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Picks & Pans

With Nashville's Top Music Critic, Stacy Harris


A little "housekeeping": I welcome the receipt of and will review just about all NEW product received. (Contact me for an explanation if you think there might be extenuating circumstances.)  Major or independent label. It makes no difference.

That said, my unique, open door policy requires, in fairness to all, that product be evaluated and reviews posted in the order in which submissions have been received.

Ground rule: I don't do downloads.  

If a review peaks your curiosity, please consider sampling/and or making a purchase through its Amazon cover art link. Commissions I earn through your purchases make updates possible.

A link without artwork indicates cover art has not been supplied to Amazon. The absence of a link indicates that Amazon does not distribute the CD.

Stacy's Ratings

*****Outstanding

**** Good

*** Promising

** Fair

*Makes A Good Coaster


Bold Like A Lion

 Meghan Linsey

Rating  **** 1/2

According to a news release issued by Meghan Linsey's publicist, Joey Amato, Linsey calls this the best album she's ever released.

Reviewers had some fun with Jeanne Pruett when, over the course of her recording career, Jeanne would appear with Ralph Emery and proclaim, like clockwork, the same superlative sentiment about whatever her newest release happened to be with each of Pruett’s singles over Meghan may well be right. This CD’s baker’s dozen of largely well-written songs, variously infused with energy, attitude, independence (or the lack thereof), and social conscience, begin with a roar (no pun intended), right out of the box, as the title song opens with lyrics and a sentiment that sets the tone for what follows.

Mr. Homewrecker, Bold…’s first single, lays the responsibility for breaking vows where it belongs.  Say It To My Face (featuring Aloe Blaco) is a self-explanatory message to Internet trolls.  Freak 4 the Beat (featuring Fred Schneider of the B52s), if properly promoted, will certainly broaden Meghan’s audience, more accustomed to the nuance defining the fine line between Exes and Friends.

I could do without Lover (I find it repetitive and not especially creative filler) but record-buyers, assuming they agree, will  readily overlook this lapse, realizing that one-third of the proceeds from Bold Like A Lion are earmarked for Phlando Feeds the Children, “an organization created in memory of Philando Castile, which raises money to provide lunches for elementary school children.”



The Life & Songs of Kris Kristofferson: All-Star Concert Celebration

 Various Artists

Rating  **** 

A twist on the usual tribute album, this CD version is, in effect, an edited version of live performances, featuring not only other artists singing the honoree’s song, but performances by the subject of the tribute himself (i.e., Kris Kristofferson).  

If that’s not enough, the CD release roughly coincided with a 90-minute concert film version of the celebratory evening of March 16, 2016 at the Bridgestone Arena (debuting on CMT October 27, 2017 and rerun periodically thereafter) as well as yet another attempt to capture the total experience with a DVD version.

Yet only the concert itself captured the total experience.  The various edits result in the need for some clarification from Rob Rauffer:  Lady Antebellum (Help Me Make It Through the Night) and Darius Rucker (Under the Gun) are on the broadcast, CD and DVD.  Martina McBride (Here Comes That Rainbow Again) is on the CD and DVD but not the broadcast."   

As someone who would rather hear Kris sing his own songs, or failing that, hear them from Johnny Cash, Sammi Smith, Ray Price, Roy Drusky and Billy Walker, (who, had they lived, would have the most logical choices for any multimedia Kristofferson tribute project),  I’m probably not the best one to review these performances.  Though the artists mostly stick to the original melodies and lyrics, the slightest deviation drives me crazy.

But, to paraphrase Hank Williams, Jr., if you want Bocephus’ participation in the project, as Kris (or someone Kristofferson deferred to) evidently did, as the artist best-suited to sing If You Don’t Like Hank Williams…,” then Hank, Jr.’s taking the most number of liberties with a Kristofferson song of any of the participants paying tribute was part of what it took to secure Bocephus’ participation.

Some of the artists, who have no discernible connection to Kris, appeared to have spotted a gravy train and jumped on board.  In industry terms, being able to market marquee names, as being associated with an industry “legend” who, paradoxically, has been long put out to pasture, give the project street cred that, in turn, translate to sales.

But if the listener can take, at face value, Eric Church’s explanation of why pairing him with To Beat the Devil has not only context but relevance for Eric’s fans, then it’s easier to believe that Kris’ music has some relevance to those cast as his acolytes- even if, “in real life,” they’re not cutting any of his chestnuts (i.e., the ones like A Moment of Forever that have not already been covered to death) for their own projects.  



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