Willie Nelson Is First Place This Year With “Last Man Standing”

Courtesy: Sony Legacy

Country music is big business nowadays.  One need only look at shows like The Voice and America’s Got Talent to see that.  Also, look at the ratings for the Country Music awards shows that air on television every year, as well as the overall record sales and the glut of country music stations airing the past, present and future of the genre nationwide.

Keeping in mind the popularity (and ongoing success) of said genre, it is only fitting for the genre to get its own list of the year’s top new albums.  Phil’s Picks has compiled its own list of those albums, and it — like the noted radio stations — features a who’s who of country music’s past, present and future.

Topping this year’s list is Willie Nelson’s new album Last Man Standing.  The “Red-Headed Stranger” is in fine form in this latest offering, contemplating mortality, friends lost along life’s long road and some other, deeper topics.  Musically speaking, Last Man Standing is just good, old-fashioned country; everything that country music purists enjoy.

Second on this year’s list is fellow country musician John Prine and his new album The Tree of Forgiveness.  The soul in his lyrical themes and his performance make this song so powerful.  It is an album that every country music purist needs to hear.

Taking the third spot in this year’s list is Shooter Jennings, Waylon’s boy.  Shooter is everything that audiences have come to expect from him over the course of his career.  Yet again, listeners get more growth both musically and lyrically from the outlaw country musician that continues to place Jennings in his very own place separate from his contemporaries.  Again, this is another must for those who want to avoid all of the pop country that currently pollutes the country music scene today.

Moving on, the rest of this year’s list features some unexpected names and some more familiar names mixed in for good measure.  As always, the list features 15 total names and titles.  The top 10 are the best, and the next five are honorable mention titles.

Without any further ado, here is the Phil’s PIcks 2018 top 10 New Country Music Albums list.

PHIL’S PICKS 2018 TOP 10 NEW COUNTRY MUSIC ALBUMS

  1. Willie Nelson — Last Man Standing
  2. John Prine — The Tree of Forgiveness
  3. Shooter Jennings — Shooter
  4. Old Crow Medicine Show — Volunteer
  5. Jason Charles Miller — In The Wasteland
  6. David Michael George — 1,000 Yard Stare
  7. Eric Church — Desperate Man
  8. Pistol Annies — Interstate Gospel
  9. Kenny Chesney — Songs for the Saints
  10. Brothers Osborne — Port Saint Joe
  11. DeVotchka — This Night Falls Forever
  12. Dierks Bentley — The Mountain
  13. Devin Dawson — Dark Horse
  14. Patricia Vonne — Top of the Mountain
  15. Sugarland — Bigger

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.

Positive Lyrical Themes, Varied Musical Arrangements Make Vonne’s Seventh Album Well Worth Hearing

Courtesy: Bandolero Records

Multi-talented performer Patricia Vonne is set to release her latest full-length studio recording later this month.  Top of the Mountain, Vonne’s seventh full-length studio recording, is scheduled to be released May 25 via Bandolero Records.  Regardless of listeners’ familiarity with Vonne’s musical body of work, it suffices to say that this record will generate its own share of interest from any listener.  That is thanks to the tejano, country and southern rock influences in the songs’ arrangements and the lyrical content delivered throughout.  The joining of those elements makes the album in whole worth at least one listen.

Patricia Vonne’s latest full-length studio recording Top of the Mountain is an interesting new effort from the veteran musician/actress.  As noted, that is due to the combination of the various musical influences exhibited throughout the album and its lyrical content.  ‘Citadel,’ the album’s second entry is just one of the songs that serves to support that statement.  The clearly southern rock influenced arrangement lends itself to comparisons to compositions from the likes of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, Pat Benatar and other similar classic female rockers.  It’s a driving rhythm that easily works itself into listeners’ minds and sticks there.  The song’s lyrical content creates its own interest as Vonne sings, “Come on baby/Let’s ride the streak of lightning/Blaze that trail/Move the citadel/It’s a long hard road/Just to get to heaven…no paint by number game/This world is changing/Hands are tied/I’ve seen hatred lead the blind/Out of darkness comes a light/No more anger/No more lies/Citadel.”  This lead verse is interesting because of the hope presented here.  That hope is hinted in the verse’s end as Vonne sings of light coming from darkness and no more lies and anger.  That light is a positive driving force that helps to end those lies and hatred.  From here, Vonne goes on to sing about looking forward instead of back to the past and of listening to one’s heart.  It is a positive message that any listener will appreciate.  When this message is set alongside the bittersweet sound of the song’s arrangement, it becomes even more powerful.  When the two elements are joined, they make clear why this song is just one example of why Vonne’s new album is an interesting new offering from the veteran performer.  It is just one of the entries that shows what make the album interesting.  ‘Cancion De La Boda’ is another example of why this record is worth the listen.

‘Cancion De La Boda’ (translated roughly to ‘Wedding Song’ in English) is sung entirely in Spanish.  Not having a lyrics sheet to reference with this review, and not speaking or writing English very well, it is difficult to know precisely what Vonne is singing here.  Though, there is a seeming mention more than once of the phrase besame, which translates roughly to English as meaning “kiss me.”  Keeping that in mind with the rest of the song, it can be inferred that the song’s subject is singing quite happily to a certain love interest of his/her love for that other person.  The light, flowing Tejano style arrangement presented here, complete with accordion, makes this song another strong entry that any listener will enjoy regardless of comprehension of Spanish.  Vonne’s happy vocal delivery and equally happy arrangement makes clear that this is just such a happy work that serves even more to show why Top of the Mountain is another offering from Vonne that is worth at least one listen. It still is not the last of the album’s entries that serves to support that statement.  ‘Lekker Ding’ is yet another example of what makes this record worth hearing at least once.

‘Lekker Ding’ stands out on this record in part due to its arrangement.  The arrangement in question is one that will put a smile on the face of any blues-based country music fan and even that of any old school country purist.  Vonne has tapped into something special here, with the song’s piano line, guitar twang and even here own happy vocal delivery.  What’s more, that arrangement, when joined with Vonne’s own vocal delivery, conjures thoughts of Shania Twain.  The same can be said of the song’s lyrical content, which interestingly could also be likened to Bonnie Raitt’s take on Stevie Ray Vaughn’s ‘Sweet Little Thing.’  Vonne sings here, “He’s my boytoy lover and major crush/I love my baby cause he gives me a rush/He’s as sweet as sugar can be/He’s got my heart lined up by a string/He’s my sweet thing/tames my mood swing/He’s my lekker ding.”  From here, she goes on to compare her man to beef, a well-aged wine and much more against the song’s light, SRV/Shania Twain style arrangement, easily putting a smile on any woman’s face.  At the same time, that arrangement is just as certain to put a smile on the faces of any man and woman.  It is just a fun song all the way around that is certain to be a fan favorite both in record and live.  In other words it is easily one of the album’s highest points, showing once more why the album in whole is well worth hearing even if only once.  It most certainly is not the last of the album’s entries that serves to support that statement, either.  The almost ZZ Top/George Thoroughgood style arrangement of ‘City Is Alive’ and its equally fun lyrical content that seems to center on the fun of being in the big city is another song that audiences are certain to enjoy.  ‘Illuminaria,’ stands out because Vonne’s vocal style easily could be likened to that of the one and only Shakira.  At the same time, there are moments that also lend themselves to comparisons to Paula Cole.  This is all just this critic’s interpretation of course.  The album’s title track is another country/folk hybrid that fans of that genre are sure to enjoy.  It’s uplifting lyrical content, which seems to center on a people not giving up on fighting for what’s right adds even more enjoyment to its whole.  ‘Graceland Trip’ obviously lends itself to thoughts of the King himself, one Elvis Presley.  This applies both musically and lyrically.  It is an upbeat arrangement that is certain to entertain audiences of all ages in its own right.  It’s just one more way in which Top of the Mountain proves itself worth hearing.  When joined with all of the other noted works – and even those few not raised here – the whole of the songs shows without doubt that Top of the Mountain will most certainly help make Vonne’s journey to the top that much easier.

Patricia Vonne’s new full-length studio recording Top of the Mountain is a work that no doubt, will most certainly help make her journey to the top of the music industry mountain a little bit easier.  That is proven from start to end thanks to the variety of arrangements and lyrical topics tackled throughout.  From the light rock vibes of ‘Citadel,’ the album’s opener and its thought-provoking lyrical theme that seems to send a message of not giving up in life, to the far more light-hearted and celebratory ‘Cancion De La Boda’ to the equally musically and lyrically upbeat ‘Lekker Ding’ – which clearly lifts from Shania Twain and Stevie Ray Vaughn – and beyond, this record offers plenty for listeners to appreciate.  That includes the driving rocker that is ‘City Alive,’ the Paula Cole-esque ballad that is ‘Illuminaria’ and the clear tribute to Elvis Presley in ‘Graceland Trip.’  Between all of these songs, and those not more directly discussed here, the whole of the 11-song, 34-minute record proves to be a presentation that is certain to help make Vonne’s climb to the top of the music industry mount that much easier.  Top of the Mountain will be available May 25 via Bandolero Records.  More information on Top of the Mountain is available online now along with all of Patricia Vonne’s latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://patriciavonne.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/PatriciaVonneMusic

Twitter: http://twitter.com/patriciavonne

 

 

 

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment reviews and news in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.