Monday, January 7, 2013

Fab Four January- A Quartet of Things TNS Is Digging

We start the second year of this monthly feature this month- a segment that is going to highlight four new, new to me, or recently rediscovered items that have made my own personal country music ESPN highlight reel over the last month. Some will be singles, some might be albums and some just might be a live performance or two from the past. It’ll be a little look inside the head of this mad-about-country-music-man.

And away we go....

1. Tom Skinner - "All You Can Do"

Outside of Oklahoma, Tom Skinner is probably a name you recognize only if you're a super-fan of someone named Garth Brooks. Brooks has recently been quoted as that he was to be first in line to buy this album from of his inspirations for his career. Inside Oklahoma, Skinner is a legend of a songwriter who has written and played about every corner of the state. He put out a long overdue album this past couple months and this stand-out track seems timely as can be with both sides of our government parties seemingly playing chicken with our futures.

2. Dolly Parton - "A Gamble Either Way"

One of my Christmas gifts was a nearly impossible to find England import 1983 album called Burlap and Satin. While Parton has sung some of my favorite all-time tracks, I discovered a brand new one that is added to the list in this 30 year old gem. Dark and gritty lyrics of an underage orphan having to use her body to sustain are contrasted with Dolly's ethereal voice and beautiful piano-driven instrumentation.

3. Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver - "Blue Train"

The last month has spent going through a lot more of my bluegrass catalog than normal as we've been culling our top bluegrass albums of 2012 for another site I write for at Engine 145. I keep coming back to this track released in 2006 on The Hard Game of Love. Frantic and frenzied, it highlights all the perfect qualities of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver with their amazing harmonies and unmatched musician skills.

4. Ashley Monroe - "Like a Rose"

Country music fans know Monroe best from being 1/3 of the group known as the Pistol Annies. She has a much-anticipated album being released early this spring and this was the first single released to the public. Deeply autobiographical, it highlights Monroe's struggles trying to make it in "the hard old road" known as the music business. Monroe's unique vocal delivery and beautiful storytelling make this track a terrific one.

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