Pain To Kill –
She’s tall, wears a cowboy hat and her looks ain’t too shabby, either. What more could a trucker ask for? Terri Clark has been on and off the charts for the past seven years, cranking out big hits like “Better Things To Do” and “Now That I Found You.”
After a bit of a dry spell, the Alberta, Canada, native stampedes onto the scene with this hit CD, featuring the comeback single “I Just Wanna Be Mad.” Pain To Kill is just one of those records that grows on you. “I Wanna Do It All” includes tequila shots in Tijuana and catching beads at New Orleans’ Mardi Gras festival. Terri still shows strength as a songwriter and a guitar picker. “Better Than You” is a real country gem strengthened by the vocal harmonies of Vince Gill. A-
Living Out Loud –
Just when you thought Nashville had reached its quota of Canadian imports, here’s another talented singer from Texas North, better known as Alberta. This crafty singer recently burst onto the American scene with his debut single, “You Can’t Hide Beautiful,” which is truly a beautiful ballad.
Teaming up with producer Chris Farren (Deana Carter, Kevin Sharp), Living Out Loud is a throwback to the monster country ballad CDs of the mid-’90s. Lines creates a set that sounds and feels great. It doesn’t hurt that his youthful looks will make more than one woman smile. “Love Changes Everything” is an uptempo marvel that makes you think for a moment that Mellencamp has taken over the building. With Lines co-writing most of the 11 tracks, including “You Get The Picture,” “Old Days New” and the title track, you get the picture that this young talent is more talent than young. B+
Cross Canadian Ragweed –
Cross Canadian Ragweed
This hard-touring country/rock group hails from Oklahoma, and not the Great White North. Theirs is a blend of high-octane electric guitar kickers, bluesy movers and a virtual blend of musical maestros.
CCR, not to be confused with the epic Southern rock band with the same initials, came up with their unique name through a hodgepodge of its member’s names. Lead singer Cody Canada gets things jumping on “17,” a tune that leads one back to the good ole days. “Suicide Blues” has touches of the Delta all over it, something we all can connect to. “Walls Of Huntsville” is also worth rocking to. The rest of the package is not as stellar. C
Bering Strait –
Now you can put the final nail in the coffin. The Cold War is officially over with the release of country music’s first act from Russia. Bluegrass pickers Bering Strait and their Universal South Records debut are notable indeed. Mr. Gorbachev, thanks for tearing down that wall.
The six-piece country band is composed of classically trained musicians in their 20s. A 2003 Grammy nod for best country instrumental has already given the comrades a nice portal. Besides killer tracks like “What Is It About You” and “When Going Home,” Bering Strait puts on a show with the instrumental pieces “Bearing Strait” and “Porushka-Paranya,” a Russian traditional song. “Like A Child,” co-written by Carolyn Dawn Johnson, closes this monumental Russo-American concoction. B