Tracy Lawrence

ACM Flashback: Album of the Year

March 28, 2010 // 16 Comments

The ACM Awards has traditionally been overshadowed by the CMA Awards, despite its longer existence. This is for several reasons. First, the ACM originally existed to emphasize the West Coast country music scene, whereas the CMA Awards represented Nashville from the start. The ACM has also been more commercially-oriented from the beginning, as the history of this category proves. Eighteen of the last twenty winners in this ACM category are multi-platinum sellers, and the organization allowed greatest hits albums to compete for more than a decade.
Still, the ACM category has bragging rights of its own. Critically-acclaimed albums like Storms of Life, Trio, Killin’ Time and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend won at the ACMs but were overlooked by the CMAs. Additionally, women have also been far more successful at this ceremony. Only five women have ever won the CMA Album trophy, and one of them was Sissy Spacek! At the ACMs, women have dominated the category for the past three years, and the category has honored everyone from Loretta Lynn and Donna Fargo to K.T. Oslin and Shania Twain.

A special note about ACM flashbacks. Like the Grammys, the ACMs issue their award for a given year the following year, so the awards for 2009, for example, are given out in 2010. For the purposes of the flashbacks, Country Universe notes the year the award is presented. While the ACM first presented awards in 1966, the Album category wasn’t introduced until 1968.

As with other flashbacks, we begin with a look at this year’s nominees:


  • Lady Antebellum, Lady Antebellum
  • Miranda Lambert, Revolution
  • Brad Paisley, American Saturday Night
  • Carrie Underwood, Play On
  • Zac Brown Band, The Foundation

Three previous winners – Miranda Lambert, Brad Paisley, and Carrie Underwood – compete against the debut albums of two hot bands. Lady Antebellum and Zac Brown Band each picked up a Grammy this year and are well represented on the rest of the ACM ballot. This is a very competitive race. Even the sales-friendly nature of the ACMs doesn’t help much here, as four of these albums are platinum and Lambert’s just went gold.


  • Jamey Johnson, That Lonesome Song
  • Montgomery Gentry, Back When I Knew It All
  • George Strait, Troubadour
  • Taylor Swift, Fearless
  • Carrie Underwood, Carnival Ride

Taylor Swift became the third consecutive female artist to win in this category, a feat that would’ve seemed unthinkable earlier in the middle part of the decade, when country radio all but exiled women from radio.

Create A Super Group

July 17, 2009 // 22 Comments

In 1985, four country music rebels/icons came together to form a larger-than-life group that people wouldn’t have even dared dream about before their actual union. Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson formed the country super group, The Highwaymen. The four highly revered friends recorded three albums worth of material, much to the delight of the astonished public. While all of the members were extremely successful in their own rights, their potential egos were set aside to make music as a cohesive unit. They sounded like a polished group, not just some people thrown together as a marketing gimmick.

Then, in 1988, the rock world hit the jackpot when superstars George Harrison, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Bob Dylan and Jeff Lynne formed The Traveling Wilburys. Again, these immensely famous, talented and respected people formed a super group that still seems too good to be true to this day. Their unbelievable union created two albums that were repackaged in 2007 with bonus material, which sold surprisingly well for a reissue. Like The Highwaymen, their voices blended amazingly well together as if they were meant to be a group.

Album Sales Update: July 2009

July 11, 2009 // 10 Comments

It’s time for an album sales update, our first since May 23. Brad Paisley is off to a strong start with American Saturday Night, selling 130k in its first week. That’s about 70k less than his previous two studio albums – Time Well Wasted and 5th Gear – opened with, but not a terrible drop-off, considering the state of the music market.

Meanwhile, the new studio albums by Rascal Flatts and Keith Urban are slowing down considerably, now being outpaced on a weekly basis by 2008 releases by Taylor Swift, Zac Brown Band, Darius Rucker and Lady Antebellum.

Among younger acts with a new album in 2009, the most impressive sales are coming from Jason Aldean, while 2008 releases from Kellie Pickler, Billy Currington, and Randy Houser are showing new signs of life.

Biggest disappointments? It’s hard not to look in the direction of Martina McBride, who has barely cleared the 100k mark on her new studio set. Lee Ann Womack’s 2008 set just made it over that mark, too. Then again, one only needs to have sold 455 copies to make the chart this week, with the anchor position going to Wynonna with that total. Her covers album Sing – Chapter 1 has sold 41k to date.

Here are the latest totals for albums released over the past three years that are still charting:


  • Rascal Flatts, Unstoppable – 842,000
  • Keith Urban, Defying Gravity – 452,000
  • Jason Aldean, Wide Open – 384,000
  • Kenny Chesney, Greatest Hits II – 281,000
  • Dierks Bentley, Feel That Fire – 219,000
  • Martina McBride, Shine – 104,000
  • John Rich, Son of a Preacher Man – 103,000
  • Eric Church, Carolina – 94,000
  • Rodney Atkins, It’s America – 88,000
  • Jake Owen, Easy Does It – 81,000

Tracy Lawrence, “Up to Him”

March 21, 2009 // 2 Comments

Let me preface this review by disclosing that Tracy Lawrence was among my favorite hit makers in the early to mid-nineties. His voice was gritty and distinctive.
Moreover until the latter part of that decade, his song choices were enjoyable and even solid.

Regrettably, I cannot apply the same praise to his single, “Up to Him”, which is the lead single for his upcoming inspirational album. As has been a looming factor with Lawrence’s career ever since the album following Time Marches On, there is nothing remotely interesting about this song.

While the premise is arguably a legitimate sentiment for a country song, neither the song nor the delivery of it brings anything new or fresh to the oft sung about theme of working hard for one’s family through the strength of God. Instead, we are subjected to blandness that is not sonically or lyrically engaging. Furthermore, Lawrence doesn’t even sound as though he’s especially interested in what he’s singing about either. His voice is still recognizable, but it lacks the charisma it once had, which, incidentally, also happens to be the song’s ultimate downfall.

CMA Flashback: Horizon Award (New Artist)

November 9, 2008 // 14 Comments

For a look back at the other major categories, visit our CMA Awards page. 2010 Luke Bryan Easton Corbin Jerrod Neimann Chris Young Zac Brown Band Usually there isn’t this much turnover in this race unless most of last year’s nominees are ineligible.  This year, only one of the four eligible nominees from last year – Zac Brown Band – earns a nomination.  With their massive success and their multiple nominations, they’ve got an excellent shot at winning. Then again, Easton Corbin is elsewhere on the ballot, too. It could be a horse race. 2009 Randy Houser Jamey Johnson Jake Owen Darius Rucker Zac Brown Band Thirteen years after winning the Best New Artist Grammy as part of Hootie & The Blowfish, Darius Rucker won the country music equivalent, adding an exclamation point to the most successful pop-to-country crossover in a generation. 2008 Jason Aldean Rodney Atkins Lady Antebellum James Read More

Tracy Lawrence, “You Can’t Hide Redneck”

October 2, 2008 // 13 Comments

Tracy Lawrence, a far more distinctive vocalist than many of his contemporaries, received industry approval with his first CMA award last fall for the Vocal Event-winning “Find Out Who Your Friends Are”,  his collaboration with Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw.  After the cool reception to follow-up single, “‘Til I Was a Daddy, Too”, he returns with a song on the complete opposite of the spectrum, “You Can’t Hide Redneck.” It’s a song split into two stories set at a Southern high school reunion, with two classmates showing off their rough-around-the-edges attitudes behind the professional disguises (he’s a rich career man out west, she’s a judge in Boston). But as the conversations continue, they exhibit their true selves, proving that it’s impossible to fool others by putting on airs. Problem is, the hook is pretty lame and the second verse is especially weak in its example of redneck-icity. The song’s another Read More

Bobby Braddock

September 19, 2008 // 0 Comments

As one of Nashville’s premier songwriters, Bobby Braddock has spoken the language of many a country music fan, a talent that has surpassed a number of his peers for its sheer depth of creativity and connection to the audience. Braddock was born in Auburndale, Florida, attending Florida Southern College in Lakeland for two years. The first recording of one of Braddock’s songs occurred in 1961, on D.J. Records, an independent record label that operated out of Auburndale. Braddock played piano in several rock and roll bands locally and around the state, and throughout the southeast, but soon migrated to Music City. After moving to Nashville in 1964, Braddock landed a job at a music store, and eventually he was offered a gig playing piano in Marty Robbins’ tour band. In 1966, Robbins recorded and released Braddock’s song, “While You’re Dancing.” Bobby worked around town as a session player before signing Read More

Harlan Howard

August 23, 2008 // 0 Comments

“I like to give artists a song they have to sing the rest of their lives. Songwriting is both my living and my pleasure, so I’m a happy man.” ~ Harlan Howard The dean of country music songwriters, Harlan Howard paved the way for all future practitioners of his craft, lending an authenticity and eloquence to the music that will last for the ages. Through five decades of classic songs, Howard put his indelible stamp on the country music industry through sheer genius and, like many fellow artists and songwriters, rose through the ranks with country music as a constant love through a hardscrabble life. Born and raised in a Michigan farm town, Howard, an orphan, was first drawn to country music by his weekly appointments with the Grand Ole Opry radio shows on Nashville’s WSM radio. This love affair with the music continued when he traveled to Nashville on Read More

Tracy Lawrence, “‘Til I Was a Daddy Too”

November 11, 2007 // 10 Comments

Tracy Lawrence was one of the very best singles artists of the early and middle nineties, rattling off one top five hit after another, each one of them catchy and memorable enough at the time. Lawrence returned to the top with “Find Out Who Your Friends Are”, and is looking to continue the streak with “‘Til I Was a Daddy Too.” True to form, he’s got himself a great song. It doesn’t reach its full potential, however, because of anemic production and a surprisingly weak vocal performance. Lawrence shouldn’t be singing a piano ballad in the first place, but even a strange backdrop for his vocals can’t explain away the mediocre singing. His voice sounds shot. Grade: B Listen: ‘Til I Was a Daddy Too Buy: ‘Til I Was a Daddy Too

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