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CD Reviews:
The Listening Room: Kacey Musgraves, Breaking Benjamin, Leon Bridges, Trey Songz and more...

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

Posted: Monday, June 22, 2015

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Kacey Musgraves

"Pageant Material"

(Mercury Nashville)

Grade: A-

On her sophomore album, Texas singer-songwriter Kacey Musgraves offers quick reassurance for those worried that some of her pop dalliances -- like opening for Katy Perry -- might lead her astray from her country roots. "You can take me out of the country/But you can't take the country out of me," she sings on "Dime Store Cowgirl. "It don't matter where I'm goin'/I'll still call my hometown home." "Pageant Material" is, in fact, probably even more country than 2013's "Same Trailer Different Park," which netted Musgraves a pair of Grammy Awards and plenty of critical acclaim. Co-produced by Musgraves with Luke Laird and Shane McAnally, who co-wrote most of the album's 13 tracks (she also covers Willie Nelson's "Are You Sure," with Nelson guesting, as a hidden bonus track), "Pageant Material" is melody-driven, rootsy and easygoing, defined by ringing acoustic guitars, weepy pedal steel and rich harmonies. It's the sound of a group of musicians playing in a circle -- which is exactly how Musgraves and company recorded it at RCA's historic Studio A in Nashville -- from the lush, Patsy Cline homage "High Time" to the breezy title track, the Tex Mex-flavored "Family is Family" and the sweet-mannered "Somebody To Love." The album also features Musgraves' characteristically witty lyrics -- homespun on "Biscuits," sentimental on "This Town," unapologetically irreverent on songs such as "Family Is Family," "Die Fun" and the title track. "Good Ol' Boys Club" shows she's not to be messed with, and certainly puts you in her corner; any club Musgraves WOULD be part of is certainly one to join.

New & Noteworthy:

Breaking Benjamin, "Dark Before Dawn" (Hollywood): Founder and frontman Benjamin Burnley shows off the hard rocking quintet's all-new lineup on the group's first new album in six years.

Leon Bridges, "Coming Home" (Columbia): The raved-about Texas singer and songwriter's debut album makes good on the august comparison that have been made to Sam Cooke and other soul legends.

Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams, "Larry Campbell & Teresa Williams" (Red House): The married couple, key members of the late Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble Band, step out on their own with help from Little Feat's Bill Payne and Helm himself, posthumously, on the track "You're Running Wild."

Trey Songz, "Trigga Reloaded" (Atlantic): The R&B singer and rapper expands his 2014 album "Trigga" with additional material, including the singles "Slow MOtion" and "About You."

Richard Thompson, "Still" (Fantasy): The veteran singer, songwriter and guitarist made his latest solo album in Chicago, with Wilco`s Jeff Tweedy producing.

Wolf Alice, "My Love Is Cool" (Dirty Hit/RCA): The British rock quartet rides a wave of buzz into the release of its debut album after generating plenty of heat with early singles and high-octane live performances.

Also Out: Aristocrats, "Tres Caballeros Deluxe" (Boing!); Jim Brickman, "Pure Piano" (Green Hill); Bully, "Feels Like" (Columbia); Citizen, "Everybody is Going to Heaven" (Run For Cover); Steven Davis, "What Happened To Romance" (First Second); Desaparecidos, "Payola" (Epitaph); Jonathan Edwards, "Tomorrow's Child" (Rising); Danielle Hope, "Bring the Future Faster: Live at 54 Below" (Broadway); Imam Baildi, "II" (The End/ADA); Lyfe Jennings, "Tree of Lyfe" (Ral); Rickie Lee Jones, "Other Side of Desire" (Thirty Tigers); Tori Kelly, "Unbreakable Smile" (Capitol); Jimmy Lafave, "Trail Four"; (Music Road); Lindemann, "Skills in Pills" (Warner Bros.); Najee, "You Me & Forever" (Shanachie); The Orb, "Moonbuilding 2703 AD" (Kompakt); Pro-Pain, "Voice of Rebellion" (Steamhammer); Pete Rock, "Petestrumentals 2" (Mello); Dan Rodriguez, "Come on Home" (self-released); Jamison Ross, "Jamison" (Concord Jazz); Antonio Sanchez & Migration, "Meridian Suite" (Camjazz); Neal Schon, "Vortex" (Music Theories); Canaan Smith, "Bronco" (Mercury Nashville);

Sorority Noise, "Joy, Departed" (Top Shelf); Virgin Steele, "Nocturnes of Hellfire & Damnation" (Steamhammer); VNV Nation, "Resonance" (Virtual Label); Scoota Warner, "Vignettes" (self-released); John Zorn, "Pellucidarna Dreamers Fantabula" (Tzadik);

From The Vaults: Asia, "Asia XXX -- Live in San Francisco" (Frontiers); Eric Burdon & War, "The Black-Man's Burdon" and "Eric Burdon Declares WAR" (Avenue); Duran Duran, "Rio (Deluxe)" (Rhino/Parlophone); Jerry Garcia Band, "On Broadway: Act One -- October 28, 1987" (Round); Lowell George, "Last Tour: Radio Broadcast 1979" (Blueline); Rolling Stones, "From the Vault: The Marquee Club Live in 1971" (Eagle Rock); Stephen Stills, "Live in Concert: KBFH Portland Oregon 10-4-76" (Rox Vox); 311, "Archive" (Volcano/Legacy)

Soundtracks: Trevor Rabin, "Max" (Sony Masterworks); Various Artists, "Teen Beach 2" (Walt Disney); "The Visit (Original Broadway Cast Recording)" (Yellow Sound/Broadway)

New Music Videos: Bon Jovi, "In These Arms" (Blueline); Rolling Stones, "From the Vault: The Marquee Club Live in 1971" (Eagle Vision); Various Artists, "A MusiCares Tribute to Carole King" (Shout! Factory)

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