Various Artists: Ten Out of Tenn Volume 2

[15 July 2008]

By Aarik Danielsen

If it’s a special thing to witness an artist on the edge of stardom, seeing it times ten is all the more electrifying. This is the second in the Ten Out of Tenn series (the first was pressed in 2005), the compilation is designed to spotlight “Nashville artists who haven’t waited around for the world to hear about them.” In fact, each of these young performers has achieved some measure of success, having songs placed in a variety of TV shows and sharing stages with the likes of R.E.M., Sarah McLachlan, Ray Lamontagne and Joseph Arthur.

And with the offerings on this album, each artist proves they’re capable of at least another moment of stardom, every track ready for bright lights and applause. The artists display enough professional polish to appeal to pop fans yet enough gritty determination and street cred to engage the indie rock audience. While the album doesn’t suffer a bad track, the best moments are worth noting. Griffin House’s “The Guy That Says Goodbye” is a sweet folk song that suggests a sensitive and talented songwriter. Both K.S. Rhoads’ “Dark Hotel” and Tyler James’ “Down to the Garden” are just edgy enough to be interesting but not experimental enough to dampen the incredible hooks they offer. The first includes exotic violin and a carefully measured vocal delivery while the latter builds to a beautiful climax colored by vibrant horns. Cuts by Katie Herzig, Butterfly Boucher and Jeremy Lister also especially shine though each performer displays a definite measure of skill and vibrancy that makes each of the ten tracks a worthwhile listen.

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