My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Taylor Alexander – ‘Good Old Fashioned Pain’

20 something Taylor Alexander appeared briefly on The Voice a couple of years ago. A country singer-songwriter from Georgia with folk elements, he has released his debut album independently. He has a pleasant warm, slightly raspy voice.

The album opens with the title track, a solid but rather too loud country rocker. To be honest I would expect a song called ‘Good Old Fashioned Pain’ to have a more traditional sound than this more muscular sound, but it isn’t about emotional pain but the physical sort after hard work. In similar style is the pacy ‘Passing Lane’. These are the most radio-friendly tracks. ‘Break My Heart Tonight’ is a solid honky tonker which I enjoyed a lot.

Much better is the gently regretful philosophical ‘I Never Ask For Nothin’’ about a diffident man who remains unrewarded:

I didn’t want the trouble
I didn’t want to make a fuss
There’s just two kinds of people
The haves and the have-nots
I’d never ask for nothin’
So nothing’s what I got

She was all I’d ever wanted…
I guess I could have asked her
It was probably worth a shot
I never asked for nothin’
So nothing’s what I got

It’s gonna take a little water for a seed to grow
And there ain’t a door I ever heard of
That opened on its own
So asking you just might receive
More often times than not
I never ask for nothin’
So nothing’s what I got

I had this dream where I’m invited
To the house of God
The porch light’s shining
But the front door is locked
And I just stood there wondering
If I should ring the bell or not
I never ask for nothin’
So nothing’s what I got

A pretty harmony ornaments the folky melody of this charming song.

‘Real Good At Saying Goodbye’ is a very nice song with a lilting tune about a man who is the ‘running kind, never satisfied’.

‘It Don’t Matter To The Rain’ is a pleasant folky philosophical number which is quite good. I also liked Another favorite is the gently plaintive ‘Hole In The Wall’, about a poorly maintained but cheap home:

It sure ain’t where my heart is
Just where I keep my stuff

‘Wishing My Life Away’ is another reflective number about taking advantage of life’s opportunities, with some nice steel and harmonies from a female singer:

Life’s a race you won’t mind finishing dead last
When you wake up one morning wondering where the years have gone
You might get what you wish for after all

‘I Guess I Moved On’ is more positive, in a slightly resigned way, about realizing suddenly one has gotten over an ex:

Pain can be funny that way
You blink and it’s gone
While I was looking away
I guess I moved on

The set finishes up with another highlight, the wry piano-led ‘Sorry For Growing Up’:

Grown men go on diets and go easy on the cheap beer
And grown men take vacation only every other year
Lord they got all kinds of money but got no time to spend it
And when a grown man dies they talk about how much he lived

Well, I’m sorry for the times I kept you up at night
For every ruined t shirt and the dirt I drug inside
But if there’s anything I could take back
Of all the things I did
I’m sorry for growing up
I won’t do it again

This is a really nice singer-songwriter album on the folky side of country. Highly recommended.

Grade: A

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Classic Rewind: Forester Sisters – ‘(I’d Choose) You Again’

Album Review: The Forester Sisters – ‘You Again’

The girls’ third album was released in 1987 following their successful duet with the Bellamy Brothers and subsequent Brothers and Sisters concert tour. Without a strong contender for a follow-up single from their previous album, Warner Brothers went ahead and started issuing singles from this set, which was released in the Spring.

“Too Many Rivers,” written by Harlan Howard was originally recorded and released by Brenda Lee in 1965, where it charted modestly on the country chart but was a major #2 pop hit. The girl’s version, which updates the torch ballad with a modern arrangement peaked at #5 and is quite wonderful.

They would return to #1 with the album’s title track, which was penned by the incomparable Paul Overstreet and Don Schlitz. It’s an excellent and perfectly produced ballad about an undoubted love:

Looking in my life

Through the eyes of a young girl growing older all the time,

Maybe just a little wiser

I can clearly see

All my mistakes keep coming back to visit me

Pointing out the roads not taken

So much I’d like to change but one thing I’d do the same

 

I’d choose you again, I’d choose you again

If God gave me the chance to do it all again

Oh, I’d carefully consider every choice and then

Out of all the boys in the world

I’d choose you again

 

Times weren’t always good

Seems like the Lord gave all the easy parts away

But every time the road got rocky

You’d look at me and say

Had all you needed long as I was there with you

You’re the reason I kept going

If I could start my life anew

The first thing that I would do

Their artistic winning streak continued on “Lyin’ In His Arms Again,” the album’s third and final single. The mid-paced ballad, which isn’t quite as strong as “(I’d Choose) You Again,” is still very good and peaked at #5.

The girls open You Again with “That’s What Your Love Does To Me,” a twangy up-tempo number about an irresistible partner. “Before You” is an excellent mid-tempo ballad and one of the more traditional-leaning songs on the album.

One of the record’s highlights is a tender ballad “My Mother’s Eyes,” which follows the captivating tale of a woman raising her kids after their father has abandoned the family. “Sooner or Later” is an uptempo change of pace with a synth-heavy arraignment that dates it to the time period.

They continue in that vein on “Wrap Me Up,” but with less synth and more percussion. “I Can’t Lose What I Never Had” is forgettable while “Down The Road” is a sweet tale of life back home with mom and dad.

I apologize for not having much information about the album so I wasn’t able to identify which sister sang lead on which songs. That being said, You Again is a very pleasant listen with some pretty great tracks.

Grade: B+

Classic Rewind: Billy Joe Shaver – ‘You Just Can’t Beat Jesus Christ’

The song starts about 1.50 in:

Week ending 6/8/19: #1 singles this week in country music history

1959: The Battle of New Orleans — Johnny Horton (Columbia)

1969: Singing My Song — Tammy Wynette (Epic)

1979: She Believes In Me — Kenny Rogers (United Artists)

1989: A Better Man — Clint Black (RCA)

1999: Please Remember Me — Tim McGraw (Curb)

2009: Then — Brad Paisley (Arista Nashville)

2019: Whiskey Glasses — Morgan Wallan (Big Loud)

2019 (Airplay): Whiskey Glasses — Morgan Wallan (Big Loud)

Classic Rewind: Flatt Lonesome – ‘I’m Not Afraid To Be Alone’

Classic Rewind: Forester Sisters – ‘Mama’s Never Seen Those Eyes’

Album Review: The Forester Sisters – ‘Perfume, Ribbon & Pearls’

The girls’ second album was released in 1986, recorded at Muscle Shoals with Terry Skinner and J L Wallace producing. It was not quite as successful as their debut, with only one hit single, but it is a strong effort overall.

The sole single, ‘Lonely Alone’, is a nice regretful ballad written by J D Martin and John Jarrard with a pretty melody, featuring Kim Forester on lead vocals and her sisters relegated to the chorus. The production now sounds a bit dated with synthesizer and strings, but it did well at the time, peaking at #2.

Kim also took the lead on three other songs, including ‘Heartache Headed My Way’, the mid-paced song which provides the album’s title. Written by Bob and Barbara Morrison, this should have been a single as it has an intriguing mix of youthful confidence and the willingness to take a few risks rather than mom’s good advice:

Mama get out those shiny black shoes and the dress you cut too low
Get out the perfume and ribbons and pearls and tell this girl what she should know
I’ m tired of wasting my youth and my time
On men going nowhere fast
The ones with neatly combed hair and striped ties
Their future’s as dull as their past

Yes, I’m looking for a hard time of romance and fun
And I’m hoping to find it tonight with someone
I’m looking for trouble and blues on the run
And a heartache’s headed my way
I’ll say
A heartache’s headed my way

I know I’ve got years yet to settle for less
For a home and a dog and a white picket fence
Roast in the oven and clothes on the line
And a life that’s full of good common sense
Forget everything you advised me to do
I need some excitement not a lesson or two
After it’s over I’ll listen to you
Mama please listen to me

‘Somebody’s Breakin’ A Heart’, written by the album’s producers, is well sung by Kim and has an interesting lyric about overhearing a couple breaking up, but the heavy beat of the arrangement makes it sound like filler. The up-tempo ‘Drawn To The Fire’ was written by a pre-fame Pam Tillis and Stan Webb; Pam actually released the song herself as the B-side of several of her Warner Bros singles in 1986-7.

June and Christy got one lead vocal each. June sings ‘Heartless Night’, a fine song by Craig Bickhardt and Michael Brook which was later covered by Baillie & The Boys. Christy takes on the Supremes’ Motown classic ‘Back In My Arms Again’; it is pleasant enough filler although with little country about it.

The sisters’ strongest vocalist, Kathy, took lead on the remaining four tracks, including the best track. ‘That’s Easy For You To Say’ is a beautiful measured ballad written by Bob McDill and Paul Harrison, a gentle reproach to the man breaking her heart:

You say “sit down” and you reach for my hand
You’re trying your best to be kind
You say “it’s goodbye but it’s all for the best
These things just happen sometimes”
You tell me that life will go on
And we’ll both forget before long

Well that’s easy for you to say
With the lonely nights that I’m gonna face
It’s so hard to see it that way
You tell me that we’ll both be okay
That’s easy for you to say

‘Blame It On The Moon’ is quite nice and opener ‘100 % Chance Of Blue’ is okay. The Randy Albright song ‘You Were The One’ is pretty sounding with a pointed message to an ex.

The album as a whole makes for very pleasant listening.

Grade: B+

Classic Rewind: Jeannie C Riley – ‘Return To Harper Valley’

Classic Rewind: Skeeter Davis – ‘I’m A Lover, Not A Fighter’

This 60s hit namechecks the boxer Muhammad Ali, who died today, under his former name of Cassius Clay:

Album Review: The Forester Sisters – ‘The Forester Sisters’

Not many realize it, but the Forester Sisters were the first all-female group (defined as three or more members) to have sustained success on Billboard’s Country Singles charts. In fact, they are still the female group boasting the most top ten singles with fifteen.

The Forester Sisters’ first foray came with the eponymous album The Forester Sisters, released in August 1985. The album opens up with the first single “(That’s What You Do) When You’re In Love” which made its chart debut on January 28,1985.The song would reach #10, the first in a string of fourteen consecutive top ten county singles, five of which reached #1. The song is a mid-tempo ballad about forgiveness, written by Terry Skinner, Ken Bell and J. L. Wallace.

Well, the door’s unlocked and the lights still on
And the covers turned down on the bed
And you don’t have to say that you’re sorry anymore
‘Cause honey I believe what you said
If there’s anybody perfect, well, I ain’t seem ’em yet
And we all gotta learn to forgive and forget
That’s what you do when you’re in love, in love
That’s what you do when you’re in love

Next up is “I Fell In Love Again Last Night” , a mid-tempo ballad from the pens of Paul Overstreet and Thom Schuyler. This song was the second single off the album and the group’s first #1 record.

I fell in love again last night
You keep doing everything just right
You’ve got me wrapped around your fingers
And every morning the love still lingers
I fell in love again last night

“Just in Case”, written by J.P. Pennington & Sonny LeMaire of Exile, first saw the light of day on Exile’s 1984 Kentucky Hearts album. An up-tempo ballad, The Forester Sisters released it as their third single and saw it sail to #1:

I saw you walkin’ down the street just the other day
Took one little look at me and turned the other way
Can’t say I blame you but I’d like for you to know
How wrong I was to ever let you go

Just in case, you ever change your mind
If you suddenly decide to give me one more try
I’ll be waiting in the wings, just lookin’ for a sign
Just in case you change your mind

“Reckless Night” by Alice Randall & Mark D. Sanders is a slow ballad about a single mother – the baby the result of a reckless night.

“Dixie Man” by Bell, Skinner & Wallace) is an up-tempo tune with an R&B vibe to it. The song might have made a decent single but with four singles on the album, the group had pushed the limits of the time.

Next up is “Mama’s Never Seen Those Eyes” by Skinner & Wallace, the fourth single from the album and third consecutive #1 record. The song is a mid-tempo ballad and the song that immediately comes to my mind when anyone mentions the Forster Sisters to me.

Mama says I shouldn’t be going with you
Mama says she knows best
You’ll take my heart and break it in two
‘Cause you’re just like all the rest
She says that you’re just a one night man
And you’ll end up hurting me
Aw But I’ve seen something that mama ain’t ever seen

Mama’s never looked into those eyes, felt the way that they hypnotize
She don’t know how they make me feel inside
If Mama ever knew what they do to me I think she’d be surprised
Aw Mama’s never seen those eyes
Mama’s never seen those eyes

“The Missing Part” was written by Paul Overstreet & Don Schlitz and covers a topic that the sisters would revisit from a different slant on a later single. This song is a slow ballad.

“Something Tells Me” from the pens of Chris Waters & Tom Shapiro) is a mid-tempo cautionary ballad about rushing into a relationship

The next track is “Crazy Heart” written by Rick Giles & Steve Bogard. The song is a mid-tempo ballad that I regard as nothing more than album filler, albeit well sung.

The album closes with Bobby Keel & Billy Stone’s composition “Yankee Don’t Go Home”, a slow ballad about a southern girl who has lost her heart to a fellow from up north. Judging to feedback from friends who have heard this song this might have made a decent single

The Forester Sisters would prove to be the group’s most successful album, reaching #4 on Billboard’s Country Albums chart. In fact the album would prove to be their only top ten album, although another seven albums would chart. The album has traditional country lyrics and vocals although the accompaniment has that 80s sound in places, particularly when it comes to the keyboards. The musicians on this album are Kenny Bell – acoustic guitar, electric guitar; Sonny Garrish – steel guitar; Owen Hale – drums; Hubert “Hoot” Hester – fiddle, mandolin; Lonnie “Butch” Ledford – bass guitar; Will McFarlane – acoustic guitar; Steve Nathan – keyboards;J. L. Wallace – acoustic guitar, electric guitar, keyboards; and John Willis – acoustic guitar. Terry Skinner and J.L. Wallace produced the album and co=wrote two of the singles.

I should note that my copy of the album is on vinyl so the sequence of the songs may vary on other formats. Anyway, I would give this album an A-

Classic Rewind: Forester Sisters – ‘Just In Case/I Fell In Love Again Last Night’

Classic Rewind: Merle Haggard – ‘I’m Not That Good At Goodbye’

Spotlight Artists: The Forester Sisters and The McCarters

This month we are spotlighting two groups comprising sisters who both started out in the 1980s on Warner Brothers Records.

There were four of the Forester Sisters: Kathy, June, Kim and Christy. They grew up in the small town of Lookout Mountain in Georgia, close to the Tennessee border, and starting singing in their church choir. Kathy and June trained as teachers in the 1970s and sang together in a band. They were joined by Kim, and eventually Christy after her graduation from college. They signed a deal with Warner Brothers in 1984 and enjoyed immediate success with their sweet harmonies, pretty melodies, and mellow sound which had appeal to the pop-country fans of the mid 80s while incorporating some more organic elements. A string of top 10 hits ensued between 1985 and 1991, and they also released some religious material.

All four women were capable of singing lead on occasion, but Kathy had the best voice, followed by Kim, and they got the lion’s share of lead vocals and all the singles.
They are now retired from music.

The McCarters were younger, but their music was much more traditional. Hailing from Dolly Parton’s hometown, Sevierville, Tennessee, they comprised lead singer Jennifer (born in 1964) and her younger sisters Lisa and Teresa (born in 1966), who were twins. Their mountain harmonies were exquisite, but proved to be a bit too traditional even in the neotraditional revival of the late 80s and with the boost provided by opening for Randy Travis on tour. their early singles were reasonably successful, but the label pushed to modernise their sound a little, and rebilled them as Jennifer McCarter and the McCarters for their second single.

They stopped performing for some years after losing their Warner Brothers’ deal, but after raising their own families, Jennifer returned to music without her sisters. In 2017 she released an album as part of a new trio, Them Rubies, with Donna Beasley and Etta Britt, and she has a brand new solo single, ‘Love Will’.

Classic Rewind: Tanya Tucker – ‘He’s Got The Whole World In His Hands’

Week ending 6/1/19: #1 singles this week in country music history

1959: The Battle of New Orleans — Johnny Horton (Columbia)

1969: Singing My Song — Tammy Wynette (Epic)

1979: If I Said You Had A Beautiful Body Would You Hold It Against Me — The Bellamy Brothers (Warner Bros/Curb)

1989: Where Did I Go Wrong — Steve Wariner (MCA)

1999: Please Remember Me — Tim McGraw (Curb)

2009: It Happens — Sugarland (Mercury Nashville)

2019: God’s Country — Blake Shelton (Warner Bros. Nashville)

2019 (Airplay): Good As You — Kane Brown (RCA Nashville)

Classic Rewind: Charley Pride – ‘The Streets Of Baltimore’

Classic Rewind: Charlie Rich – ‘Behind Closed Doors’

Classic Rewind: Wesley Dennis – ‘Don’t Make Me Feel At Home’

Classic Rewind: Reba McEntire – ‘One Promise Too Late’