“Break Up With Him”
Written by Matthew Ramsey, Trevor Rosen, Whit Sellers, Geoff Sprung and Brad Tursi
Any song that starts with, “Hey, girl! What’s up?” gets off to a bad start right away.
What follows is three minutes of a guy pressuring a girl to dump her boyfriend because he knows that she’d rather be with him, instead.
“35 MPH Town”
Written by Toby Keith and Bobby Pinson
Toby Keith revisits one of his most successful ongoing themes – life in a dying small town.
In this case, he lays the blames the pending death on a lack of religion and strict discipline in the lives of today’s youth.
It’s a different approach for him, as usually he talks about the collapse of economic opportunity leading to the downfall of small town America. That’s lingering under the surface, of course, but not his primary focus here.
Written by Nathan Chapman, Blair Daly, Kiefer Thompson, and Shawna Thompson
Dude really loves his car. Like, the way Sam Winchester loves his car.
“Trans Am” has a lot of energy and it’s a credit to Thompson Square that they don’t get lost in the shuffle of a very busy production.
“Let it Go”
Written by Keith Gattis, Bubba Strait, and George Strait
George Strait is country music’s Frank Sinatra.
What he does looks effortless and spawns countless imitators, but none of them can actually replicate what makes him special.
“Crash and Burn”
Written by Jesse Frasure and Chris Stapleton
Thomas Rhett’s new single has backup vocals blatantly ripped off from the Sam Cooke classic, “Chain Gang.”
I repeat: Thomas Rhett’s new single has backup vocals blatantly ripped off from the Sam Cooke classic, “Chain Gang.”
Sunny Sweeney with Will Hoge
Written By Ashley Monroe, Angaleena Presley, and Sunny Sweeney
Both Sunny Sweeney and Will Hoge have flirted briefly with mainstream success: Sweeney cracked the top 10 at radio with “From a Table Away,” while Eli Young Band scored a major hit with their cover of Hoge’s “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.” A slow-burning ballad that chronicles the dissolution of a relationship between actual adults, “My Bed” is, unfortunately, too far out-of-step with the culture at country radio for the pair of singer-songwriters to make any new inroads there. But it’s a measured, mature single that deserves a wider audience.
“Hot Corn, Cold Corn”
Robert Earl Keen
Written By Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs
Robert Earl Keen has spent the past three decades as one of the most venerated singer-songwriters in country music, particularly within the Texas Country community. His latest album, Happy Prisoner, is a departure from Keen not because of his decision to dabble in Bluegrass music— his material has always skewed in a folk-leaning, acoustic direction— but because it’s an entire album of cover songs, and he’s known for his sharply-observed originals. Fortunately, there’s no faulting Keen’s taste in material, and the album’s first single is a cover of “Hot Corn, Cold Corn,” a Flatt & Scruggs tune that has become a Bluegrass standard.
“Doin’ Country Right”
Written by Heather Morgan, Josh Osborne, and Jimmy Robbins
Seems safe to bet that the irony of this single’s title is lost on everyone involved in inflicting it upon a genre that keeps finding ever-more horrifying ways to embarrass itself.
“Hard to Be Cool”
Written by Rob Hatch and Jason Sellers
I’m always rooting for Joe Nichols. He’s got a smooth twang, two qualities that usually don’t go together. He’s made some solid music over the years, too.
What gets him in trouble is his strange tendency toward songs that walk the line between clever and corny. He seems to be drawn to songs that come up with an interesting concept, but never get around to building a compelling song around it.
“I Cheated on You”
Written by Brent Anderson, Brandy Clark, and Forrest Whitehead
“I Cheated on You” is likely to be the best country single of 2015 that barely gets heard south of the Canadian border.
Terri Clark’s latest single is perfectly structured, has an edge that can come only with maturity, and tells such an obvious country cheating tale that it’s amazing that it’s never been told this way before.