Monday, July 22, 2013

Album Review: Dos Divas by Lorrie Morgan & Pam Tillis

Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan (aka Grits & Glamour) have teamed up for a Thelma & Louise style musical road trip entitled Dos Divas. Although the album begins with the reflective "I Am Woman," which is a litany of the different personas a woman takes on as she faces life's challenges (and a song I felt might be better served at the end of the album as a sort of coda to the adventures described in the other 13 songs;) it soon cranks into high gear with the raucous drinking song, "I Know What You Did Last Night." Trading vocals as they trade accusations, Pam & Lorrie sing "I know what you did, I was there when you did it. No matter what you do you're never gonna live it down." In the end, they realize they can't really accuse each other without incriminating themselves. From there the Divas take their party South of the Border for a little Latina spice on the title track, "one was as hot as a jalapeno, one was as sweet as sweet sopapilla." Then it's a little Texas two step up the road to "I'm Tired," a song that recalls Country's Lone Star roots (complete with fiddle and steel guitar,) and one of the musical stand outs on the album.
They then take a moment to reflect on the modern Country ballad "Last Night's Makeup," with Lorrie singing, "If I could wash you off like last night's makeup, looking in the mirror wouldn't be so hard." While Lorrie looks back, Pam looks forward in the bluesy "Ain't Enough Roses." This is a fun, uptempo piano and harmonica driven song that lets someone know in no uncertain terms that they've messed up one time too many and they've been officially kicked to the curb no matter what peace offering they bring. But our heroines are able to move past their emotional road bumps as the next two songs capture a snapshot of love in harmony.  Lorrie's "Another Chance to" and Pam's "Even the Stars" are touching, romantic ballads perfect for slow dancing under the summer stars. From there, it's back to walking on the wild side as Lorrie sings "That's So Cool," a tale of a post-divorce reunion with an old high school flame - complete with a morning after Waffle House visit for old time's sake. From there Pam takes a trip to Cougar Town for "Old Enough to Be Your Lover." Pam roars into town with motor revving and hormones blazing, singing, "Boy you're barely a man, then again I'm hardly a girl." With a funky, driving beat and lots of clever word play, this is the most deliciously decadent song on the album.
After a cold shower, the girls come back with the more somber "Next Time It Rains" by Lorrie and "I Envy the Sun" by Pam. Both are lyrically moving songs about yearning for what you once had. But as the CD winds down, the Divas crank it back up as if they're driving down the home stretch, eager to reach their destination. "Bless Their Hearts" is a soulful social commentary on those who think they can "say anything they want as long as they say it nice." After it's all said and done Lorrie and Pam take a look back on their musical (and lifetime) journey with the song, "What Was I Thinkin'." Realizing that it's easier to laugh at your mistakes in 3/4 time, they recall the romantic and fashion missteps of their past against a Texas road house backbeat. Luckily for us, whatever mistakes these two may have made were not made in the creation of this fine album. With witty lyrics and beautiful vocals, Pam and Lorrie prove they're still Divas.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Album (sort of) Review: Low Life vol 1 &2 by Ryan Racine & Gas for Less

Dwight Yokam has a new disciple! Ryan Racine and Gas for Less carry the torch of the Bakersfield sound to a new generation of Country fans. Based (oddly enough) out of Detroit, Ryan Racine & Gas for Less deliver a beautiful blend of Country and Rockabilly that's never in fashion, yet never out of style. Featuring an abundance of jangling guitars with touches of fiddle, slide guitar, (and some beautiful Hammond organ on Sad Songs) Ryan and company follow the musical template laid down by Buck Owens, Merle Haggard and Dwight Yokam. And lyrically, Ryan spins new tales of heartache and loss that play counterpoint to the band's catchy riffs and rhythms. With lyrics like, "I'll be living the low life, I've got nothing to live up to when you're gone." (Low Life) "I've had more abuse than I can blame myself on" (The Last Time I'm Gone) and "Now I walk out knowing I'm ahead of the game. Darling even the best times ain't worth the pain" (Best Times); Ryan and friends might even be able to teach Dwight a few new ways to be cruel.
Although Low Life vol 1 & 2 are technically two separate EPs, they are available only in mp3 format and when played back to back merge seamlessly as one solid, cohesive album. From the opening jangle of Low Life to the final chord of Mama Tried, the eleven songs on these EPs plumb the lows and lowers of whiskey soaked dysfunctional love. But with music this catchy, even the lows feel pretty darn good, in fact the whole set is a gas!