My Kind of Country

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

Album Review – Rhonda Vincent – ‘New Dreams and Sunshine’

New Dreams and Sunshine marked Vincent’s third release for the Rebel label and hit store shelves in 1991. The album fused neotraditional country and bluegrass, leaning heavily on the mandolin and banjo to guide its warm sound.

Vincent’s vivacious take on “Good Morning County Rain,” a #30 peaking single for Jeannie C. Riley in 1972, kicks off the project. Led by an infectious banjo, it improves upon Riley’s original although I was surprised by the chug-along beat Riley brought to the song. Of the two, I much prefer Vincent’s version as it comes off more accessible to the listener.

“I Feel Closer to Heaven Everyday” is a beautiful bluegrass spiritual with a gorgeous acoustic guitar and mandolin led melody. The arrangement is stellar, drawing in the listener from the first note and holding them captive until the end. It might be my favorite instrumentation on the whole project.

The same is true for “Another Tear,” which comes complete with a captivating lead banjo and Vincent’s usual soaring vocal. She’s always shined on her up-tempo material and “Another Tear” is no exception.The album’s other upbeat track is Carl Perkins’ “Rise and Shine,” led by Vincent’s impressive mandolin work. She shines on the rapid-fire lyric and infuses the number with a beautiful sweetness.

Bluegrass also leads the way on her cover of Dolly Parton’s “My Blue Tears,” a #17 peaking hit for Parton in 1971. Vincent turns it into a dobro and mandolin soaked ballad that showcases the power of her impressive range and acute playing abilities.  New Dreams and Sunshine also detours into traditional country, a switch Vincent makes with effortless ease. A fine bluegrass stylist, she’s also an incredible traditional country singer and she shows that off here perfectly. “We Belong Together” is an excellent neo-traditional ballad framed with beautiful fiddle and steel guitar. It works because of its retro sound evocative of the golden age of country music.

Another standout is the title track, a duet with its writer Charlie Louvin. It’s the most contemporary sounding number and seems perfectly placed for the early 90s. It’s very reminiscent of the sound of Mark Chestnutt’s “Too Cold At Home,” another song I love. “I’ll Be With You” is also excellent and underscores the country arrangement with a heavy dose of ear catching dobro. She turns in another stunning vocal as well; proven the grasp she has on her immense talent.

By soaking “Have I Loved You Too Late” in steel guitar, Vincent gives the song a stone country feel that works in its favor although the dense ballad isn’t exciting enough to jump at the listener. The same goes for “Thinking About You,” which adds piano to create a different texture. It’s also very good, but doesn’t have enough special qualities to stand out.

In the end New Dreams and Sunshine is an excellent album and perfect showcase for the bluegrass and country infused style that has become Vincent’s trademark. Even on this very early recording, she’s in firm grasp of her voice and demonstrates how well she knows not only herself but also her impressive talents. This album is definitely worth seeking out and can easily be downloaded or used copies can be purchased very cheaply.

Grade: A-

9 responses to “Album Review – Rhonda Vincent – ‘New Dreams and Sunshine’

  1. luckyoldsun July 7, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Gus Hardin, Rhonda Vincent–Can this get any more irrelevant?
    What next–Marsha Thornton, Dawn Sears?–Enough already!

    • Razor X July 8, 2012 at 8:05 am

      Sorry if our choices are not to your liking, but our mission has always been to write about music we enjoy and to share it with others, so if we want to write about something, it is not irrelevant. And yes, if we decide that we want to write about Marsha Thornton or Dawn Sears next, then that’s exactly what we’ll do, regardless of any hissy-fits that may be thrown by certain readers.

      • Michael A. July 13, 2012 at 11:19 am

        What’s so wrong about Luckyoldsun asking to see an Artist of the Month who is “relevant” (receiving current mainstream airplay and chart success, I assume). Is it really asking so much for MKoC to select someone like Brantley Gilbert for an artist of the month feature? Hunter Hayes would be an excellent candidate too. And what about the wealth of material provided by Love & Theft, Gloriana, The Farm, Thomas Rhett and Jana Kramer? Oops. Looks like I just planned out the rest of the year for you.

        • J.R. Journey July 13, 2012 at 11:57 am

          You left out Aaron Lewis, and future spotlight artists are supposed to be kept secret. I’m not telling you who’s upcoming anymore, Michael. 😉

          Seriously though, after more than 3 years of these spotlights – I believe Vincent is our 43rd – you tend to run out of worthwhile artists with a large enough catalog to fill a month. Sure, there are a wealth of pickings in country music’s storied past, but if you’re looking for relevance in today’s market, who is there? We’re certainly open to suggestions.

          Also, I will point you to the past year or so when we’ve lumped more contemporary artists together to fill the month. The new New Traditionalists feature comes immediately to mind.

        • Razor X July 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm

          There’s nothing wrong with asking for a particular artist to be covered but why can’t it be done without disparaging the current choice? It is simply not possible to come with a choice that everyone is going to love each and every month. Even the writers aren’t equally enthusiastic about every choice. We all have our preferences and enjoy writing about some artists more than others.
          With respect to some of the more current artists you mentioned, as J.R. pointed out, many of them don’t have large enough catalogs to justify writing about them for an entire month.

        • Michael A. July 13, 2012 at 6:57 pm

          Sorry, Razor X. I was just teasing about all of those artists. I shudder to think about “Brantley Gilbert Month”. I would rather go back and revisit an artist already covered again. On a somewhat related note, it might be nice to organize all of the Artist of the Month features in one place. Maybe click on a name, then find all the album reviews for that artist grouped together, all the video clips grouped together, etc. Just a thought in case you ever have an extra (approximately) 4654 hours on your hands. 🙂

    • Paul W Dennis July 12, 2012 at 5:43 am

      I don’t know how an artist with the level of success enjoyed by Rhonda Vincent can be described as “irrelevant” . Just boggles the mind

      • Jon July 13, 2012 at 2:16 pm

        Rhonda’s irrelevant only to those for whom the sole ways to measure musical merit and career accomplishments are chart positions and sales figures.

        Although I have to say, too, that the reviewer isn’t doing Rhonda any favors here. “This one’s my favorite” and “I sure like that one” and howlers like calling this a”very early recording” – by this time, she’d been recording for nearly 25 years – aren’t really helpful.

  2. Andrew Leprich July 8, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Personally, one of the reasons why MKOC is one of my favorite blogs is their willingness to give in-depth coverage to artists like Rhonda Vincent.

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