Jason Aldean’s new single “1994” sounds like what you might get if you threw “Johnny Cash,” “She’s Country,” and “My Kinda Party” into a blender with a dash of Colt Ford, and added fourteen Joe Diffie namedrops. While the name of nineties country star Joe Diffie is rarely cited as often as the usual Cash, Haggard, Nelson, Jennings, or Jones, Aldean ostensibly seeks to balance things out by chanting “Joe, Joe, Joe Diffie” at the end of each chorus, while throwing in references to assorted Diffie hits such as “Pickup Man” and “Third Rock from the Sun.”
Written by Henry L. Carrigan, Jr. of Engine 145
From the moment Hunter Berry’s tearful-sounding fiddle plaintively whines the first four bars of Rhonda Vincent’s new single, we know we’re in for a sad country shuffle. In fact, the notes he strikes on the fiddle anticipate almost note-for-note Vincent’s emphatic, but mournful, tone in her first lines and the song’s chorus. Vincent’s soaring vocals, backed by those doleful fiddles and the pleading resophonic guitar of Brent Burke, deliver a sorrowful breakup song with a twist.
Two Lanes of Freedom
Though Tim McGraw’s music was among the best to be heard on country radio in the late nineties and early two thousands, recent years have seen his choice of material embarking on a gradual downward slide before bottoming out entirely with last year’s Curb Records swan song Emotional Traffic. With McGraw’s recent output being what it is, and with him now being in the clutches of Scott Borchetta, it’s hard to approach Two Lanes of Freedom with high expectations.
After just enough time to catch our breath after the Grammys, this year’s ACM Awards are right around the corner. The 2013 nominees were announced today, and are presented here with brief commentary from yours truly. Eric Church leads the pack with seven nominations, followed by Hunter Hayes with six, and Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift with five each. Please share your thoughts on this year’s nominees in the comments section.
The telecast starts at 8 PM Eastern/7 Central, and we’ll be launching our coverage about a half-hour prior. We’re trying out the newfangled live blog client again, hopefully with better prep and results this time! Please let us know if you have any issues accessing the client/the site in general in the comments section, or at our Facebook or Twitter. -DM
Grammy Pre-Telecast Winners
Here are the winners in country and country-related categories, including all-genre categories that include a country-related nominee:
Best Long Form Music Video: Mumford & Sons, Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros & Old Crow Medicine Show, Big Easy Express
Song Written for Visual Media: T Bone Burnett, Taylor Swift, John Paul White & Joy Williams, “Safe and Sound”
Americana Album: Bonnie Raitt, Slipstream
Bluegrass Album: Steep Canyon Rangers, Nobody Knows You
Folk Album: Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer & Chris Thile, The Goat Rodeo Sessions
Country Duo/Group Vocal Performance: Little Big Town, “Pontoon”
Country Song: Josh Kear & Chris Tompkins, “Blown Away”
Credit where credit is due: After a run of two full albums’ worth of singles that were each exponentially more tepid than the last, Lady Antebellum realized the urgent need for a course correction. “Downtown,” the lead single for the trio’s fourth album, may not be a return to the roots-rock sound of their promising debut, but it’s a definite, deliberate shift in style from the somnolent lite-AC pap that had become their signature. Lady A needed to do something different, and “Downtown” certainly is.
We’re only two days away from the annual event billed as Music’s Biggest Night – the 55th Grammy Awards. Among the live performances scheduled for the night, the country music genre will be represented by the likes of Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, and Carrie Underwood. In addition, genre favorite Zac Brown is scheduled to participate in a star-studded tribute to the late Levon Helm along with Elton John, Mumford & Sons, Mavis Staples, and Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, while T. Bone Burnett will as musical director for the tribute performance.
We at Country Universe have busily pored over the list of this year’s nominees, and now we’re pleased to share our picks and predictions for the all-genre, country, and country-adjacent award categories. Do you agree? Do you disagree? Share your thoughts in the comments section, and tell us who you think will emerge victorious. Tune in for the live broadcast on Sunday, February 10 at 8:00 pm Eastern on CBS. We will be live blogging the show here at Country Universe, and we hope you will drop by and join in the fun.