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Shannon Brown - Corn Fed 
By: Cheryl Harvey Hill, Sr. Staff Journalist

By now, everyone has heard the story of what Shannon Brown refers to in several interviews as "divine intervention" but just in case you've been in another solar system for the past few months, let me relate the short version of this encounter. In 2004 Brown and her husband were escorted to the wrong seats at an awards show; seats which just happened to be next to John Rich and Big Kenny, who were also in the wrong seats. Brown and Rich, longtime friends, began updating each other on their careers and Rich mentioned that he had a song that would be perfect for her. The rest, as they say, is history and Corn Fed is the result of that auspicious meeting.

When the first single, "Corn Fed," arrived in my mail box a while back, I really liked what I heard and I was looking forward to hearing the whole album. Now that I've heard the entire album, itís a little perplexing. It isn't that I don't like several of the songs; I do. But the problem is that when the several songs I like are strung together on this album, they sound like one continuous song over several tracks. And although a double entendre is often funny, well, never mind.

The album is produced by John Rich and he co-wrote on eight of the thirteen tracks. Brown, an accomplished songwriter in her own right, contributed to seven tracks. Track one, a thirty second artistic intro, isn't a song; so eight of the twelve songs on the album are stamped by Rich; herein, may be the problem for me. Don't misunderstand me, I really like Rich and I think he is an amazing songwriter but I already have "Big and Rich" albums; I wanted to hear something different and let's be fair, Corn Fed certainly doesn't conjure up visions of blow-up dolls and freak parades. For me, the title implied some down-home, home-grown, solid traditional country music.

After a brief, thirty second intro, the album kicks off with the title track written by Brown, Rich and Vicky McGehee. It is a rollicking, foot stompin' ditty in the vein of "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy." The very next track is "Big Man;" same three songwriters. No problem with that except it sounds like the same song and even contains the line "his words of choice / of course / would you like to save a horse / and ride a cowboy tonight." Sound familiar? This point in the album conjured up a dramatic visual for me. I could see Brown and Rich in a hospital setting with an IV flowing between them; Rich giving a creative transfusion to Brown. Sadly, Brown was apparently unaware that she was already a talented and creative songwriter without Rich's DNA and although she may benefit from his current fame, by association, she really didn't need his artistic input.

Next track, "High Horses," sounded so similar to the previous two that I was getting a "drum headache." Ironically this song suggests that "we climb off our high horses" and not be so judgmental of the songs and singers. I actually took that message to heart and I do strive to be totally objective when I'm reviewing albums but it isn't always easy.

"Turn to Me" is a beautiful song and one of the best tracks on the album but it was at this juncture that I realized that it wasn't that the songs were all so identical, it was the way Brown was delivering them. On "Can I Get an Amen," I was reconsidering that observation but then "Something Good" began and the chorus reaffirmed that opinion for me and I hit fast forward about half way through "Good Ole Days" too.

"I Love 'em All" is a nice change of pace and one of the best songs on the album; both musically and lyrically while "Why" is unquestionably the most powerful song on the album and, in my opinion, the one (up to that point) that best showcases Brown's voice. "Pearls" is a great song about passing along pearls of wisdom from mother to daughter but the next track takes you right back to the angst induced by vocals stretching to the breaking point. I know that there are going to be a lot of folks who disagree with me completely but there is good news, since I can honestly end this review on a positive note.

For me, the final verdict on this album was definitely altered by the final cut; "Small Town Girl." Musically, this track was the only one that gave a clear indication of what Brown's voice sounds like when she is in her comfort zone and it was an irrefutable, positive, delight. She is clearly an incredible songwriter and if she records an album of true country music, in the vein of "Small Town Girl," I'd be the first one in line to buy it.

Corn Fed song list:

To purchase the CD online click on the album cover.

1. AM Radio
2. Corn Fed 
3. Big Man 
4. High Horses
5. Turn To Me 
6. Can I Get An Amen 
7. Something Good 
8. Good Ole Days 
9. I Love 'Em All 
10. Why 
11. Pearls
12. She Brings The Lightning Down 
13. Small Town Girl 

Related Links:
www.shannonbrown.com - Official Website 
http://www.myspace.com/shannonbrown - MySpace site

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