Hayes Carll

Country Universe’s Best Singles of 2013, Part Two: #20-#1

December 31, 2013 // 14 Comments

If this year’s singles list leaves you with a familiar feeling, it’s not your imagination. For the first time in Country Universe history, an artist has topped the year end list for two years in a row, and there are plenty of repeat appearances from CU favorites. But there are some fresh faces too, including some promising new singer-songwriters and inspired collaborations from artists we already liked an awful lot by themselves.

As always, share your thoughts and personal favorites in the comments!

Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell's "Hanging Up My Heart" is popular on XPN2: Singer-Songwriter Radio.

“Hangin’ Up My Heart”
Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell

Individual rankings: #3 – Leeann; #20 – Kevin

What a way for Emmylou and Rodney to kick off their much anticipated duet project! The bouncy tune shows the power duo in fine form both in voice and spunk and signals what will turn out to be one of the finest albums of the year. – Leeann Ward

Top 40 Singles of 2011, Part Three: #20-#11

January 4, 2012 // 6 Comments

The countdown continues to continue. Scroll down to the bottom to hear samples of each song and to share your comments!

Top 40 Singles of 2011, Part Three: #20-#11

Joey + Rory

Individual Rankings: #6 – Sam; #15 – Leeann; #17 – Ben

Joey Feek is not a woman to be trifled with. Blow off a day with her to go fishing with your buddies, and be prepared for a holdout that would make the recent NBA lockout look like a bathroom break. Along with a steel guitar-centric, pure country sound, the song’s humor doesn’t wear thin after repeated listenings. (Are you paying attention, Brad “Camouflage” Paisley?) – Sam Gazdziak

Top Twenty Albums of 2011, Part Two: #10-#1

December 31, 2011 // 4 Comments

Our annual list concludes with a look at our ten favorite albums of 2011.

Check out Part One to see #11-#20, and look for our countdown of the year’s best singles tomorrow.

Top Twenty Albums of 2011, Part One: #10-#1

Lady & Gentlemen
LeAnn Rimes

On the surface, Lady & Gentleman is a concept album, flying in the face of a genre whose gender bias sometimes feels like the elephant in the room. But as with the best concept albums, it’s not the concept that carries it. With her most thoughtful, vocally mature performances to date, Rimes herself is the heartbeat of the set, deftly navigating the songs with a blend of reverence and fearlessness.

And she has plenty of room to shine: rather than trying to rebirth a collection of classics, Rimes and her team tastefully reinvigorate the songs with production risks (“Swingin’”), lyrical twists (“Good Hearted Women”) and the occasional overhaul (“When I Call Your Name”). The result is an album that stands neither as a tribute nor as a statement, but as a unique body of work that earns its merits all on its own. – Tara Seetharam

Blake Boldt’s Year-End Lists

December 25, 2008 // 5 Comments

Happy holidays! Singles: 1.  “In Color,” Jamey Johnson 2.  “Waitin’ on a Woman,” Brad Paisley 3.  “This Is Me You’re Talking To,” Trisha Yearwood 4.  “She Left Me for Jesus,” Hayes Carll 5.  “What I Cannot Change,” Leann Rimes 6.  “Last Call,” Lee Ann Womack 7.  “Anything Goes,” Randy Houser 8.  “Dig Two Graves,” Randy Travis 9.  “Please Read the Letter,” Alison Krauss & Robert Plant 10.  “Fine Line,” Little Big Town 11.  “Mockingbird,” Allison Moorer 12.  “Crazy Arms,” Patty Loveless 13.  “This Town Needs a Bar,” Jeremy McComb 14.   “Just Got Started Loving You,” James Otto 15.  “Takin’ off This Pain,” Ashton Shepherd 16.  “Gold,” Emmylou Harris 17.  “Every Other Weekend,” Reba McEntire & Skip Ewing 18.  “You Look Good In My Shirt,” Keith Urban 19.  “More Like Her,” Miranda Lambert 20.  “Love Don’t Live Here,” Lady Antebellum

Dan Milliken’s Top 20 Singles of 2008

December 23, 2008 // 6 Comments

Let’s do this, y’all. You’ll recognize some of these write-ups from our collective list, but others weren’t posted there or were cut down for that list. This is my “Director’s Cut” version, you might say – or maybe the “UNRATED!!” version, depending on your taste in films. In any case, here are my favorite 20 things designated as country music singles in 2008 (that I picked up on, anyhoo): #20 Elizabeth Cook, “Sunday Morning” Cook mines an abstract Velvet Underground song and halfway convinces you it was always meant to be a quiet country reflection. The production and vocal are a bit too buoyant to fully convey the song’s weariness, but they do flesh out its gentle message of hope, and that’s not too bad, either. #19 Hank Williams III, “Six Pack of Beer” Silly and shallow it may be, but III’s turbo-campy lament of hard times + booze was Read More

Lynn’s Favorite Songs of 2008

December 22, 2008 // 10 Comments

Country Universe has presented you with its top 40 singles of 2008, but as you know, singles rarely scratch the surface of a great album. Over the course of the past year, while listening to various albums, I made note of songs that stuck out for one reason or another. Although this isn’t a comprehensive list by any means, here are some of my favorite songs of 2008: #1 “She Left Me For Jesus” (Hayes Carll, Trouble in Mind) Honestly, when is the last time you heard a song this slyly clever? This laugh-out-loud engaging? But not just anyone could pull off this song. Carll’s slow laughing drawl is absolutely perfect and he nails every punch line. He not only gets the joke, he assumes you do as well. Carll readily acknowledges that this song isn’t for everyone, but in my book, it’s an instant classic. #2 “Red River Shore” Read More

Best Country Singles of 2008, Part 4: #10-#1

December 19, 2008 // 37 Comments

Our top ten singles of the year represent the very best of what country music is and what country music can be. With a combination of rising stars and veteran artists, it’s clear that the genre has worthy guardians waiting in the wings, even as the current keepers of the flame show no signs of fading away. #10 Ashton Shepherd, “Takin’ Off This Pain” I cheated a bit by throwing this one into the mix, since it was technically released last fall. But as it wasn’t on the site’s 2007 singles countdown and didn’t even peak until this past May, I’m going to take this opportunity to opine, quite simply, that this single paints the best kind of picture of everything contemporary country in the 2000’s can be. It’s not pure traditionalism, as some have suggested – there’s a lot more modern drive than old-school shuffle at work here – Read More

Concert Review: Hayes Carll @ Belcourt Theatre, Nashville, TN

December 11, 2008 // 5 Comments

Hayes Carll Belcourt Theatre/Nashville, TN December 10, 2008 With his rich baritone, Hayes Carll is perfectly suited to deliver the barroom and bedroom tales of a troubadour who’s a hard-luck, heartbroken case. But to balance his more serious moments, he possesses a wry wit and ample self-awareness that soothes his doubts and disappointment.  On Wednesday night, he was a master of all emotions as he took the stage Nashville’s Belcourt Theatre to cap off the finest year of his career so far. An enthusiastic, but well-behaved, crowd hung on every word in Carll’s drowsy drawl. On this year’s Trouble in Mind, Carll’s roots-country, sharpened with a rock edge delivered him on the precipice of Americana stardom.  A pair of triumphs at the Americana Music Awards in September confirmed his status as a prime spokesman for an entire alt-country generation. Those with a nose for pretense have eschewed the contemporary country Read More

Hayes Carll, Trouble in Mind

December 10, 2008 // 6 Comments

Hayes Carll Trouble in Mind The first couplet of Hayes Carll’s Trouble in Mind is a fitting introduction to a common man’s intellectual. On the arresting “Drunken Poet’s Dream,” he croons, “I’ve got a woman, she’s wild as Rome/She likes to lay naked and be gazed upon.” In just a few short strokes, he’s proclaimed his love for women and the wilder side of life; what follows is a colorful assortment of songs, largely based on those desires, from a folk psychologist dressed up as a Texas singer-songwriter. With Trouble in Mind, his first release with Lost Highway and third album overall, Carll’s music evokes the usual suspects in Lone Star musical lore, from Rodney Crowell to Guy Clark. Whether swallowing back the bitter taste of a romance gone sour, or swearing off bad habits of the past, Carll uses his emotional crises as fuel for a set filled with Read More

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