Music Reviews: A perfect 10

Cowboy Town – Brooks & Dunn
Since they stormed onto the scene in 1991 with “Brand New Man,” Oklahoman Ronnie Dunn and Louisianan Kix Brooks have become the most-awarded act in ACM and CMA history, charting 23 No. 1 singles and selling more than 30 million records along the red dirt road.

The latest CD – B&D’s 10th studio album – features the hit single “Proud of the House We Built,” which Dunn had a hand in writing. The duo produced Cowboy Town, with help from old pal Tony Brown. “This really is kind of like cowboys meet the Rolling Stones,” Dunn explains. “There’s a bunch of fun stuff on there. And it sounds different than anything we’ve ever done.” You can’t go wrong with these lovable guys, and this record ranks right up there with its predecessors. A

My Kind of Country – Van Zant
Southern Rock is just an offshoot of good ol’ country music. Naturally, brothers Johnny (Lynyrd Skynyrd) and Donnie (.38 Special) Van Zant were confident when they recorded their 2005 country debut, Get Right With the Man. A gold-certified CD and a Top 10 single proved fans were indeed eager to hear the unique country sound of the siblings from Jacksonville, Fla. “It was always our dream to record together on a country album,” says younger brother Johnny.

“Yeah, and putting out another country record is like icing on a really cool cake,” Donnie says. And My Kind of Country is really sweet. The Van Zant boys helped write six of the 11 cuts on the new disc, which was produced by Mark Wright and Justin Niebank. Some of Nashville’s top tunesmiths have songs on this effort, including Rivers Rutherford and Bob DiPiero. B

Wagonmaster – Porter Wagoner
He may be pushing 80, but country music legend Porter Wagoner’s still got a lot of spring in his step. The Missourian, with his trademark rhinestone Nudie suits, high-swept silver pompadour, rail-thin frame and spectacularly weathered face, is an icon in Music City. A 50-year member of the Grand Ole Opry, the singer has been instrumental in the decades he’s been in the business, from having his own national TV show to helping out an unknown Dolly Parton.

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Wagonmaster is a 21st century exclamation point for Wagoner. Teaming up with fellow singer/Opry member Marty Stuart as producer, this record is a great curveball to the scores of discounted albums available of old forgettable songs the singer made 30-something years back. “Who Knows Right From Wrong,” “Eleven Cent Cotton” and “A Place to Hang My Hat” are gems. Nicknamed “The King of Country Gospel,” the sequined singer does a wonderful job on “Satan’s River.” “Committed to Parkview” is a song Johnny Cash wrote in the early ’80s, just for Wagoner. Welcome back, Porter! A-

Greatest Hits – Trisha Yearwood
Patricia Lynn Yearwood Brooks has had an impressive 16-year reign in country music. From her debut “She’s in Love With the Boy,” to “XXX’s and OOO’s (An American Girl),” the 43-year-old singer from Monticello, Ga., has blasted through the years with her amazing voice and talent. But can you believe she’s never released a genuine greatest hits album?

Trisha Yearwood fans are now in luck, as MCA Nashville has put together 17 of the songstress’ best on one CD, including the two aforementioned hits. Go back to the early ’90s and relive “Walkaway Joe,” “Like We Never Had a Broken Heart,” “The Song Remembers When” and “Wrong Side of Memphis.” Fast-forward to the late ’90s, with hits such as “Believe Me Baby (I Lied)” and “Powerful Thing.” “Everybody Knows” this compilation is one you’ll certainly keep spinning in the rig. B+

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