My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Jamie O’Neal

Single Review: Ronnie Dunn – ‘Ain’t No Trucks In Texas’

unnamedThe bottom line on Ronnie Dunn’s debut single for Nash Icon? “Ain’t No Trucks In Texas” has been done before. Jamie O’Neal took the thematically similar “There Is No Arizona” to #1 fourteen years ago. Fourteen years before O’Neal’s hit, George Strait scored a chart topper with another play on words, “Ocean Front Property.”

In this latest rendering, a guy is morning the end of his latest romantic relationship with a laundry list of ‘there ain’t no…’ phrases leading up to ‘their ain’t no trucks in Texas and I ain’t missing you.’ He’s seeping sarcasm in order to make a point to his ex, just like the guy who’ll gladly throw in the Golden Gate Bridge along with that Ocean Front Property in Arizona.

I will give Dunn and his team a lot of credit. “Ain’t No Trucks In Texas” is among the finest examples of modern country music we’ll likely hear all year. The song has everything – a well-worn theme, little lyrical imagination, bombastic colorless production, and an artist at their most generic. Seriously, what more could you ever want out of a song?

Nash Icon is currently 0-2 with giving their signees intriguing radio offerings to lead their respective projects. In retrospect, at least Reba injected her infectious personality into “Going Out Like That.” Bland as it is, the song still sounds like her.

The same can’t be said for “Ain’t No Trucks In Texas.” It could literally be anyone singing it. There’s nothing about this recording that’s distinctively Ronnie Dunn. Not even his vocal, which is as watered down as I’ve ever heard him.

Hopefully Dunn’s album will have stronger material. It’s criminal how far he seems to have fallen since “Cost of Livin.’” He and the greater good of country music deserve better.

Grade: C

Classic Rewind: Jamie O’Neal – ‘I Need Thee Every Hour’

Album Review: Martina McBride – ‘Martina’

martinaThe four new tracks on Martina McBride’s Greatest Hits album were largely seen as a return to form following 1999’s disappointing Emotion, but unfortunately the regained momentum was quickly lost again with the release of Martina, an album that is consistently mentioned by fans as one of their least favorites in the McBride discography. However, while I wouldn’t rank Martina among McBride’s best work, it does have its bright spots and is a much better album than Emotion or most of the albums that came after it.

Martina once again shared production duties with Paul Worley. The album was released in September 2003, and McBride definitely had one eye on the pop charts this time around. The first single, the somewhat bland female empowerment anthem “This One’s For The Girls”, which featured backing vocals from Faith Hill and Carolyn Dawn Johnson, was not only a #3 country hit, it also reached #1 on the adult contemporary charts. I always thought this song was screaming out to become a Cledus T. Judd parody called “This One’s For The Squirrels.”

Encouraged by the crossover success of “This One’s For The Girls”, RCA selected the very middle-of-the-road piano and string quartet ballad “In My Daughter’s Eyes”, with lyrics by Hallmark, as the album’s next single. A pretty but somewhat saccharine number, it charted at #4 country and #3 adult contemporary. The next single didn’t fare as well, peaking just outside the Top 10 on the country chart, and missing the AC chart altogether, but “How Far”, a Jamie O’Neal co-write with Shaye Smith and Ed Hill, is a much better song than either of its predecessors, despite some oversinging at times. In the vein of “Whatever You Say”, it would have been right at home on the Evolution album.

The album’s biggest misstep is the fourth and final single, “God’s Will”, which tries too hard to tug at the heartstrings and comes off as a crass attempt to manipulate the listener’s emotions. The lyrics seem forced, the melody is plodding and at almost six minutes in length, it is way too long (I assume the radio edit was shorter). Peaking at #16, it marks the beginning of Martina’s chart decline; most of her singles from this point forward would chart outside the Top 10.

Overall, Martina is very mixed bag, but there are some worthwhile tracks among the album cuts, the best of which is the bluegrass-flavored “Reluctant Daughter”, which features backing vocals from Ricky Skaggs and Sharon White, and features Skaggs on mandolin. It’s a nice reprieve from the rest of the tracks, which are mostly pop-leaning. Also quite good is “Wearing White”, a song about a bride who opts for a traditional wedding with all the trimmings, despite an apparently checkered past. Vince Gill contributes harmony vocals to this track, which also features some very nice fiddle playing by Jonathan Yudkin. Not quite as good but still enjoyable was the Celtic-flavored but lyrically fluffy “So Magical”. The Big & Rich written “She’s A Butterfly” has a pretty melody, but there is too much reverb on the vocal track, a problem which also plagues the track “Learning To Fall.”

The album closes with a live in concert rendition of “Over The Rainbow”, which while well done, seems a bit out of place with the rest of the songs on the disc.

Though rarely counted as a favorite by McBride’s country fans, Martina is the artist’s second-best selling album, after Evolution, selling more than two million copies and reaching #1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, a feat no doubt achieved by the crossover success of the album’s first two singles. Though not essential listening, it’s worth picking up a cheap copy on Amazon.

Grade: B-

Week ending 8/6/11: #1 singles this week in country music history

1951: I Wanna Play House With You — Eddy Arnold (RCA)

1961: Heartbreak, USA — Kitty Wells (Decca)

1971: I’m Just Me — Charley Pride (RCA)

1981: Dixie On My Mind — Hank Williams, Jr. (Elektra/Curb)

1991: She’s In Love With The Boy — Trisha Yearwood (MCA)

2001: When I Think About Angels — Jamie O’Neal (Mercury)

2011: Tomorrow — Chris Young (RCA)

Week ending 2/19/11: #1 singles this week in country music history

1951: There’s Been A Change In Me — Eddy Arnold (RCA)

1961: Wings Of A Dove — Ferlin Husky (Capitol)

1971: Help Me Make It Through The Night — Sammi Smith (Mega)

1981: Who’s Cheatin’ Who — Charly McClain (Epic)

1991: Brother Jukebox — Mark Chesnutt (MCA)

2001: There Is No Arizona — Jamie O’Neal (Mercury)

2011: Voices — Chris Young (RCA)

Week ending 2/12/11: #1 singles this week in country music history

1951: There’s Been A Change In Me — Eddy Arnold (RCA)

1961: North To Alaska — Johnny Horton (Columbia)

1971: Help Me Make It Through The Night — Sammi Smith (Mega)

1981: I Keep Coming Back — Razzy Bailey (RCA)

1991: Brother Jukebox — Mark Chesnutt (MCA)

2001: There Is No Arizona — Jamie O’Neal (Mercury)

2011: Somewhere With You — Kenny Chesney (BNA)

Single Review: Jamie O’Neal – ‘Soldier Comin’ Home’

Photo Credit to Angela Talley  

Photo Credit to Angela Talley

After “Like A Woman” failed to impact the charts (Read my single review here), Jamie O’Neal is back with the 2nd single from her upcoming album. When I saw the title of this song, I thought “Ugh, this is going to be a pander-fest, isn’t it?” Fortunately, the song went to a different place than I was expecting, with much less pandering than I thought, surprisingly.

That’s not to say the song is perfect- it’s not. The lyric feels very similar to “Like A Woman” with Jamie wanting to feel more love from her husband, only this time the song uses the image of a wife greeting her soldier as he returns home. Jamie describes the scene she sees at the airport and sings about how she wishes she could have that kind of love. It’s a nice image, but I think it wears a little thin as the song continues. It’s nice how she compares how her husband is gone so much to the soldier being gone and how she wants him back:

Well that’s when it hit me
Just the way she was looking at him
Caught up in the moment
She forgot all the lonely she’s been
And you’re gone so much now, it’s become no big deal
It made me stop and wonder
When’s the last time I made you feel like you were a soldier coming home

It’s a nice sentiment, and a clever way of saying an old thing, but I can’t get over how it’s literally the same song as “Like A Woman”. It’s a decent song, but I much prefer “Like A Woman” as a single and a song. I feel like Jamie’s not really stepping it up enough, but I know she can do better than this.

It has a nice production, but it comes off as something I’ve heard before, like everything else in the song. What she really needs is a unique and different single to come back, but it hasn’t happened yet. Hopefully that song will come soon…

However, I do like this song, it’s just not the right single. What makes them think that this single will do well after “Like A Woman” failed?

Grade: C+

Written By: Jamie O’Neal, Roxie Dean and Patricia Ann Murphy

The single goes to radio on June 8th. As of now, the only way to hear it is on her website or her myspace.

Storytime!

As I usually am when I make discussion posts, right now I’m bored, so here I am!

First of all, Merry Christmas to everyone! (Or Happy Holidays, whatever, you know what I mean.) For Christmas, I got 50 Greatest Hits, the 3 disc box set from Reba McEntire, so needless to say, I’ve been listening to a lot of Reba, and I mean a lot! (According to my lastfm page, I’ve listened to around 70 Reba songs since yesterday) Listening to most of her singles in a row, I’ve heard a lot of good music recently, What stuck out to me was the number of story songs, from “Fancy” to “Somebody”, there are so many!

So for tonight, here’s the topic:

What is your favorite story song? Why?

Now, it can be as recent as “Already Gone” by Sugarland, or something like “The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” by Reba, it doesn’t matter. Just include why you love the story so much.

So to start, I have so many, but I’ll try to dig out something interesting from my iTunes library…

Nickel Creek

Nickel Creek

 

Here we go! “The Lighthouse’s Tale” by Nickel Creek. If you don’t know them, they were a New-grass trio who are on an indefinite hiatus after making 3 albums, winning one Grammy, and being nominated for a few more. They are all acoustic, except for the material from their last studio album, Why Should The Fire Die? The band consists of Chris Thile, the amazing mandolin player, Sara Watkins, the fiddle player, and her brother Sean Watkins, the guitar player. Chris and Sara are almost always the lead vocalists, but the trio also harmonizes frequently. (They also trade instruments sometimes, but anyways…)

This song is from their first major album, Nickel Creek, released in 2000.

The song is a traditional 3 act story song, but it’s from the point of view of a lighthouse! Yes a lighthouse, I know, sounds crazy, right? Well it works, and comes off as a haunting and tragic love song. (Yes I said love song, just keep reading.) The song starts with the lighthouse introducing himself:

“I’ll tell a story, paint you a picture from my past
I was so happy but joy in this life seldom lasts.”

The narrator describes his keeper,and his fiancé. Needless to say, I don’t want to spoil the story, but it doesn’t end happily.

This story song is clever, while recounting a classic story, but it sounds fresh, and is entertaining. Maybe it’s Chris Thile’s normally amazing violin? His expressive lead vocals? The lyrics? Who knows, but it’s great.

Here are my honorable mentions, I love all of these story songs:
“Where’ve You Been” by Kathy Mattea
“Devil On The Left” by Jamie O’Neal
“She Didn’t Have Time” by Terri Clark

Listen to “The Lighthouse’s Tale” on Last FM.
Watch the music video.

Chris’s End of 2008 List: Top 30 Singles

This is my 2008 top-30 singles post! First, about my singles list, I attempted to avoid songs that could still impact the charts more, songs like Miranda Lambert’s “More Like Her” or Little Big Town’s “Good Lord Willing”. I made some exceptions as you’ll soon see, but I tried to keep it to songs that peaked on the charts in 2008. Anyway, here are my top 30 singles of 2008! If you read my albums post, I’m warning you, this post is even longer…

That Don’t Make Me A Bad Guy

30. “She Never Cried In Front Of Me” – Toby Keith

– It’s not very country sounding, but Toby gives a great performance to a very good sad song. It’s probably my favorite song from him.

Long Trip Alone

29. “Trying To Stop Your Leaving” – Dierks Bentley

– Dierks is doing what he does best, it has energy, but still has meaning and great singing. A very solid single from a great album.

Fearless

28. “Love Story” – Taylor Swift

– Yeah, I did it, Swift’s on my list! I actually love this song, it’s creative and different from other artists, but I’m young so I may be biased. I also love the sound, especially the fiddle near the end that I find myself whistling. 

Read more of this post

Single Review: Jamie O’Neal – ‘Like A Woman’

Just in case some people don’t remember Jamie O’Neal, she debuted with the two number 1 singles “There Is No Arizona” and “When I Think About Angels” from her debut album Shiver in 2000. Then she had a sharp drop-off with her next singles, coupled with label troubles with Mercury Nashville, which caused her to exit the label after her second album was never released.

Then Jamie returned on Capitol’s roster and released a new album titled Brave and had 3 sucessful singles, most notably “Somebody’s Hero” which reached #3 on the charts. Then in 2007, she released another failed single (“God Don’t Make Mistakes”), another failed album, another label exit. Now, in 2008, she has signed to 1720 Entertainment, an indie label that includes Rissi Palmer. Now she has a new single and a new album on the way! Cue in “Like A Woman”.

Now I decided to review this single after I noticed that none of the other blogs I read have reviewed it, so here I am!

Now first I would like to say I do like this song, but it’s just not what Jamie needs to restart her career. Starting out it has mostly piano and strings with very little country elements besides a little steel guitar floating around, so this song is firmly in the country-pop category. The premise of the song is a wife who wants to rekindle the flame with her husband saying “tonight I want to feel like a woman.” The lyrics are fairly nondescript, with some cliches and the usual images and metaphors that go with this king of song. In other words, the lyrics are nothing special, but they aren’t bad, just boring.

From that, the song doesn’t sound special, right? However, Jamie has a put out a great vocal performance, especially during the sweeping chorus that has a great melody. She hits the great notes of the chorus with the power necessary, but she’s not screaming at all, just singing. Her vocals have the emotion that you can tell she really wants to feel her man’s love again, and you really believe her.

All in all, this song is good, but not great. Unfortunately, it’s not what Jamie needs right now. She needs a home run song, and this song just isn’t it: it reminds me of a song an artist puts out when they know it’ll be a hit even if it’s not top-notch. It’s good, but not good enough to bring her career back to how it started, which is why it’s hovering in the mid 50’s on the charts right now. I hope it goes higher, but I don’t know if it will at all, especially with all the Christmas songs clogging the lower half of the charts right now.

With her vocals though, I think her upcoming album will be great, assuming it gets released and she stays on the label. Knowing her track record so far, who knows if the album will come out at all, but I really hope it does!

Grade: B-

Listen to Jamie O’Neal – Like A Woman on Last FM.