Love and Theft: World Wide Open


RIYL: Poco, Jimmy Wayne, Restless Heart

Every once in a while, a country act comes along that opens eyes and ears. Sometimes they’re so good that they also open mouths. Frankly, that may not seem to be difficult when many acts in the genre not only do not write their own music, but also don’t sing it. That might sound harsh, but it’s a fact of life on Music Row these days. But alas, there is a new kid in town, or, should we say, kids. Love and Theft is a trio of young men who can write, sing and deliver three-part harmonies that not only rival the best country has to offer, but also may bring to mind classic country rock acts like Poco and Restless Heart. Their debut on Carolwood, World Wide Open, is one insanely catchy song after another, and a breath of fresh air that could just amount to a hurricane in Nashville. The title track is punchy and powerful, and features the kind of chorus today’s music industry execs drool over, but there are plenty of other gems – like the rocking “Runaway,” the harmony drenched “Don’t Wake Me” and the stunning, goose-bump inducing closer “Drowning,” which is easily the best track on here. If you’ve been meaning to give country music another chance, make this be the band that brings you back. Heck, you don’t even have to dig country, because it’s just as much a pop record. Either way, Love and Theft is a young act with unlimited potential. (Carolwood 2009)

Love and Theft MySpace page

  

David Nail: I’m About to Come Alive


RIYL: Vince Gill, Kenny Chesney, Train

That cha-ching sound you just heard was the royalty cash register for another mainstream pop/rock songwriter, as a country music artist has not just cut a song by the band Train, but made it the title track for his MCA Nashville debut. The artist is David Nail, and while Nail has endured ups and downs and at least one failed move to Nashville, the story has a happy ending, or at least a happy middle upon the release of I’m About to Come Alive, which might also be symbolic for the young artist. Nail has co-written about half the material here, and it might be curious that he’d go with a full blown cover song as his title track, but if you follow Train at all, you know it’s one of their best and most heartfelt songs. And it comes a couple years after Gary Allan had success with Vertical Horizon’s “Best I Ever Had.” But back to Nail, because he and producer Frank Liddell have managed to put a set of tunes together that is as good or better than anything Nashville has produced in the past decade. And the same can be said for Nail’s powerful vocal ability. Of course the title track is stellar, but there are some other beauties on here, especially “Red Light” and the Garth Brooks-ish “Looking for a Good Time,” the latter of which features some pretty guitar work. (MCA Nashville)

David Nail MySpace page

  

Rob Blackledge: Inside These Walls

Mississippi-raised and Nashville-based Rob Blackledge was torn between pursuing a career in baseball or in music. But his love of music was affirmed after he decided to attend Belmont University in Nashville, a music industry hub, when Blackledge won a talent contest and had a positive crowd reaction leave him wanting more of that artist/audience connection that can be magical when it’s right. Blackledge honed his craft while touring with Nashville favorite son Dave Barnes, co-wrote country act Love and Theft’s “Runaway,” then later signed with One Revolution Entertainment. Now Blackledge has his own debut album, Inside These Walls, and his wide range of influences are all there for the world to see – James Taylor, Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder and Ben Folds among them. That may seem crazy, but it’s not – Blackledge is accomplished on both piano and guitar, his melodies soar with his falsetto (which he wisely does not overuse), and everything is tied together nicely by producer Jeff Coplan. Among a solid set of songs, the best ones are the hummable “Early Morning Riser,” the radio-ready “Should Have Known Better,” and the understated R&B-infused beauty, “Worth Taking” – the latter of which could be a huge Top 40 hit in the right hands. (One Revolution Entertainment 2009)

Rob Blackledge MySpace page

  

Dierks Bentley: Feel That Fire

It’s no secret that most of the music coming out of Nashville’s Music Row is based on formula – a lot of the same songwriters and producers are making the records and making it difficult to distinguish one artist from another. You might see Brad Paisley or Kenny Chesney or Billy Currington on TV or walking down the street in Nashville and immediately know who they are, but that doesn’t mean the casual fan can pick their voice out on the radio. That’s because Nashville has auto-tuned everyone into sounding the same – the same vocal tone, same twang, and in most cases, the same freaking songs. Dierks Bentley falls into that category, and on his latest, and fourth album, Feel That Fire, Bentley has co-written a bland bunch of songs that he seems to almost be going through the motions with. Tracks like “Sideways” and “Little Heartwrecker” will make you tap your feet but you’re not going to remember them five minutes afterward. A pretty duet with Patty Griffin, “Beautiful World,” almost saves the album, but while the likes of “I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes” and “I Can’t Forget Her” are pleasant enough, there are literally thousands of better songs in this formulaic genre alone. Country music surely isn’t going to make any new fans this way. (LABEL: Capitol Nashville)

Dierks Bentley MySpace Page

  

You Heard It Here First: Erin McCarley

Erin McCarley was born in Dallas and cultivated her music career in San Diego, but she now resides in Nashville, home of country music and great songwriters. And right now, she is fitting in as one of the top pop artists on Music City. McCarley was on the Ten out of Tenn compilation recently and her debut album, Love, Save The Empty, on Universal Republic, comes out in early 2009 (January 6 to be exact). Folks, you need to keep an eye on Miss McCarley, because not only does she know how to craft infectious pop, but she delivers it with a humble charm and with a compelling voice. Here are a couple of samples courtesy of the label:

“Pony (It’s OK)”

“Love, Save the Empty”

Erin McCarley MySpace
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Erin McCarley website

and since I know you’re all wondering what Erin looks like, here is a link to photos

  

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