My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: SHeDAISY

Album Review: Restless Heart – ‘A Restless Heart Christmas’

restlessheartChristmas albums can tricky to get right. There are certain standards that audiences expect to hear, but it can sometimes be difficult to get all but the most diehard fans to part with their hard-earned cash for the same old songs they already have on dozens of collections by other artists. On the other hand, if the artist gets too adventurous, the results can be very off-putting; SheDAISY’s obnoxious version of “Jingle Bells” comes to mind. For their first Christmas album, which is also their first new studio release in nine years, Restless Heart has chosen a little of each approach. A Restless Heart Christmas contains some old favorites — some with some innovative new arrangements — as well as some lesser-known contemporary numbers, and two brand new songs.

The set opens with one of the new numbers, “Season of Harmony”, which I would have used as a title track, because great harmonies were what made Restless Heart’s music special, and nearly thirty years after they made their chart debut, the harmonies are sounding as good as ever. Lead singer Larry Stewart is in fine vocal form. The song is very much in the same vein as the music the band made in their commercial heyday, yet it does not sound retro. It is followed by “Tennessee Christmas”, which was first introduced to audiences in 1983 by Amy Grant, who wrote it with her then-husband Gary Chapman. It’s been recorded a number of times since then, but Restless Heart’s version of this underrated chestnut is possibly the finest I’ve heard. Roger Miller’s “Old Toy Trains” and a faithful-to-the-original reading of “The Little Drummer Boy” are also among my favorites.

As far as more traditional carols go, the band does a very reverent version of my favorite Christmas hymn “O Holy Night”, while “Silent Night” and “Angels We Have Heard On High” are given updated arrangements. “Silent Night” is performed a cappela with a doo-wop arrangement, which on the surface may sound sacrilegious, but surprisingly, it works well. “Angels We Have Heard On High” also lets the band show off their harmonizing, and performing the old carol with modern instrumentation gives it a contemporary feel. “Jingle Bell Rock”, while not a carol, is also given a new arrangement, with some big-band flourishes, but this experiment doesn’t work as well. It’s my least favorite song on the album.

The closing track “Santa’s Prayer” is a very fine song that finds St. Nick lamenting the over-commercialization of Christmas, and praying that people will rediscover the true meaning of the season.

Not surprisingly, this isn’t a hardcore country Christmas album, but neither are there any over-the-top performances, with “Jingle Bell Rock” being the only production misstep — and a minor one at that. Longtime Restless Heart fans will not be disappointed, and the collection is just middle-of-the-road enough that non-country fans who may be visiting over the holidays should enjoy it as well.

Grade: A

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The lucky ones

Bad luck and superstition are synonymous with the second Friday of a month beginning on Sunday.  Even before the countless installments of the Jason Voorhies movies, Friday the 13th of any month was an omen to stay in bed with the covers over your head, for you were surely to meet your doom – or so the superstitious would have you to believe.  Likewise, believers of these alleged myths and urban legends are skeptical and cautious about many things, from black cats, broken mirrors, walking under a ladder or spilling the salt, all of which can be quickly remedied with horseshoes, a rabbit’s foot, or the elusive four-leaf clover.

I’m sure there are many country songs that explore the folk mythology and religious basis that make up all the great palm-itching tales I’ve heard all my life, but I didn’t seek those out.  No, I took the easy approach and did a word search for ‘luck’ in my library and this is what I came up with:

‘The Lucky One’ – Alison Krauss

‘A Good Run of Bad Luck’ – Clint Black

‘Lucky Ones’ – Dixie Chicks

‘Hey Lucky Lady’ – Dolly Parton

‘Lucky That Way’ – Dwight Yoakam

‘I Always  Get Lucky With You’ – George Jones

‘Luck In My Eyes’ – k.d. lang

‘Just My Luck’ – Kim Richey

‘I Feel Lucky’ – Mary Chapin Carpenter

‘Lucky For You (Tonight I’m Just Me)’ – SheDaisy

‘Lucky Enough For Two’ – Tanya Tucker

Not that I am superstitious or anything, but I did give all those songs a spin early this morning, and I implore you to decrease your chances of demise today by knocking on wood, keeping your hat off the bed, and staying away from birds of all kinds.

While you’re at it, share your own songs of luck with us, or tell us your favorite old wives tales.

Album Review: LeAnn Rimes – ‘This Woman’

"This Woman"Around the same time as Faith Hill released “Mississippi Girl”, her big return to country, LeAnn Rimes released her first single from This Woman called “Nothin’ ‘Bout Love Makes Sense”. It too, was supposed to be Rimes’ big return to country music after the pop records I Need You and Twisted Angel. It succeeded in doing so; the single peaked at #5 on the country charts, #1 on the Canadian country charts, and #52 on the U.S.  Hot 100. This became her highest ranking single on the country charts since 1998, but this was soon to be beat by the two follow-ups “Probably Wouldn’t Be This Way” (#3), and “Something’s Gotta Give” (#2). The album has since been certified gold, selling about 750.000 copies.

The set opens  “I Want To With You”, a simple tune about the narrator’s desire to do the important things in life together with her partner.LeAnn is showing off her lower register on this song, which, along with Dann Huff’s soulful production, makes the song sound not only sexy, but also a little bit intimidating, especially as she sings these lines;

Life is a lot like a battle
When love is under attack
Once I was easily rattled
I’d run just like that
I wouldn’t fight back

This combination works very, very well, and definitely makes it stand out among similarly themed songs. A far too busy production slams us in the face as the album’s second track “You Take Me Home” opens (after all, it IS a Dann Huff record). A song that’s supposed to be about love, and how love feels like it takes you home to the simpler times and simpler things, is definitely damaged by such a busy production. LeAnn’s vocal is indeed very fine, but it could be a bit less bombastic. The lyrics are rather well-written though, and LeAnn, while she is a little bombastic, conveys the message of being homesick well, making the song quite listenable, despite the production dragging it down. It’s a shame though, that it’s only listenable, because I’m very convinced that had she recorded this with another producer (Garth Fundis, or even Mutt Lange, for instance), it could be a killer track.

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Recommendation: Songs about “the other woman”

While getting a card for my mom’s birthday at Wal-Mart, I decided to swing through the CD section. While browsing the CDs, I found Tanya Tucker’s 20 Greatest Hits, so since I know none of her songs, I picked up the set for 8 bucks. So far, my favorite track is “Soon”, the title track of one of her 90’s albums, and a #2 hit on the country charts. It’s a song about “the other woman”, the mistress of a cheater. So here are my three favorite songs about her, “the other woman.” (shortened to “TOW”)

“Soon” by Tanya Tucker

This song portrays the beginning, TOW has a summer fling with a taken man, and it goes too far. All he does is tell her that he’ll be with her soon, leave his other girl soon, but eventually it gets to this:

He’ll say soon to her forever
So she makes her new years resolution
Soon she won’t call him anymore
Soon, when he shows up at her door and
Asks her when can I be with you again
It’ll be her turn to say
Soon.

She wants to break free from him, and she will, soon. Tanya really gives this song the emotional thrust it needs, and it never gets bombastic like it could. It’s a little resigned and regretful, as it should be.

“Stay” by Sugarland

Yeah, you all know this song, but it had to be mentioned. Here TOW goes through an epiphany:

I can’t take it any longer but my will is getting stronger
And I think I know just what I have to do
I can’t waste another minute after all that I’ve put in it
I’ve given you my best, why does she get the best of you?
So next time you find you wanna leave her bed for mine,
Why don’t you stay?

This song takes that moment of epiphany and illustrates it perfectly, capturing all the emotion and motivation that goes into it. It’s a modern masterpiece, and hands down one of the best songs on radio recently (If only they would release “Very Last Country Song” as a single…). TOW is portrayed not as a villain, but as a person with their own feelings and self worth who has been deluded and betrayed.

“She Gets What I Deserve” by SHeDAISY

Finally in this song, TOW regrets what she’s done to the wife of the man she was with. She knows everything about the wife, having seen her from a distance. She sees the hurt the wife, and wishes it was all different:

I can’t whitewash my excuses,
I can’t cover up the stain,
I can’t give back what I’ve taken,
I should be the one to bear the pain.
I just pray that God forgives me
For what I’ve done to her
She gets what I deserve…

This song conveys the massive amount of regret necessary for this kind of song, and Kristyn Osborne really proves her writing chops. SHeDAISY is often mocked and teased by country fans, but this song is a great country song that really proves their worth.

So what are your favorite songs about “the other woman”?

Is it guilty in here?

The E.N.D., by The Black Eyed Peas

The E.N.D., by The Black Eyed Peas

I have a confession to make- it may destroy any credibility I might have had here and it may drive away readers, but here it is: I’m addicted to the song “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas. On Tuesday a friend of mine sang two lines of the song, before I had even heard it, and when I heard the whole song, I got hooked. I know it’s a nonsensical and terrible song, but it’s so infectious that I can’t stop, I even know all the words…

So it’s weird, but I like having it stuck in my head, no matter how embarrassing, I actually love the song! This hasn’t happened since Sugarland released “All I Want To Do” over the summer. After the song came out, I went on a 10 day backpacking trip and that song was constantly playing over and over. At one point I whistled the song, and it actually started getting stuck in other people’s heads- even when they’d never heard it before! Then I looked around on the internet to see this song getting lambasted, so I felt like I couldn’t say that I liked it because so many others hated it!

Want to hear some more of mine? “Feel That Fire” by Dierks Bentley, “Lucky 4 U (Tonight I’m Just Me)” by SHeDAISY, “Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” by Beyoncé and “Love Story” by Taylor Swift. Obviously these songs tend to be not very country, but still, I want to know:

What songs are your guilty pleasures?

If you really want to hear it, here’s a link to see the music video for “Boom Boom Pow”. I sire hope none of you like it…

Mixtape Time!

mixtapeI was talking to a friend yesterday morning, and he told me that I need to give him a mixtape so he can “assess my personality”- so I decided to try and make my mixtape to try and encompass all of the music I listen to in just a limited number of tracks, say around 15-20. It was pretty difficult, but I tried to cover the major artists I listen to (Sugarland, Lee Ann Womack, Nickel Creek, Patty Loveless, Trisha Yearwood, SHeDAISY, etc.) as well as outlying genres beyond country music (Radiohead, Neko Case, Alicia Keys, Jazmine Sullivan, etc.) and I think this is a great set of songs that really gives an intro to my musical tastes- and it was difficult to decide on these songs for sure.

Then I thought it would be interesting to post my mixtape here to display it, and I would like you guys to do the same! You guys can post yours in the comments, mine is just below.

“15 Step” by Radiohead
“Fallin’ “ by Alicia Keys
“Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It)” by Beyoncé
“Lions, Tigers & Bears” by Jazmine Sullivan
“Rattlin’ Bones” by Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson
“The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore” by Kathy Mattea
“Last Call” by Lee Ann Womack
“Fly Like A Bird” by Mariah Carey
“House Of A Thousand Dreams” by Martina McBride
“Coming Back To You” by Melinda Doolittle
“Desperation” by Miranda Lambert
“This Tornado Loves You” by Neko Case
“This Side” by Nickel Creek
“On Your Way Home” by Patty Loveless
“Gravity” by Sara Bareilles
“Don’t Worry ‘Bout A Thing” by SHeDAISY
“Very Last Country Song” by Sugarland
“Three Mississippi” by Terri Clark
“Wrong Side Of Memphis” by Trisha Yearwood

Click the link to hear the song- all of them are last.fm links except “This Tornado Loves You”, which is a youtube video. I hope you enjoy mine and post your own!

Album Review: SHeDAISY – ‘Fortuneteller’s Melody’

shedaisy2
I’m bored right now, so I figured I would review the album I decided to start listening to, AKA Fortuneteller’s Melody by SHeDAISY.

If you’ve read my posts on the 9513’s forums you would probably know that I love SHeDAISY. I don’t care if they’re poppy; it’s great pop. I consider them one of the most underrated artists out there right now. I feel that they were unfairly shunned by radio with other female artists, but hey it happens.

What’s the worst is that this album, their most ignored album, is overwhelmingly their finest album to date! Mostly this is due to the stellar writing of sister Kristyn Osborn, main writer and background singer for the group. She has written some real gems on this album, but I’ll start from the beginning.

This album starts with “23 Days”, an up-tempo track that describes the feeling of being far from the one you love, but you are on your way to get to them, as in “23 days of Tennessee time and I’m back to you.” The song is great, fun, and instantly singable; a radio hit that never got a chance. Unfortunately, this song was never a single, but it was featured on a Sleep Number commercial, which sparked downloads instantly. This song sets the style for the majority of the album: poppy, but more acoustic and more organic-feeling than their previous albums. It reminds me of Sheryl Crow, but better and leaning a little more country.

The next standout track is the album’s first single, “I’m Taking The Wheel”, one of the best up-tempo songs I have ever heard, and it still has depth. It’s about a relationship that’s beginning to fail, and the narrator decided to take control of the relationship and save it. It has a strong melody and great lyrics, making it instantly great, especially with the driving beat in the background and the more country instuments.

The best two tracks on the album? The two sadder songs, the first being “In Terms Of Love”, which also happens to be the album’s second single. The song talks about getting over a lost loved one, since Kristyn had just gone through a divorce while writing, the pain shines through on this great track. The track has great fiddle and gentle strings that frame the sisters’ flawless harmonies. The narrator tells her ex, “I don’t think about then in terms of now/ I found a way to start again somehow/ I don’t think about what we thought it was in terms of love.” The song comes across as nice, but with a little edge of how a failed relationship needs two people to make a mistake, but it’s still hard to get over it.

The second song, “She Gets What I Deserve” has the sound of Sugarland’s “Very Last Country Song”, but the lyrics and theme of Sugarland’s “Stay”! This song is from the point of view of the other woman, but the song deals more with how the narrator has hurt the wife of her lover; a woman she has never met but knows all about. It’s the narrator looking “into the windows of the home I’ve torn apart/ I can’t help but wonder, what happened to my heart.” She feels like she deserves first the man, then later the pain, showing a change of heart in how she seeks forgiveness from God. This song is by far the country-est song on the album, and is just gorgeous.

Interestingly enough, the worst song on the album is the only one that SHeDAISY has ever recorded that wasn’t at least co-written by Kristyn, namely “God Bless The American Housewife”. The song is meant to be tongue-in-cheek on how Desperate Housewives (it was featured on the show’s soundtrack CD and has a funny music video) has made housewives look too sexy and jealous all the time. The song is supposed to be funny, but comes of as mawkish and insincere, and ultimately doesn’t work.

Besides that song, the rest of the CD is solid, if similar sounding. This album being overlooked is a terrible crime, but it’s far too late now. Maybe their upcoming album in March will be accepted by radio and buyers.

Grade: A-

Listen to the entire album on Last FM.