Articles by Ben Foster

Single Review: James Otto, “Somewhere Tonight”

August 3, 2015 // 6 Comments

“Somewhere Tonight” James Otto Written by Patrick Russell Davis, Corey Crowder and James Slater James Otto’s name and voice will likely be familiar to anyone who was listening to country radio in the latter half of 2007, but hearing his new single “Somewhere Tonight”, one wouldn’t even know that it was the same artist who once rode the airwaves with the soulful, organic “Just Got Started Lovin’ You.”

Single Review: Jennifer Nettles, “Sugar”

July 24, 2015 // 17 Comments

“Sugar” Jennifer Nettles Written by Brandy Clark, Jessie Jo Dillon, and Jennifer Nettles A remarkable performance elevates an unremarkable song. If “Sugar” given a perfunctory performance by a lesser vocalist, I might not enjoy it at all. It’s a bit fluffy, especially for a Brandy Clark co-write. The chorus is a tad repetitive, and I’m tempted to poke a stick at its use of the “sugar and spice and everything nice” cliché.

Daily Top Five: Cover Songs You Like Better Than the Original

June 25, 2015 // 23 Comments

Some cover songs pale in comparison to previous incarnations. Other attempts may come across as competent but disposable. But every now and then, a cover song comes along that just might rival or even replace the original in my listening rotation. What are your top five cover songs that you like better than the original? Here’s my list: 1. Dixie Chicks, “Landslide” (Fleetwood Mac) 2. Linda Ronstadt, “Blue Bayou” (Roy Orbison) 3. Alison Krauss & Union Station, “When You Say Nothing At All” (Keith Whitley) 4. Jo Dee Messina, “Lesson in Leavin’” (Dottie West) 5. Pam Tillis, “When You Walk in the Room” (Jackie DeShannon)

Daily Top Five: Kentucky Country

June 5, 2015 // 11 Comments

This week in 1792, Kentucky became the fifteenth state to join the union. It’s also the state that two Country Universe writers – Jonathan Keefe and myself – call home. Kentucky is well known as the home of bluegrass music, but our state’s rich musical heritage spans multiple genres. A wide variety of music legends hail from the bluegrass state, while its unique natural beauty and varied culture has served as inspiration for many a songwriter. Jonathan and I have put our heads together for a Country Universe Top Five that covers two topics in one. I’ve chosen my top five favorite artists from Kentucky, while he has chosen his top five favorite songs about Kentucky. Since there are plenty of eligible inclusions for both topics, this leaves plenty of room for reader discussion, so be sure to share your own choices in the comments. Ben’s Top Five Artists from Kentucky: 1. Read More

Single Review: Maddie & Tae, “Fly”

March 4, 2015 // 16 Comments

Maddie & Tae “Fly” Written by Taylor Dye, Maddie Marlow and Aaron Scherz Maddie & Tae made a big, bold, attention grabbing statement with their breakthrough hit “Girl in a Country Song”, which rocked and twanged all the way to number one while laying bare the problems with country music’s treatment of women under the bro-country regime. Wisely, the two women show an entirely different creative side with their second single, showing that they are not one-trick ponies.

Album Review: LeAnn Rimes, All-Time Greatest Hits

February 20, 2015 // 6 Comments

LeAnn Rimes All-Time Greatest Hits In the eleven years since the release of LeAnn Rimes’ first Greatest Hits package, she’s certainly released enough material to fill out a second installment. But the song selections of her new All-Time Greatest Hits clearly position it as a replacement rather than a continuation, with 13 of its 20 tracks having already appeared on her original 2003 retrospective.

Single Review: The Band Perry, “Gentle On My Mind”

February 18, 2015 // 5 Comments

“Gentle On My Mind The Band Perry Written by John Hartford The Band Perry’s Grammy-winning cover of Glen Campbell’s classic “Gentle On My Mind” (the trio’s contribution to the soundtrack of the recent I’ll Be Me documentary on Campbell) is an absolute delight. It feels fresh and energetic, but you don’t get the sense that they’re going to needless lengths to modernize or reinvent it.

CU10 Flashback: Single Review/Shameless Rant: Miranda Lambert, “The House That Built Me”

December 29, 2014 // 7 Comments

I discovered Country Universe in the spring of 2010 and quickly became a regular reader. At the time, Dan’s review of Miranda Lambert’s much-lauded release “The House That Built Me” was a recent post. Besides making me wish that my own ‘shameless rants’ could come out sounding half as smart and classy as Dan’s, the article raises a series of points that remain valid nearly half a decade later. “The House That Built Me” is a great record, but should it really have stood out so dramatically as such? Dan discussed the single in a way that turned the mirror back on us. Have we developed a tendency to praise or over-praise music, not on its own merits, but in comparison to the weaker material surrounding it? Perhaps it was my recent participation in Country Universe’s Best of 1994 feature which moved me to revisit this article and topic. I think about the great Read More

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