The Country Radio Seminar wrapped up its 2010 edition Friday night (Feb. 26) at the Nashville Convention Center with the New Faces Show. Lasting just over two hours, the event featured brief musical sets by rising stars Love and Theft, Randy Houser, Chris Young, Gloriana and Justin Moore.
The faces may have been new (or at least newish), but many of the songs came straight from the country cliché bin. (Must all fathers be wise, all mothers saintly and all excitement centered on sex, six-packs and internal combustion engines?)
On a sonic level, though, the music was impressive. Every band was tight and every voice resounded with enthusiasm and conviction.
Houser, who ended his four-song turn with a soaring, operatic reading of “Anything Goes,” brought the house to its feet and earned every whistle and yelp of approval he got.
Love and Theft, the male trio that opened the show, dazzled with its earnest and propulsive vocal harmonies, particularly on such efforts as “Can’t Go Back” and “Runaway.”
Young commanded the stage and made it as intimate as though he was singing from the comfort of his living room. While best known for “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song),” with which he began his segment, he really demonstrated his interpretive skills as he slow-burned through the rueful and brooding “Rainy Night in Georgia.” It won him a standing ovation.
The two men and two women of Gloriana — all model-pretty, all exuding a kind of unchaperoned wholesomeness — were absorbing to see and hear. Besides being first-rate singers, they knew how to work the stage, interweaving voices and visuals to great dramatic effect. Their round robin of lead vocals on the Doobie Brothers’ “Black Water” was mesmerizing.
It was Moore’s misfortune to be the last act on the bill, by which time a considerable portion of the audience had exited to other amusements. Had they stayed, they would have witnessed a dynamo in the philosophical tradition of Hank Jr. (i.e., shoot, fish and swagger).
Because the audience was made up primarily of radio people, all five acts virtually fell to their knees — not once but repeatedly — to express gratitude that disc jockeys were playing their records. Little wonder then that host Charlie Monk opened the show with, “Welcome to the annual meeting of the American Egotistical Society.”
Love and Theft: “Can’t Go Back,” “Dancing in Circles,” “Wrong, Baby, Wrong,” “Runaway”
Randy Houser: “Boots On,” “Out Here in the Country,” “All About It,” “Anything Goes”
Chris Young: “Gettin’ You Home (The Black Dress Song),” “That Makes Me,” “The Man I Want to Be,” “Voices,” “Rainy Night in Georgia”
Gloriana: “If You’re Leavin’,” “Wild at Heart,” “Black Water,” “The World Is Ours Tonight”
Justin Moore: “Backwoods,” “Hank It,” “Grandpa,” “Small Town USA,” “I Could Kick Your Ass”View photos from the New Faces Show.