Down This Road – The Wrights

Down This Road – The Wrights
The fellow in this married duo, Adam, is Alan Jackson’s nephew, and the album is released on Alan’s boutique label (Alan’s Country Records) and co-produced by Jackson’s producer, Keith Stegall. Well, a little nepotism is all right every now and then.

Like Jackson, Adam and Shannon Wright write and perform songs that are full of plainspoken truths and understated humor. The Georgia couple share lead singing duties and some nice harmonies. They wrote all dozen songs on the debut disc. Uncle Alan shares guest vocals on “Leave a Light On.” Other gems include “You Got the Thorns,” “Roller Coaster” and “On the Rocks.” B+

Ride – Shelly Fairchild
“I’m a little bit country and a little bit rock and roll. I like being creative with my style,” declares knockout newcomer Shelly Fairchild. The Clinton, Miss., native is knocking out Nashville with her attitude, sound and yes, looks.

After attending Mississippi College, Fairchild journeyed to Music City to make her mark. Ride is the result of her brave journey. Shelly penned four of the album’s cuts, including the single “Tiny Town.” It’s Shelly’s own take of Alan Jackson’s “Chasin’ That Neon Rainbow.” She loves to kiss, and that shines through on “Kiss Me,” a song she co-wrote with ace songwriter Stephony Smith. A sexy debut, no doubt! A-

Honkytonk University – Toby Keith
This CD is an education of great music. Oklahoma-boy Toby Keith may not have a wall filled with degrees, but he’s got rooms filled with awards, including platinum records. You don’t have to have a piece a paper to win the hearts and minds of millions of endearing fans.

In recent albums “T.K.” has been taking political potshots, but he exchanges bullyboy bluster for a tone of wry bemusement on “Big Blue Note” and “She Left Me.” “She Ain’t Hooked on Me No More” is a duet with Merle Haggard. A softer side of Toby shines on “Your Smile” and “Where You Gonna Go.” “Just the Guy to Do It” is a fun track that pokes fun of blondes. B

You Ain’t Talking To Me [Box Set] – Charlie Poole
“The Patron Saint of Modern Country Music,” Charlie Poole was a hard-living banjoist, singer and innovator who died in 1931 at the age of 39. He set the stage for Jimmie Rodgers, Hank Williams and more, although he never received the same kind of fame for his groundbreaking work. This three-CD, 72-track box set from Columbia/Legacy Records is the first ever compiled on the North Carolinian’s music.

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This compilation comes packaged in a beat-up cigar box, which sets the tone of Poole and life in general back in the Great Depression of the 1930s. Disc One contains 24 tracks with the North Carolina Ramblers, including two unissued tracks. Songs such as “Don’t Let Your Deal Go Down,” “White House Blues” and “Old and Only in the Way” are highlights of this CD. Discs Two and Three feature multiple artists joining Poole, including Uncle Dave Macon, Arthur Collins and Big Chief Henry’s Indian String Band. For fans of country’s roots, this is a must-have. A+

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