Music Reviews: A son's tribute

He Believed – Aaron Tippin
Truckers can always count on a good Southern meal at Cracker Barrel. But it ain’t just the cornbread, sweet tea and turnip greens that are good for the soul. The new Aaron Tippin CD He Believed features six classic tracks and six recently recorded songs, including the title song, which is Aaron’s incredibly moving tribute to his father – and it’s only available at the Lebanon, Tenn.-based chain of roadside restaurants.

“Although this CD is dedicated to my dad, I hope it speaks to everyone who has had a mentor like he was to me,” says Tippin, who just turned 50. He and his wife, Thea, wrote several of the new songs on the record, including the title track. The song is a touching story inspired by the unexpected death of the singer’s father in 2005. The album also features a few of the South Carolina native’s past hits: “Working Man’s Ph.D,” “Whole Lotta Love on the Line” and “I Got It Honest.” B

Back When I Knew It All – Montgomery Gentry
Hard to believe, but Kentucky duo Eddie Montgomery and Troy Gentry have been on the charts for 10 years now, and this album is the guys’ seventh. And to think many of us thought they would always be labeled the “brother (Eddie) of John Michael” act.

The leadoff single and title track was the fastest rising single to date for the duo. In a twist, Montgomery Gentry decided to cut the new project in Memphis. “We were down in Ardent Studio, where a bunch of legendary, mostly rock ‘n’ roll acts had recorded,” comments Gentry. “We wanted to do something different. I think it came together well down there, and it shows.” Montgomery cowrote two of the 11 tracks, “God Knows Who I Am” and “One in Every Crowd.” The duo also invited some special guests to join them on vocals, Toby Keith on “I Pick My Parties” and Five For Fighting’s John Ondrasik on “Roll With Me.” B

Greatest Hits: Every Mile a Memory – Dierks Bentley
Dierks Bentley gave his fans creative control of his new greatest hits album by allowing them to handpick special content, cover art and the album title. And y’all did a good job. “2008 is all about the fans,” Bentley says. “I can’t think of a better way to get my fans involved than to have them actually act as executive producers of this record.”

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All 10 of Bentley’s Top 10 and No. 1 radio hits are included on this 17-track project. The 32-year-old Arizona star’s 2003 debut hit “What Was I Thinkin'” is track 11 on this collection. “Putting this album out is a way for us to mark the first five years with something special for the fans without spending too much time looking back,” the singer says. The album also includes two new tracks, “Sweet and Wild” and “With the Band.” Keep up the good work, Mr. Bentley. A

Jypsi – Jypsi
If you haven’t got a computer in the rig, you’re behind the times. And you are definitely behind the times if you don’t have iTunes. New country act Jypsi launched a digital release of its self-titled debut album a few months back. Now the Arista Nashville freshmen will see if the actual CD sells as well in record stores as it did in iTunes.

The four-member Illinois group, who’ve been performing since the band’s 16-year-old lead singer was only 3, have been described as “bluegrass-informed country with rock ‘n’ roll spirit.” This 12-song debut spotlights the depth of talent within Jypsi, all genuine musicians who play their own instruments, both in concert and on the album. Jypsi consists of four siblings from the Rische family – Lillie Mae (lead vocals, fiddle), Amber-Dawn (fiddle, vocals), Scarlett (mandolin) and Frank (lead guitar, vocals). Prime cuts include “I Don’t Love You Like That” and “Now That’s All Right With Me.” C+

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