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Music Review: Gary Nicholson – Texas Songbook

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Gary Nicholson is a Texas-born and bred singer, songwriter, producer, and recording artist who has slid under the mass commercial radar for a number of years. That last fact is surprising given his two Grammy Awards, his induction into the Texas songwriters Hall of Fame, and the quality of the company he keeps: Garth Brooks, George Strait, Vince Gill, Delbert McClinton, Emmylou Harris, Bonnie Raitt, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and a host of others.

He learned the guitar at a young age and spent part of the 1970s as a member of Delbert McClinton’s backing band. He formed his own group, Hot Sauce, and began composing material for himself and others. By the mid 1980s he had relocated to Nashville and joined the roster of The Tree Publishing Company. He quickly wrote the number one country song, “That’s The Thing About Love,” for Don Williams. Dozens more country hits followed including “One More Last Chance” by Vince Gill, “The Trouble With The Truth” by Patty Loveless, “She Couldn’t Change Me” by Montgomery Gentry, and “When Love Get’s A Hold Of You” by Reba. He has been issuing his own albums since 1995.

He has now returned with a new album that delves into his Texas roots. Texas Songbook is a modern album that channels old time, traditional country music. While his lyrics run the gamut from love to anguish to songs about life, the music is preppy, catchy, and melodic.

He gathered a number of stellar musicians to assist him. Fiddle player Jason Roberts, drummer David Sanger, pianist Floyd Domino of Asleep At The Wheel fame are joined by bassist Kevin Smith, steel guitarist Tommy Detamore, and accordion player Joel Guzman, joining together to provide some of the better country music of the year so far.

The album’s first track establishes his style and the quality of his music. “Texas Weather” sets the tone of the album by its use of a fiddle and steel guitar to provide the instrumental foundation. It is foot-tapping country music as the lyrics make one think of the Texas prairie and bars.

“Fallin’ and Flyin’” and “Talkin’ Texan” are songs that would have made Bob Wills smile. They are from the country swing tradition, complete with accordion, fiddles, and steel guitar. It is music meant for dancing as well as listening.

The most creative track is his ode to Willie Nelson. The lyrics are composed of song titles and it all fits together into one of the best tribute songs in quite a while.

Gary Nicholson has released an album that contains well-produced and sophisticated music. Hopefully Texas Songbook will bring him some mass commercial success. A definite buy for country fans who want to take a chance.

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