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Martina McBride, Shine

March 24, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 16

Like Waking Up Laughing before it, Shine promises a far more upbeat album than Martina McBride intends to deliver. It’s almost disappointing, as McBride can be a burst of positivity when she sets her mind to it, with deliciously upbeat treats like “Safe in the Arms of Love” and “Happy Girl” to her credit.

There are a few songs in that vein this time around. “Ride”, the infectious first single, open with a “Yeah!” that would make Shania Twain proud, and McBride belts the song with eager intensity. Equally charming is “Sunny Side Up”, which was co-written by McBride herself. It’s the closest thing to “Walking on Sunshine” that we’re ever likely to hear in country music.

The best of the upbeat material comes late in the album. “You’re Not Leaving Me” is McBride’s most convincing rocker to date, all fiery conviction and stubborn will. You can almost hear her furrowing her brow and putting her foot down, stopping her weak-kneed partner in his tracks.

But a few of the other uptempo attempts falter because they don’t strike the right tone. The jangly “Don’t Cost a Dime” is almost Beatlesque, but the banality of the lyrics make it an unconvincing attempt at boosting the morale of those dealing with hard times.

The lyrics are stronger on album opener “Wrong Baby Wrong Baby Wrong”, but the song never gets off the ground. With a faster tempo and a more energetic production, it would have been far more effective.

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Pop Goes the Country, Part I

March 9, 2009 Kevin John Coyne 68

What follows is a guest piece from Country Universe reader VP exploring the latest wave of country artists who have crossed over to the pop charts. Part II, written by me, will follow later in

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Jessica Simpson, “Pray Out Loud”

February 22, 2009 Guest Contributor 4

One probably thought they knew what to expect from Jessica Simpson on her latest  single, “Pray Out Loud,” simply by reading the title: The big-voiced former Christian pop singer was going to put forth her

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44th Annual ACM Awards Projections

February 9, 2009 Guest Contributor 38

On Wednesday, February 11, the Academy of Country Music will unveil the nominees for their 44th annual awards ceremony. Last year, the usual suspects prevailed. Brad and Carrie repeated in the Vocalist categories, Brooks &

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