Album Review

Melonie Cannon - Self-Titled

Melonie Cannon - self-titled

Melonie Cannon didn't have to make this record. With her model good looks, husky vocals, and strong Nashville ties (her father, songwriter and producer Buddy Cannon, has worked with Kenny Chesney, Reba McEntire and John Michael Montgomery), Cannon's debut album could have been -- shudder -- hot new country. But it isn't. It's an acoustic country-bluegrass blend -- the sort made popular by Alison Krauss and the recent releases of Dolly Parton and Patty Loveless. And it's wonderful. A stellar lineup of excellent musicians certainly contributes to the album's appeal. Most of the usual suspects are here: Stuart Duncan, Dan Tyminski, Barry Bales, Rob McCoury, Rob Ickes, Randy Kohrs, Jerry Douglas. With three powerful dobro players on board, the picking tends to drive most of these tunes. Tom Roady lends tasteful percussion throughout. The songs, from talented writers such as Harley Allen, Ronnie Bowman and Matraca Berg, tell stories of home, love, heartbreak and Jesus. Cannon's fine version of Bill Anderson and Jon Randall's "Whiskey Lullabye" threatens to be overshadowed by the recent Brad Paisley/Alison Krauss duet. But "Sweeter Than Sugarcane", "What Took You So Long?" and "Tennessee Road" seem destined for airplay. Cannon was singing background vocals as a teenager before a hitch in the Army put her music career on hold. Now she's back and earning accolades from such industry veterans as George Jones and Vern Gosdin. Country music has been waiting for this rich, mature and confident voice.