Bo Bice: 3


RIYL: Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, Marc Broussard

Bo Bice will forever be the guy who finished second to Carrie Underwood on Season 4 of “American Idol.” Many were outraged, thinking Bice had the goods and delivered the performances in the finale to merit winning it all. However, America voted for Underwood and the rest is history. It appears now that it was probably the correct long-haul decision, but that doesn’t mean Bice hasn’t made a nice career for himself. Now he’s back with his third effort, aptly titled 3, which is his debut on Saguaro Records, home to the likes of Patty Loveless and Lonestar. If you like straight-ahead country fried Southern rock, there isn’t much you won’t like about 3. It’s ten songs of shuffling, bluesy goodness, right from the first notes and horn hits of “Keep on Rollin’,” to the honky tonk, riff-infused “Coming Back Home” to the pretty balladry of “Wild Roses.” But there are a few tinges of mediocrity, too, most notably “Good Hearted Woman,” on which Bice seems to hover in a register too low for his vocal range; and “Long Road Back,” which is catchy enough but seems to drone on a bit. Still, Bo Bice keeps on rolling, and his songwriting seems to improve with each effort. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t want Underwood’s money, but…(Saguaro Records 2010)

Bo Bice MySpace page

  

George Benson: Songs and Stories


RIYL: Anything that’s smooth jazz

When you have ten Grammys, it can’t be easy to keep making award-winning music, but George Benson may do just that with his latest, Songs and Stories. Admitting that he keeps things fresh by focusing on the basics, a.k.a., songs and the stories that make up those songs, Benson dug into the material of some of his favorite songwriters, including James Taylor, Smokey Robinson, Bill Withers and Donnie Hathaway – and even had some other tracks specifically written for this project. Then what Benson brings to the table is what he does best: play the guitar like a tasty madman and deliver soulful and pitch-perfect vocals. Some of the highlights are the Al Jarreau-ish “Show Me the Love” which was written by project producer Marcus Miller as well as Toto’s David Lukather and David Paich; the bluesy “Come In from the Cold,” written by Marc Broussard, Radney Foster and Justin Tocket; and a take on Christopher Cross’ “Sailing” that will remind you of Benson’s “Breezin’” days. And of course Benson does a terrific job on the opening track, James Taylor’s “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” which sounds like it could and should be a ubiquitous smooth jazz staple. George doesn’t ever disappoint, and he surely doesn’t here. (Concord 2009)

George Benson website

  

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