Wednesday, February 04, 2015

PrizeFighter: Hit After Hit

Patricia Lynn ‘Trisha’ Yearwood was born on September 19, 1964 in Monticello, Georgia.  She is a member of the Grand Ole Opry and was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2000.  Some know her for her cookbooks and for hosting ‘Trisha’s Southern Kitchen’ on the Food Network.  Just last year, she released PrizeFighter (2014, Gwendolyn Records/RCA Records Label Nashville).  It contains six new songs and ten previous hits re-recorded.  The producers on the album are: Garth Fundis, Mark Miller, and Allen Reynolds.  Trisha says: “This album was about bringing together the songs that show what I’m all about”.

The title track, ‘PrizeFighter’, is a great adult contemporary song written by Jessi Alexander, Sarah Buxton, and Ross Copperman, and featuring harmony vocals by American Idol winner Kelly Clarkson.  It is about courageously facing life’s challenges head on: “When you hit the ground you find your wings/You go one more round when that bell rings/You say you’re done, but here you come/You’re a hammer hittin’ spittin’ fire/Prizefighter/When you’re sweatin’ from the fear/You look it in the eye/Turn the sound of defeat into your battle cry/Stakes are down, you’re outta luck/Look at you smilin’ with a shiner/Standin’ higher/Prizefighter”.  ‘Wrong Side of Memphis’ was penned by Matraca Berg and Gary Harrison.  It has an old country feel to it and is about a journey: “These cowboy boots are gettin’ kinda restless/Ain’t gotta single thing to lose/I’ve had this dream from a tender age/Calllin’ my name from the Opry stage/I can hear it sing loud and clear/200 miles and I’ll be there”.

David Campbell arranged and conducted the strings on ‘I Remember You’.  Trisha’s sister Beth Bernard contributes background vocals.  Those who’ve lost a loved one will best relate to these words: “I can picture you like a photograph/I can see your smile/I can hear you laugh/I don’t have to look back/I remember you/When I’m all alone, you’re all around/I tell you things, yeah I talk out loud/Ever since you left the ground/I remember you”.  ‘Walkaway Joe’ is a country ballad featuring Don Henley, a founding member of the Eagles, on harmony vocals.  It talks about getting involved with the wrong type of guy: “That boy’s just a walkaway Joe/Born to be a leaver/Tell you from the word go/Destined to deceive her/He’s the wrong kind of paradise/She’s gonna know it in a matter of time/That boy’s just a walkway Joe/Now just a little while into Abilene/Pulls into a station and he robs it clean”.

DeGarmo and Key drummer Greg Morrow plays drums and Ashley Cleveland’s husband Kenny Greenberg plays acoustic and electric guitar on the contemporary country song ‘End of the World’.  This one reflects on an ex-lover: “Right now I bet he’s looking so fine/By now she’s started feeling the wine/Right now he’s probably paying the tab/And they’re getting into a cab//I wondered how this would feel/Turns out it ain’t no big deal/It’s just the end of the world”.  ‘In Another’s Eyes’ is a moving duet with Trisha’s third and current husband, Garth Brooks.  It begins with these lyrics: “In another’s eyes I’m someone who loves her enough to walk away from you/I’d never cheat and I would never lie/In another’s eyes/In another’s eyes I can do no wrong/He believes in me and his faith is strong/I’d never fall or even compromise/In another’s eyes”.

‘Perfect Love’ is a happy, playful country song: “Sunday mornin’ when the paper comes/Let’s read it front to back and see what’s going on/Drink our coffee by the flower bed and talk about the stuff/That’s running through our heads/When you look at me the way you do/I can’t help but look right back at you”.  ‘How Do I Live’ written by Diane Warren is a highly recognizable inspirational ballad associated with the movie Con Air.  Jim Horn plays saxophone and Paul Franklin plays the lap steel guitar.  The song declares total dependence on another in the romance department: “How do I get through one night without you?/If I had to live without you/What kind of life would that be?/Oh and I, I need you in my arms, need you to hold/You’re my world, my heart, my soul/If you ever leave, baby, you would take away everything good in my life”.

‘Met Him in a Motel Room’ is a tender song penned by Rory Lee Feek and Jamie Teachenor.  It reminds us that God seeks after us: “With a bottle full of sleeping pills/And a long, long list of sins/She’d already planned on checking out/Before she checked in/She was gonna leave a goodbye note/Just needed paper and a pen/And with the vacancy light  blinking red/She found that Bible in the drawer beside the bed/Some people meet Him in a church service on Sunday/While the preacher says the perfect words/They bow their heads to pray/And the choir sings a sweet forgiveness tune/She met Him in a motel room (2X)”.  ‘She’s in Love with the Boy’ was Trisha’s first Number One single back in 1991.  The upbeat country song is conversational: “Her boyfriend Tommy is layin’ on the horn/Splashin’ through the mud and the muck/Her daddy says he ain’t worth a lick/When it comes to brains he got the short end of the stick/But Katie’s young and man she just don’t care/She’d follow Tommy anywhere/She’s in love with the boy (3X)/And even if they have to run away/She’s gonna marry that boy someday”.

‘Your Husband’s Cheatin’ on Us’ makes use of slide electric guitar, organ, strings, and more.  It is a terrific song about revenge: “I said/Oh honey, you’ll get over it/I said never mind those fantasies/Of cyanide or taking out a hit/And anyway it’s better don’t you think/To make him wish that he was dead?/Just promise me you’ll take that creep/For everything he’s ever had instead/I’ve got a Polaroid camera/And a room number down at the hotel nautilus/Where your husband’s cheatin’ on us”.  ‘Heaven, Heartache and the Power of Love’ was the title track of Trisha’s 2007 album.  This funkified country number was written by Clay Mills and Tia Sillers.  It is a song of ups and downs: “My old flame said/’I hate to break it to ya darlin’/I was born the leavin’ kind’/Left me standin’ in the drive cryin’/’Why baby, why baby, why baby, why?’/Aww but real love’s got me back in the saddle/Shoutin’ ‘Amen!’ again”.

‘Georgia Rain’ finds Trisha fondly reminiscing: “Just you and me down an old dirt road/Nothin’ in our way/Except for the Georgia rain.../And I don’t remember what was poundin’ more/Heart in my chest or the hood of that Ford/As the sky fell in and the storm clouds poured/Worlds away outside/The Georgia rain/On the Jasper County clay/Couldn’t wash away/All the love we made”.  ‘You Can’t Trust the Weatherman’ is a real foot-stomper using fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and B-3 organ.  Background vocals are handled by Morgane Hayes and Sonya Isaacs.  It is all about how unpredictable life is: “The man on the evening news/Promised sunny and 72/But, you can’t trust the weatherman/Makes his livin’ off a lucky chance.../One thing you can plan/You can’t trust the weatherman”.

‘XXX’s and OOO’s’ includes these words: “Slow dance, second chance, mama needs romance/And a live-in maid/Fix the sink, mow the yard/Really isn’t all that hard/If you get paid.../Well, she’s got her God and she’s got good wine/Aretha Franklin and Patsy Cline”.  The closing song is ‘The Song Remembers When’, a Hugh Prestwood creation.  It speaks of the power of music in our lives: “I was standing at the counter/I was waitin’ for the change/When I heard that old familiar music start/It was like a lighted match/Had been tossed into my soul/It was like a dam had broken in my heart”.

Trisha Yearwood is one of my all-time favourite female country vocalists.  She is like the previous generation’s Carrie Underwood.  The new songs on this album are not just filler.  They can stand alone on their own, not having to rely on the strength of the old hits.  Those folks who like their country music delivered without debauchery and drunkenness will appreciate this album.  Fans of Martina McBride and Faith Hill will enjoy this one.  The photos of Trisha wearing boxing gloves are cute.  I’m rating PrizeFighter 98%.  For more info visit: