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Stacy's Music Row Report

  

2024

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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 so long as the the product is available on amazon.com.

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 rules: I don't do downloads nor do I review Christmas releases. No vinyl.  CDs and DVDs only, please.

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 


The Newsman: A Man of Record

John McEuen

The Newsman

Rating

***** 


Grammy winner John Euen, having delighted audiences for over a half century, has pulled out all the stops with 10 of 11 tracks of an album best described as spoken word renditions of  personal, national and international historical events.

 

The title song, a paean to John’s “60’s L.A. haze days,” that pays tribute to “Steve,” McEuen’s “respected” but, unfortunately, forever unknowing, late mentor.

 

Other highlights include Fly Trouble, not about a zipper problem, but it's rather a whimsical cover of a Fred Rose-penned 1947 Hank Williams recording about perennially pesky two-winged insects.
 

The Cremation of Sam McGee renews interest in the Robert W. Service poem listeners may have first encountered as a high school curriculum staple (as opposed to a requiem for the Grand Ole Opry star of the same name).

 

Old Rivers, the Cliff Crofford classic, is John’s respectful cover of Walter Brennan’s hit (even without the Johnny Mann Singers as backup vocalists) while The Guitar of Pineapple John is a collaboration between lyricist McEuen and musician/the song’s executive producer John Carter Cash.  (Captured in one take at the Cash Cabin Studio, the latter was produced by Trey Call with the assistance of John Carter’s son, Joseph Cash.)

 

Killed at the Ford reprises America’s first presidential assassination through the poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and the vocals of Jennifer Warnes, Matt Cartsonis and David Bourne while Nui Ba Den is the true story of a Viet Nam veteran of the mountainous “hot zone” who became a casualty of Agent Orange.

 

I’ll Be Glad (When They Run Out of Gas) adds Hans Olson’s light touch to an album that is otherwise notable for musicians including Mark O’Connor, Spencer Quinn, Chris Caswell and David Hoffner while Jules’ Theme (as in Jules Verne), the album’s only instrumental, features oboist Ellen Hindson and multi-talented McEuen on piano, guitar and bass.



The Stars, If You Look Closely album cover

The Stetson Family

The Stars If You Look Closely

Rating

**** 1/2



The Stetson Family's newest music- its fourth album in 16 years- comes nine years after the Australian quintet's last release on the heels of the late 2022
release of this album's title song, the unfinished work of founding member and mandolinist Andy Carswell (1956-2016) readied for release by the group's lead vocalist, guitarist and resonator guitarist Nadine Budge.

The Stars, If You Look Closely, dedicated to Carswell, includes "Angel's Hands," yet another of Carswell's songs left partially completed until Budge added the finishing touches among the 11 cuts, each written or cowritten by Budge, Carswell or lead guitar/guitarist John Bartholomeusz, found here.

The Melbourne female-fronted family of choice is an exception to the rule that the best harmony singing is that of family of origin. Nad(ine)'s clear, compelling vocals and musicianship are complemented by the tight harmonies of Bartholomeusz, fiddler/mando player Greg Field, double bassist Luke Richardson and banjoist Colin Swan.


The originality of the band's lyrics results in some intriguing story songs, a blend of energetic cohesion and time-tested balladry, spotlighting its musicians' talents with the collection's lone instrumental ("Nightfall.") 

"The Other Side," another single from the album, has resonated with stateside fans and I hope my favorite, "Better Left Unsaid," will receive similar consideration.

Regardless, the release of this production- produced, engineered, mixed, recorded and mastered at e-Audio, Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia- is, thus far, the best musical import of 2024.

Alex Miller

Alex Miller

My Daddy's Daddy

Rating

****

Alex Miller's five-track EP is Alex's latest collaboration with songwriting partner (and the EP's producer) Jerry Salley.

The comfort level between young artist and industry veteran as a sometimes songwriting team does not preclude a bit of experimentation in the form of the opening track, a (pardon the pun) virtual laundry list of attributes possessed by the object of the humbled singer's affection, titled "She Makes Dirt Look Good," from the pens of Kerry Kurt Phillips, Dusty Drake and Phil O'Donnell.

"Oh, Odessa" and "The Last House in God's Country" are changes of pace from the upbeat opener, the latter inspired by Alex's visits to his grandparents' farm,  but "Ain't Ever Saying Never" strikes an honest note about commitment as a reasonable expectation from someone who has found permanency a struggle.

Closing with the title song, Alex Miller (courtesy of Salley, the song's cowriter) memorializes his paternal granddad/manager, G.B. Miller, credited with the example set for Alex and Alex's father, Roger Miller.  (No, not that Roger Miller, but perhaps Jerry and Alex have a future dad-centered tribute in their sights... )

Many of Stacy's earlier online
Music & Video Reviews are
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and
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