My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Mark McGuinn

Album Review: Lonestar – ‘I’m Already There’

im-already-thereThe band’s fourth album was released in June 2001. Producer Dann Huff gave the somewhat generic rock-pop-country hybrid music a commercial sheen which appealed to fans, but has already dated.

The title track, a soaring ballad which shows off Richie McDonald’s voice at its best, was another big hit for them – not only a chart topper, but selling over half a million copies. An emotional song about a loving father stuck working on the road with a pretty melody and swelling strings, the passionate vocal just saves it from sentimentality. McDonald also gets a songwriting credit, alongside Gary Baker and Frank Myers (who had a shortlived attempt at a country career as a duo in the 90s). Unfortunately it is by far the best song on the album.

Follow up ‘With Me’ broke Lonestar’s streak of five straight #1s, only just squeezing into the top 10. Unsurprising, because it really isn’t a very good, or country, song. Unsubtle, intrusive production doesn’t help a boring lyric without much of a tune.

‘Not A Day Goes By’ was back to the ballads, and was much more successful, reaching #3. A wistful song about the power of a memory, McDonald sings it beautifully. It is more AC than country, but very well done.

The final single, Mark McGuinn’s ‘Unusually Unusual’ made it to #12. Huff’s production and arrangement choices are intrusive; the song itself tries to depict a charmingly quirky girl, but falls a bit flat for me.

‘I Want To Be The One’ is quite a good song about unrequited love, written by Chuck Cannon, Lari White and Gary Nicholson, but very pop backing vocals dominate it.

Most of the other tracks have strong rock leanings, with even the ballads loud, and are not particularly interesting.

The remains their second best seller, after the ‘Amazed’-spurred monster success of Lonely Grill. However, I would only bother downloading ‘I’m Already There’, and perhaps ‘Not A Day Goes By’.

Grade: C-

Random playlist 3

After all the mental inventory-taking of the end of the year lists was finally over, I began to cruise through my media library again. Ballads have been in higher rotation than anything else right now, and that’s partly because of that nostalgia feeling that comes from having a fresh snowfall each morning. But it’s also because ballads are usually my favorites anyway. Here’s a few I’ve really been enjoying lately.

Zac Brown Band – ‘Colder Weather’ … Wanderlust drives the narrator in the Zac Brown Band’s current single, and he readily admits it to this lady. ‘And I love you but I’ll leave you, I don’t want you but I need you‘, he confesses. Still, some relationships are too complicated to follow the rules. These two keep it together when he’s in town; otherwise, not so much. The swaying melody is brought to life here with the help of a gentle piano track and Alabama-ish harmonies from the group.

Sara Evans – ‘Three Chords And The Truth’ … Her first album was a lesson in 90s new traditionalism, and though none of the songs were hits, the title track to the set has taken on a life of its own. Evans’ Missouri drawl wrings out every ounce of emotion in this conflicted woman’s day of events, as she sings of the music doing just the same for the character in her own song.

Martina McBride – ‘Strangers’ … This track from Martina’s second album was included on her Greatest Hits album, listed as a fan favorite and concert staple; and for good reason. Songwriter Bobby Braddock penned a telling tale of two people and their journey from, and back to, being strangers to each other. Martina’s bigger-than-your-house voice hammers it home.

Mark McGuinn – ‘She Doesn’t Dance’ … This guy’s got the perfect gal at home. So what’s she doing in this smoky bar in that black dress, and in another man’s arms? But wait, that couldn’t be her. She doesn’t own a dress like that, and besides, she doesn’t even dance. Especially like that. McGuinn hit bigger with that infuriating ‘Mrs. Steven Rudy’ song. But not only was ‘She Doesn’t Dance’ tolerable, this 90s-style country ballad proved better at showcasing his dry wit without even trying.

Sunny Sweeney – ‘Amy’ … Just like her breakthrough single, Sweeney’s self-penned ‘Amy’ is a confessional from the other woman. This time it’s directed at the wife and she’s asking her to please stand aside, if that’s at all convenient. Tight and light, the acoustic-driven production is the perfect score for the story unfolding before us.

Johnny Cash – ‘Cry, Cry, Cry’ … Maybe it’s Cash’s deadpan delivery of these scathing lyrics, or maybe it’s the Signature Cash dominating back beat. Either way, I can’t get enough of Johnny’s first single.

Alan Jackson – ‘I’ll Try’ … Warm, traditional sounds complimenting Jackson’s crooning vocals make the song a real pleasure to the ears, but it’s the no-frills message in this song I like best. No promises of forever or of good times to come, this guy takes a realistic approach. Sweetly optimistic in all he does, he’s aiming for the long haul. Here’s hoping.

So, what’s your pleasure these days?  Are you spinning the ballads in the colder weather?  Share your current favorites with us in the comments.

Album Review: Georgette Jones – ‘A Slightly Used Woman’

I was intrigued when I heard that the only daughter of two of country music’s greatest singers, George Jones and Tammy Wynette, was finally embarking on a music career and releasing an album on traditional country specialist indie label Heart Of Texas. With her genetic heritage, Georgette Jones ought to be a spectacular vocalist herself. She does have an airy sweetness in her voice which is all her own, owing nothing to copying her parents’ styles, but it is one which at times tends to skate prettily over the surface of her material, and is not entirely suited to the hard country songs she has picked, many of which really need a bigger voice.

Georgette first appeared on record as a small child with a cameo on the chorus on the post-divorce ‘Daddy Come Home’, a track on his 1981 release Still The Same Ole Me. An early marriage distracted her from any thoughts of a music career. She had a development deal with RCA in the mid 2000s, which did not come to anything, and there seems to have been some involvement with Curb. She re-emerged last year on the opening track on her father’s recent duets album, Burn Your Playhouse Down, with a rather sweet song which she co-wrote with one-hit-wonder Mark McGuinn, apparently about their real-life father-daughter relationship. ‘You And Me And Time’ reappears here, together with a pleasant cover of George’s hit ‘The Race Is On’. But it is Tammy Wynette who casts by far the bigger shadow on their daughter’s record.

The title track is a cover of one of Tammy’s songs which sounds potentially autobiographical, about a woman who is wealthy but lonely and possibly abused; living “in a mansion fit for a queen”:

But inside there’s a slightly used woman
On her body there’s scars and there’s dents
She’s just waitin’ for someone to love her
And ignore all his deep fingerprints

Georgette herself wrote (along with Ernie Rowell), a deeply touching letter in song addressed to her mother:

Now I wish that I could tell you
All the things you said were true
I wanna thank you for your love
And the little things you used to do

I know God took you for a reason
And I’m sure heaven welcomed you
I still want to say I love you but I can’t
I hope you knew

The delicate, almost fragile vocal on these two songs make Georgette sound vulnerable in a way which make the emotion feel very real and at these moments she really convinces as an artist. Her voice isn’t quite strong enough to convey the unfettered heartbreak of much of the material.

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