Thursday, January 30, 2014

Only Me - Rhonda Vincent - A Review

Rhonda Vincent releases her new 2 CD package "Only Me" on Upper Management Music 1/28/14.

  Rhonda has been singing and picking traditional bluegrass music for quite a while now. The Bluegrass CD has a real rich sound recorded at her own Studio , Adventures Studio by recording engineer, Joey Crawford, who also mixed the CD. Present day Rage is Hunter Berry on fiddle, Brent Burke on resophonic guitar, Mickey Harris on upright bass, with Aaron Macdaris on banjo. Rhonda plays mandolin and Josh Williams plays some real good guitar. Willie Nelson his guitar on title track "Only Me" which is a duet with Rhonda. Darryl Singletary sings a song with Rhonda on the bluegrass CD "We Must Have Been Out Of Our Minds". The instruments sound great on the bluegrass side with Rhonda playing some great mandolin. It's hard to believe that she has been recording since 1967. She still looks gorgeous and her vocals are beautiful. Dolly Parton gives her a compliment on her great bluegrass singing in the credits. Very good song selection which is one with a live sounding vibe.

   Rhonda's last CD was two years ago, a gospel CD "Sunday Morning Singing".  The country CD is equally good, her earlier CDs on Giant Records during the ninetys were country. Her country voice reminds me a bit of Lee Ann Womack. She starts out with a song that she wrote herself called "Teardrops Over You" which is a great slow song. The country record was recorded at the tracking room in Nashville ,featuring Tim Crouch on fiddle, Kevin Grant on upright bass, Carl Jackson on acoustic guitar, Mark Johnson who is incredible on pedal steel . Catherine Marx on piano, James Mitchell on lead guitar, Michael Rojas plays piano on (Drivin' Nails) and Lonnie Wilson on drums.

    The country CD has a great selection of songs by well known writers like Bill Anderson.  It has Rhonda's great country voice with some just dynamite interplay with the musicians, especially Mike Johnson on pedal steel, James Mitchell on electric guitar and Catherine Marx on piano. Recorded again by Joey Crawford with some assist by Jarad Clement. I remember the days when the great Bill Voorndick recorded most of Vincent's music.  This CD has some great artwork with Rhonda on the cover looking great with some nice design ideas, one being that it has this special jewel case for two CDs that really work. I have really enjoyed Vincent's CD. If you like the real deal, Rhonda is it.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

"Pennsylvania Coal" - Irene Kelley - A Review

  Veteran Nashville songwriter Irene Kelley and small town native of Pennsylvania has a new singer-songwriter bluegrass CD coming out in the early part of February, 2014. This is all acoustic music produced by Mark Fain. Kelley has written hits for lots of other artists.

  This CD is a tribute to her coal mining grandfather who was a coalminer in Pennsylvania. This is no ordinary Bluegrass CD, I mean it is loaded with some of the truly best talent on the Nashville music scene today. A sampling of the musicians is Mark Fain on Bass, Bryan Sutton on guitar, banjo and dojo for one track. The music is nothing less than Sparkling, like a cool mountain stream. More musicians include Adam Steffey on mandolin, Stuart Duncan on fiddle, Lynn Williams on Drums and percussion, and Irene Kelley, autoharp.

   Background singers include Dale Ann Bradley, Steve Gulley, Claire Lynch, Trisha Yearwood, Darren Vincent, Carl Jackson, Rhonda Vincent and Chip Davis, just to mention the best.  

   There is really not a bad song on this whole CD , maybe some stick out more, but the selection and vocals make them great. "Sister's Heart" has a neat pattern of banjo playing which helps define the sparsely produced song. "Things We never did" has a traditional vein in it.  "Angels Around Her" with Claire Lynch has some real nice harmonies flowing thru it. Some great fiddle and mandolin too.  "Better With Time" is a slow ballad with Trisha Yearwood singing backup vocals. Bryan Sutton plays some really nice guitar runs on this song. "Garden Of Dreams" is a beautiful ballad with some of Irenes' best vocal work.  Probably the most upbeat song with a catchy melody is the opener "You Don't Run Across My Mind", and vocal help of Darrin Vincent.

  Overall, a very well done project, with excellent arrangements, both vocally and instrumentally. This CD will be released on Feb 11, 2014 on Patio Records.
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