My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Daily Archives: August 10, 2011

Classic Rewind: Trace Adkins – ‘Then They Do’

The longest and worst Trace Adkins album ever: a concert review

Last Thursday, my friend Rhonda (hi Rhonda!) invited me to go to the Ohio State Fair with her, emphasizing that she also had tickets for the evening’s Trace Adkins show.  I like Rhonda a lot, and summertime fairs almost as much, so along I went even knowing who the show’s opener was. That particular night’s Trace Adkins tour stop at the Celeste Center in Columbus began with country-rapper (yes, that’s really a thing now) Brantley Giblert. After enduring Gilbert’s set, and the insufferable people around me who had convinced themselves we were hearing quality music, where the pseudo southern rock star sonically roared through his own compositions, including those Jason Aldean has taken to the top of the charts, it was finally time for the headliner to grace the stage. After every song Gilbert offered turned out to be, unsurprisingly, a fist-pumping anthem, I was more than ready to hear Adkins’ baritone tackle some of his better numbers. And while he finally did get around to playing a butcher’s handful of his more meaningful tunes, Adkins began his 70-minute set with a whole slew of his own brand of rock-your-socks country.

From “One Hot Mama”, “Marry For Money”, “Chrome”, through “Brown Chicken Brown Cow”, Adkins trotted out his arsenal of bawdy hits early and employed a large screen to play the music video for each. All but “Brown Chicken” featured an appearance by a bikini babe, in it puppets play the farm-couple porn stars. This apparently wasn’t lost on Adkins, as he remarked that his mother doesn’t like his music videos very much, and ended the shtick with his own Goofy guffaw. He would repeat this throaty hiccuping chuckle each time he tickled himself from the stage, which was often. He also offered up several tunes from his just-released Proud To Be Here album –  the catchy “Million Dollar View” sounds like the next single to me.  Midway through his own list of radio favorites came one of the night’s best performances in the form of a cover of rock band Ace’s 1975 hit “How Long”. During this number, he removed his hat and allowed his two-foot locks to flow and began headbanging to the song’s mid-tempo groove. Even though the night’s high marks were when he delivered lasting favorites “Every Light In The House Is On” and “Then They Do”, the only other of his ballads performed was his current single “Just Fishin'”. This was my first seeing either artist in concert, and even though Trace brought his best affable swagger to the stage, I walked away feeling like I’d just heard a really long version of the singer’s worst album.  When he finally played what I already figured would be the closing number, “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” never sounded better.

Album Review: Terri Clark – ‘Roots & Wings’

I was disappointed by Terri’s first EMI Canada release a couple of years ago, which I felt was over-produced with largely mediocre material, but she appears to have rediscovered her musical voice with her latest release. She produced the album herself, and the sound is mellow but not over-produced, although she does seem to be moving away from conventional country music. Her distinctive voice is at its best throughout.

She also co-wrote all but one of the songs. Four are co-writes with Kristen Hall (who also sings backing vocals), including lead single ‘Northern Girl’, which celebrates Terri’s Canadian background but is disappointingly bland. When Hall left Sugarland under rather murky circumstances, she stated she was intending to concentrate on her songwriting. ‘Beautiful And Broken’ is not very country sounding, but an interestingly written and beautifully sung song with slightly obscure lyrics full of imagery; it seems to be about a failed relationship with the broken individual, but the protagonist retains feelings of friendship and perhaps love. Also very metaphor-heavy, ‘Flowers In Snow’ explores an unproductive relationship. These songs are perhaps more modern folk/singer-songwriter than country, but they are very well done. The best of the four, ‘Breakin’ Up Thing’ has an enjoyable mid-tempo groove and wry lyric commenting on the protagonist’s about-to-be-ex-partner’s ease at leaving.

‘The Good Was Great’ is an affectionate look back at a past relationship which Terri wrote with Tia Sillers and Deric Ruttan. This is rather good, but I was less impressed by the rather dull and overly loud ‘Wrecking Ball’ which Terri and Tia wrote with fellow-Canadian Victoria Banks and which opens the album.

The best song on the album by far is ‘Lonesome’s Last Call’, a traditional slow lonesome country song about a couple of desperate individuals who come together to find love in a bar, written by Terri with the great Jim Rushing. Andrea Zonn and Stuart Duncan’s twin fiddles add to the effect, and I would have loved to hear more like this.  The very personal and beautifully sung ‘Smile’ (written with Karyn Rochelle and featuring Alison Krauss on not-very-audible harmony) is a loving tribute to Terri’s mother who died of cancer last year. This is very moving, and another highlight.

‘The One’ (written with Tom Shapiro and Jim Collins) has a mellow vibe and attractive tune about waiting for the right man, but the hook is the unoriginal:

I don’t need a love that I can live with
I want the one I can’t live without

I like the end result a lot, but it is more than a little reminiscent of Clint Back’s ‘The One She Can’t Live Without’, which has an almost identical chorus.  The only track I really don’t like is ‘We’re Here For A Good Time’, an over-produced and very poppy sounding cover of what I think must be a rock song from the 70s. It is Terri’s new single.

Where Terri’s first album for EMI Canada still seemed to be the product of hankering after mainstream success, this one shows her finding her own voice. It isn’t all moving in a direction I personally care for, but it effectively showcases Terri as an independent singer-songwriter.

Grade B+