Single Review: The Band Perry, “Live Forever”

August 27, 2015 // 11 Comments

The review contrasting “Live Forever” with “If I Die Young” writes itself. Vulnerable sincerity versus bombastic arrogance. Mortality versus immortality. Acoustic country versus amped up rock. By every measurable standard, “Live Forever” is the polar opposite of “If I Die Young.”

Single Review: Ashley Monroe, “The Blade”

August 26, 2015 // 11 Comments

“The Blade” sets a new standard for breakup songs.

The title track from Ashley Monroe’s terrific new album is built around a brilliant metaphor.

Singing as the jilted lover, Monroe tells her ex, “You caught it by the handle/ And I caught it by the blade.”

Single Review: Carrie Underwood, “Smoke Break”

August 21, 2015 // 20 Comments

“Smoke Break” is a remarkably good attempt at a working class anthem. It’s so stylistically different from the “rah rah, let’s party this weekend” approach that has made drinking synonymous with adolescent behavior in modern country music.

Daily Top Five: Carrie Underwood Singles and Tracks

August 21, 2015 // 19 Comments

I’ve been at this whole Country Universe thing for eleven years now, and one of the early highlights of my time doing this was the arrival of Carrie Underwood. She was so, so good on American Idol, but it didn’t quite prepare me for how much I would love hearing her do original material.

Daily Top Five: Kinda Hits

August 20, 2015 // 16 Comments

Seems as good a topic as any for the day of the week known as Throwback Thursday.

While listening to a Pam Tillis hits playlist, “It’s Lonely Out There” came up early, just after some of her biggest hits and before a few other big hits.

Album Review: Jason Isbell, Something More Than Free

August 17, 2015 // 7 Comments

In an ideal world, Jason Isbell would somehow be able to switch the titles of his two most recent albums. While his previous effort, Southeastern, chronicled his struggle toward sobriety and found liberation in the powers of redemption and self-worth, Isbell’s latest, Something More Than Free digs deep into the foundations of the contemporary South. In terms of tone and theme for each of these exceptional records, the titles would be more fitting were they swapped, and it’s simply remarkable that slight misnomers are as close as Isbell comes on either album to striking a false note.

Daily Top Five: Favorite Quirky Love Songs

August 15, 2015 // 10 Comments

A tender love ballad is always nice, but it’s sometimes those weird love songs  that make you laugh or even creep you out a little (I’m looking at you Sara Watkins and Fiona Apple!) that are most memorable. What are some of your favorite quirky love songs? Mac Davis, “Most of All” Kasey Chambers, “The Stupid Things I Do” Sara Watkins & Fiona Apple, “You’re the One I Love” Vince Gill & Dolly Parton, “Pretty Flowers” John Prine & Iris Dement, “In Spite of Ourselves”

Daily Top Five: Texas Songs

August 13, 2015 // 11 Comments

Texas is the most sung about state in country music. Musicians and singers can even make a good living by just touring around Texas. So, it’s no wonder that even those of us who have no  physical or emotional connection to Texas might still have numerous Texas related songs that we love. Just like the state of Texas, my list of Texas songs is very large, but I did my best to narrow my list down to five of my favorites. Bill Chambers, “Dreaming ’bout Texas” Charlie Robison, “the Girls from Texas” Don Schlitz, “Death in Texas” Laura Bell Bundy, “Texas” Mac Davis, “Texas in My Rearview Mirror”

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