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From Nashville, With Love (07/02/99) Write to CD Shakedown

Trio II coverEmmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, and Dolly Parton, Trio II (Elektra/Asylum 1999) - Here's an album with a strange past. Trio II was recorded five years ago, but is just now seeing the light. With the strength of these three singers, Trio II has its rewards, and deserves to be heard.

Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, and Dolly Parton have made a large impact on country and pop music during the past two decades, with the threesome appearing regularly on each other's projects. They began working on the first Trio album in 1978, although the project was not finished until 1987. Trio II was recorded five years later in San Francisco.

Linda, Emmylou, and DollyExplains Linda, "The sum is greater than the parts. It's like standing in a room full of mirrors--our voices reflect off one another and take on the characteristics of the other." Adds Emmylou Harris, "We each have our own paths and yet there is this vehicle for three women to sing together. It inspires us. Trio is drive by the love of the song and the love of our harmonic opportunities."

Emmylou HarrisLinda recognized those harmonic opportunities, as four of the ten songs that comprise Trio II also were released on her 1995 album, Feels Like Home. The songwriting talent is first-rate, and includes "After the Gold Rush" (by Neil Young), "Lover's Return" (first recorded by the Carter Family in 1934), "I Feel the Blues Movin' In" (by bluegrass favorite Del McCoury), "Feels Like Home" (written by Randy Newman for his 1995 concept album, Faust), and "When We're Gone, Long Gone" (by Kieran Kane and his former O'Kanes partner Jamie O'Hara).

Dolly PartonTrio II is a solid recording, as you would expect from these three studio veterans. Yet it lacks a particular spark, as if the stars couldn't find their focus.

Explains Emmylou, "I don't know if any of us thought it would ever come out. Maybe after we were dead or something. But it was a lovely record and I guess someone at the record company heard it and went, 'Wow, let's just put that out.'"

Linda, Emmylou, and Dolly deserve all the plaudits they've earned. Fans will enjoy Trio II.

Chely Wright coverChely Wright, Single White Female (MCA Nashville 1999) - Rising country star Chely Wright returns with her second album for MCA, Single White Female. Showing increased maturity and understanding, the new album finds Chely heading into broader territory.

A native of Kansas City, Chely earned cast membership in the "Country Music U.S.A." show at the Opryland Theme Park in Nashville (which park is currently closed until the year 2000) at age eighteen. A natural comic and a gifted mimic, Chely portrayed Loretta Lynn, Minnie Pearl, and other country heroines.

Chely WrightChely was named "Top New Female Vocalist" at the 1995 Academy of Country Music Awards, but then found her career derailed in a series of corporate reorganizations. Signed by Tony Brown to MC in Nashville in 1997, Chely has worked hard to restore her position.

On songs like "The Love That We Lost" and "She Went Out for Cigarettes," Chely delivers heartfelt country ballads, while "Some Kind of Somethin'" is a more up-tempo number. Explains Chely, "The band says my voice is getting better and richer. I know my range has increased. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I was a girl singing back then and I'm a woman singing now. Life's experiences make you sing from a different place. I am emotionally connected with these songs."

Chely in concertMusicians include Steve Gibson on electric guitar, Glenn Worf on drums, Matt Rollings on piano, and John Willis on acoustic guitar. Guest appearances include Trisha Yearwood as harmony partner on "Single White Female," Patty Loveless on "Why Do I Still Want You?", harmony vocals by Alison Krauss on "Picket Fences" and Vince Gill on "It Was."

Adds Chely, "In the past, I've tried to avoid talking about my personal life. Now I know that the music you make is directly connected with your life experiences. I used to turn songs away that were too close to home. Not this time. This is the most honest record I've ever made. I've lived these songs."

A talented singer, and a friend of Nashville, Chely Wright has a bright future. Enjoy Single White Female.

Big Sugar coverBig Sugar, Heated (Capricorn 1999) - Big Sugar is one of Canada's best-known bands, racking up hit singles, gold and platinum albums, and a reputation as one of the country's loudest and most popular live acts. The new album, Heated, blends elements of 70's classic rock, reggae, and psychedelia to produce a solid mix.

Big Sugar features a power trio rock sound, with Gordy Johnson on guitar and vocals, Kelly Hoppe on keyboards, sax, and other instruments, and Garry Lowe on bass. Based in Toronto, Big Sugar released its first album in 1992. The band's lineup has changed over the years, but not their focus on the word "Big," as in big cars, big amps (Marshall stacks), and big guitar sound.

Big SugarHeated is focused on building American success for the group, and includes the Canadian No. 1 single, "The Scene," together with the top ten hits, "Better Get Used To It" and "Diggin' A Hole."

With its power cords and solid guitar work, Heated continues in the classic power rock sound, as updated by acts like Pearl Jam, while also remembering the classic sound of bands like Mountain and Steppenwolf. Listen also for the cover of the 70's hit, "Let It Ride" by Bachman Turner Overdrive.

Gordy JohnsonBig Sugar knows how to lay down a rock groove. Give a listen to Heated



- Randy Krbechek
© 1999

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