Tasteful and bittersweet guitar playing make Steven Palmer’s ‘Morning Road’ glow

Reviewed by Brooke Curtis

Steven Palmer/Morning Road

The title is apt because, if you’re traveling for an extended period of time, Steven Palmer’s Morning Road is what you want playing in your car. There are miles in Palmer’s voice; you can almost see the scenery that his mind has captured through the decades of his life. I love how the title track recalls Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home” at one point. Is it intentional? Perhaps or maybe unconsciously. Nevertheless, it fits the mood and meaning of the song.

Palmer is no hotshot acoustic gunslinger; this is a man that, if he had started recording albums such as this early in his life, we might be looking at him differently, such as an icon in his autumn years. Palmer’s songwriting and guitar playing are tasteful and bittersweet; each cut is crafted with feeling and poetic flair. The tropical “A Simple Man Needs a Simple Plan” invigorates with a summer glow while Palmer’s cover of Charles Johnson’s “The Dill Pickled Rag” has some stunningly beautiful crystalline riffs. Lovely.


Lisa Dudley EP offers heartwarming patriotism with old-school country


Reviewed by Carson James

Lisa Dudley/I Believe in America (EP)

To say that Lisa Dudley’s music sounds as if it was released decades ago is an understatement. One track in particular, “Bring ‘Em Home, Lord,” captures the mournful twang of vintage country so well that it gives me flashbacks to an era I never lived through. In other words, like those classic black-and-white films they air on cable TV, “Bring ‘Em Home, Lord” has a haunting time-machine pull. Dudley’s rhythm guitar, Bo Brown’s mandolin and dobro, and Jonathan David Brown’s bass sound as if they’ve just returned from a Patsy Cline recording session. Then there is Dudley’s voice – fragile, sobbing, and filled with Gospel yearning. The shocker is that the performance, the lyrics, and the music are all new. Take it into the context of the Iraq War, and “Bring ‘Em Home, Lord” suddenly hits the world of today.

While the other two cuts on this emotionally stirring EP, the title track and “Twenty-One Guns,” don’t have the retro rush of “Bring ‘Em Home, Lord,” there’s no denying Dudley’s country-gold singing style. Free from the bogus pop seasonings of many of today’s country artists, Dudley returns the genre to its roots with her singing alone. The patriotic bent of this CD might be too sweet and sentimental to youthful cynics, but it is heartwarming and always a joy to listen to.


Published in: on March 9, 2008 at 5:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Veteran touring musician Jim Hurst wows with his bluegrass picking

Reviewed by Jessica Shearer

Jim Hurst/Open Window

Bluegrass guitarist/singer Jim Hurst has one of the most impressive resumes you’ll ever see from an unsigned artist. Having performed with country superstars such as Travis Tritt, Trisha Yearwood, and Holly Dunn, Hurst is no greenhorn. That he has remained relatively unknown to the mainstream country world is not his fault but the lousy corporate machinations that has prevented this vibrant talent from being exposed to a larger audience.

If you don’t think that country radio has become a shadow of itself, listen to Open Window and hear what has been denied you the past couple of years. Combining original country songs with instrumentals and covers, Open Window doesn’t take the safe road; it is proudly eclectic with Hurst remaining true to his roots without any superficial turns for the sake of a buck. For purists and old-school country fanatics, this is a goldmine. The lovelorn “Nothing Like a Hundred Miles” transforms James Taylor’s folksy kiss-off into a vintage bluegrass number with impressive, mesmerizing guitar picking. The man simply lets his fingers rip, plucking each string with a surgeon’s skill and a magician’s sense of wow. On “Wheel Hoss” and “A Minor Infraction,” Hurst will leave you breathless and stunned with his dynamic playing.

Oddly enough, my favorite track is “I Can Tell You the Time,” a Gospel track with warm barber-shop harmonies as Hurst proves that he is versatile enough to color beyond the blue of bluegrass and the blues.


Published in: on January 12, 2008 at 7:16 am  Leave a Comment  
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