Shane McAnally

Single Review: Sam Hunt, “Take Your Time”

February 22, 2015 // 16 Comments

“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.

2015 Grammy Awards: Predictions & Personal Picks

February 6, 2015 // 17 Comments

This year’s Grammy Awards air on Sunday, February 8, and country music will be represented with performances Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, and the tantalizing pairing of Brandy Clark and Dwight Yoakam.   Most of the awards will be handed out before the show, and we will post the relevant winners here, as part of a Grammy Open Thread where CU readers and writers can share their thoughts on this year’s awards. Four CU writers, including myself, have shared our predictions and personal picks for the general and country-related categories below.  Of course, one of the coolest things about the Grammys is that it celebrates a wide range of music from the past year, and as you’ll see by our varying levels of participation, our tastes here at CU run the gamut. This year, I’m as excited about the performances by Madonna, Kanye West (twice!), and that Hozier and Annie Lennox duet Read More

2015 ACM Awards: Nominations & Analysis

January 31, 2015 // 14 Comments

The third most prestigious country music industry award nominations – but the most important ones handed out in the spring – have been announced.  Here’s a rundown of all the major categories, along with some back-of-the-envelope analysis: Entertainer Jason Aldean Garth Brooks Luke Bryan Florida Georgia Line Miranda Lambert Who’s In: Jason Aldean, Garth Brooks, Florida Georgia Line Who’s Out: Blake Shelton, George Strait, Taylor Swift Last year’s winner, George Strait, didn’t get a return invitation, but Garth Brooks, who has won this award six times before, returns to the competition.  Much like Strait’s farewell tour was a reminder of his extensive popularity, Garth’s ability to sell out several dates per city overshadows the lukewarm reception to his new material at radio and retail.   Taylor Swift’s exit is directly tied to her cutting ties with the genre. Jason Aldean’s return makes logical sense, but it’s quite the mystery to see Read More

2015 Grammy Nominations

December 5, 2014 // 11 Comments

Updated: Best Country Duo/Group Performance The Band Perry, “Gentle on My Mind” Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood, “Somethin’ Bad” Little Big Town, “Day Drinking” Tim McGraw featuring Faith Hill, “Meanwhile Back at Mama’s” Keith Urban featuring Eric Church, “Raise ‘Em Up” Best American Roots Performance Greg Allman & Taj Mahal, “Statesboro Blues” Rosanne Cash, “A Feather’s not a Bird” Billy Childs featuring Alison Krauss and Jerry Douglas, “And When I Die” Keb’ Mo’ featuring the California Feet Warmers, “The Old Me Better” Nickel Creek, “Destination” Best Country Solo Performance Eric Church, “Give Me Back My Hometown” Hunter Hayes, “Invisible” Miranda Lambert, “Automatic” Carrie Underwood, “Something in the Water” Keith Urban, “Cop Car”   Best New Artist includes last year’s actual best new artist! Iggy Azalea Bastille Brandy Clark  (!!!!) HAIM Sam Smith Best Americana Album Rosanne Cash, The River & The Thread John Haitt, Terms of My Surrender Keb’ Mo’, Read More

CMA Awards 2014: Staff Predictions and Picks

November 2, 2014 // 32 Comments

Despite the Grammys and even the ACM’s demonstrating more consistent taste over the past few years, the CMA’s remain the most significant industry awards that honor country music.  This year’s slate of nominees gives the organization an opportunity to build on the credibility of last year’s George Strait victory.  His win for Entertainer saved a dismal show in its closing minutes. Here’s our take on this year’s contenders: Entertainer of the Year Should Win: Luke Bryan Miranda Lambert Blake Shelton George Strait – Kevin, Jonathan, Tara, Ben Keith Urban Will Win: Luke Bryan Miranda Lambert Blake Shelton George Strait – Jonathan, Kevin, Tara, Ben Keith Urban Kevin:  I’d settle for a Miranda Lambert victory, as she had an amazing year.  But my first choice is George Strait, who deserves a fourth trophy for that record-breaking final concert.   The rest of these nominees have either won before or still seem to Read More

Single Review: Toby Keith, “Drunk Americans”

October 22, 2014 // 7 Comments

“Drunk Americans” Toby Keith Written by Brandy Clark, Bob DiPiero and Shane McAnally The most successful records Toby Keith has had lately have been about drinking or about being American.  It’s easy to see the title of “Drunk Americans” and assume that Keith is stitching the two themes together in an act of cynicism. That assumption would be wrong.  Shockingly wrong, actually.   I dare say that “Drunk Americans” manages to elevate both the drinking song and the patriotic song by bringing the two together.   It’s so sharply written that I planned to document all those great songs Toby Keith has written lately that never got sent to radio, but amazingly, he didn’t write this one.

2014 CMA Nominations

September 6, 2014 // 50 Comments

This year’s CMA nominees are the best in years, with multiple nominations for Miranda Lambert, Kacey Musgraves, and Brandy Clark.  Country radio may still be shunning women, but their embrace by CMA voters suggests that the industry knows who is really leading the way in the genre these days. Entertainer of the Year Luke Bryan Miranda Lambert Blake Shelton George Strait Keith Urban Who’s In:  Miranda Lambert, Keith Urban Who’s Out: Jason Aldean, Taylor Swift George Strait, a surprise winner last year, is nominated again in a year that includes his record-shattering final concert.   Miranda Lambert’s domination of this year’s nominations extends to the big category, where she competes for the first time since 2010.

Single Review: Sam Hunt, “Leave the Night On”

June 30, 2014 // 14 Comments

“Leave the Night On” Sam Hunt Written by Sam Hunt, Shane McAnally, and Josh Osborne I feel like I’ve heard this song so many times before that the artist has to work extra hard just to even keep my attention. Sam Hunt works pretty hard to do that.  Not as a vocalist, mind you.  But as a songwriter, which is what’s put him on the map in the first place.

Single Review: Kenny Chesney, “American Kids”

June 25, 2014 // 11 Comments

If you’re going to keep revisiting the same themes, you might as well take some risks with your delivery. Kenny Chesney’s new single sounds fresher and more engaging than anything he’s done in a very long time.  It’s easy to miss that he’s singing about what he always sings about: nostalgia for growing up in the country with American rock as the soundtrack.   What makes “American Kids” work more than a lot his attempts with this theme is that sounds like he learned something listening to those Mellencamp and Springsteen records.  This record oozes charm and mature authority, like he’s finally lived long enough to look back and say, “Hey. We were kinda crazy back then.  But we all turned out alright in the end.” Written by Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird, and Shane McAnally Grade: B+ httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZliR74HRwGU  

Single Review: Kacey Musgraves, “The Trailer Song”

June 24, 2014 // 6 Comments

A new Kacey Musgraves track with co-writes from Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally is not a bad way to start your day. “The Trailer Song” has been a live staple for Musgraves, and it sounds like a lost cut from her Grammy-winning album.  It’s a humorous song, but it’s neither satire nor novelty.

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