CD Review of Corn Fed by Shannon Brown
Label
Warner Brothers Nashville
Shannon Brown: Corn Fed

Reviewed by Red Rocker

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M
ore so than any other industry on Earth, the music business ain’t near as much about talent or hard work as it is about who you know and good timing. When the dazzling country orphan Shannon Brown bumped into her old friend John Rich (of Big & Rich fame) a couple years ago at the CMT Flameworthy Awards, he informed her that he had just written a song that would be perfect for her. What Brown today calls divine intervention, most would call dumb luck, but that chance meeting and the ensuing song (“Turn to Me”) did more for her career than the prior eight years in Nashville singing demos ever could.

Because of the recent overwhelming popularity of the Muzik Mafia (a close-knit country music clique including Big & Rich, Gretchen Wilson, Cowboy Troy and others), Brown knew she had just found a kindred spirit, fellow singers/songwriters who were honoring traditional country music by establishing bold new parameters. Gone is the slow, mundane lethargy of Patsy Cline, replaced instead with a Kid Rock-infused rock bravado that’s put Gretchen Wilson on the map. Thus was the direction for Corn Fed, the John Rich-produced 2,000-pound gorilla of a record that Brown had waited a lifetime to make.

With dashes of contemporary country and Memphis blues strewn across rock guitar anthems, Corn Fed stands as an autobiography for Brown, a snapshot of where she is now and how far she’s come from a small town in Iowa. Over-the-top, riff-heavy romps like “Big Man” and the title track have already fixed eyes and ears far beyond the Midwest. Months before the album’s official release, Brown and her gorgeous blue jean-clad figure were all over CMT’s Top Twenty Countdown. “Corn Fed” is infectious ear candy for the genre-crossing country music horde. “There ain’t no valet joint with five star atmosphere, Daddy’s home grown beef’s what’s dinner here, and we wash it down with a tall cold beer,” Brown sings on the first single.

“Can I Get an Amen” is a capricious gospel trip, and the aforementioned “Turn to Me” unlocks the gentler side of the project. The former will no doubt find its own way to the radio and video waves this year, with songwriting credits to Gretchen Wilson and backing vocals by John Rich. The entire album, unfortunately, is not as slick or appealing as the first half. The listless mid-tempo number “Pearls” and “Why”, a bona fide yawner, chop the legs of Corn Fed and prevent it from being much more than a mindless joyride in the country. That said, the star power alone should be enough for, oh, three or four million units in sales. That Muzik Mafia really knows their wares.

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