Biloxi Cowboy Rides Again

After the Storm
Chris LeDoux

Did you know that the epitome of the cowboy singer was reared in lovely Biloxi, Miss.? (Lucky for LeDoux it’s more challenging to wrestle bulls in Wyoming than lobstersalong the Gulf Coast.) He nearly died in 2001 of liver disease, and his remarkable recovery is enough reason to celebrate After the Storm.

Unlike a lot of the C. LeDoux projects of late, this one is a real gem. Old pal Garth Brooks appears on the opening cut, a pretty song Brooks wrote called “Some Things Never Change.” The cowboy crooner keeps on singing the good stuff like “I Don’t Want To Mention Any Names” and “Daily Bread.” Thanks goodness this guy’s still got it going on, and we can keep looking for more after this storm subsides.
Grade: B+

When You Lie Next To Me
Kellie Coffey

Forgive me, but I can’t help but think of the movie The Green Mile when I hear Kellie’s name. In the Tom Hanks flick, the gigantic criminal “John” says “Name’s Coffey – like the drink – only spelt different.”

Before hitting it big in Music City, this Oklahoma newcomer was working at Disneyland in California and singing backup for Barbra Streisand. Kelly’s voice resembles that of a slew of country dames. But, luckily, this disc is a plethora of quality music, like the debut single/title track “When You Lie Next To Me.” This number has a powerful, lyrical melody, and country radio has embraced this leadoff endeavor. K.C. sings a duet with Lonestar’s Richie McDonald, “Outside Looking In,” and reels out loud on “Why Wyoming.” If you want to catch a new country artist that’s got that certain oomph, pour on the Coffey.
Grade: B

Waitin’ On Joe
Steve Azar

The Mississippi Delta is a tapestry of cultures – European, African, Chinese, Lebanese, Jewish, Mexican. Greenville, on the mighty Mississippi, is the home of authors such as Shelby Foote, countless blues musicians and Steve Azar. This man handles the mix of cultures with musical ease, and his ship is finally coming in with the hit single “I Don’t Have To Be Me (‘Til Monday).”

Azar, 37, has been belting out his Delta Country sound for years, even landing a minor label deal in Music City five years back. With his Mercury Records debut, he has got a winner. The Magnolian teamed with hit producer Rafe Van Hoy to compile an 11-track set that covers some of the Delta’s and America’s styles. One minute you’ll hear a blues-flavored harmonica, then New Orleans gem Sonny Landreth’s slide guitar kicks in. “One Good Reason Why” is a great tune that mixes all of the genres into one. The title track is a powerful song originally written for his older brother and business manager, Joe. Steve Azar has the voice, style, looks and personality to be a big star, and with a hit tune under his belt, this Mississippian may one day rank right up there with fellow homestaters Twitty, Pride and Presley.
Grade: A-

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems
Kenny Chesney

I don’t get it. How can a short, virtually bald “hillbilly” from East Tennessee become one of the hottest male acts in the format these days, second only to that tall, virtually bald fellow from Louisiana, Tim McGraw? Only in America, I reckon. Who other than Ray Stevens could put out a record with such a precarious title? Maybe it’s just that me and a bunch of other guys are envious of this feller who’s got a legion of hot ladies chasing him and his music.

No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problems is a Who’s Who of Nashville’s top singer/songwriters showcasing their work, people like Paul Overstreet, Dean Dillon, “Whispering” Bill Anderson and Skip Ewing. Skip co-wrote “I Can’t Go There” with Chesney, and this thing ain’t too shabby. “Young” is a hit track that gets the Generation X gang grooving, reminiscing about the ’80s and ’90s. Others worth a listen include “Big Star” and “Dreams.”
Grade: C+