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


Patty Loveless: Mountain Soul II

It would seem inevitable that Patty Loveless would opt to make a return to her roots via this sequel to 2001’s critically acclaimed Mountain Soul. Like that earlier effort, Loveless tackles tradition, serving up Americana standards that embody her rural Kentucky origins. Loveless’ honey-soaked vocals effortlessly meld with these country classics, whether it’s the mournful intonation of “Half Over You,” “Prisoner’s Tears,” “When the Last Curtain Falls” and “You Burned the Bridge,” the rousing bluegrass romps of “Busted” and “Blue Memories,” or the gospel wail of “Friends in Gloryland,” “Working On a Building” and “(We Are All) Children of Abraham.” Still, what binds this set so seamlessly is a reverence for back porch purity, a down-home sensibility imbued by fiddle-fueled, banjo-driven, mandolin-tinged arrangements and the music’s undeniable authenticity. Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, Al Perkins, and Del and Ronnie McCoury each stamp their indelible touch on the proceedings, but its Loveless’ obvious reverence for the material that leaves the most lingering impression. Loveless deserves kudos for discarding commercial concerns and aiming instead for authenticity. (Saguaro Road Records 2009)

Patty Loveless MySpace page


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