Garrett Makes Comeback

On the Stage
Pat Garrett

Not since Pat’s hit “Sexy Ole Lady” from How’s Your Love Life some 18 years ago has the Pennsylvania man had such a great hit! Pat’s newest album, On The Stage, features two of his new hot singles: “Old Timers,” an upbeat tribute to classic country music performers; and his hit, “In the Blue Mountains.” This song makes me want to drive through the mountains listening to his voice – smooth, deep and melodious as ever.

Not on On the Stage but worth noting, Pat’s new patriotic single, “If You Love America,” is his personal response to the Sept. 11 attacks. Coordinated with the local American Red Cross, the profits from the sale of this CD single will go to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
Grade: B

Divide and Conquer
Danni Leigh

Danni’s first release on Audium Records is Divide & Conquer. Danni arrived in Nashville in 1994 and had years of disappointment, but this album doesn’t represent one of them. She says, “Songwriting is a very important form of expression for me,” and she can indeed express herself.

Danni’s album has 11 songs that showcase her throaty voice. “Last Train to San Antone” is one of Danni’s favorite songs, and it definitely highlights the album. The title song, “Divide & Conquer,” is vocally challenging for her and shows her limited range, but “Sometimes” has a tinge of the blues and it is perfect for her hard-edge vocal. You have to have endured disappointments and heartache to sing the blues like she can. The true highlight is “House of Pain,” and it is hardcore country music. Danni shows her true country roots in this album.

Divide & Conquer is really refreshing. No matter what style of country music you like, you will enjoy this latest album, and the guys tell me she ain’t bad to look at either.
Grade: B-

Once in a Lifetime
Len Doolin

Len Doolin is a traditional country artist with new country flair. The Kentucky-born-and-raised artist is a self-taught guitar player who follows the edgy style of the country music that he grew up with. He began performing young and at age 12 became a member of the Musicians Union. Doolin describes himself as a “good ole boy” who loves to interact with the band members and the crowd in a live performance and just have fun.

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Doolin demonstrates the Kentucky musical influences and zest for the more traditional country lyrics and sound on his latest CD, Once in a Lifetime. The album contains 12 songs that range from up-tempo, catchy, humorous tunes to emotional ballads. “Girl with a Bass Boat” is a fun song with a Cajun beat that steals the show on this album. Doolin co-wrote the album’s first single, “Breaking What’s Left of My Heart,” a lighthearted look at a serious situation between male and female. “Redneck Relapse” reminds us all of a friend we have had at one time or another. The patriotic “There Ain’t No Yellow in the Red, White & Blue” has a boogie-woogie beat that will keep your toes tappin’.
Grade: C+

Simple Path
Irene Kelley

As the album title suggests, simplicity is the key here. Glitz sells more records these days, but Irene Kelley is not a flashy thing. The singer and songwriter has had her songs voiced by Trisha Yearwood, Ricky Skaggs and The Whites. Kelley, who hails from Pennsylvania and didn’t pick up a guitar until she was 19, arrived in Nashville more than a decade ago and has a voice as pure as mountain spring water, sung with a hillbilly heart.

“Ole Mexico” highlights the album, along with “Dancin’ Shoes” and “Constant State of Grace.” Her songs of the disappointments and sweetness of everyday life are a warm collection of bluegrass-tinged country music that is hard to find now.

Mindy McCready Does It Again
As I write this article, my first for Truckers News, all of us are preparing for the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, Ky., this month. I will be fortunate enough to spend some time with Capitol recording artist Mindy McCready, as she will be our opening-day guest as a part of the Midnight Trucking Network’s Mid-America Jamboree. I’ve been a fan since she hit in a big way with her debut CD, Ten Thousand Angels, in 1996.

I’m anxiously awaiting McCready’s latest self-titled album, and I had the chance to hear her first single from that album, called “Maybe/Maybe Not,” written by Mila Mason and Jim Collins. Right off the bat, the song catches you with an infectious acoustic guitar riff, backed by a light, snappy beat. In the radio business, the so-called experts say a hit song needs a hook, and trust me when I say “Maybe/Maybe Not” certainly has one from the very first beat. But it’s not just the song that hooks you, it’s the way McCready playfully delivers the tune in which she is questioning whether certain signs are telling her to go back to her boyfriend. The song doesn’t have a traditional country feel to it, but it is hip, catchy and best of all, positive.
Grade: A