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Album Review: Sunny Sweeney, Concrete

August 30, 2011 Ben Foster 14






Sunny Sweeney

Concrete

Sunny Sweeney’s 2007 debut album was fantastic, but too raw and twangy for country radio to touch it with a ten-foot pole. Thus, Heartbreaker’s Hall of Fame produced no charting singles. Sweeney re-emerged in 2010 with “From a Table Away,” a single that took on a glossier finish so as to be more radio-friendly. Still, the core country elements were uncompromised. The strategy worked, netting Sunny Sweeney the first Top 10 hit of her career. Likewise, the remainder of her sophomore album has enough polish to be palatable to country radio, but Sweeney’s traditionalist bent remains intact, as the album retains an identifiably country sound throughout (such that the “pop-country” label would be a misnomer). Concrete sounds poised to build on Sunny Sweeney’s newfound career momentum, yet it also finds an artist able to make reasonable commercial concessions without sacrificing her own identity in the process.

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Single Review: Eric Church, “Drink in My Hand”

August 28, 2011 Dan Milliken 6






This rocks – and, in its own way, countries – harder than anything else out there. Church navigates it with the ease of a NASCAR driver on a suburban highway, weaving and bobbing so charismatically that Luke, Blake and Dierks start to seem like uptight party-poopers by comparison. You believe him on multiple levels when he hollers that he’s “about to tear a new one in this old town.”






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Retro Single Review: Dolly Parton, “Daddy Come and Get Me”

August 27, 2011 Ben Foster 2






1970 | Peak: #40

It’s interesting to note the stark contrast between the uplifting “glass-half-full”-type songs Dolly often favors today with the much darker fare she often recorded in the sixties and seventies. “Daddy Come and Get Me” is one of Dolly’s most thematically-distinct story-songs, telling of a woman placed in a mental institution by her cheating husband.






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CU Roundtable Review: The Band Perry, “All Your Life”

August 25, 2011 Leeann Ward 9






Listen:

All My Life

Leeann Ward:

As wrong as it may be, the consistently gorgeous arrangements and Kimberly Perry’s compelling vocals almost make up for the lyrical deficiencies found on The Band Perry’s debut album. As it has been with all their singles so far, The Band Perry’s story of style being greater than substance continues with this promising group’s latest single as well.






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Album Review: Connie Smith, Long Line of Heartaches

August 24, 2011 Ben Foster 4






 

Connie Smith

Long Line of Heartaches

Connie Smith is hailed by many as the best vocalist in country music history, and that distinction is clearly warranted. When it comes to tone, phrasing, and vocal power, the woman has no equal. In listening to Long Line of Heartaches, her first album of new material since 1998, it would be a great understatement to say that she is still in fine voice. Her voice may have picked up a few rough edges over the years, but she still posses more than enough vocal chops to blow today’s hitmakers out of the water.






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Single Review: Jason Aldean, “Tattoos On This Town”

August 22, 2011 Ben Foster 10






Those blessed dirt roads make a return once again on Jason Aldean’s latest single, sans the hick-rap this time around. “Tattoos On This Town” is a simple small-town nostalgia trip that should fit in nicely with the current trends on country radio, and no doubt supply Aldean with another chart-topping hit. It comes as a pleasant surprise, however, that this particular offering displays a notable level of creativity while largely managing to steer clear of the clichés.