Album Reviews

Rockit88: Sweet Sugar Cane

Rockit 88


This is a great album to have on in the background when folks come over. The sound is at once so unique and familiar that the guessing games as to whose album it is and the provenance of the songs is bound to break out. Maybe it’s just my living room, but not a one of my pals who came by called it the music of a local band right off.
Welcome to Sweet Sugar Cane, only the second album from T.Dot blues/roots rock band Rockit88 and it’s linked to the same pedigree as the music of The Band and early Van Morrison. Fronted by dual singing songwriters Neil Chapman and Bill King, Sweet Sugar Cane is the game changer for the band and the In Door to a whole new identity as an original act.
As such, the stakes are high but on most tracks, the band raises the bar then easily soars over it.
The album opens with 35 seconds of Southern fried Gershwin-ish piano riff, which nicely sets up ‘Summertime Is Here’, a mid-temp invitation to party down summer style, sprinkled with slide guitar licks like stardust and the propulsive drumming of Jim Casson. From there it’s on to all manner of original material inflected with country blues (‘I Never Knew The Blues’), swamp rock touched by barrelhouse piano (‘Brother, Sister’). Among ballads so American Gothic stately you can almost see the moss hanging off them is the brilliant r'n'b infused ‘Angels Crying’ and the show-stopping title track, dusted with the kind of organ lines which link it to genre gems like ‘Long Black Veil’.

Dave Caley: It's A Long Way Back

Dave Caley

Dave Caley may have been born in Blackpool, England but he sounds as Country as anyone on the Grand Ole Opry. This CD contains 10 songs and "God's Grand Ole Opry," is my favorite. The lyrics of this song pay tribute to the legendary performers of the Opry that have passed on. Dave seems comfortable on both the up-tempo songs like, "Free For All Friday Night," to the tearful, "It's A Long Way Back." True Country Music here folks on all the tracks.

Rusty Russell
4/4 stars

JOEY GLENN: Driven By Emotion

Joey Glenn

Driven By Emotion

"Driven By Emotion" is what the music industry calls NEW COUNTRY.  This girl can sing.  My favorite on this collection of hits is, "I Really Miss Seein' You."

Her vocal approach and complex textures and the ability to belt out power notes (as the music commands) gives her the ability to be versatile enough to have crossover appeal in the blues, rock and pop. Other songs that are in tune with today's themes are, "I Need a Man, and The Look." This CD is a must for the legion of fans that enjoy today's Country sounds.

 Ten great tracks on this project and a must for fans of "New" Country.

Rusty Russell



40 Of Our Very Best

Remember the saying “What’s old is New Again?” Well that is the best way to describe the most recent release from the Fabulous Four Guys. They have taken forty of their very best recordings, some from their days as members of the Grand Ole Opry (which covered a span of over 32 years) and put it into a 2-CD collection.

If you are a traditional country music fan you are going to want to give this a listen. The Fabulous Four Guys were known for their dynamic stage presence and professional showmanship and it all shines through in this collection. It just doesn’t get any better than this! From classics such as “How Married Are You Mary Ann”, their signature song which was written by Bill Anderson, to their own personal take on the Springsteen hit “Fire” every cut in this collection brings pure listening pleasure.

5/5 stars
Rusty Russell

BILLY ALLEN: Keep On Loving Me

BILLY ALLEN Keep On Loving Me Cover

COUNTRY (Reviewed 8/6/10)
Keep On Loving Me

KMA Records (Nashville) keeps producing top of the line, quality acts and Billy Allen is no exception. He lists the likes of Wilson Pickett and Merle Haggard as two of his influences and you can here in his vocal performance.

From an upbeat tune to a traditional country ballad you can hear and feel Allen’s
connection to the music he performs. His take on “Green, Green Grass of Home” is
not gold – it’s platinum!

4/5 stars
Rusty Russell

BOBBY CARLSON: Bobby Carlson


COUNTRY (Reviewed 8/6/10)
Bobby Carlson

Bobby Carlson’s self titled CD is New Country with an occasional sound that borrows from the past.  Bobby Carlson glides from track to track with ease and a style that simply sounds like what you hear on Country radio stations these days.  “She’s Got My Heart” is bound to be found on the charts soon, if it isn’t already.

The themes of the songs vary as they should on a CD but regardless of whether it is up-tempo or a tear jerking ballad Bobby handles the vocals with perfection. This is a must-hear.

4/5 stars
Rusty Russell

DAVID NALL: Klean Kountry

DAVID NALL Klean Kountry Cover

Klean Kountry

There seems to be no end to the great country music that is produced in Texas! David Nall, probably best known for his gospel recordings has a gem with “Klean Kounty” collection of “pure country” all of which could climb up the country charts.

Nall, a multi-award winning performer and songwriter demonstrates his passion not only for his music but for his home state of Texas with songs like “Something ‘Bout Texas” and “I’m Well-Known In San Antone”. His gospel roots shine through on “The Cross On I-40”.

If you like your country with a traditional style similar to that of George Strait but with a uniqueness that can only shines through from a songwriter and singer who holds true to their own style, then give a listen to a David Nall recording today. You won’t regret it.

4/5 stars
Rusty Russell

LINDA WELBY: A Story To Tell

Linda Welby A Story To Tell Cover

A Story To Tell

Linda Welby, a young mother of eight from Ireland, and affectionately known as “The Galway Fiddler”, also the title of one of her songs, recently signed with Bullet Records (Nashville) and with one listen to her new CD “A Story To Tell” it is easy to see why Bullet wanted her on its roster.

Welby brings a Celtic flair to today’s country and her story-telling is second to none on this collection of contemporary songs all written and produced by herself. Linda Welby has a very defined vision of where she is going and what is important in her life. Her passion for life, others and her music is defined with “Through You, I’ll Find My Way”, a song written as being told through the eyes of a person with Autism.

If you’re looking for something just a little bit different, but with the story telling and emotion that makes a good country song, then this CD is for you. Add it to your collection – you won’t be sorry.

4/5 stars

Rusty Russell

SELINA MARTIN: Disaster Fantasies



This third album from one of the T.Dot’s more versatile young singer/songwriters takes a decided turn for the hard rockin’. Judging by the audience reaction at The Garrison for its coming out party, the turn is well worth the taking.

This feisty art rocker been simmering under for two album and on this third one, has busted wide open, kicking down the genre walls on the way out. Cute as a bullet and with the requisite pedigree, having worked with Rheostatics alumni Dave Bidini, Michael Phillip Wojewoda and Martin Toelli, Martin always assembles spit hot players for her projects.

Disaster Fantasies is no exception; the lineup includes long-time collaborator Doug Friesen (bass), Josh Van Tassel (drums), Chris Stringer (bass), Martin Toelli (Guitars) and another long-time collaborator, Annelise Noronha (lead accordion, guitars).

Mash ‘em all together with en eye for lyric detail and an ear for making it stick and it’s like Joni Mitchell and Annie Lennox hooking up for sour mash martinis.

And beats there a heart so cold that can’t love the indie gal covering a Rush tune?. Coming on with a jazzy, finger poppin’ take, she delivers “The Spirit Of Radio’ just this side of a nod and a wink. With ‘Rape During Wartime’ the Talking Heads essence is obvious and Martin wears it well.

Megan Morrison: MOVIN’ ON

Megan Morrison

by Lenny Stoute

Newest country darlin' on the horizon is the real deal; a rodeo ridin’, calf ropin’ big smilin’ blonde from Holstein, ON. Can’t get much more cow town than that nor more hometown girl than Megan Morrison. The lady’s just dropped her second album, Movin’ On and it shows an artist rolling straight up that blacktop to US success travelled by Shania, Terri Clark and pioneer Anne Murray. It’s trafficking in country pop with loads of citified appeal and a knack for a heart-tugging country lyric.

The album kicks off with the catchy one-two upbeat combo of ‘Everywhere I Go’ and the aptly titled ‘Dancing In The Rain’, then swiftly shifts gears for ‘I Can Love Anyone I Want To’, done with a more defiant edge than the version cut by Nashville alt country comer Cindy Roberts. This pattern pretty much continues throughout, a back and forth between upbeat pop and reflective country balladering.

Even as it pays all the right dues to Nashville, ‘Movin’ On’ comes off as an accomplished sophomore offering with a distinct personality. Producer Joel Feeney gets much credit for shaping the sound and as co-writer of three of the album’s tunes. He keeps a radio-friendly ear on the proceedings without applying too much sheen, which allows Morrison to step outside her persona in embracing the protagonist’s cheeky innuendo in ‘Party Girl’ and the downright gritty perspective of ‘Old Habit Town’.

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