Country Music People May 2019 - Page 40

albumreviews ARLEN ROTH Tele Masters SARA SIMMONS Oh I Need You  1/2  Remington Ride [with Steve Wariner] / Key To The Highway [with Jack Pearson] / White Lightning [with Steve Cropper] / Bunky [with Brad Paisley] / Rumble [with Will Ray] / Mrs Robinson [with Albert Lee] / Satisfied Mind [with Vince Gill] / Roadworthy [with Brent Mason] / I Can Fix It [with Jack Pearson] / Tennessee Waltz [with Lexie Roth] / Joe’s Blues [with Joe Bonammassa] / Funky Mama [with Johnny Hiland] / Ghost Riders In The Sky [with Cindy Cashdollar] / Tuff Tele [with Bill Kirchen] / Promised Land [with Jerry Donahue] / A Minor Thing [with Redd Volkaert] Producer: Tom Hambridge Aquinnah Records 75:19 Oh / Sauced / Oh I Need You / My Father’s Daughter / Fly Away Little Devil / Simple Life / Tell Me When / Shine / Break Bread / Get Right With Jesus / Cleansing Solution Producer: not listed Independent 38.30 Here’s an album that turns the spotlight on guitars, and in particular the Fender Telecaster. Guitar player Arlen Roth is joined by several interesting people like steel guitar player Cindy Cashdollar, Telecaster player, Bill Kirchen and country stars Vince Gill and Brad Paisley both known for their pickin’ ability. The material is mainly cover versions with a few originals thrown in. However, the album has a fairly safe production, lots of plodding, boring tracks and it goes on-and-on for over 75 minutes. Oh, and it also features the worst ever cover version of the Simon and Garfunkel classic Mrs Robinson. The highlight of the CD is a well-sung version of Tennessee Waltz. The vocalist is Lexie Roth who is Arlen Roth’s daughter. If only she was on more songs. The album also features tedious versions of the country classics Satisfied Mind and Ghost Riders In The Sky. Ghost Riders has probably been recorded too much. Both of these are instrumentals that drag on far too long. Worth hearing, though, is Promised Land with a lively vocal from Jerry Donahue, but the album grinds to an uneasy halt with its final tedious track, A Minor Thing. It’s very minor! A blues track that goes on for over six minutes! At least the second half, speeds up a bit. This may not be enough to keep all listeners awake. Arlen Roth’s new album may have looked good on paper but it clearly spiralled out-of-control. Resulting in a mainly boring, under-cooked confection which only sparks into life a few times. With so many talented people on this album it is a wonder that this was this allowed to happen. Paul Riley 40 cmp - MAY 2019 Sara Simmons is an artist from Nashville who is much respected in the local area session musician scene and now brings us this new collection of her own music. She has labelled her style as American Grass, where she has influences from country, bluegrass and Americana. There is also a touch of the sass of Loretta Lynn and the personality of Kellie Pickler, and in her earlier years around Iowa, Sara was even a rodeo queen. So you can sense there will be a lot of flavours going into the making of this record. The album opens with loads of energy and the first two tracks, Oh and Sauced, are both very much up-tempo with vocals right up front in the mix. Sauced seems to be about finding Jesus while the other person is still enjoying a tipple or two, and there is an unedited version tagged on at the end. The title track is lovely, nice and uplifting, and one that will sound great when the sun is shining whereas My Father’s Daughter is a stripped back and mainly acoustic song, which as it develops is more bittersweet than you might first think. Possibly my favourite track is Fly Away Little Devil, which bursts to life with flutters of acoustic guitars and drums, turning into a driving beat with some banjo pushing it along, one for hearing with the windows down while blasting along the nearest highway. Simple Life is a great little song, a gentle laid- back beat and more banjo in there, sung really sweetly and showing us how you don’t always need everything to still have a good way of living. There is quite a variety of styles as expected. Tell Me When has almost a Western Swing sound and is probably the most ‘country’ song on the album. This is followed by Shine, basically a worship song, much more up-tempo and with nearly a rock backing to it. In fact, it’s clear that Jesus and God are the passion behind a lot of lyrics and themes across the album, certainly more so as it progresses. I enjoyed many of the songs on the album. The variety of styles could be seen as a bonus although at the same time, I would possibly prefer a full collection of her most country sounding tunes in the future. The more obviously religious songs will find a lot of favour of course but maybe less so outside of the Bible Belt. I do like Sara Simmons’ voice, she has lots of talent and I look forward to seeing where she will take things on future releases. Dave Watkins