Dave & Sugar Rowland

Dave & Sugar

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The debut album from "the country ABBA," Dave & Sugar contains all of the trio's biggest hits as well as several excellent album tracks. Leader Dave Rowland has a classically deep, weepy country delivery, at times sounding like a cross between Kenny Rogers and Gary Stewart. Sugar (singers Jackie Frantz and Vickie Baker, with help from Sue Powell and Melissa Dean) have voices ideally matched to Rowland's and weave lead, backing, and harmony parts into a seamless and cohesive whole. The uncredited Nashville studio cats do a fine job of providing steadily grooving and sympathetic backing throughout, particularly on the classic "The Door Is Always Open," which features some fine twangin' guitar. Producers Jerry Bradley and Charley Pride occasionally are a little too liberal with the schmaltzy strings and reverb-drenched piano, but for the most part, the album successfully straddles a fine line between Nashville sound heartache and '70s cheese-pop. The material here is generally first-rate (writers include Bob McDill, Shel Silverstein, Johnny Duncan, and several others from Nashville's A list), and when Rowland, Frantz, and Baker join forces on the inevitable big chorus, the effect is often spine tingling.

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