Album Reviews

Album Review: Terri Clark, <i>Classic</i>

November 20, 2012 // 9 Comments

A great covers record, no matter how sincere the artist’s intentions, must provide a satisfactory answer to one question: Why should we listen to this artist’s versions of these songs when the originals are still there for us to enjoy?

Album Review: Kathy Mattea, <i>Calling Me Home</i>

September 20, 2012 // 5 Comments

Kathy Mattea
Calling Me Home

On her exquisite new album Calling Me Home, Kathy Mattea shows herself to be an artist who fully understands music as a medium of art and self-expression. Following down a path similar to that of her stellar Grammy-nominated 2008 effort Coal, but expanding upon it by dealing with a wider range of topics, Calling Me Home finds Mattea turning to her own roots for inspiration, and producing what just might be the finest album of her illustrious career.

Album Review: Mary Chapin Carpenter, <i>Ashes and Roses</i>

July 4, 2012 // 13 Comments

Mary Chapin Carpenter
Ashes and Roses

Mary Chapin Carpenter could be considered an example of the rare artist who releases her best and most significant work right in the midst of her commercial heyday, or whose music might have even benefited from considering the ever-present concerns of what could be grasped by mainstream audiences. In the years since Carpenter’s hot streak ended – She hasn’t had a Top 40 hit since 1999’s “Almost Home” – she seems to have lost sight of the need to bring her thoughts down to an accessible, digestible level.

Album Review: Alan Jackson, <i>Thirty Miles West</i>

July 2, 2012 // 3 Comments

Alan Jackson
Thirty Miles West

Jackson does so many basic things right on his new album that it’s tempting to award him five stars right off the bat.

The production is clean, his singing get in the way of the song, and those songs have complete ideas and actual structure. It’s the first mainstream country album in a long time that isn’t overrun with production tricks, or kicking up the loudness to eleven, or playing an exaggerated personality type that’s condescending to its audience.

Album Review: Carrie Underwood, Blown Away

May 1, 2012 // 88 Comments

Carrie Underwood
Blown Away

At this point, it’s easy to forget that Carrie Underwood first kicked off her country music career as an American Idol graduate.  Besides being one of country music’s most technically gifted female vocalists, she’s gone on to become one of its strongest commercial forces, with a seven-year-long string of Top-2 hit singles, not to mention albums that consistently sell like hotcakes.  But a noteworthy gap has often been seen between the impressiveness of Underwood’s talent and success and the quality of her material. In terms of lyrics and production, at least, Underwood’s new album Blown Away finds her taking steps forward that are small, but steps forward nonetheless.

Album Review: Marty Stuart, <i>Nashville, Vol. 1: Tear the Woodpile Down</i>

April 24, 2012 // 4 Comments

Marty Stuart
Nashville, Vol. 1: Tear the Woodpile Down

The casual listener may remember Marty Stuart for the string of country radio hits he enjoyed in the late eighties and early nineties. However, Stuart’s legacy was cemented by groundbreaking projects released after his commercial heyday had drawn to a close, particularly 1999’s landmark The Pilgrim as well as 2010’s career-best effort Ghost Train: The Studio B Sessions. Through such critically lauded work Stuart has built up a reputation as an elder statesman of country music, acting to preserve country music’s heritage and traditions, while simultaneously working to move the genre forward.

Album Review: Tim McGraw, Emotional Traffic

January 31, 2012 // 17 Comments

Tim McGraw
Emotional Traffic

If you had a friend who was a tightrope walker, and you were walking down a sidewalk, and he fell, that would be completely unacceptable. – Mitch Hedberg

~~~

Emotional Traffic is a collection of poor choices.

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