Laura Bell Bundy made a distinctly memorable impression when she blew into Nashville fresh off Broadway four years ago. Of all the major label country albums released in 2009, few were more polarizing than Bundy’s genre-bending Mercury Nashville release Achin’ and Shakin’. Maybe you thought it was brilliant. Maybe you thought it was atrocious. But there was one thing that it definitely wasn’t – boring.
Articles by Ben Foster
Pam Tillis & Lorrie Morgan
If you have a soft spot for the great country artists of the nineties – particularly the generation of mature, articulate women who ruled the genre for much of the decade – the announcement of a duets album between Pam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan was likely a tremendous cause for excitement. With both ladies being second-generation country stars, Opry members, touring partners, and great friends, a studio collaboration would seem a natural progression, and the lofty potential is obvious.
The debut single from The Voice Season 4 winner Danielle Bradbery has one of best productions you’re likely to hear on terrestrial country radio, heavy on the sweet sounds of fiddle and mandolin. “The Heart of Dixie” also boasts an effective melody which rises and dips in a manner most fitting for a story about a woman leaving an unsatisfying life and finding newfound freedom on the open road. And while the interpretive abilities of an artist still in her teens are often limited (see early LeAnn Rimes as an example), Bradbery at least sounds genuinely engaged in the story she’s telling.
The Motor City might not exactly be known as a hotbed of country music talent, but it happens to be the home of one talented country voice by the name of Danielle Car. She has yet to ink a record deal, but has been actively making the rounds and building a fan following with her independent efforts.
Brandy Clark has many times shown that she’s one heck of a songwriter. Recently, her writing talents have been heard on respectable cuts such as Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart” and The Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two,” while her name appears all over the co-writer credits on Kacey Musgraves’ excellent Mercury Records debut Same Trailer Different Park. Now we get to hear the woman get behind the mic herself with her recently released Brandy Clark EP and her debut single and video “Stripes” – a brash up-tempo number that wouldn’t sound out-of-place on a Miranda Lambert album.
Looking at recent single releases “Red Solo Cup,” “Beers Ago,” “I Like Girls That Drink Beer,” and “Hope On the Rocks,” it would appear that Toby Keith is definitely in the zone for drinking songs right now. His chart success, however, has not been quite so consistent lately. He scored the first double-platinum hit of his career with the ubiquitous sing-along and viral video hit “Red Solo Cup” only to miss the Top 15 with both of the singles from last year’s Hope On the Rocks album.
While her pop-punk band remains on indefinite hiatus, former Hey Monday frontwoman Cassadee Pope attempts to re-start her career through the reality show strategy, having now been packaged into a country music star with a little help from The Voice. Her debut country single “Wasting All These Tears” is weighed down by problems that tend to be common among former reality show contestants, foremost among which is a failure to stay out of the way of the song.