Throughout 2015, there have been rumblings of a backlash against the prevailing trends at country radio, and that backlash is certainly reflected in the year’s crop of CMA nominees.
We can thank the shortsighted radio consultant Keith Hill for one thing: drawing attention to the women of country music in a year where so many of them are making outstanding music. As their mainstream counterparts cycle through a series of one-note styles and themes, female country artists are putting out diverse and decidedly more progressive music, even as they draw influence from previous generations. That they do so while supporting each other makes it all the more impressive.
“Smoke Break” is a remarkably good attempt at a working class anthem. It’s so stylistically different from the “rah rah, let’s party this weekend” approach that has made drinking synonymous with adolescent behavior in modern country music.
I’ve been at this whole Country Universe thing for eleven years now, and one of the early highlights of my time doing this was the arrival of Carrie Underwood. She was so, so good on American Idol, but it didn’t quite prepare me for how much I would love hearing her do original material.