The Weekly Album Release Report: July 22, 2014

Quick-hit reviews of July 22 releases include Daniel Lee's "Roots," Sammy Kershaw's George Jones tribute and Michael Cleveland's new Bluegrass CD.

This week’s new releases features mostly Traditional-minded Country and roots music artists with Sammy Kershaw and Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper leading the way while we also make note of two other recent releases in Jim Lauderdale’s 20 song opus I’m A Song and the latest album from Florida upstarts Flatt Lonesome.

Daniel Lee - Roots (Average Joes Entertainment)

While Average Joes has been known more for the ‘rural rap’ or ‘hick hop’ artists than straight-up Country singers, they certainly have tried in the past. That being said, outside of Brantley Gilbert, they may not have had an artist ripe for country stardom as they do with Daniel Lee and his debut Roots. 12 of the 13 tracks on Roots are written or co-written by Lee and his voice is as good as any of the top stars. Standouts include the workin’ man’s anthem and first single “Backwood Tobacco,” “For Sale Sign,” “Hell Yeah” and “Love It All” but the three biggest standouts include potential radio hits “”To Me,” “Struggleville” (co-written with Gilbert) and “Head Over Heels.”

Note: Comment Below to win a copy of Daniel Lee's Roots & Colt Ford's Thanks For Listening (which features Daniel Lee).

Sammy Kershaw - Do You Know Me (A Tribute To George Jones) 

(Big Hit/MRi/RED)

Now over 20 years into his career as a hit making neo-traditionalist, Sammy Kershaw honors the man who inspired him to be a singer in the first place with this fantastic tribute to Country Music Hall of Fame member George Jones. Kershaw covers many of Jones’ greatest hits like “The Grand Tour,” “Walk Through This World With Me,” “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Shoes” and “He Stopped Loving Her Today.” There’s one new track on the compilation, “The Route That I Took” which showcases Kershaw’s natural vocal ability that certainly is as close to George Jones as we’ll ever get. Well worth seeking out.

Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper - On Down The Line 

(Compass Records)

The debut album for the award-winning Cleveland’s new label Compass Records, On Down The Line features mostly the kind of songs that have helped the band become one of the most buzzed about acts on the Bluegrass and roots music touring circuit. Their lead vocalist Josh Richards (also the guitarist) showcases a strong voice throughout the album and the rest of the band — fronted by fiddler Michael Cleveland — features Nathan Livers on mandolin, Glenn Gibson on Banjo (and lead vocals on “Me And My Fiddle”), and Tyler Griffith on Bass. The classic Orange Blossom Special is among the instrumental treats here as is the group’s take on 80s Julian Lennon pop hit “Too Late For Goodbye.”

Jim Lauderdale - I’m A Song 

(Sky Crunch Records)

The prolific singer/songwriter returns to Country music after a long spell amongst the Bluegrass world with this 20 track album of mostly new tracks. Guests include Patty Loveless, Lee Ann Womack and Buddy Miller. Many of these songs were written by Lauderdale himself with a few select courtiers including John Oates, Elvis Costello, Jimmy Ritchey, Mark Irwin, and frequent co-writers Odie Blackmon & Robert Hunter. Standouts include “Doin’ Time In Bakersfield,” “I’m A Song,” “I Lost You,” and a revisit to “The King Of Broken Hearts,” a song George Strait and Lee Ann Womack fans should’ve heard before.

Flatt Lonesome - Too

(Mountain Home Music Company)

Released last week, Too proves that the rising band from Florida is going to avoid a sophomore slump. “So Far” kicks off the record and showcases the band’s musical strength while “Make It Through The Day” proves they could have some mainstream country success if they wanted to head that direction as the powerful ballad recalls some of Sara Evans’ finer vocal moments. Kelsi Robertson Harrigill sings the heartbreaking ballad that was written by her husband, Paul. The band also features lead vocals from sister Charli Robertson and Buddy Robertson.  Charli also plays the fiddle while Kelsi plays mandolin and Buddy plays guitar. The young band is rounded out by Paul Harrigill on Banjo and Guitar, Dominic Illingworth on bass and Michael Stocton on the Resophonic guitar. The record features stellar cuts like “Dangerous Dan,” “I Can’t Be Bothered,” “I Thought You Were Someone I Know” and a cover of The Eagles’ “How Long.”

Note: Don't Forget to Comment below to enter to win a copy of Daniel Lee's Roots and the Deluxe edition of Colt Ford's Thanks For Listening album!