This has been one of the best years for mainstream country in a long time. If you’re looking to catch up, go to AllAccess and take a listen to the following great singles, and one unmitigated disaster, that are currently at radio:
ALAN JACKSON “Monday Morning Church” (Arista)
He cemented his place in the Hall of Fame with the one-two punch of “Where Were You” and “Drive (For Daddy Gene”) back in 2001, but as good as his recent work has been, this is his greatest single of the last few years. A heartbreaking story about a man who loses his faith after his wife dies, Alan’s vocals are powerfully understated, letting the song’s lyrics shine through. Haunting harmonies by Patty Loveless knock it up a notch.
ALISON KRAUSS & UNION STATION “Restless” (Rounder)
Why radio hasn’t warmed up to Krauss is beyond me; she’s a top-seller, and continues to put out great singles like this.
GRETCHEN WILSON “When I Think About Cheatin'” (Sony)
This should’ve been the second single; it’s proof positive that Wilson is more than a “Redneck Woman,” much like Trisha Yearwood proved early on that she had far more depth than the novelty of “She’s In Love With The Boy” had indicated.
JULIE ROBERTS “The Chance” (Mercury)
This song sucks, so it shouldn’t be on the list, but I wanted the opportunity to say that earnest, sappy crap like this is why this woman needs to be punched in the face. Just once. So she’ll learn.
LEE ANN WOMACK “I May Hate Myself In The Morning” (MCA)
The most realistic song I’ve heard in a long time, so much I squirmed a bit on the first listen. This is the best single of her career.
RACHEL PROCTOR “Where I Belong” (BNA)
She really is the best new artist out there. The sentiment – “I was lost until I found you” – manages to be honest and sincere. Love it.
SHANIA TWAIN with BILLY CURRINGTON “Party For Two” (Mercury)
Perfect pop confection #342 from Shania, and this version’s clear superiority to the “More Pop” take with Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath shows Shania is still best when she keeps one toe in the country waters.
TIM McGRAW “Back When” (Curb)
On an album filled with potential ballad hits, this is the only up-tempo cut that matches them in quality. His vocal performance is just over-twanged enough to suggest he’s making fun of the sentimentality that he’s celebrating.