We gave it a B+
JEFF BATES RAINBOW MAN (RCA) Newcomer Bates, a sharecropper’s adopted son from Mississippi, turns back the clock to forge a style reminiscent of Conway Twitty and early Travis Tritt. With a resonant baritone bass and a reverence for deep-dish tradition, he strikes potent emotional chords, particularly about social prejudice and his own multiethnic heritage (”I never really fit in any place/’Cause there’s always a part of me to hate”). A
ALLISON MOORER SHOW (Universal South) In the studio, Moorer uses her seductive alto as a siren call to her hypnotic blend of blues, rock, and country. But on this live concert recording and DVD, she pushes her voice into tough-babe territory, dueting with Kid Rock (”Bully Jones”) and with big sister Shelby Lynne, most notably on the scorcher ”Going Down” and on ”Is Heaven Good Enough for You,” a paean to their murdered mother. B
SUZY BOGGUSS SWING (Compadre) Bogguss, who enjoyed a brief run as a Nashville hitmaker in the early ’90s, never quite found her niche despite a crystalline soprano, an economical delivery, and a good grasp of country’s folkier roots. But what she excels at is Western swing. This album, which she coproduced with Asleep at the Wheel’s Ray Benson, joyously showcases that strength, as well as a blissful turn at traditional jazz. Utterly charming. B+
PAT GREEN WAVE ON WAVE (Universal/Republic) A god among college students in his native Lone Star State, Green is Gen-Y’s answer to Jerry Jeff Walker and Robert Earl Keen Jr. But while he shares their poetic nature and Texas-size joie de vivre, Green lacks their cerebral sophistication and humor. That’s pitifully obvious on Wave’s (due July 15) jazzy ”Elvis,” a flat-footed character portrait not even guest vocalist Willie Nelson can save.