Single Review: Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter, “Wild Child”

Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter Wild Child

“Wild Child”
Kenny Chesney with Grace Potter

Written by Kenny Chesney, Shane McAnally, and Josh Osborne

No, it isn’t as strong as “You and Tequila.” Let’s get that out of the way right now, because expecting that lightning to strike twice will make it easy to miss the subtle beauty of “Wild Child”, Chesney’s new collaboration with Grace Potter.

Potter’s harmonies provide the perfect lift to Chesney’s understated and grounded vocal performance, allowing for the two singers to mirror the two characters of the song: a free-spirited woman who follows the wind and the man who is along for the ride.

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Single Review: Sam Hunt, “Take Your Time”

Sam Hunt Take Your Time

“Take Your Time”
Sam Hunt

Written by Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, and Josh Osborne

“Take Your Time” is interesting for its combination of rapidly delivered spoken word and warmly sung melody, and for its tentative attempts to acknowledge a woman’s own agency.

The structure borrows heavily from contemporary urban music, and will sound familiar to anyone who has listened to a fair amount of Drake. But Hunt keeps the proceedings grounded enough in country that it doesn’t sound nearly as reductive as it could’ve been.

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Single Review: Rascal Flatts, “Riot”

Rascal Flatts Riot

 “Riot”
Rascal Flatts

Written by Jaron Boyer and Sara Haze

This is quite the quiet riot.  Rascal Flatts return to their signature ballad sound on “Riot”, which has moments that sound like a throwback to “What Hurts the Most.”

Unlike that classic hit, which soared with melodramatic intensity, this one never leaves first gear.  All of the effective atmosphere that’s built up during the first verse dissolves into a very bland chorus that lacks any punch.  Perhaps that’s because the whole conceit of there being “a riot breaking up my heart” if their love goes south doesn’t make much sense.

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Single Review: Mo Pitney, “Country”

Mo Pitney Country

“Country”
Mo Pitney

Written by Bill Anderson, Mo Pitney, and Bobby Timberlin

At first, Mo Pitney’s “Country” sounds like one of those songs they used to write to open an awards show back in the eighties.   But as the song progresses, the scope of what he’s describing as country expands, until it moves into the surprisingly touching final verse that details a funeral for a fallen soldier.

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Single Review: Mickey Guyton, “Better Than You Left Me”

Mickey Guyton Better Than You Left Me

“Better Than You Left Me”
Mickey Guyton

Written by Mickey Guyton, Jennifer Hanson, and Jenn Schott

This is pretty much how a country ballad is supposed to sound, as far as I’m concerned.  Nothing says heartache like a steel guitar, and if you’re going to sing with vulnerability, it’ll do a lot of the heavy lifting for you.   All you need to do is show up with a decent lyric, not let the production get in the way, sing the song well, and you’re done.

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Single Review: Gloriana, “Trouble”

Gloriana Trouble

“Trouble”
Gloriana

Written by Ross Copperman, Mike Gossin, Jon Nite, and Rachel Reinert

I’m starting to think there’s a group of guys in Nashville who have only two things going for them: the ability to sing “whoa-oh-whoa” and enough dirt on every record producer to blackmail them into singing on thirty records a year.

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Album Review: LeAnn Rimes, All-Time Greatest Hits

LeAnn Rimes All-Time Greatest Hits

LeAnn Rimes
All-Time Greatest Hits

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In the eleven years since the release of LeAnn Rimes’ first Greatest Hits package, she’s certainly released enough material to fill out a second installment. But the song selections of her new All-Time Greatest Hits clearly position it as a replacement rather than a continuation, with 13 of its 20 tracks having already appeared on her original 2003 retrospective.

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Single Review: Carrie Underwood, “Little Toy Guns”

Carrie Underwood Little Toy Guns

“Little Toy Guns”
Carrie Underwood

Written by Chris DeStefano, Hillary Lindsey, and Carrie Underwood

With her latest single, Carrie Underwood once again reaffirms that she is among the best and most compelling artists of modern country music.

A depiction of verbal and emotional abuse on an epic scale, “Little Toy Guns” captures a truth not often talked about: that domestic violence can wound and scar without ever once raising a hand or breaking the skin, and can cause lasting collateral damage beyond even its intended target.

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Single Review: Reba McEntire, “Going Out Like That”

Reba McEntire Going Out LIke That

“Going Out Like That”
Reba McEntire

Written by Rhett Akins, Ben Haslip, and Jason Sellers

Reba McEntire is one of the genre’s all-time greatest storytellers.  Her best material captures both the strength and vulnerability of the everyday woman, and “Going Out Like That” fits in well with her legacy of songs that are empowering without sacrificing believability.

McEntire is also one of the genre’s all-time greatest stylists, and that’s where her new single falls short.  The song is delivered in mostly a monotone, with few of her signature curlicues.   She just never gets out of the starting gate for some reason.  The song doesn’t require it to be effective, but a little more variety would’ve been nice.

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Single Review: RaeLynn, “God Made Girls”

GodMadeGirls

“God Made Girls”
RaeLynn
Written by RaeLynn, Nicolle Galyon, Liz Rose and Lori McKenna

In hearing this song, my mind is constantly asking one simple question: What were they thinking?

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