Thursday, August 30, 2012

Album review: Edens Edge by Edens Edge

I've talked about how lucky I've been in that I've genuinely liked most of the things I've reviewed so far. That might be a little hard for some of you to believe - after all no one likes everything, right? But I don't know, there's been a lot of great music coming out lately. 2012 has been such a strong year for country music. So many artists are on the very top of their games, but even the ones who aren't are still putting out good music. Have I liked every single thing that's been released? No. But I have liked most everything I've written about. I've talked about Edens Edge before and if you saw those posts, you know I like them. So what about the album? Did I like it? No.

I adore it. Seriously, I realize that that might be an odd word to pick and it's not one I use all that much. In fact it's one I really don't use at all. So when I say that I adore this album, that's saying something. That's truly the best word to sum up my feelings. You're not going to find much in the way of criticism in this review. I've been listening to this a lot over the past couple of days and find new things to appreciate with each listen. This is a very strong album. Not just for a debut album, but in general. Everyone involved should be proud of themselves for helping to create something as good as this.

So why was it so good?

No weak songs. There's nothing on here that I'd call filler. I really believe they could release any of these songs to radio and all would have a pretty good chance of doing well.

Great production. I have absolutely no complaints there.

Wonderful playing by all the musicians all throughout. Good energy and from a strictly musical standpoint, everything fits. There's some great solos to be found on here as well.

The harmonies. Everything I mentioned previously is terrific and you can't have a great album without all of the above. But make no mistake: the vocals and harmony is what really makes Edens Edge shine. Both the group and the CD. First, we have Hannah Blaylock on lead. Hannah, who has quickly become one of my favorite leads. She has a beautiful, clear tone when she sings, but her real strength as a singer is her ability to sell a lyric. This album covers a bit of ground in terms of subject and mood, all of which is reflected in her delivery. She seems to be one who doesn't just sing her songs, she feels them. A quality that a lot of singers don't have.

Then we have Cherrill Green and Dean Berner. Adding not just their harmony, but their musical abilities. Cherrill plays the mandolin, banjo and guitar and Dean plays guitar and Dobro. Both prove to be wonderful musicians and their harmonies are flawless. They know when to step it up and when to fade more into the background, providing an extremely solid support system for Hannah on lead. Their three voices fit together so beautifully that if you didn't know otherwise you might assume that they were related for how strong they are.

So yeah. Take all of the above and that is what makes me adore this album. Time to consider each song separately for those of who who are interested. But first, how about a picture?

Taken at the Ryman back in February. If you're interested in seeing more, head on over to and check out my Edens Edge album. Naturally stopping to like the page if you are so inclined. I'm seriously considering doing a giveaway of sorts once I can get to 100 likes. So get to liking and you might just win something at some point. Just throwing that out there.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Album Review: Thirty Miles West by Alan Jackson

Steady. Consistent. Solid. Traditional. Class. These are just some of the words I would use to describe Alan Jackson and his music. He knows what his sound is and he knows what his fans expect of him and he delivers. Every single time. I've been reading a bunch of other reviews of this album and the general consensus seems to be that if you're an Alan Jackson fan, you won't be disappointed. I would absolutely agree with that. I'd also add that if you're a fan of traditional country music and haven't already purchased this album, than you need to do so. I have to say that I love that we have artists like Alan Jackson keeping this sound alive and well. It's very important that there's always some artists making straight up traditional country.

Now I'd like you to do me a favor and refer back to the five words I used at the beginning. In addition to all of them, I would say that this album feels very polished and familiar. Thirty Miles West is very much a typical Alan Jackson album, though there's a certain freshness about it that wasn't as present on his last CD. This was very nicely produced and features some terrific playing. The music tends to be understated at several times throughout the album and it's very effective. There really isn't anything that feels out of place here. It's a very solid collection of songs that fit together nicely. I'd consider this album to be money well spent.

There's the short version of the review for you. If you'd like to know what I thought of each of the cuts, you know what to do. Keep on reading.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Song review: "How Country Feels" by Randy Houser

So if you somehow have made it this far and never listened to Randy Houser, I would strongly urge you to start. Why? Because he's among the best male vocalists in country music today. And one of the most underrated. For some reason he seems to fly right under the radar of a lot of country fans and that's a shame.
He signed on with Stoney Creek Record, sister label of Broken Bow Records, earlier this year and "How Country Feels" is his first single with them. If I'm not mistaken, this was released a couple of months ago and seems to be making an impression. I've seen a bunch of good comments from other fans and can't help but feel that this song could do some very good things for Randy.

Why do I think so? Well, keep on reading and I'll tell you.