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Looking Back at 2008
By: Jim Moulton, CSO Staff Journalist

Well, another year has literally flown bye here in the world of Country and Americana music. It was another interesting year with lots of good stuff.

I took about six weeks off to review some boutique guitar pedals, just wanted to do something different and being a guitar player myself, I thought it would be fun and quite honestly, it was. I compared a Homebrew  CPR "Retro" compressor pedal vs the classic two knob Keeley compressor. Compressors give you some sweeter tones and some interesting effects, especially good for country music. I compared the pedals using different amps, speakers , headphones and also taking them to play at the church I play at, which has a very good sound system. In the end, The Keeley won out, because it gave more compression than the Homebrew, plus it was much better at thickening notes during a lead passage. Both pedals were very good, the Homebrew was more of an affordable pedal, yet still very nice tone, just note as good as the Keeley. I also reviewed an Eden Analog Nashville hot boost. This is a very good pedal for country players, it is somehow country voiced, just hit the pedal and you get that twang and hot sound of a country guitar, this is another pedal I would highly recommend. Also, thanks to Theo Hartman and Analog Mike Piera for their help in info about pedals. This review took up more time than I had hoped, but it was a fun, interesting project.

Well, taking a look at the music from last year, most of my top ten is Americana and Bluegrass, not too much in the way of Nashville country. Personally, I think it is time for something new in the country field, I think the music has grown stale in a lot of ways and too pop sounding. But, with the computer and Internet, plus satellite radio, there is no shortage of music. Allison Moorer did a very good CD of Dusty Springfield songs called Mockingbird. I really liked Tift Merritt's Another Country, a very interesting CD of great songs, she moved to Paris for a couple of weeks and just played and wrote music. The result was very good. I liked a new country singer named April Taylor, who had a sound out of the 70s with some very good country guitar. Brent Mason (top studio guitarist in Nashville) and his brother Randy made a very good CD called Smoking Section which was mostly instrumental. I really liked two new CDs by bluegrass gals Carrie Hassler and Melonie Cannon of Rural Rhythm Records. Second CDs for both of them and they were both very good. Patty Loveless and Lee Ann Womack both had great traditional sounding country discs.

My Top Ten;  

1. Sleepless Nights - Patty Loveless: Loveless continues to put out hi quality country music with her hubby Emory.

2. And The Wheels Turn - Melonie Cannon: Cannon's second CD is promoted better by her new label "Rural Rhythm". 

3. Smoking Section - Brent and Randy Mason: Brent and his brother Randy put together a great selection of songs from swing to country.

4. Through The Windows of A Train - Blue Highway: A great selection of songs from this contemporary bluegrass group

5. Two - Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain: Hassler's second CD is great, taking off from where she left at the end of her last CD.

6.  Call Me Crazy - Lee Ann Womack: Womack delivers the goods on a slow set of tearjerkers with a rich traditional sound.

7.  Another Country - "Tift Merritt: Very creative selection of personal songs.

8.  Wheels - "Dan Tyminski": Tyminski has an excellent set of bluegrass material that sounds a lot like AKUS.

9.  Mockingbird - "Allison Moorer": Selection of Dusty Springfield songs.

10.  Live - Mountain Heart: The group does a live set of their songs from The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

To visit Jim Moulton's website click here


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