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Kevin Fowler- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band- Connie Smith

Kevin Fowler
Chippin' Away

Average Joe's

Fowler plays modern country music with a Texas attitude and a great respect for traditional country sounds. Steel guitar and fiddle sweeten "Hell Yeah, I Like Beer," a sing-along set to a walking beat that's guaranteed to bring a smile to suds-lovers whether they're in the saloon or in the backyard. The song is typical of Fowler's blue collar, appeal-to-everyman style, and the inclusion of songs like the emotional "Daddies and Daughters" insures that the less-raucous members of the fairer sex will be rapt too. Montgomery Gentry, George Jones and Mark Chesnutt are just a few of the stars who've covered Fowler-penned material and he's written most of the tunes on Chippin' Away; with the album overflowing with radio-ready songs like "Big River," "Girl in a Truck" and the title track it won't be much longer before Fowler is firmly ensconced at the top of the charts with his own material.

Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Under the Big Top Vol. 1

NGDB Records

The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band is one of the most beloved of Americana bands and one of the longest running too; over the course of four decades the guys have produced many fan favorites and this E.P. presents half a dozen of them recorded live. John McEuen's banjo fuels the bluegrass of "My Walkin' Shoes," twangy guitar and harmonica propel "Fishin' in the Dark" down to the creek bed and the rollicking hoedown of "Bayou Jubilee" transports the listener to a Cajun country dance floor. Of course "Mr. Bojangles" is here; the Jerry Jeff Walker-penned chestnut joins "Tulsa Sounds Like Trouble to Me" and "Bless the Broken Road" in rounding out the E.P.

Connie Smith
Long Line of Heartaches

Sugar Hill

It's been fifteen years since this country mainstay has put out a full album of new material. Smith is married to country star Marty Stuart and the pair co-wrote many of the songs here, focusing primarily on a sound that was popular in the '60s when Smith first started having hits. "Pain of a Broken Heart" is a perfect example; the song bounces along to a walking bass line with twanging guitar and perky pedal steel parts that bring an upbeat feeling that belies the song's subject matter. Many of Smith's early fans may not be with us anymore but those who are should find Long Line of Heartaches very satisfying.

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