SC)
Doyle Bramhall - Is It News6 bulletsDoyle Bramhall - Is It News
Doyle Bramhall is as cool today as he was when he was writing all the great Stevie Ray Vaughn hits. The reality of the music market is that very few frontman singing drummers rise to the heavens of stardom. In Doyle’s case this has nothing to do with any lack of talent, but more to do with the fact that he plays the wrong instrument for the visual driven music media market. No matter, he has more talent in one finger than most in their entire body, and Is It News is yet more proof of that, as if real fans needed any. The CD is a crushing blues-rock record that captures the listener from track one and all the way through. It has, of course, fantastic drum back beats and great guitars from Bramhall's son, Doyle Bramhall II. Is It News is a breath of fresh air in a music world where all the sounds often blend together. He is a blast from the past and what a refreshing breeze it truly is. (KH)
Two Fingers of Firewater5 bulletsTwo Fingers of Firewater - Two Fingers of Firewater
If you were to put Jay Farrar, They Might Be Giants, and The Jayhawks into a giant blender and push the "puree" button, you may create a giant bloody mess. But, if you concentrated really hard and thought positive thoughts, you might end up with Two Fingers of Firewater. I can't get this CD out of my player. Songs like the pseudo-gospel jam session "Satan, Your Kingdom Must Come Down" and the wistfully fun "Southbank Girl," pave the way for "The Night Ends" (my favorite song) with its references to "smoking someone else's cheap cigarettes," and "B Mando" with its neo-prog intro, which lead us to the gorgeously lush "The End" and the album's coda, a tribute to the "whatever" attitude, "The World Can Wait." I do have one negative note to send out to TFOF: Raw vocals are great, but some are better served at least medium rare (see "Endless Highway"). All things considered, though, this is definitely one of the best records I've heard this year. (SC)
The Duhks - Fast Paced World5 bulletsThe Duhks - Fast Paced World
Beautifully soulful songs from the Canadians. Eclecticism is the rule of the day with this record, with styles spanning classic gospel to smooth worldbeat to straight-up americana. Primary lead vocalist Sarah Dugas is at her best when she's, if I may take a Texcentric view of the situation, channelling smokysexy Austinite Suzanna Choffel on songs like "Sleepin' Is All I Wanna Do" and "I See You," while Leonard Podolak is impressive up front on the coolly hypnotic "95 South." Other standouts on the album are the liltingly melancholic "You Don't See It" and the timely take on the standard "Mighty Storm." It may take you a couple of listens to really dig this record, but it's definitely worth that little bit of effort. (SC)
Eli Young Band - Jet Black and Jealous5 bulletsEli Young Band - Jet Black and Jealous
No doubt the best work that the Eli Young Band has ever recorded. With the slight exception of rerecording “When it Rains” from the Level CD, which is kind of like trying to repeat past glory, Jet Black and Jealous is a true winner. Produced by Mike Wrucke and Frank Liddell (Miranda Lambert), Jet Black and Jealous delivers a great blend of Nashville production value with great songs and performance value. With twelve tracks the record is a significant music value and has Mike Eli trademark love songs and toe-tapping fun power country rock tunes. There's not a bad song on the album, but notables include, “Always the Love Songs,” “Enough is Enough,” “Throw and Go,” and “How Should I Know.” For EYB fans, and fans yet to be, Jet Black and Jealous is a keeper for sure. (KH)
Honeybrowne - Mile By Mile4 bulletsHoneybrowne - Mile By Mile
This is my favorite Honeybrowne release to date. The sound has been roughed up a bit — fear not, ladies, just a bit — and it sounds good on them. If ever there was a songwriter who wears his heart on his sleeve, though, it's Honeybrowne's Fred Andrews. I gotta hand it to the guy, he's found a place that's comfortable for him and is able to deliver what fans want to hear. Even if "Love Wanted" pegs my schmaltzmeter, I have to dig that in "Left Me A Mess" Fred admits to being so heartbroken that he's wearing clothes that "smell a little like hell." Plus, songs like "Line Sinker and Hook" and "Yesterday's News" are just plain catchy. Yeah, I caught myself singing along. DAMMIT! (SC)
Waylon Jennings and the 357s - Waylon Forever1 bulletsWaylon Jennings and the 357s - Waylon Forever
I have to admit to being a bit taken aback when I slipped this CD into my player. It had arrived in the mail with a sticky note across the cover and I began listening without any idea of what was going to come through the speakers. What I heard was a guy who sounded like Waylon Jennings performing Waylon Jennings songs. By the middle of "Outlaw Shit" I realized this is Waylon Jennings. Apparently these are some late-in-life vocal recordings by the man himself, now packaged with back up by Shooter, Jessi, and others. The sticky note on the cover of the CD I received said "Let me know what you think." This is what I think: This record should not have been released. Not only are the remakes of classics like "Jack-A-Diamonds" and "Lonesome On'ry and Mean" a waste of my time, which is to say they do not improve on the originals, but Waylon's take on Cream's "White Room" is one of the most sadly pathetic vocal performances I've ever heard — this from one of the greatest song interpreters of my lifetime. The final track on the record, the Waylon-Shooter penned "I Found The Body," is actually a semi-cool tune that provides some hint of what this album really should have been, a collaboration between father and son. The tune is decidedly old meets new, along with, not ironically, I'm sure, a little vocal influenced by "Great Gig In The Sky" mixed in, but you should just hit Amazon and download that one track — leave the rest for suckers who haven't been warned. (SC)
South Texas Destroyers4 bulletsSouth Texas Destroyers - South Texas Destroyers
Let's get this out of the way right up front. The sound on this record resembles a demo more than a full CD release. Okay, now get over it — your stereo ain't that good anyway. But the music here is that good, if disjointed. James Pardo's songwriting and vocal delivery is one side of the coin, guitargodinthemaking Will Owen Gage's is the other. Let's just say I can do without "the other," or, as Zappa might say, "Shut up and play yer guitar." Let me clarify: Will's songs are not bad, but, except for "Drive It," they stylistically don't fit on this record. Now, don't let that keep you from owning this record. Buy the album for Pardo songs like "12-24-06" and "How Does It Feel" and, hell, just to support the band, because the South Texas Destroyers deserve to be around for a long time. (SC)
Rich O'Toole - In A Minute Or 24 bulletsRich O'Toole - In A Minute Or 2
I like this record, but it's definitely, perhaps for me alone, a disappointing followup to O'Toole's great 2006 release, Seventeen, which I had named as the best album of the year. In A Minute Or 2 heads down an understandable path for someone seeking commercial success, which is to say it includes more pop songs about relationships and less country songs about historical figures. Will you hate In A Minute Or 2 if you loved Seventeen? I don't. Rich's vocal style is still as engaging as ever, especially on songs like the title track and "11th Street." The songwriting is solid, the arrangements are well-produced. Ah, Sneakers O'Toole, it sounds like some day all too soon I may be saying, "I knew you when...." (SC)
David Olney & Sergio Webb - Live at Norm's River Roadhouse, Vol. 16 bulletsDavid Olney & Sergio Webb - Live at Norm's River Roadhouse, Vol. 1
I love this record. Olney's imaginative songwriting and world-wise Baptist-preacher vocal style, plus Webb's magical guitar, combine to provide a uniquely entertaining album. I mean, come on, where else will you hear a song about the Titanic, written as if the ship and the iceberg are ancient lovers who are destined to meet, alongside a ukelele waltz and an ode to the death of Socrates? Smart, witty, tart, gritty, Olney and Webb, with percussionist Jack Irwin accompanying, kick major ass with this limited edition release. (SC)
Robyn Ludwick - Too Much Desire5 bulletsRobyn Ludwick - Too Much Desire
The best work Robyn has ever recorded. Not as country as past records, but beautifully Americana that fits Robyn’s voice nicely. Robyn’s brothers Bruce and Charlie Robison as well as Eliza Gilkyson add harmonies. All the songs were written by Robyn and the quality of each of them sets her mark on the map of great Americana songwriting. Too Much Desire is truly a enjoyable Americana record of great songs by a great songwriter. Very nice indeed. (KH)
The Nadas - The Ghosts inside these Halls5 bulletsThe Nadas - The Ghosts Inside These Halls
The veteran roots rockers out of Des Moines are firing on all cylinders on their sixth studio album, The Ghosts Inside These Halls. From "Loser" — an answer to Beck's slacker anthem of the same title? — through the silly hidden track that may or may not be titled "Muy Cuando," The Nadas consistently deliver stirring songwriting and ear-pleasing vocals backed by artful arrangments. Standout tracks include the heartwrenching "Pieces On The Ground," the neo-prog rocker "Something's Burning," and the wistfully satisfying "James." (SC)
Greta Gaines - Whiskey Thoughts5 bulletsGreta Gaines - Whiskey Thoughts
Greta Gaines has been in the public eye for years as a musician, as well as a snowboarder and a television personality, but Whiskey Thoughts marks her first widely released album. It's a good one, showcasing Gaines' poetic lyrics and engaging vocal style. The instrumentation tends toward mainstream Nashville, so it is lushly beautiful, but it is more real than the country-pop sound you may expect, even featuring Raul Malo on one track. Gaines journeys through twelve tunes that she groups into "Drivin' Songs" and "Cryin' Songs." "Falling James" is gourgeously heartbreaking song, while "Armageddon Love Song (Under A Texas Sky)" captures the essence of a feeling we all understand. (SC)
Luke Olson - Red River Blue4 starsLuke Olson - Red River Blue
The veteran Texas based singer and songwriter delivers a quality record with his fifth release. Lukeís unique voice lends a delightful texture to the collection of twelve songs. Olson penned three of the tunes and covers the nine others, choosing tunes from writers like Warren Zevon, Kicks Brooks, Rodney Crowell, and Chris Knight. It is risky covering so many songs on a single record, but Olson delivers with distinctive versions of each. Red River Blue will undoubtedly win Luke new fans and is a must have for fans of Olsonís voice and his roots driven brand of Texas country. (KH)
Mike McClure Band - Did 7Mike McClure Band - Did 7
Not a rock record like foam and not a country record like Twelve Pieces, Did 7 is The Mike McClure Band’s first real Americana record. It is a true work of art that cannot be missed by McClure fans and non-fans alike. Did 7 has some of the greatest and eclectic recording work ever done by an Americana artist. The unique touches include a ragtime brass band in a great rock song and his daughter singing the epilogue on one of the songs. McClure continues to push the edge of what is great and what is average in the Americana world. He is in a place all his own at the top of the game. (KH)
Red Elvises - Drinking With JesusRed Elvises - Drinking With Jesus
Everyone's favorite Russians have created yet another cool, fun record. Their first release of all new music since 2004, Drinking With Jesus features more of the party-hardy "rokenrol" that has made Red Elvises one of the most popular independent live bands touring the world today. Now featuring the talented Elena Shemankova on keys, this record represents a step forward for the Elvises. From the title track through "Better Than Cocaine" to "Stupid Drinking Song" and bassist Oleg Bernov-sung "Bourbon Street," lead singer/guitar Igor Yuzov's songwriting keeps the atmosphere light, even when the subject matter darkens. Pick up the album then be sure to catch the Elvises live. See them once and they may very well become your favorite band -- that's what happened to me, anyway. (SC)
Mic Harrison and The High Score - On The Right Side Of The GrassMic Harrison and The High Score - On The Right Side Of The Grass
There are a few good to really good tunes on this record -- "Satan Lives In Arkansas," "Long Way From Heaven," "Never Gonna Drink Again" -- but there are an equal number of forgettable and sometimes even dumb one. Seriously, Mic, "I Get The Booze"? (SC)
Eric Hisaw - Nature Of The BluesEric Hisaw - Nature Of The Blues
There are few better songwriters in Texas than Eric Hisaw. He has the ability to take conventional themes like love and loss and transform them into uniquely individual experiences. On top of that, Hisaw's engaging melodies are perfectly matched with his wholly original lyrics. And, oh, yeah, he can play a little guitar, too. Great for anyone who digs well-written songs with cool guitar licks — that's everyone, right? "Shout Out Loud" is one of the the best songs I've heard this year. (SC)
Big Head Todd and The Monster - All the Love you NeedBig Head Todd and The Monsters - All the Love you Need
The Colorado jam band with the incredible resume has hit an in field home run with this one. A diverse record that leaves the listener wanting more of Big Head and his band. More on the rock side of Americana but right where good music lovers need to be. One of the best bands out there right now. (KH)
Cory Morrow - Vagrants and KingsCory Morrow - Vagrants and Kings
The best work Morrow has ever done and recorded. Proof that Cory Morrow keeps getting better and better even without a big Nashville record label contract. Some of the lyrics are a bit "preachy" and "My Baby and Me" is way too "gushy" for guys to love. But "Ten Mile Road" is an incredible guy’s song. So, there is something for everyone on this great record. (KH)

The Gourds - Noble CreaturesThe Gourds - Noble Creatures
A solid Gourds record that is right on track with their trademark bluegrass style. Some great tunes like "Flavor on the Tongue." All Gourds fans will love it and others who might be skeptical will be won over. Well produced and recorded with the skill that only The Gourds can bring to the studio. (KH)

The Stone Coyotes - VIIIThe Stone Coyotes - VIII
The Stone Coyotes are one of the best-sounding trios around, but their success really relies on the strong songwriting and post-punk vocal style of bandleader Barbara Keith. Whether rocking out on songs like "Tomorrow Is Another Day" or balladeering on "The Lights Of Home," Keith delivers her songs with a genuine enthusiasm that cannot help but draw anyone within earshot into her world. Bonus: The CD insert includes a full-panel shot of the Coyotes onstage at my favorite venue, The Bugle Boy in La Grange. (SC)

Daniel Adami - Texas DreamerDaniel Adami - Texas Dreamer
This is some pretty darn good old-fashioned Texas country music from Daniel Adami, who dedicates this record to "our heroes - the men and women ... [of] our United States Armed Forces." Enjoyably listenable from front to back, with an occasional standout like "Two Friends One Night" and the title track. (SC)

Calhoun - Falter • Waver • CultivateCalhoun - Falter • Waver • Cultivate
I'll be the first to admit that maybe I just don't get it, but I really don't hear a lot to love here from Fort Worth-based Calhoun. Falter • Waver • Cultivate is an okay pop record, and songs like "Breathe" and "Funeral For The Living" are worth a few listens, but singer-songwriter Tim Locke's weakly whispery vocals are too often lost in the overzealous instrumentation. Locke, who was the Fort Worth Weekly Songwriter of the Year in both 2006 and 2008, surely must have something to say, but it's hard to tell on this record. (SC)
Jason Allen - The Twilight ZoneJason Allen - The Twilight Zone
Roy Orbison and Elvis lived and they both were great. However, it has been done and serious musicians should stay away from the attempts to recreate that magic. Additionally, covering Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called to Say I Love You" as a country song is completely wrong. Allen is too talented for imitations and covering lounge songs. A couple of good country songs on the record are the only redeeming factors here. (KH)
Susan Gibson - Old Dog New TricksSusan Gibson - Old Dog, New Tricks
Tired of people coming up to her after shows asking her which CD "Perfect World" or "My Best Feature" is on — they're on records she cut with her old band, The Groobees — Susan decided to remake some of those songs. You'll hear all your favorites, except "Wide Open Spaces," which is already available on several CDs, plus a few new songs, including the terrific road tune "Start Over," co-written with her pals Adam Carroll and Mark Jungers. Walt Wilkins produced the record, adding some nice layers to Susan's always beautiful vocal performances. (SC)
Guy Forsyth - Calico GirlGuy Forsyth - Calico Girl
What would you do if you had signed a record contract years ago that meant that you now receive no payment at all for some of your best recorded songs? If you're Guy Forsyth, you remake the songs, retitle the album, and take your case to the people. Okay, here it is: BUY THIS RECORD! Calico Girl is essentially an updated version of Can You Live Without, with reversioning of those tunes based on Guy's having performed them thousands of times over the last ten years. Produced by one of my favorites, Mark Addison, I predict this CD will stay in my player for the rest of the year — at least. (SC)
Johns Guns - Buy —  Sel —  TradeJohns Guns - Buy — Sell — Trade
Um ... for the most part ... sell. Not a whole lot of to get excited about here pretty much the same old themes and sounds. Of the two lead singers, the one with the far more interesting voice, BJ Wilson, is relegated to only two songs. There are a couple of decent tunes on the album, "Here I Am" and "Pen and Ink," but songs like "Come To Drink Of It" and "Lazy River Days" have me reaching for the "skip" button. I really dig and respect Phil Pritchett as an artist, but his production here could not save this record. (SC)
The BoxmastersThe Boxmasters - The Boxmasters
The Boxmasters, led by Billy Bob Thornton, definitely have game. Thornton is no newcomer to the music scene, but he's discovered that twangbilly is the sound for him. While the lyrical poetry is not quite fully developed, the themes are originally addressed, and the traditional-sounding melodies make a fine backdrop to the edgy lyrics. Songs like "I'm Watchin' The Game" and "The Poor House" will bring a smile to your face. The two-disc set also includes a CD with the band covering everyone from M-M-Mel to Mott. (SC)
Joel Melton - 'Round HereJoel Melton - Round Here
With his Jim Dandy Mangrum-meets-Joe Tex voice, there's a lot to like about the soulfully country style of Joel Melton. This record is from 2005, but I've just heard it for the first time -- thought you might be in the same boat, so I had to mention it here. I know I'm only giving it four bullets, but the good stuff is really good. This is also a teaser, because I have a demo disc of some of the tunes to be on the upcoming CD, and am looking forward to that release. (SC)
Matt Koger - The Coyote’s CallMatt Koger - The Coyote’s Call
Matt Koger may be an artist of some obscurity but he shouldn’t be. From the evidence in The Coyote’s Call, Koger is a force to be acknowledged. Great songs and great musicianship are abound on this record. Koger may not the best vocalist but neither are Neil Young or Bob Dylan and his vocals fit perfectly with the folk driven style of Americana that he writes. The record rocks and "humms" at the same time with roots and style. It is a delightful collection of tunes with historical and social context. (KH)
Hayes Carll - Trouble in MindJohn D. Hale Band - Lost [UPGRADE]
I'm upgrading this to 5 bullets. On a recent roadtrip I slipped Lost into my player right after one of my alltime favorites, Ragweed's Highway 377, and Hale kept things going. Bogs a bit toward the end, but generally great road tunes. Even that remake of "LA County" is growing on me. (SC)
Michael Hosty - The Mousetrap SessionsMichael Hosty - The Mousetrap Sessions
Part swing, part psyco-billy, part indie rock, part country, part R&B and 100% cool, The Mousetrap Sessions is a record for those looking for something different out of a scene that all to often delivers more of the same. Michael Hosty was made simi-famous because of his authorship of the song "Oklahoma Breakdown" that Stoney LaRue has successfully recorded and toured on. The Mousetrap Sessions is funny, groovy, strange and great. The record has a Jim Morrison feel to it and is so different from any other "Texas or Red Dirt" record that it really deserves a critical listen. The masses may not get it but music snobs and those after something different will understand Hosty perfectly. (KH)
Paul Thorn - A Long Way from TupeloPaul Thorn - A Long Way from Tupelo
A cool project by the standard bearer of Americana songwriting. Thorn is a favorite of Delbert McClinton and A Long Way from Tupelo is solid evidence of why. Thorn’s songs groove straight out of the bayou with gospel vibes and gator grease. They can not be listened to without feeling like you are in the delta eating fried chicken on a 99 degree day. "Burnin’ Blue" is the most notable track on the CD and it haunts and delivers with cold shivers. It is a superb tune. (KH)
Denice Franke - Gulf Coast BlueDenice Franke - Gulf Coast Blue
I have to admit to being initially underwhelmed by this record as I tried to cram a quick scan-through into my all-too-busy schedule. Then I hit track 8, "Tara Lee," which was so brilliant I was forced to go back and reevaluate my attitude toward Gulf Coast Blue. As I listened again (and again and again), I recognized the depth of the songwriting and the heartfelt soulfulness of Franke's vocal performances, and I realized this album is pretty special. (SC)
Marcus Eldridge - Bring On The NightMarcus Eldridge - Bring On The Night
Marcus delivers more of a country record than his compadres in Walt Wilkins' band, The Mystiqueros, but Marcus’ work stands up well on its own. Bring on the Night is a great collection of songs that is proof that the Mystiqueros are more than the sum of their parts. They collaborate and make records together and help on their solo projects. It is a musical stew and the latest Eldridge project is just another great work in the mix. As always, great songs and great musicianship makes the difference. A must for Mystiqueros fans and those who want to be. (KH)
Fifty Nine South - Fifty Nine SouthFifty Nine South - Fifty Nine South
Not a terrible indie country project but just misses because of production value. The songs and band has potential but the quality of production is a distraction. Better tracking and vocal layering would have made this record a good bet. However, the band and the songs are quality with serious potential. (KH)
John Greenberg - Old Blue SuitJohn M. Greenberg - Old Blue Suit
Cooler than CSN&Y when they were still cool. Shows why Walt Wilkins has made "Johnny Gringo" one of his Mystiqueros. Treasure trove of songwriting and melody. The players on the record are a "who's who" of Texas music. (KH)
Devon Heath - Give It To Me StraightDevon Heath - Give It To Me Straight
Gravelly-voiced Devon Heath definitely gives it to us straight with this pure country record. Solid songwriting and performances. Well-executed instrumention. "Days Like That" and "Blue Eyes" stand out. (SC)
Charliehorse - Come OnCharliehorse - Come On
Crafted in the backwoods style of Black Oak Arkansas. A solid blend of classic country, rock, and the more red dirt style of both. A fun time that is as smooth and rough as some ole Ozark mountain "shine." Worth a listen anytime. (KH)
Hayes Carll - Trouble in MindHayes Carll - Trouble In Mind
An entertaining and well-executed record. Love the banjos and keys. Carey Kotsionis' background vocals sound great. "She Left Me For Jesus," co-written with Brian Keane, is irreverantly witty — my kinda song. (SC)
Jon Justice - The ReboundJon Justice - The Rebound
An hour of kickass blues from a Cincinnati white guy. Justice lays down the blues like no other with heavy guitar riffs and solos. Great rhythm section and horn work will please any blues fan. What "The Blues" is supposed to be. (KH)
Hayes Carll - Trouble in MindJohn D. Hale Band - Lost [NOTE: Upgraded above]
More good stuff from the boys from Missouri. "Heartbreaker" is really catchy, the title track is a good rocker, "Pistol In Each Hand" tells a good story. The cover of "LA County" is unnecessary. JDHB fans should dig it. (SC)
Zach Edwards Band - ZebZach Edwards Band - Zeb
Pretty good country, but it misses the mark with too many lyrical clichés and shallow party songs. "Git 'Er Done" and "Cowboy Crew," however, are clever, well-written, well-performed tunes that show Zach's potential. (KH)
Southern Drive - Take A RideSouthern Drive - Take A Ride
Nice use of harmonica and — dig it — trumpets. This Dallas band sounds like one that should really be seen live. "Back To Memphis," er, I mean, "64" is catchy as hell. Favorite song, though, is "South of the Rio." (SC)
Gary Ritchey - For Dear LifeGary Ritchey - For Dear Life
A solid record with some really good country songs. "Drinkin' in Texas" and "Knock on Wood" are awesome. A fine effort for this Texas musician who spends as much time as a charter-for-hire pilot as he does being a songwriter. (KH)
Stewart Mann and the Statesboro RevueStewart Mann and the Statesboro Revue - Stewart Mann and the Statesboro Revue
"Lady" is a cool song -- one of the best I've ever heard. A project that any artist could be proud of, but there are only eight tracks. It could rate higher with more songs. (KH)
Jackson Browne - Solo Acoustic, Vol. 2Jackson Browne - Solo Acoustic, Vol. 2
From the first sound of Jackson's distinctive voice, I was hooked again. A nice followup to 2005's Solo Acoustic, Vol. 1. Jackson interacts well with the audience, charming with his songs, guitar, keyboard, and stories. (SC)
Brison Bursey Band - Bigger SkyBrison Bursey Band - Bigger Sky
Good freshman effort by the young Mr. Bursey. Produced by Keith Davis, Bigger Sky is full of fun tunes that will bring the listener back for more. Only a glimpse of greater things to come for Brison as a singer/songwriter. (KH)
Zach Tate Band - Southern RainZach Tate Band - Southern Rain
Strange and silly dark lyrics make most of this record not worth a second spin. A couple of good tunes that make sense. It is musically well done but fails to capture any sense of direction as a cohesive CD. Not the best possible effort. (KH)
Mando Saenz - BucketMando Saenz - Bucket
Only an okay effort from Mando -- left me flat. Doesn't pack the punch of his superb first release, Watertown. The vocals are often overshadowed by the instrumentation, leaving the lyrics in the background. Disappointing. (SC)
County Road 5 - Drink About ItCounty Road 5 - Drink About It
Catchy melodies and hooks like "Drink I Couldn't Handle" and "Gone Fishin'," but pretty weak lyrically. That makes these boys from Kansas a good-timin' party band, and the release of their upcoming live album may prove that. (SC)
Madison Monroe - No BoundariesMadison Monroe - No Boundaries
Nicely produced Texas pop with country and blues overtones. Texas music vet Madison Monroe re-emerges with his first solo release. "Back To You" is one of those songs that you wake up singing. Glad he still loves rock-n-roll. (SC)
Randy Thompson - Further OnRandy Thompson - Further On
Randy Thompson is not from Texas but he should be. Further On is one of the best Americana and roots records of the year. The guitar work alone makes this a must-have for any music aficionado. (KH)
Mike Ethan Messick - Bootlegger's TurnMike Ethan Messick - Bootlegger's Turn
"Great," I thought as the first song played, "another gravel-voiced Texan." But I was soon drawn in by the catchy melodies and engaging lyrics. Add well-executed instrumentation and you have one really good record. (SC)
The Border Blasters - Blast From The PastThe Border Blasters - Blast From The Past
This record sounds like a bunch of old guys (and I use that term lovingly) jamming around a campfire. Really nice swing and country grooves, plus a cooler-than-you bluegrass take on Jimmy Cliff's "Harder They Come." (SC)
Chad Johnson - Small Town TalkChad Johnson and Down 1450 - Small Town Talk
The superb fiddle and guitar work on this CD makes it a raucous and beautiful blend of classic country and west Texas stomp. The music is smooth and it gives us a glimpse of Texas life via Johnson’s finely crafted musical storytelling. (KH)
JR Castro - Addicted

Track 8: "Better Things"
Track 9: "Here's To The Whiskey"
Track 10: "Blank Shot"
Track 11: "Sinner's Melody"

JR Castro - Addicted
Castro is out of the gate strong with his first effort. The moments of brilliance, particularly the 4-song span of tracks 8 thru 11, overshadow the minor missteps. Very cool guitar work throughout. Hit song in waiting: "Better Things." (SC)
Nikki Lee - Back to You and MeNikki Lee - Back to You and Me
The second record by the teenage sensation from La Mesa is a leap forward for a talent that is bound for the national spotlight. This is a truly fun pop country record from a delightful girl who can sing her way into anyone’s heart. (KH)
Hazzard - ChoicesHazzard - Choices
This pure honkytonk with both classic and new country roots, for pure country music fans that like some swing with their stomp along with some pedal steel work that is as good as any that has ever been recorded. (KH)
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