My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Shane Worley

Classic Rewind: RIP Ralph Mooney

Ralph Mooney, who died on Sunday, was one of the most distinctive steel guitar players ever in country music. His work for Wynn Stewart, Buck Owens and Merle Haggard helped to form the Bakersfield Sound, and his later years backing Waylon Jennings helped to keep the Outlaws rooted in country tradition. He wrote the classic ‘Crazy Arms’, and just last year Marty Stuart showcased Mooney’s playing on an instrumental version of the song on his aclaimed Ghost Train.

For a nice tribute to him, read this. For a musical tribute, listen to this song from independent artist Shane Worley.

Here he is backing up Waylon on a cover of Haggard’s classic ‘The Bottle Let Me Down’:

Year In Review: Occasional Hope’s Top Ten Albums of 2009

It hasn’t been a great year for mainstream releases, and none of my top 10 appeared on one of the major labels. There have been some fine albums released across the genre, although this year’s list is more bluegrass-oriented than would have been the case in years past.

10. Benefit Of Doubt – Pam Gadd
A joyful mixture of acoustic country and bluegrass, with duets with Dolly Parton and Marty Raybon. I reviewed it in March, and you can listen to the album on last.fm.

9. 30 Something And Single – Tammy Cochran
This album strikes an almost-perfect balance between contemporary and traditional country, with a sense of humor to boot. I reviewed it in the summer, and you can listen to clips and buy the album at CDBaby.

8. Bigger Hands – John Anderson
John was our Spotlight Artist in July, and his new album (which I reviewed then) found him in great voice with some interesting material, including the apocalyptic title track, and Anderson’s magisterial version of his co-write with John Rich, ‘Shuttin’ Detroit Down’.

7. Mister Purified Country – Shane Worley
There is still great traditional country music being made, and this fine independent CD in the Merle Haggard tradition is an excellent example -with some incisive criticism of the mainstream in the title track as an added bonus. I reviewed it in September, and you can listen to clips and buy the album at CDBaby.

6. When The Money’s All Gone – Jason Eady
Poetic singer-songwriter Jason Eady is more on the Americana side of things, with country, folk and blues elements. This album is full of interesting material, and repays close listening. I reviewed it in September, and you can listen to lips and buy at Amazon.

5. I’ll Take The Fifth – Dallas Wayne
With a voice as distinctive as John Anderson’s, I acclaimed this as my favorite of the year to date when I reviewed it back in March, and it hasn’t slipped that far down the rankings in the ensuing nine months. Buy it here.

4. The Reason That I Sing – Kim Williams
This delightful record is the one I’ve found myself singing along to more than any other this year. Songwriter Kim isn’t technically a great vocalist, but that really doesn’t matter, as he brings a warmth and honesty to his songs. I reviewed it in August, and you can now listen to it on last.fm.

3. Hillbilly Goddess – Alecia Nugent
Alecia has been recording for some years, but it was with this excellent album that she came of age artistically. Very much in the bluegrass/country zone, the youngest of the artists in my top 10 proved herself as a first-rate vocalist with some great material. I reviewed it in May, and you can hear clips and buy at Amazon.

2. Mountain Soul II – Patty Loveless
The only album on my top 10 list I didn’t review, but Razor X rightly called it a triumph of artistry in his review. Sometimes raw-sounding, always authentic and impressive, Patty cemented her credentials as one of the finest singers in country music in her sequel to her first bluegrass-inspired album Mountain Soul. My favorite tracks are the revival of the classic ‘Busted’, with the original coalmining lyrics heard for the first time; Jon Randall’s ‘You Burned The Bridge’; and the new version of ‘Feelings Of Love’. For clips, and to buy it, go to Amazon.

1. Taste Of The Truth – Gene Watson
Honey-voiced Texan Gene is a veteran of the music business, but he is still producing some of the best music out there. This year, in fact, he produced my #1 album, with the lovely Taste Of the Truth. I called it a masterclass in singing country music when I reviewed it in August, and you can hear it for yourself at last.fm.

Year In Review: Razor X’s Top 10 Albums of 2009

I spent a lot of time in 2009 adding to my collection a lot of boxed sets and classic country albums that I’d overlooked when they first came out. There wasn’t a whole lot of new music to get excited about this year, but here is the best I came across in 2009:

10. The Rose HotelRobert Earl Keen (Lost Highway)
The latter part of 2009 has found me in a decidedly Americana mood, fueled by an ever-increasing dissatisfaction with the mainstream. Part rock, part country with a lot of excellent banjo playing and excellent songwriting throughout. A nice change of pace.

9. Brothers From Different MothersDailey & Vincent (Rounder)
The sophomore effort from these bluegrass virtuosos does not disappoint. Even people who don’t normally listen to bluegrass should give this one a try; they may find that they are pleasantly surprised.

8. Destination LifeRhonda Vincent (Rounder)
An interesting blend of contemporary bluegrass and acoustic country from one of the best and most underrated female voices in country music. Occasional Hope reviewed this album in July.

7. Twang George Strait (MCA)
I’ve never met a George Strait album that I didn’t like. Interestingly, this is the only mainstream major label release on my list. I don’t rate it quite as high as some of his earlier efforts, but it’s still a solid, enjoyable album. Read my review from August.

6. My Turn Tanya Tucker (Saguaro Road)
It was great to hear Tanya again after a lengthy break. I hope to hear an album of all-new material from her soon. Read my review from June.

5. The ListRosanne Cash (EMI Manhattan)
The best of this year’s covers albums. A pleasant surprise that I didn’t expect to like nearly as much as I did. This is easily Rosanne’s best album since 1987’s King’s Record Shop.

4. A Taste Of The TruthGene Watson (Shanachie)
The long awaited return of one of country music’s most underrated singers. It was highly recommended by Occasional Hope when she reviewed it in August.

3. Mister Purified CountryShane Worley (Country Discovery)
I discovered this artist thanks to my colleague Occasional Hope, who reviewed this album in September. Pure, unadulterated and unapologetic country music.

2. Bigger HandsJohn Anderson (Country Crossing)
A very enjoyable album that reminds me of what mainstream country was like not too long ago. John Anderson is an artist that I rediscovered this year. Read Occasional Hope’s review of this album from July.

1. Mountain Soul IIPatty Loveless (Saguaro Road)
Hands down the best album of 2009 from the last of the true country singers, and a great antidote to all the 80s pop/rock music masquerading as country. Read my review from September.

Album Review: Shane Worley – ‘Mister Purified Country’

Mister Purified CountryIt’s easy to get discouraged by the state of today’s country radio and the majority of major-label releases. But there are still artists out there making real country music, even if most of them are on independent labels and can be hard to track down sometimes. One singer I’ve been interested in for a while is Shane Worley, a Tennesseean with a rich baritone voice with strong echoes of Merle Haggard in his vocal stylings. He has in fact recorded a tribute album to Merle, Feeling Haggard, as well as a handful of albums of good original material over the past ten years or so.

Shane is exactly the kind of singer who would be regarded as too country for today’s country radio, but he has found a sympathetic home on the indie Country Discovery records, with label head and producer Mike Headrick responsible for all his recorded output. The production is solidly country, with the producer himself (a former Music Row session musician) playing steel, dobro, harmonica and bass, and providing several songs, starting with the opening track, ‘Two Beers Ago’, which he wrote with Ruthie Steele and D Hagan, with the late Vern Gosdin in mind. Shane isn’t quite Vern Gosdin, but he is a very good singer in his own right, and he dedicates his performance of this song, and the album as a whole, to Vern, who was one of his main influences. The song is an ironic yet agonized look at a man who gets a birthday call from his ex, takes to the bottle and finds it doesn’t help at all:

“I’ve been through hell
But I stopped missing you
Two beers ago.”

Also very good is Headrick’s ‘The Right To Be Wrong’, a classic-sounding (with the late, legendary, Don Helms guesting on steel) appeal for another chance by a man who has driven away his wife by his drinking:

“You have a right to be set free
If you can’t stay here with me
After all the pain I’ve caused you for so long
You have the right to make a stand
And to take off your wedding band…

Don’t make this one mistake
That will add to our heartache
Though it’s true you have the right to be wrong.”

Headrick’s other offerings are the enjoyable, if slightly unfocussed lyrically, ‘Sweet Revenge’, inspired by the old saying “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned”, and the cheerful love song ‘Out Of The Blue’, which has one memorable line (“I knew there had to be more to life than wishing I was dead”), but is the least distinguished cut on the album.

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