“Strip it Down” Luke Bryan Written by Luke Bryan, Ross Copperman and Jon Nite How many ways are there to say that a song doesn’t sound remotely country? I wish I knew of a few more, because I’ve been having to make this most common criticism for so long now that I feel like there is no new or creative way to say it anymore.
“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.”
“Ain’t No Trucks in Texas” Ronnie Dunn Written by Tony Martin, Wendell Mobley and Neil Thrasher With Texas as its central point, Dunn takes a pass at expressing his indifference toward an ex by using anti-factual details of common Texas tropes. “There ain’t no trucks in Texas/ No football in the south.”, all of which illustrates that, in fact, he is not indifferent to the break up after all.
“Gonna” Blake Shelton Written by Luke Laird and Craig Wiseman “Gonna” is a mix of the old and the more recent Blake Shelton. It has shades of his current music trends, but also calls back to his more relaxed country beginnings. First, it seems that it couldn’t be a Blake Shelton song these days if there wasn’t at least a little EDM influence thrown in. Fortunately, it only starts there and then moves away fairly quickly, which allows the song to become a pleasant pop country ear worm.
“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.
“Smokin’ and Drinkin’” Miranda Lambert with Little Big Town Written by Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird, and Shane McAnally Despite its title, Miranda Lambert’s “Smokin’ And Drinkin’” is not a rousing drinking party anthem. Instead, it is a quiet, wistful look back at the past. With vocal support from Little Big Town, Lambert sounds like their lead, though modest, singer as they wax nostalgic about how “smokin’ and drinkin’ gets you thinkin’ about the one that got away.”