Jamie Reno,
All American Music
(Bayside, 2003)

Jamie Reno is a nationally respected journalist as well as a singer-songwriter. On All American Music, he displays some talent in playing instruments, writing songs and compiling great talent perfectly suited to each particular song. On the performance end, every song is either a duet with or features a famous country music performer, including the likes of Suzy Bogguss, Ricky Skaggs, Charley Pride and Charlie Daniels.

There's a reason Reno doesn't fly solo on any songs -- his vocal performance is dreadful.

I wish there was a nicer way to say this, but his vocal work detracts from the amazing guest performances, be it vocal or instrumental. Reno has a flat nasal tone that doesn't syncopate with any of the musical arrangements. For instance, in "Settling Down," as the song becomes teemed with mediocrity, Eve Selis jumps in with a nice timbre that almost redeems it. "Just Pickin'" has Ricky Skaggs doing a great job on mandolin yet when Reno chimes in the song goes flat.

Reno is persistent in contributing vocally when the songs would be better off without him. This pattern is consistent throughout the album -- just when you think a song is going to be enjoyable, there he is again!

For the most part, the instrumentals and lyrics are pretty good. But there is one song -- "All American Music" (yes, the title track) -- that is absolutely awful in every aspect. The lyrics fall into a typical country tribute pastiche, naming famous performers throughout the ages. The rhyming is so horribly forced that there are commercialized Christmas songs that would look down on this one. Even the contribution of country legend Charley Pride can't save it. If you're going to name your album after a particular song, it should at least be a good one.

After hearing All American Music, I'd say Jamie Reno needs to realize his vocal limitations and stick to songwriting and production. He is obviously connected to get so many talents on one album. The sad thing is that with all the guest talent, this album is still not good. If only he could have stuck to instrumental work and had guest vocals on each song, this album would have been exponentially better.

- Rambles
written by C. Nathan Coyle
published 26 June 2004

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