Nashville Music Review

Showcasing the latest and the greatest Nashville related releases!

DON MCLEAN - AMERICAN BOYS: Mr. Don McLean had his major breakthrough in January of 1972 when his song from the album of the same name American Pie hit number-one in the U.S. for four straight weeks. Now, a half century later comes American Boys. Sure, boys like pie - nothing unusual there. What is a bit curious and courageous on McLean's part is that the subject matter of many of the record's 12 songs have a very binary connotation - at least where titles are concerned. The title track is in fact a straight up rocker and homage to the fathers of American rock 'n' roll with Don mining much of the musical history that occurred in the 50's. "Stone Cold Gangster" and "The Meanest Girl" are odes to relationships gone bad perhaps pulled from the tabloids that have documented McLean's own trials and tribulations through the years. "Vacant Luxury" finds Don doing his best Lou Reed impression as he veers into the world of anger-infused spoken word while a few of the other tracks make insightful post pandemic observations. Overall, the band is great, the musicianship top-notch and Don McLean is in strong voice. Clearly these are crazy times and the world has gone mad. But, Don McLean's music has helped us through turbulent times in the past - think Nixon and Vietnam. You might agree that on American Boys the heralded songwriter has dished up another helping of tasty numbers to help us navigate our current woes with a dose of music that still lives with vitality through a truly legendary figure. This one gets a thumbs up!

JASON MINTON - ROCK COLLECTION: Franklin, Tennessee's Jason Minton knows a little something about laying a solid foundation. On Rock Collection (Twenty Years), Minton has poured out a path that traces his start as a recording artist right up to the current day as he pays a powerful homage to the great Paul Rodgers on "All And The Day". Yes, Jason has chops and sometimes he vocally channels the likes of another Paul (Carrack) and Glenn Tilbrook of Squeeze to reveal how English New Wave and British-Based Blues influenced him most when he was a young musician. Along the way Minton is never afraid to put his faith on display with his family values often pushed to the forefront. Jason - having been born and raised just Nashville adjacent by musical parents - has exceptional and formidable songwriting skills that are durable to stand the test of time and this retrospective presents just the right mix to set that case in stone.

CHRIS BADNEWS BARNES - BADNEWS TRAVELS FAST: Chris "BadNews" Barnes has really found a home in Nashville - literally, figuratively and musically. On his latest BadNews Travels Fast, Barnes refines an already top shelf blues rock approach with some really cool cats like Tom Hambridge in the production chair and guitar great Walter Trout assisting. There are so many choice cuts here but it is safe to say the subject matter veers more heavy than hokum by pulling true life stories from the depth's of the singer's soul, personal life and a potentially murky past that tackle drug use ("Mushrooms Make Me A Fun Guy"), psychological disorders ("His Majesty The Baby") and marital infidelity ("True Blues"). On the album's 11 Nashville-produced tracks Barnes has found a groove that is deeply rooted in his strong commitment to playing the clown for the common man - and by doing so - he has never been more convincing. And, he has never sounded so good.

RICK MONROE & THE HITMEN - SIX GUN SOUL: Indie country and rock veteran Rock Monroe gathers a new band who are being called top-notch progenitors of "Blue-Jean" rock. His latest record represents a hard to argue with debut from his aptly and aspirationally named band - The Hitmen. You're going to hear a lot that reminds you of peak era Bon Jovi here - at least I know I did! But, RM&TH come out aiming for greatness on Six Gun Soul where they aren't afraid to wear their influences on their sleeves, either. They cite inspiration from Bocephus, Garth Brooks, Jim Croce, and the Eagles, to Judas Priest, Van Halen, REO Speedwagon and more to achieve a raucous blend of rock, country and southern rock genres. They hit the target with "Bad Stretch Of The Road", "God's Ear", "Looking" and "World's Gone Crazy" for sure - before bringing it all home in heart-warming style on "Which Way Is Home" to empty out the chamber. Hope there's a reload on the way.


Don McLean - American Boys

Jason Minton - Rock Collection

Chris BadNews Barnes - BadNews Travels Fast

Rick Monroe & The Hitmen - Six Gun Soul

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