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The upbeat state of music

Country Standard Time Editorial, March 2005

It's awfully easy to get down on the music business and complain about what's being played on radio and how airplay lists are ultra tight, and there's no good music out there, etc., etc., etc.

But after a traditionally slow late fall/winter period (who's going to put out music after the Christmas season onslaught when people are tapped out money wise?), the musical pulse seems to be picking up.

And music fans are going to be the beneficiaries.

Already this year, Lee Ann Womack proved she is back in the saddle with "There's More Where That Came From." By looking at the cover, one might thing this is retro a la 1960's. Yes, there is some of that, especially with her great singing, but fortunately Womack returned to harder country roots.

Newcomer Miranda Lambert shows her stuff with a mixture of sounds - pretty much keeping it country throughout though - on her major label debut "Kerosene." Lambert gained some acclaim a few years back from her performance on Nashville Star and has taken and/or been given the time to make one strong album.

Several albums that music lovers can look forward to are dropping soon. John Prine will be out with his first studio disc of original material in nine, yes nine, years! Buddy Jewell tries to avoid the dreaded sophomore jinx then and a few weeks later, Dierks Bentley does the same.

There could be a few sleepers in the midst of worthy albums that are country, but won't be heard on country radio since they're not that commercially bent. Chief among them may be Sarah Lee Guthrie and Johnny Irion with their new "Exploration" disc that is perfect for country listeners wanting something a bit left of center. The Wrights also sound real good. Now, cynics will say that the only reason they put out a record is that Adam Wright is Alan Jackson's nephew. Let's hope AJ has a lot more nephews who are musically worthy.

On the bluegrass side, there are a slew of real fine albums, including Larry Sparks' "40" where he shows he's been around the block and Rhonda Vincent's live disc, "Ragin' Live." Now usually live albums leave a bit to be desired - they simply can't match the power of being there, but Vincent has turned in one fine album with her usual excellent singing. And check out Charlie Daniels, who takes a different tack on "Songs from the Longlife Pines." He goes bluegrass gospel here to very fine effect.

The music is out there for your ears music fans. Seek and ye shall find some very fine music.