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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Chris Leigh

Broken Hearted Friends

Review by Gary Hill

There is a lot of old school country in the mix here. Sometimes more modern elements are heard, but that retro sound really dominates. It’s well done and I like this album. That said, there is one big blemish as far as I’m concerned. The song “Ramblin’ Man” includes an offensive ethnic slur. It really made me consider not reviewing this album at all. I think the disc would be a much easier one to heartily endorse if that song were left off or rewritten. It’s a shame that it stands as a blemish on an otherwise exceptional album.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 5 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Broken Hearted Friends

This cut is pretty funny in terms of the lyrics. The music has a real down home, old school country sound. It’s a fun way to start things in style.

Like I Love You Forever
The humor is gone here. This is set more in a slower, bluesy but quite rocking old school country music sound. The chorus, though, almost has a classic pop rock vibe, perhaps even a bit like the Beatles.
If You Make It to Heaven

Some acoustic guitar opens this and the track works out from there. Can you get any more old time country than starting a song with “Another drunk evening / I don’t know her name?” This cut is very much set in retro country sounds. Yet the rhythm section brings a punch that’s modern. Additionally the chorus has more of a pop rock sound to it. The retro organ sound is  a nice touch, too. Ending the song with the same two lines that opened it is both classy and classic.

Ramblin' Man

The music here has a down-home country element to it. I have to say that I really have a problem with a line or two of the lyrics here. In particular there’s a bit of an ethnic slur in the song that I feel is quite offensive. Ignoring that and looking  just to the music, though, this is a good old time country tune with a real old-time lo-fi production. Parents really need to give this one a spin for the lyrics before playing it around kids, though. Other than questionable slur, there are some other lyrics that might not be appropriate for all audiences.

Heartache & Misery

It wouldn’t take any stretch of the imagination to be convinced this was some lost country song from the 1940s. The performance, instrumentation and production really feel like something from that era. It’s a fun country swing tune.

Who's That

Other than some references to modern things like facebook and email, this is another tune that feels like a time-capsule. There is a definite jazz meets country vibe here and it’s a classy song.

Money

A shuffling kind of groove is the basis for this. It’s a rather playful little bluesy country tune. This is fun and quite retro in style. The lyrics are clever. It’s a love lost song, but with a twist because “money” is the love who left.

Here We Go Again

Playful old-school country music is the order of the business here. This reminds me a little of Led Zeppelin’s “Hot Dog.”  It’s got some cool slide guitar.

The Ballad of Bobbie Sue

This is a more modern country sound. It’s essentially a country power ballad and it’s a good tune.

Whiskey River

A bluesy retro country tune, this is a retro sounding number. It’s another that’s a lot of fun. The closing section is a bit more modern, feeling a little like Southern rock.

 
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