New CDs for 8-30-13

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The Big E: Salute to Buddy Emmons

Genre: Roots, Country

Buddy Emmons was the premiere pedal steel player in Nashville during classic country music's golden years. Pedal steel player Steve Fishell decided to round up the current crop of country pedal steel players to do an album celebrating Emmons by covering some of the classic country tunes he originally played on. Contributions from Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Rodney Crowell, Duane Eddy (twang), John Anderson, Raul Malo, and Little Jimmie Dickens along with ten great pedal steel players make this album a must-have for classic country fans.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 9, Sonically - 8

 

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Sara Hickman: Shine

Genre: Singer Songwriter, Folk

Among her many accomplishments, Sara Hickman is an official "State musician of Texas." Her music isn't western swing or even country, but contemporary singer-songwriter, as her latest album, Shine, will attest.  Here you'll find ten new original songs, delivered with a modern edge. The arrangements utilize a variety of studio effects including some vocal EQ, and a multiplicity of tracks. "Shine" was produced, mixed, and engineered by Jim Jacobsen, who also contributes 6 and 12 string guitar parts, mandolin, bass, percussion, accordion, keyboards and backing vocals. At times the sound is somewhat congested, but it never becomes murky. 

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 7

 

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James Zollar: It's All Good People

Genre: Jazz

Trumpeter James Zollar leads this session with his pristine tone and smooth phrasing. The jazz here leans toward "Funk and Brazilian" in Zollar's words. Joined by Kevin Bacon on trumpet, Dion Tucker on trombone, Jerry Weldon on tenor sax, Rick Germanson on keyboards, and Freddie Bryant on guitars. Special guests include Sheryl Rene and Erika Matsuo on vocals, Cleave Guyton on flute, and Greg Maret on harmonica. The Zollar original, "When It's All Said and Done," deserves to be covered by a pop diva, although Sheryl Rene's lead vocals are more than fine.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8

 

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Rob Nance: Lost Souls and Locked Doors

Genre: Singer Songwriter, Folk, Rock, Roots

For his debut release Rob Nance kept it simple - he recorded it over a five-day period in a small local studio engineered by Scott Hayes. Some songs feature only Nance and his acoustic guitar while others have a full electric band with Jordan Nance on bass, Sean Leary on drums, and Mike Runyon on keyboards. But regardless of the size of the performance forces, all Nance's songs have power and impact. If you love Guy Clark, Neil Young and Bob Dylan (any period) Rob Nance is someone you should hear.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8

 

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The Coal Men: Escalator

Genre: Rock

Guitar-driven rock is very much alive and well on Escalator. Led by Dave Coleman, who wrote all the songs and plays a mean electric guitar, The Coal Men are a trio augmented by a bunch of guests. For their fourth release, all the tracks were played "live" in the studio and then sweetened with additional tracks later. The final results feel live, with the drive and energy of an in-person show. Every song has its share of guitar hooks and catchy riffs. Greg Kihn fans will love it.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 8

 

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Peter Huttlinger: McGuire's Landing

Genre: Singer-Songwriter, Folk

If ever there was a "cinematic" album of music, not associated with a movie, this is it. Complete with a booklet full of stories about McGuire's voyage to the new world from Ireland. Accompanied by fine players including Matt Flinner on mandolin, Rob Ickes on dobro, and Byron House on bass, Andrea Zonn on fiddle, Huttlinger wrote all the music, played guitar, high-sting guitar, banjo, and mandolin. Recorded in five different studios, then mixed by Neal Cappellino, and mastered by Eric Conn, the sonic results are every bit the labor of love as the music itself.

Rating (0- 10): Overall - 8, Sonically - 9

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