Tuesday, August 17, 2010
I ached to adore this album. A brother-sister team – writing their own stuff, toughing it out, quitting their money-maker jobs to sing country music – simply put insists upon instant adoration.
However, I don’t adore this album. I like it a lot, but I don’t adore it. Some of the songs are phenomenal, great writing, great music, the heart-grinding moan of the steel guitar (not used enough in today’s country music).
“My Kind of Beautiful” - Lee sings lead, with a great country thinck soun - a great set-opener, and album opener, fun and a fabulous show of vocal talent and range - such a nice sound when you first hear the female lead break in. “Trailblazer” is a great sing-along song. Poppy and feminist, it makes the Gretchen Wilson fans jump right in. “Run for Your Love” would make a great single - I ain't stoppin until you're mine. It’s a little poppy, but a good radio song if it didn't seem to drag a bit at the end. By drag, I mean it is just abit repetitive, the over and over keeps over and overing. They could cut out a bit of the end to make it perfect. “Those Were the Days”
let's release this come mid-September on the radio, and it'll get snatched up and loved - maybe we can have a radio version with about a minute less on there – same as with “Run.”
“The Ones He Left Behind” – I love this song. The lyrics are honest and simple. It has the comfort of Toby Keith’s “American Soldier,” without the American patriotism – they are Canadian, after all - yet still accessible to an American audience. It has more talk about the home-life of the soldier than the work life. I am also a big fan of the diction – it’s real poetry – There on the Front, on his mind are the ones he left behind, and then later the lyrics change to They’re on the front of his mind, the ones he left behind.
“Comin' Back Around” - a more contemporary sounding song, different sounds coming from Elaine, "you're not hauntin" - hear that? Wow. What can't her voice do? I don’t like “The Days Gone By.” It’s even more repetitive than some earlier ones, and a trifle on the trite side. With a title like “Everything I Ever Wanted,” you expect something other than a Mom song. I love mom songs. It’s a bit like “Letting Go” by Suzy Bogguss, but with a surprise ending. “They Shaped the Country” takes lyrics from a bunch of older country songs and makes them a new one, like Gary Allen’s “Songs About Rain.” That is never a bad idea, and their sounds fit it just right.
What more can you ask for in an album? It’s got traditional country sounds mixed with contemporary lyrics and themes.
Originality is what it needs more of. I can match up each of the songs with another of the past twenty years or so in theme, sound, style.
“Beautiful” – Andy Griggs – “My Kind of Beautiful”
“Trailblazer” – Gretchen Wilson in general
“Run for Your Love” – sounds a little too much like “I Run to You” – Lady A
“American Farmer” – Jason Aldean’s “Amarillo Sky”
I’m not saying they’re stealing stuff from other folks, I’m just saying that they are coming up with the exact same stuff that’s been done. It’s their own, of course, but they need something different – something new to jump out with if they want to make it to the big media.
All that said, here’s what I’m really all about. The lyrics. They are simple. Wait, you’re telling me we don’t have all triptychs, all long narrative songs? Nope. We’ve got some serious, simple lyrics. These may match up with some other songs, but the saving grace for The Roys is their simplicity. They don’t try to do too much. Their lyrics are straightforward. Thank goodness.
Now on to their sounds. The Roys are the only country duo (I said it, only) where male and female lead actually sound down-home-country-twang country. Elaine sounds a bit like Lee Ann Womack at times, clear as a bell and angelic. I cannot give comparison for Lee’s voice. Yes, folks, his name is Lee and they’re The Roys. Lee sounds like Lee Roy, and that’s new and thus exciting. I love the sound coming from Easton Corbin, since that means I don’t ever have to not have a George Strait in my lifetime, but I have already had my George Strait... So, move over copy cats, and let’s make way for Lee and Elaine Roy!
★★★ of ★★★★★