Domestic Life - Stuff That Works - Walkin' Behind The Star - Hit The Ground Runnin' - A Lot Of Things Different - Mama's Rockin' Chair - Love In The Real World - Pocket Full of Crosses - Harmony - The In Crowd - Bread And Water - Sure
Before I got deeply involved in country music, during my college days I played a tenor-sax. Jim Horn does that in this new CD by John Conlee. I sort of dropped the sax to play 12-string guitar and harmonica in my efforts at keeping some of America's most beautiful rural music alive. Jim is doing that too, another time element perhaps, but the sax sounds great on the opening song 'Domestic Life.' Mr. Conlee is looking for the 'right' songs to record. His very distinctive voice has placed him at the top of the charts many many times, and here he is, still as strong, still as vivid, still as 'country' as he's always been. The messages in the songs he's recording is best represented in "Stuff That Works" which talks about blue shirts and boots. Typical 'country' and in my words the 'rural' approach to music. He does it well. I really like John's voice, I'm 79 years old and my hearing is beginning to fade, but I can understand every single word he is singing. That's not always the case with some of Nashville's new-country, which I don't hardly recognize any 'connects' with rural music anymore. John Conlee overcomes that quite easily, and uses his voice to make it understandable two ways, in the way he uses language and the way he uses confirmation of the words he sings. Mr. Conlee was just about at our annual National Old Time Country Festival in LeMars, Iowa this year (2015), to be inducted into America's Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame, but a conflict of dates occurred so he didn't make it, but we are sure holding the door open for him in 2016. Rob Ickes (a super bluegrasser) plays Dobro on this session, oooooh so sweet it is. Aubrey Haymie on fiddle keeps it country as does Mike Johnson on steel. Without these instruments in the swell of the music it really isn't country music anymore if they aren't present. It could be labeled city music, or at best suburban music, but it's not country music. John Conlee IS 'country music.' I really like Dirk Johnson's keyboard accordion sound on "Hit The Ground Runnin" wow, that really takes it back to an early country sound, terrific. And then on "Pocket Full of Crosses" his keyboard sounds like a huge Hammond Organ. How neat is that? Good song too, excellently written by Leslie Satcher. I'd like to hear John record "Far Side Banks of Jordan" some time, his voice and the words are a perfect match. Super super album Mr. Conlee, keep it up. You might think you are an older man, however your spirit and your recognition of great musical words and works make you a pretty neat young guy.
RECORD REVIEW BY BOB EVERHART - www.ntcma.net
for Country Music News International