Various Artists

Original Songwriters Demos, Vol. 2

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The second volume in the Original Songwriters Demos series is as strong as its predecessor. For those interested in the raw working tapes of well-known country and Americana songs, this is for you; for those who like their material finished, sung by established artists, you may want to look elsewhere. This set kicks off with Danny Wells' working original for “Check Yes or No” that is now synonymous with George Strait. What works about the demo is how seam-fitting the tune is for that particular singer's voice. The demo for “If Tomorrow Never Comes” is sung by not only its songwriter (well, one of them) but the artist who recorded it: Garth Brooks. This plaintive love song is powerful even scraped to the bare bones; Brooks can deliver a great performance in virtually any setting. Other highlights of the collection are Diane Warren's “How Do I Live” (which scored for both LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood) and is sung here by demo vocalist Gia Ciambotti; Rivers Rutherford's own version of “Ain’t Nothin’ About You,” despite its lack of production, is actually superior to the hit by Brooks & Dunn.

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