June Review Round-up

There have been quite a few country records released in the past few months. Here's a round-up of album reviews from artists like Phil Vassar, Lady Antebellum, Becky Schlegel, George Strait and James Otto among others.

While country music seems to be a genre of extremes as of late, Jeff Bates has risen above those extremes to make a remarkably consistent album. It’s his best record from start to finish and virtually every track on the record would make listening to mainstream country radio a better experience.

Dierks Bentley - Greatest Hits 2002-2008 (Capitol Nashville)

While Dierks was right to be skeptical of his label’s idea of releasing “Greatest Hits // Every Mile A Memory 2003 – 2008,” he has hit upon what has traditionally made country music stars adored: they know that their fans are the reason for their careers. It is that awareness that’s made Bentley one of country’s brightest stars and one that makes this album a success.

Laura Bryna - Trying To Be Me (Equity Music Group)

Equity is a label that found success with Little Big Town and Carolina Rain yet hasn't had any success with their solo artists. Ouside of Texas artist Kevin Fowler and label principal Clint Black, the label hadn't released albums by any other solo artists yet they released Lara Bryna's record? What gives? Is it any good? In a word, no.

Julianne Hough - Julianne Hough (Mercury Records)

Julianne Hough may have gotten known through her three seasons on "Dances With The Stars" but her dream was to become a country music singer. Signed to Mercury Records, Julianne has recorded a mainstream record that has multiple possible hits on it.

Jewel - Perfectly Clear (The Valory Music Co.)

From the time Jewel first hit the nationl scene there was a clear country undercurrent to her songs. Now. with nothing to lose and a lot to gain, the established star has come home to country music with "Perfectly Clear." Co-producing the record with Jewel is John Rich. Was it a winning collaboration?

Lady Antebellum - Lady Antebellum (Capitol Records)

Major record labels often follow trends when signing new artists. While some may insist that Capital Nashville's newest group is a trend follower, they might actually be blazing a trail with a record that has them on par with new labelmates Little Big Town. They're a group with the ability to knock Rascal Flatts off their 'best band in country music' pedastal.

Joey Martin - Strong Enough To Cry (Giantslayer Records)

With her recent apperance on "Can You Duet," with her husband Rory Feek, Joey Martin might just be on her way to country stardom. Here's our review of her album strong recorded in 2005. It's a record steeped in traditional country music and can be found on a couple country music websites.

Montomery Gentry - Back When I Knew It All (Columbia/SonyBMG Nashville)

When "Some People Change" failed to provide the usual sales numbers for Montgomery Gentry, despite continued radio chart success, the duo and their label decided to return the band to the harder-edged sound they're known for. Does the record live up to previous efforts?

One Flew South - Last Of The Good Guys (Decca Records)

One Few South's Eddie Bush, Royal Reed and Chris Roberts bring the stunning harmonies of bands like Crosby, Stills & Nash to mainstream country music with a well-constructed album that's produced and co-written with Grammy But is it country enough?

James Otto - Sunset Man (Warner Brothers Nashville)

The record business is notoriously fickle and not prone to second chances yet here James Otto is with a second chance at stardom with his Warner Brothers Nashville debut after recording one record for Mercury Nashville. With the kind of country soul that made Ronnie Milsap a star in the seventies and eighties, Otto may just have gotten it right this time.

Becky Schlegel - For All The World To See (Lilly Ray Records/IGO Records)

What happens when you add a superstar vocalist with acoustic instruments? You get something "For All The World To See." The first national release for Minnesota's Becky Schlegel. It's a special record with a lot of fiddle, banjo and mandolin backing up the star of the album: Schlegel's voice.

George Strait - Troubadour (MCA/UMG Nashville)

Consistency has always been the hallmark of longevity in any career. If you looked up the word in the country music dictionary, you might just find George Strait. "Troubadour" has multiple single choices to choose from with the title track the latest hit after the lead-single "I Saw God Today" having already topped the major country charts.

Phil Vassar - Prayer of a Common Man (Universal Records South)

After scoring enough hits after three albums to release a Greatest Hits collection, Vassar and his first label SonyBMG parted ways in 2007. Vassar immediately annouced a partnership with Universal Records South. Working with former SonyBMG A&R producer Mark Wright, Vassar has released what may be the most satisfying record of his career.