Country Music's Newest Peach

My World
Cyndi Thomson

On May 16, I was asleep on a couch in San Antonio when the intriguing sound of a penny whistle suddenly jolted me. Cyndi Thomson’s “What I Really Meant To Say” was debuting on CMT, and the beautiful whistle sound is featured on this dynamo cut. The Georgia newcomer has quite an impressive album. She co-wrote several of the cuts, and her voice has a better-than-you attitude. You’ll dig it!

If you are wise enough to procure this CD, you’ll hang on to it and hoard it from your friends. The music is catchy, and the liner notes showcasing the dark-haired southern belle “ain’t” bad either. “Things I Would Do” is an upbeat kicker that showcases Cyndi’s attitude. “I’m Gone” is another mover. As a Sandlapper, I love the fact that “Hope You’re Doing Fine” talks about Charleston and the South Carolina coast. The tearful “I’ll Be Seeing You” winds up this dynamic disc. Look for a lot more from this south Georgia peach!
Grade: A

A Pretty Good Guy
Chris Knight

In the last few years Music City has seen its share of record labels go belly-up. One such icon was Decca, which recruited country-rocker Chris Knight to its roster before the doors were closed. His debut album was released on the label, but both the label and Knight vanished. Fortunately the pendulum of time has swung in Chris’ favor. The Kentuckian has a new label home, Dualtone, and an album that should raise a few ears.

Truckers will definitely get their kicks with “Highway Junkie,” with the lyrics, “These big wheels of rubber gonna rub her off my mind.” “Becky’s Bible” is a mixture of good rhythm and well-honed lyrics. This guy will remind you of Mellencamp, but trust me he’s no J.C.M., nor does he want to be. Anyone who has gone cruisin’ on a Friday night can relate to “Oil Patch Town.” Knight’s dark side emerges on “Down The River,” a stoic tale of murder. All in all, this collection is out there a bit, but the highlighted tracks make up for an otherwise average recording.
Grade: C+

Ten Rounds
Tracy Byrd

You can’t say that T. Byrd’s career has been booming lately. In fact, he’s been MIA from the top of the charts for a long time. Luckily, the Texas troubadour has not been KIA on country radio. His totally Texas style is still accepted by fans, and that’s a Lone Star blessing.

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As the unofficial outdoors expert in country music, Tracy is quick to pick up a rod or gun and hunt his favorite game. Ten Rounds is a 10-shot hunting expedition of little musical value. On this record, Tracy has a lot of misses, but the sportsman does land three 10-pointers: “Just Let Me Be In Love,” “A Good Way To Get On My Bad Side” (duet with Mark Chesnutt), and “Needed.” Byrd does an admirable remake of the Michael Martin Murphey classic, “Wildfire,” and a remake of his own smash, “Keeper Of The Stars,” is admirable as well.
Grade: C-

Room With A View
Carolyn Dawn Johnson

Just what Nashville needed – another visitor from the Great White North. As a college student, Carolyn Dawn Johnson used to journey from her native British Columbia to Music City in hopes of making it as a singer/songwriter. Her gamble paid off and she now joins fellow Canucks Shania Twain, Anne Murray, Terri Clark (and a few others) as country hitmakers. Her single “Complicated” was a mainstay in radio, and other tracks from this gem are sure to have equal success.

The blond crooner appears to have that earthy, simplistic musical style. C.D.J., as her close friends call her, is a powerful songwriter. She co-wrote every one of the 11 selections on this debut disc. The first track, “Georgia,” was the first single. Country radio missed the boat on this one; it’s a great upbeat, youthful tune. Johnson’s vocal phrasing is unique, and any time one can be unique is a splendid thing. Listeners will get their money’s worth, Canadian or U.S. dollars, when they hear “I Don’t Want You To Go.” The girl really sings her rear end off here. The title track is buried at the end of the CD, but it’s well worth the wait. One of the best aspects of country music is its ability to bring both laughter and tears. You’ll cry your eyes out on first listening to “Room With A View.” God bless Canada!
Grade: B+

This is BR549

These boys are talented, unique and full of energy. So why aren’t they megastars? Two reasons: They may be too different, and they have yet to find the right song to catapult their sound to the masses. This group got their start belting out rockabilly and retro country sounds on Nashville’s Lower Broadway bar circuit. After launching their career on the now-defunct Arista Austin label, BR549 is now teamed up with Sony and Paul Worley, who helped steer the Dixie Chicks. Is this the missing ingredient?

With their third studio album, BR549 has dropped a few things: their hats and their hyphen. On Arista, the band was known as BR5-49. Luckily, the sound remains true. In fact, truth is a major plus for this act. Unlike most musical stars in the recording studio, these fellows play their own instruments. Hats off, or on, to that! The song “Too Lazy To Work, Too Nervous To Steal” is the first single, and it’s cool. The animated shuffle “Fool Of The Century” is worth three minutes of your time, as is “Let’s See How Far You Get.”
Grade: B

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