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CD REVIEW: Howard Salmon and Deborah Martin-Lemmon  - Old Habits are Hard to Break

by: Cyrus Rhodes




Artist: Howard Salmon and Deborah Martin-Lemmon

Album: Old Habits are Hard to Break

Label: Dreaming Edge Music

Website: http://www.dreamingedgemusic.com

Genre: Americana, Folk, Country

Sounds Like: Johnny & June Carter Cash, Peter- Paul and Mary, Keith Whitley

Technical Grade: 8/10
Production/Musicianship Grade: 7/10
Commercial Value: 7/10
Overall Talent Level: 8/10
Songwriting Skills: 8/10
Performance Skill: 7/10
Best Songs: Old Habits are Hard to Break, The Message,

Weakness: Winded Songs, Short Sided Songs, More Vocal Emotion




Howard Salmon and Deborah Martin-Lemmon is an interesting musical project.  This album: Old Habits are Hard to Break is a superb undertaking comprised of some of the finest players in country music today such as Scott Joss on fiddle (Merle Haggard); Keith Edwards on drums (Amy Grant, Ricky Scaggs, Johnny Rivers, Tanya Tucker, Pam Tillis); Bruce Turgon on Bass (Foreigner); Ben Haggard on electric lead guitar (Merle Haggard); Eric Day on Dobro and lap steel (Nashville session player); Thom Berry on harmonica. What began as a dream between two friends, Howard Salmon and Deborah Martin-Lemmon, who had many opportunities to sing together over the years, became a reality. They used to joke with each other, saying, “We gotta make a country album one of these days!” That day is now and they fulfilled that dream. You’ll definitely want to add this album to your music collection.


The CD kicks things off with a Track 1 “Take me Down (to the Water Edge)” a folksy ballad, with amazing guitar, inviting vibe painted against well placed harmonies and sizzling fiddles. Track 2 “One of These Days” shifts gears a bit with slow moving Americana-folk groove with inviting Country ambience and heartfelt vocal delivery from Salmon. Track 3 “The Message” serves up an impressive Americana crescendo, delivering heartfelt lyrical content, impressive Folklore storyline that flows and ebbs its way through to emotional fruition. As this CD slowly unfolds I can hear many different musical influences reminiscent of classic Johnny & June Carter Cash, Peter- Paul and Mary, Keith Whitley. The music itself is a delightful blend of Bluegrass, Country and Rockabilly Blues that goes down extremely smooth song for song, note for note. The most impressive thing about Old Habits are Hard to Break is the fretwork and overall Americana instrumentation showcased throughout. The CD also offers a rich melodic vocal foundation, coupled with lush layers of rich instrumentation with things like pedal steel, harmonica, acoustic guitars, banjo, percussion, harmonica, Hammond Organ, fiddles, and lush harmonies all built upon a thick as a brick rhythm section. Now focusing on Salmon and Lemmon - their vocal parings fit together like a hand in glove. From grooving “Travelin’ Song” to old school “Baby Don’t Leave me Know” to heartfelt “Let me Take your Blues Away” to mesmerizing “They’ll be no Angels” to my personal favorite “Old Habits are Hard to Break” this CD has something for just about everyone. The CD ends with Track 11 “Let’s Just Call it a Night” the perfect finale statement for a CD of this caliber.


All songs over 3.5 minutes tend to drag you to the finish line while all songs under 3 minutes leave a listener high and dry. I wish heard more heart stopping vocal emotion from Salmon and Martin-Lemmon throughout the more emotional moments within this catalogue. The type of emotion reserved for the pin drop moments that will stop you dead in your tracks. Cover art is somewhat lacking in dynamics, creativity and marketability.


From start to finish Old Habits are Hard to Break by Howard Salmon and Deborah Martin-Lemmon is an impressive collection of music. It’s very passionate, and extremely melodic in nature. To say the least it's packed to the hilt with musical variety. The writing, playing, and singing abilities of these 2 are impressive and will be sure to lift your spirits without even trying.  The musicianship is first rate, each song possessing a unique personality, flair, and signature groove. Lastly - the playing, writing, and singing abilities of Salmon and Martin-Lemmon and company are something many will enjoy.   


Cyrus Rhodes