Author Archives: Leeann Ward

Album Review: Kristian Bush, Southern Gravity

Kristian Bush Southern Gravity

Kristian Bush
Southern Gravity

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Although there is already a long list of great albums that have been released this year, Southern Gravity, Kristian Bush’s first solo album apart from Sugarland, just may end up being the most pleasant surprise of 2015.

First of all, lets address some of the elephants in the room. Frankly, the biggest surprise of the album is the discovery that Kristian Bush can actually sing. Without the long shadow of the Powerhouse Jennifer Nettles, Bush has a chance to find his literal and figurative voice and it’s a good one.

Additionally, whether it was deserved or not, Bush had developed the reputation of being the intense, mysterious half of Sugarland. So, another surprise is that the album is relaxed and accessible and avoids drowning in over thinking or overproduction. With that said, the final surprise is that the album is more country than we had heard from Sugarland in quite some time.

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Single Review: Chris Stapleton, “Traveller”

Chris Stapleton Traveller

“Traveller”
Chris Stapleton

Written by Chris Stapleton

With all of the lamenting that many of us do regarding mainstream country music, those of us who are practical are aware of the conflict of knowing that the songs that we would choose to be played on radio must at least maintain a balance of quality songwriting and sounding country while still being accessible to a mainstream audience, which is what much of nineties country music did so well.

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Daily Top Five: Favorites from your Least Favorites

Thomas Rhett Beer With JesusIf we’re honest with ourselves, we don’t like every single music choice that even our very favorite artists make, which  is what inspired  us to share our least favorite albums from our favorite artists. In that same spirit, there are also times when we catch ourselves enjoying a  stray song or two from artists by whom we’re  typically  not impressed.

So, what are five songs that you like from artists that you normally don’t enjoy?

Here are mine. I should note that I actually enjoy more than one song from most of these artists, but will only list one for the purpose of this exercise.

  1. Jason Aldean, “Two Night Town”
  2. Rascal Flatts, “What Hurts the Most”
  3. Taylor Swift (feat. The Civil Wars), “Safe and Sound”
  4. Scotty McCreery, ” Carolina Moon”
  5. Thomas Rhett, “Beer with Jesus”

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Daily Top Five: Favorite Songs by Your Favorite Songwriter

Guy ClarkThere’s a cool Guy Clark documentary Kickstarter campaign happening right now that I encourage country music lovers to check out and, perhaps, make a pledge toward. Long time publicist, biographer and Guy Clark champion, Tamara Saviano, is in the process of producing and directing a documentary on Clark, a revered songwriter in country music.

The campaign is already almost fully funded, which is a testament to the wide and strong impact of Clark. However, while they’ve almost raised the initial funds, any extra money on top of that modest goal will only allow the documentary to be even better than it already promises to be, not to mention the opportunities for various perks that are offered to backers of the project.

After reading about and pledging to this campaign, I’ve been going down a Guy Clark Rabbit hole for the last couple of days, which has included listening to songs written by Clark that others have recorded and listening to his own excellent albums.

Luminaries such as Vince Gill, Rodney Crowell, Steve Earle, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ricky Skaggs, Bobby Bare, John Conlee, The Highwaymen, Rosanne Cash, Kathy Mattea, Alan Jackson, Brad Paisley , Ashley Monroe and Kenny Chesney, among many others, have been mentored by and have recorded Guy Clark songs.

With that said, today’s Daily Top Five is : What are your five favorite songs written and/or recorded by one of your favorite songwriters.

Since Guy Clark is one of my favorite songwriters, here are my top favorite songs of his:

1. Guy Clark & Emmylou Harris, “I Don’t Love You Much Do I”

2. Rodney Crowell, “She’s Crazy for Leaving”

3. Jerry Jeff Walker, “L.A. Freeway”

4. The Highwaymen, “Desperados Waiting for a Train”

5. Kathy Mattea, “The Cape”

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Daily Top Five: Albums You’re Most Looking Forward to Purchasing

Chris Stapleton TravellerI’ve listened to this phenomenal Chris Stapleton performance from last night’s Late Night with David Letterman at least 8 times so far today. As I watched it last night, I was extremely proud to be a country music fan. If Stapleton represented what mainstream country music predominantly sounded like these days, I could proudly declare that I was a country music fan without all of the clarifications that I currently have to make.

Stapleton’s new album, Traveler, will finally be released on May 5, which can’t come fast enough. So, as a Part 2 to last night’s Daily Top Five discussion of our five most recent music purchases, tonight we’ll ask you what you hope or expect your next five music purchases will be.

Since I’ve already preordered the Stapleton album, these are the top five albums that I’m looking forward to purchasing (in release date order).

1. Alabama Shakes, Sound and Color

2. Shelby Lynne, I Can’t Imagine

3. Zac Brown Band, Jekyll + Hyde

4. Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, The Traveling Kind

5. Darrell Scott, Ten

What albums are you most looking forward to?

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Daily Top Five: First Favorite Songs by Your Favorite Artist

Vince Gill I Still Believe in YouToday, let’s list our first favorite songs by our favorite artist. Vince Gill is my favorite artist and the first song that I had heard of his is “Trying to Get Over You”, which started the beginning of my love for his voice and music. However, the songs that cemented my love for Vince were “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slipping Away” and “I Still Believe in You.”

This list isn’t necessarily my  top five favorite Vince Gill songs now, but rather, they’re the first five songs that turned me into a serious Vince Gill fan:

  1. “Trying to Get Over You”
  2. “I Still Believe in You”
  3. “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slipping Away”
  4. “When I Call Your Name”
  5. “The Heart Won’t Lie” (with Reba McEntire)

What are your top five songs that made you a fan of your favorite artist?

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Single Review: Gary Allan, “Hangover Tonight”

Gary Allan Hangover Tonight

“Hangover Tonight”
Gary Allan

Written by Gary Allan, Cary Barlowe, Jesse Frasure, and Chris Stapleton

With its play on the word “hangover” and its playful production, Allan’s latest single has a happy and silly vibe with an infectious swampy groove. “Hangover Tonight” is carefree and treads the old topic of partying, but it still stands above and apart from the loud raucous party anthems of his mainstream peers.

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Single Review: Tim McGraw with Catherine Dunn, “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools”

Tim McGraw Catherine Dunn Diamond Rings and Old Barstools

“Diamond Rings and Old Barstools”
Tim McGraw with Catherine Dunn

Written by Barry Dean, Luke Laird, and Jonathan Singleton

Tim McGraw should be applauded for finally meeting the potential that many of us had hoped for after he left the oppressive Curb Records. His most recent album, particularly his last couple singles, have dialed back the loudness, embraced a more traditional and organic sound, reconnected him with the warm vocals with which he had all but lost, and the last two singles have even presented more thoughtful lyrics than he’d been singing in the last few years.

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Single Review: Trisha Yearwood, “I Remember You”

Trisha Yearwood I remember You

“I Remember You”
Trisha Yearwood

Written by Kelly Archer, Ben Carver, and Brad Rempel

After the anthemic “Prize Fighter”, Trisha Yearwood softens things with the emotional “I Remember You.” With just an acoustic guitar and simple strings, “I Remember You” is a gorgeous tribute to the memories of someone who has passed from this life to the next.
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Single Review: Ashley Monroe, “On to Something Good”

Ashley Monroe On to Something Good

“On to Something Good”
Ashley Monroe

Written by Barry Dean, Luke Laird and Ashley Monroe

Happily, Ashley Monroe has announced a new album that will, once again, be produced by Vince Gill with the help of Justin Niebank. The lead single from the album is “On to Something Good.” Sadly, the single only makes me very cautiously optimistic instead of very optimistic.
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