Totally Biased Fan Review – Back Being Blue – Kelly Willis

Kelly Willis has worked on a couple of projects with her husband over the last eleven years but this is her first solo project in that time. She now has four children under 17 and she has been busy with other projects.

It is so good to hear her back again, one of the sweetest country voices in America and a talented songwriter. Under the banner of Americana but really, Americana/Alt. Country often sounds more like country than what is posing as country these days, which is something that Kelly feels strongly about too.

There are a couple of covers on here but mainly it is Kelly’s writing. She borrows wisely, including Rodney Crowell amongst the mix.

The songs are undeniably country but they are a mix of shades. The musicians are polished and they are perfectionists. Kelly doesn’t try too hard, she doesn’t need to. This is one of those albums that just sounds effortless.

It is smooth where it needs to be and country rocky where it wants to be. Kelly has always had this charming little lilt to her vocals and the vocals do dominate, despite of, or inspite of the technically spot on musicianship.

Kelly has a similar kind of voice to our own Anne Kirkpatrick. She can mix it up and it all comes out not sounding disjointed or convoluted. It just is. All of the usual subjects are covered in a number of guises.

It is a real relaxing album with the vocals being the hero. Let the fiddles flow over you, and enjoy the voice that has been practicing quality over quantity for nearly 3 decades.

So glad to have you back where you belong, Kelly.

Tracks:

Back Being Blue

Kelly Willis

Kelly Willis 3:48

 

2 Only You

Kelly Willis

Kelly Willis 2:38

 

3 Fool’s Paradise

Kelly Willis

Kelly Willis 3:19

 

4 Modern World

Kelly Willis

Kelly Willis 2:27

 

5 Freewheeling

Kelly Willis

Kelly Willis 2:40

 

6 Afternoon’s Gone Blind

Karl Straub

Kelly Willis 3:17

 

7 What the Heart Doesn’t Know

Kelly Willis

Kelly Willis 2:42

 

8 I’m a Lover (Not a Fighter)

Ronnie Light

Kelly Willis 3:03

 

9 We’ll Do It for Love Next Time

Rodney Crowell

Kelly Willis 3:12

 

10 Don’t Step Away

Jeff Rymes / Randy Weeks

Kelly Willis 4:22

 

Credits

Gina R. Binkley Art Direction, Cover Art, Package Design
Joshua Blue Drums, Percussion
Rodney Crowell Composer
Geoff Queen Dobro, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Lap Steel Guitar, Pedal Steel
Ronnie Light Composer
John Ludwick Bass
Steve Mazur Engineer
Dave McNair Mastering
Trevor Nealon Clavinet, Fender Rhodes, Piano, Wurlitzer
Cover Photo   Amy Robinson

Bruce Robinson Harmonia, Mandolin, Producer
Jeff Rymes Composer
John Michael Schoepf Bass
Mark Spencer Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric)
Karl Straub Composer
Jim Vollentine Mixing
Randy Weeks Composer
Bonnie Whitmore Harmonia
Eleanor Whitmore Mandolin, Strings, Vocal Harmony
Kelly Willis Composer, Harmony, Primary Artist, Vocals
Todd V. Wolfson Inside Photo
Advertisements

Hats Off Tamworth, 2018.

http://www.destinationtamworth.com.au/Events/Music/Hats-Off-To-Country/program

program current as at 23 May 2018.

Show Title  Venue Time  Ticketed or Free?
Wednesday 11 July 2018
 CCMA Jam Night  South Tamworth Bowling Club, 11 Margaret Street, South Tamworth  6:00pm  Free
 Thursday 12 July 2018
 Australian Country Music Hall of Fame  561 Peel Street, Tamworth  9:00am  Adults $7/Children (Under 12) Free
 Gallery of Stars Wax Museum Opens  Big Golden Guitar, 2 Ringers Road, Tamworth  9:00am
 Opening Night Acoustic Session – Anthony Taylor, Sandra Humphries, Alby Pool  South Tamworth Bowling Club, 11 Margaret Street, South Tamworth  6:30pm  Free
 Albert’s Muso Jam  The Albert Hotel, 211 Peel Street, Tamworth  8:30pm  Free
 Ryan Morris  Tudor Hotel, 327 Peel Street, Tamworth  8:00pm  Free
 Friday 13 July 2018
 Australian Country Music Hall of Fame  561 Peel Street, Tamworth  9:00am  Adults $7/Children (Under 12) Free
 Gallery of Stars Wax Museum Opens  Big Golden Guitar, 2 Ringers Road, Tamworth  9:00am
 Anthony Taylor  South Tamworth Bowling Club, 11 Margaret Street, South Tamworth  6:30pm  Free
 Howdy’s Hoedown  The Pub, 99 Gunnedah Road, Tamworth  8:00pm  Free
 Hurricane Fall  Longyard Hotel, 10/12 Ringers Road, Tamworth  8:00pm  Free
 Goldheist  Post Office Hotel, 8 Fitzroy Street, Tamworth  8:00pm  Free
 Finnian Johnson  Tudor Hotel, 327 Peel Street, Tamworth  8:30pm  Free
 Missy Lancaster  West Tamworth League Club, 58 Philip Street, Tamworth  8:30pm  Free
 Michael Bryers  North Tamworth Bowling Club, 20-26 Bligh Street, North Tamworth  8:30pm  Free
 Simply Bushed  Tamworth Services Club, 199 Marius Street, Tamworth  8:30pm  Free
 2018 Toyota Star Maker Brad Cox  The Albert Hotel, 211 Peel Street, Tamworth  9:30pm  Free
 Saturday 14 July 2018
 Australian Country Music Hall of Fame Opens  561 Peel Street, Tamworth  9:00am  Adults $7/Children (Under 12) Free
 Gallery of Stars Wax Museum Opens  Big Golden Guitar, 2 Ringers Road, Tamworth  9:00am
 Songwriters Live on the Deck  DAG Sheep Station, Crawney Road, Nundle  10:00am  Free
 ABBA Bronze Bust Fundraiser for Frank Ifield  Southgate Inn, 16A Kent Street, Tamworth  10:00am  $10 Donation at door
 Tamworth Songwriters Association (TSA) Songwriters  Post Office Hotel, 8 Fitzroy Street, Tamworth  10:00am  Free
 Songwriters’ Showcase featuring Shane Nicholson, Luke O’Shea, Felicity Urqhuart, Kevin Bennett, Aleyce Simmonds & Jeremy Edwards  DAG Sheep Station, Crawney Road, Nundle  11:00am  Click here to buy tickets
 Kora Naughton ‘Ride or Die’ Album Launch  Moonshiners Honky Tonk Bar at The Family Hotel, Bridge & Belmore Streets, Tamworth  1:00pm  Free
 Michael Bryers  Tamworth Services Club, 199 Marius Street, Tamworth  2:00pm  Free
 Tamworth Live & Local Acoustic presented by 88.9FM Jodie Crosby  West Tamworth League Club, 58 Philip Street, Tamworth  2:00pm
 Aleyce Simmons and Brad Butcher  The Welder’s Dog, 37 Dowe Street, Tamworth  5:00pm  Click here to buy tickets
 Sandra Humphries and Jared Scott  South Tamworth Bowling Club, 11 Margaret Street, South Tamworth  6:30pm  Free
 Luke O’Shea Dinner Show  North Tamworth Bowling Club, 20-26 Bligh Street, North Tamworth  7:00pm  $35 Tickets includes 2 course dinner – Buy tickets from the club
 Hurricane Fall  Longyard Hotel, 10/12 Ringers Road, Tamworth  8:00pm  Free
 Adam Harvey  West Tamworth League Club, 58 Philip Street, Tamworth  8:00pm  Click here to buy tickets
 Jonny Taylor  West Diggers, 4 Kable Avenue, Tamworth  8:30pm  Free
 Simply Bushed  Tamworth Services Club, 199 Marius Street, Tamworth  8:30pm  Free
 The Cartwheels  West Tamworth League Club, 58 Philip Street, Tamworth  8:30pm  Free
 Sally-Anne Whitten & the Rumour Mill  Tudor Hotel, 327 Peel Street, Tamworth  8:30pm  Free
 2018 Toyota Star Maker Brad Cox  The Albert Hotel, 211 Peel Street, Tamworth  8:45pm  Free
 The Beau Hatch Country Band  Post Office Hotel, 8 Fitzroy Street, Tamworth  9:00pm  Free
 Rachael Fahim  The Albert Hotel, 211 Peel Street, Tamworth  10:00pm  Free
 2018 Toyota Star Maker Brad Cox  The Albert Hotel, 211 Peel Street, Tamworth  11:15pm  Free
 Sunday 15 July 2018
 Australian Country Music Hall of Fame Opens  561 Peel Street, Tamworth  10:00am  Adults $7/Children (Under 12) Free
 Songwriters’ Live on the Deck  DAG Sheep Station, Crawney Road, Nundle  10:00am  Free
 Songwriters’ Showcase featuring Shane Nicholson, Luke O’Shea, Felicity Urquhart, Kevin Bennett, Aleyce Simmonds & Jeremy Edwards  DAG Sheep Station, Crawney Road, Nundle  11:00am  Click here to buy tickets
 TSA Songwriters Over Lunch  Longyard Hotel, 10/12 Ringers Road, Tamworth  11:00am  Free
 Songwriters Show featuring Michael Bryers and special guests  North Tamworth Bowling Club, 20-26 Bligh Street, North Tamworth  12:30pm  Free
 CCMA – Hats Off Tribute to the Dallas Family  South Tamworth Bowling Club, 11 Margaret Street, South Tamworth  1:00pm  Free
 Lawrie & Shelley Minson  West Tamworth League Club, 58 Philip Street, Tamworth  2:00pm  Free
 Jonny Taylor  West Diggers, 4 Kable Avenue, Tamworth  2:00pm  Free
 Ryan Morris  Longyard Hotel, 10/12 Ringers Road, Tamworth  2:00pm  Free
 Songwriters’ Retreat Showcase featuring Shane Nicholson, Luke O’Shea, Felicity Urquhart, Kevin Bennett, Aleyce Simmonds, Jeremy Edwards and artists from the 2018 Songwriters’ Retreat  DAG Sheep Station, Crawney Road, Nundle  4:00pm  Click here to buy tickets
 Alby Pool and Pals  South Tamworth Bowling Club, 11 Margaret Street, South Tamworth  4:30pm  Free

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Girl Going Nowhere – Ashley McBryde

This is one of my favourite albums of the year so far. I came across it by accident, on the way to looking for another album. Then I started reading reviews and they came thick and fast, commenting on her “no bullshit album, free of fat and frills”. The songs are lyrically amazing, her voice is totally unashamedly country, sent soaring at times, mellowed out and twangy at others. She can blues it, soul it, rock it but the roots are firmly entrenched in country.

The tunes are great too. The lyrics hit me with a sledgehammer though, first. The lines are so original and clever. They are songs about everyday life but the imagery that Ashley creates is quite stunning and the pictures that she creates are so firmly imprinted on the brain.

The songs are story songs, which are the best kind of songs. They are all like little movies. They will be easy to make videos of as they will make the film maker’s life easy. All the information is there.

Ashley is one of a small new gang bringing country back to country music. The influences are strong but they are varied.

The title track hits home with me as it will with a lot of people who were basically told that they would never be anybody special. That bit of information can either make you or break you…it can make you want to strive for that “Look at Me Now” statement.  Great song.

Like Kacey Musgraves, Ashley is not frightened to tell it like it is. A lot of the songs make strong statements, either subtly or in your face. Ashley gives you a reality check.

I adore every song on this album. Andy, (I can’t live without you) is spot on. It is about loving someone despite all of their faults. Radioland is a great shower song and it could be my theme song when I get back behind the wheel. American Scandal is a different kind of love song. Tired of Being Happy is also a different kind of love song.

Garth Brooks is apparently a big fan and I can see why…..Ashley would have fit in very well to that 90’s country when there were some great women country music artists who sang songs that meant something but they delivered them in such a way that you accepted the parcel with a bow on it.

This album covers every beat of country, true country. It also covers all the subjects that country songs do, just in a new dress. I think that there maybe some spurs on those cowgirl boots.

There are some fired up guitars and chunky drum beats as well as songs to have a merlot with. You’ll be about to laugh then you may want to cry in your beer or cheer the gal team on.

Thank God for Ashley McBryde…..and Thank God I’m a Country Girl.

Tracks:

3:27
2
3:05
3
4:02
4
4:05
5
2:40
6
4:30
7
3:29
8
3:52
9
3:58
10
3:50
11

Totally Biased Fan Review – Luke O’Shea and Damian Howard at The Hotel Lomond, East Brunswick.

Anybody who knows me, knows that this review is going to be totally, totally biased. Yes, Lukie is very high up on my playlist and one of the main people who I admire on and off the stage and record in country music.

So, of course, this review is going to be dripping with superlatives, which could have been the name for Luke and Damian’s back up band but Marty Stuart already pinched that name!

I could have gone to The Noojee Hotel tonight which is sort of closer to me but harder to get to by public transport or I could have gone to Helen’s place on the Thursday night, but I don’t think that they would have accepted Lukeitis as an illness from me on Friday. So, Melbourne it was, and I made it after work by the skin of my teeth, but what a night it was. I knew Lukie was going to be great, he always is, but Damian Howard was fabulous too. I am more familiar with his brother, Shane’s songs, but he sang a couple and I thought…ahhh, of course I know him!

He did a few covers of some pretty awesome songs and some originals. Damian took it in turn to sing songs with Luke. They, of course, harmonised and played on each others songs, like old hands.

Considering that Luke, Damian and the boys hadn’t had any rehearsals, they all played together well. I am getting to know a lot of the musos about Melbourne now, so they were familiar faces.

Luke sang some of his well known songs like Three Brothers, The Drover’s Wife and many others as well as some newer material.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a Luke O’Shea show without a few laughs. Damian has a sense of humour too and they fired off each other. With a short break, they played for nearly 3 hours.

They tried to fit all 5 of them on a small stage with all of their equipment. I really don’t know how they did it, but they did.  No room for dancing though.

Luke did an impromptu performance of Rod Stewart’s  Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? Which was almost a dance but the least country thing that he’s ever done and a crack up.

It is impossible to do all of Luke’s songs on one night, particularly when you are sharing the stage with someone else, but he did a good variety, though he forgot some of his own words….sometimes due to laughter and other times he covered well, only a professional Luke O’Shea supporter would have noticed the gaps.

It was a light hearted intimate evening, with us all packed in to the Hotel like sardines. Some diehard fans were in the crowd as well as some new ones.

The good news is that Luke has new songs coming out later in the year. It was a great way to end the week.

Well done, Luke and Damian and thank you to the band.

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Mr Jukebox – Joshua Hedley

There is a massive buzz around and about country music circles for this wonderful artist. This is Joshua’s debut album (he previously had an EEP out). The moment that your eyes hit the cover of this album, you are in two minds. For people like myself who love covers, liner notes and the vintage look, you pick up on that effect straight away. The titles in top corner, a picture of the artist (and nothing obscure) in a full on shot; the said artist in a cowboy hat and a suit (despite the modern twist) and a border. Very typical of vintage records.

Aside from the fact that tatts are slightly revealed and the suit is rather garish, this is a classic cover.

There is a classic cover on this album, the only non-original track, When You Wish Upon A Star, sung slightly differently to the original.

These days, I rarely write reviews on American Country Music Artists these days, because there aren’t that many good ones in the new breed. However, I have about 8 on my plate at the moment and frankly, I am very glad.

Joshua is one of the ones who are leading the pack. What Joshua does differently, is that he takes you back in time. When I started playing it, I thought that I had one of my Dad’s records on. It has that 50’s/60’s feel. He has that wonderful old time voice. It is rich, melodic and very, very, country.

There’s no mistaking this Florida boy for an FGL member, that’s for sure. The songs all sound familiar, to someone of my vintage or older. They would make Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Charlie Rich, George Jones and co. very excited.

The cover song, apparently is a nod to Joshua’s father. This guy is just the bee’s knees. He’s a shining light for all of us who like the old style with a fresh coat of paint.

A lot of my muso friends urged me to buy this album and I am so glad that I listened.

There are a lot of crying, hurting songs. This session player and popular fiddle player shows the big guys how to dance with a special formula. I think that I will make Weird Thought Thinker my new theme song. I absolutely love that one.

All of the songs are fabulous. I am interested in what direction Joshua will take. He has been quoted as quoting the famous quote: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I hope that he stands by that. He has a little edge to him with his quirkiness in attire and tattoos, but his songs are like vintage specials in a new suit themselves.

Counting my tears is terrific, These Walls and This Time are beauties too. It is interesting to note the amount of songs that have the word tears in their titles. That should give you a bit of an indication on the subject material.

A lot of this album is classic bar room stuff. There will be so many old country fans and crooners clapping their hands and stomping their feet in jubilation. I have played it 6 times already. It only takes half an hour. Like a lot of old country songs, the songs are brief. They all have an impact though.

I reckon if you played it in the background at home, and people walked into your living room, they would think that they were back in the 50’s. What a trip.  Thank you, Joshua. I absolutely love it.

Tracks:

Counting My Tears

Mr Jukebox

Weird Thought Thinker

Let’s Take a Vacation

These Walls

I Never (shed a tear)

This Time

Don’t Waste Your Tears

Let Them Talk

When You Wish Upon A Star

 

Totally Biased Fan Review: Blake O’Connor – Self titled EEP

Sadly, there is very little information available on Blake O’Connor. I was told that he was on X Factor (not a show that I watch for political and personal reasons) and I was told that he was one to watch by my fellow country music tragics.

The latter, I totally agree with. What an amazing voice for one so young. He sings with the maturity of a 30 year old.  As I only have the Itunes download at this point, I don’t have any credits for the songs, though I have a feeling that there are a couple of covers here, amongst some originals. All of the songs are very playable.

There is quite a buzz about this teenager from New South Wales. He is unmistakably country, though the shades vary slightly from song to song.

I particularly love Won’t Be Missing You. He does a wonderful job on this song. I love Six String too. There are some great twangy guitars on this one.

There are a couple of songs where the guitars are at full throttle and they sound almost Bryan Adamsish….and there is nothing wrong with that.

Believe in Love is probably my favourite, with some bluesy guitars and Blake follows suit, getting into the bluesy vibe.

If this is the type of stuff that we are going to get from Blake and a launching pad for future projects, then we are in for lots of treats. Definitely one to watch.

Turn your ears on.

Tracks:

Travelin’ Man

Blackwater

Won’t Be Missing You

Six String

Life On The Road (E)

Believe in Love