Here are rapid fire takes on new releases from Reba McEntire, Darius Rucker, Mike and the Moonpies, Victoria Bailey, and Taylor Austin Dye.
A Cowgirl Rides On
Had Tanya Tucker not claimed it, “Sweet Western Sound” would’ve been a perfect title for this lovely, unassuming record. Bailey sings of moving forward while bearing a mile-wide streak of melancholy, and the traditional country, western flourishes buoy her spirit.
Not That Fancy
Not That Fancy is mostly a repackaging of the Revisited album from three years ago, but these acoustic renditions of some of her biggest and best hits are worth seeking out again, and the added tracks are mostly on par. “The Fear of Being Alone” and “One Promise Too Late” are the standouts.
Mike and the Moonpies
Live From the Devil’s Backbone
There’s an argument to be made that they’ve been country’s best live act for a while now, and they’ve translated that fully into a record that plays like a perfectly-curated career retrospective and captures them at peak power. A rare live album that’s essential.
Taylor Austin Dye
Out of These Hills
An early-run Carrie Underwood album, if generally more believable on the naughtier tracks and with a better vocal tone. This isn’t great itself, but she has a solid voice and some interesting ideas about family ties that make her one to watch down the line.
As ever, he’s put out an album that’s never less or more than competent. Intended as a tribute to his mother and at least a bit more personal and introspective than his norm, this may be the ceiling for what he can do, but I’ll happily be proven wrong someday.