Music Reviews: Magic trio

Lady Antebellum – Lady Antebellum
Sometimes, people just naturally come together. Such is the case with new Capitol Records act Lady Antebellum, comprised of singers Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley and guitarist Dave Haywood. “It felt like magic,” says Scott, daughter of ’90s country star Linda Davis, on the trio’s coming together in Nashville in 2006. “We all felt more comfortable onstage together than we ever had alone.”

“Love Don’t Live Here,” the first single from Lady Antebellum’s self-titled debut, has already been a big success on the charts. It’s one of 10 songs the group had a hand in writing. Kelley, the little brother of pop star Josh Kelley (who married Grey’s Anatomy star Katherine Heigl in 2007), has a voice that showcases his Augusta, Ga., roots. He and Haywood have been pals since middle school, and their experiences together shine on the variety of songs offered on this CD (“Love’s Lookin’ Good on You,” “Things People Say,” “One Day You Will”). “Long Gone,” the only track not written by the group, is an outstanding tune that should be another hit on radio. A-

We Weren’t Crazy – Josh Gracin
It’s taken four years, but we finally have a sophomore album from American Idol Season II finalist Josh Gracin. “This album is more me,” says Gracin. “I was able to focus on making the album I wanted to make. For the first album, I was still in the service, so I had to fly in and out of Nashville to record when I could. This time around it had my undivided attention.”

Gracin’s Gold-selling debut had three consecutive Top 5 singles on country radio. We Weren’t Crazy allows audiences to take a more personal look inside the former Marine. He worked with producers Marty Williams and Brett James on the CD’s 11 tracks. The 27-year-old Michigan native co-wrote the title track. “This time around I got to dig in and share my stories as a songwriter,” he says. “I’m so proud of how this song turned out.” Other tracks to be proud of include “Let Me Fall,” “Sweet September” and “Unbelievable (Ann Marie).” B-

Prayer of a Common Man – Phil Vassar
Virginian Phil Vassar arrived in Nashville in 1987 and spent a good decade struggling to make ends meet on Music Row. But you gotta be in the game to play the game, and success came his way in the late ’90s with a string of monster hits for monster stars: Alan Jackson (“Right on the Money”), Collin Raye (“Little Red Rodeo”), Tim McGraw (“For A Little While” and “My Next Thirty Years”) and Jo Dee Messina (“I’m Alright” and “Bye, Bye”). He was named ASCAP’s “Songwriter of the Year” in 1999.

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So a natural progression was for the talented Southerner to try his hand at his own songs. The results were great, as he landed several No. 1 hits and sold a great deal of records, too. Now with a new label (Universal Records South), Vassar and his new batch of music is primed for more success. “Love Is a Beautiful Thing,” the first single, is doing well. The toe-tappers “My Chevrolet,” “Why Don’t Ya” and “Baby Rocks” are outstanding selections. It’s a beautiful thing that Vassar’s back on the air. A

Classic Chris LeDoux – Chris LeDoux
The late legend Chris LeDoux was a steadfast Westerner who sang firsthand of rodeo glory and pain while living the life of a bona-fide modern-day cowboy. Honoring his authentic and lasting legacy of cowboy songwriting, recording and performing, Capitol Records is now releasing a unique CD and DVD combo, Classic Chris LeDoux.

LeDoux wasn’t driven by the prospect of fame or money when he began pursuing rodeo professionally, or when he starting writing and recording his own music. He was always in pursuit of the world championship in bareback bronc riding, which he won in 1976. With more than 6 million albums sold, LeDoux’s music career flew high during his life and continues to resonate after his March 2005 death from a rare form of cancer at the age of 56. This new collection of 15 tracks is one all of his fans will enjoy listening to, as well as watching the 15 music videos packaged here – including the new video release “Ridin’ For a Fall.”