New Music Monday: Lee Brice- I Drive Your Truck

I don’t think Lee Brice can go wrong lately.

I saw the video for this song several times, but when I heard it on the radio and truly listened, I got chills as I drove. Lee’s musical delivery lends itself to the lyrics so well.

When you think of someone who’s no longer in this world, you figure out how to deal with the hole they left in your life, and that’s exactly what this song describes. I especially love the line “I hope you don’t mind.” It just makes it seem as if the person never died, and it serves as a reminder that they may not be physically there, but an angel’s presence can still be felt.

Find this song on iTunes here.

Keep talkin’ twangy!


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New Music Monday: Randy Rogers Band- One More Sad Song

After what seems like forever, I’m finally sitting down to write a post today– hallelujah! I’ve missed being able to blog.

Lately when I’ve been at the studio for my intern hours, I’ve been scrolling through the Mediabase country radio charts, and I discovered this gem a little over a week ago. It’s not exactly a new release, but it’s just now getting a little bit of action on the charts, so we’ll consider it new for my purposes.

I’ve also seen the video on CMT. The video is a bit intense, but I’m completely in love with the song. There’s something about how the words and the melody fit together in the chorus that makes it almost melancholic, which is very fitting. It has a different sound to it from most current mainstream country, but maybe it’ll climb up in the charts soon anyway. I sure hope so!

If you enjoyed this song, you can find it on iTunes here.

Keep talkin’ twangy!


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New Music Monday and an Album Review: Taylor Swift’s “Red”

Taylor Swift’s latest album, Red, is not necessarily “new” since it was released almost two weeks ago, and it also may not be what some would peg as country music. Nonetheless I wanted to write a review for it if for no other reason than to look at how her musical style has changed since her “Tim McGraw” days as a 16-year-old with that wildly curly hair.

If Taylor was going for an occasionally acoustic pop-folk sound, she hit the nail right on the head. “Holy Ground” has a subdued pop-rock feel to it, and I like the way it escalates with an almost electronic-sounding background as the song continues. My absolute favorite song on the album is “Everything Has Changed,” which is the duet she wrote and performed with Ed Sheeran (who is also going to be her tour mate in 2013). It’s a unique stripped down sound, it’s raw, it’s real, and it’s just catchy. A close runner up on my list of most played is “Begin Again,” which is probably the song with the strongest country-esque sound on the album. It’s the only song on  Red that’s playing on the radio station I’m interning for, and yes, I have been caught belting it in the studio while it’s on the air… no shame! The video for it is also arguably one of the best videos she’s ever made.

The title track, “Red,” is an emotionally intense song about a passionate relationship that’s all but doomed for failure. I do like the banjo riffs toward the beginning of “Red,” but they’re unfortunately buried under a hodge podge of more prominent electric guitar sounds as the song plays on.  “All Too Well” does a fantastic job of capturing the sad emotion when you’re trying so hard to let go of someone, but the sweet memories are still there and the hurt from the end hasn’t disappeared either. “The Lucky One” is a haunting tribute to a wide-eyed dreamer whose life was marred by a lifestyle of fame.

Three songs on the album were co-written with Max Martin and Shellback, both of whom have impressive track records… in the area of top 40 pop. Their influence is definitely prominent in all three: “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” “I Knew You Were Trouble” and “22.” “22” is by far the worst of the three. It’s homogenized and not at all original-sounding. It’s as if the co-writers were trying to replace Taylor’s usual heartfelt lyrics with an overused narrative about friends going out to a club and clinging to a stranger–completely uncharacteristic of Taylor’s typically classy image. As a friend and classmate of mine, Niki, put it: “It’s just this really cheap sounding song. It just… ugh.” Bingo, almost to the point of being repulsive.

“We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” has completely torn up radio and download charts. Lyrically, it’s shallow, but its explosive popularity is probably due to the fact that it has an extremely catchy pop hook.

“I Knew You Were Trouble” has an obvious dubstep influence, and surprisingly, I don’t hate it. Is it Taylor’s sound? Nope. But it’s a good song for jamming in the car when I’m in the right mood. Another black sheep on the album is “State of Grace,” which really doesn’t sound like anything else on the album or like any of Taylor’s earlier work. “Starlight” is an almost cheesy pop song written thanks to inspiration from Robert and Ethel Kennedy. It has a fluffy pop sound, but it’s a not nearly as bad as “22,” which is definitely my least favorite on the album.

If I’m being honest, “Sad Beautiful Tragic” and “The Last Time” (which was co-written with Jacknife Lee and Gary Lightbody and performed with Lightbody) are not much more than forgettable. They’re not necessarily bad, they just lack impact. If you told me to recall the tune of either of them on the spot after listening to them several times each within the mix of the album, I don’t know that I could.

“I Almost Do” and “Treacherous,” are most reminiscent of Taylor’s older, acoustic-guitar-based sound that was present on her debut album. “Stay Stay Stay” has the same laid back, innocent vibe as one of her initial hits, “Our Song.” I’ve been a Taylor fan since her first album wasn’t even huge yet, and her original sound was definitely more country, more carefree, and less… worldly. She used to write more from a small town perspective, and it’s very obvious how both her lyrics and her sound have changed as her fame has taken her anywhere and everywhere. It’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just a change that mirrors her current lifestyle as well as her journey toward maturity.

She’s been calling this her most “adventurous” album, and that it is. There’s a variety of genres represented on the album– you’ve got a copious amount of pop, a tiny bit of folk-country flavor, and even dubstep. The songwriting is decent, and we all know that’s why she’s making so much money anyway– she’s made herself and her lyrics incredibly relatable. When the album first came out, my friend and classmate Niki made the comment that the songs she wrote alone are much better than the ones she had co-writers on. In the case of the songs co-written with Max Martin and Shellback, I wholeheartedly agree. Taylor has her own distinctive style, and somehow the extra contributions of those pop-bent outsiders corrupted her signature feel that’s been present throughout her career.

Overall, I do really like Red. Do I love it for the same reasons I love Alan Jackson or Miranda Lambert? No, not at all, but it’s still worthy of merit. Some of the songs I have to be in a particular mood to enjoy, but nonetheless I’ve had it the album playing in my car since it came out. I’m hoping that Taylor can find a way to blend the great acoustic folky pop sound she’s explored on this album with some more country flavor on her next album. She’s a young star, so she has time to experiment with her signature sound and style, and that’s precisely what she’s doing. I just hope that when she does finally find that signature sound, it’s not terribly far from her country roots.

Find Taylor’s new album, Red, on iTunes here.

Keep talkin’ twangy!


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New Music Monday: Hunter Hayes’ Live EP

I’ve been a huge fan of Hunter Hayes for almost two years now, and last November I jumped at the chance to see him live in Atlanta. By the time the show rolled around, I had every word of his album memorized, and I’m so glad he decided to preserve one of his live shows in the form of this new EP. He’s definitely talented as a young songwriter, and his abilities as a live performer certainly measure up to his songwriting talent.

The show I went to was in a relatively small venue with a small but lively crowd, so it was an incredibly up close, laid back, personal performance. I’m not sure where this live EP was recorded, but it sounds like a larger show than the Atlanta one I attended. He put on a fantastic live show for being a new artist, and I’m so glad I got the opportunity to see him live before he set out on Carrie Underwood’s arena tour. This EP is a true representation of his talent… I would even go so far as to say he sounds better live than he does on his first album!

Here’s a video of Hunter performing one of the most romantic songs that could possibly come out of a twenty-one-year-old male at the Opry. If you enjoy this video, check out the live EP here!

Keep talkin’ twangy!


Throwback Thursday: 10.18.12

Lately I’ve heard a lot of Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn’s solo music, and I won’t lie, it’s made me miss hearing them as Brooks and Dunn. They were a power duo, and it’s easy to know why when you listen to their music.

I love this song in particular because I have fond memories associated with it. When I was 12 or 13, my uncle took me out on his boat on a lake in Tennessee, and this song was blasting on the radio. Ever since then, I’ve tied this song to that feeling of the wind in my hair, driving that boat at full speed as a mist sprayed my face and the mountains opened up before my eyes…

… I’d love to be on that boat again right now, but I suppose I’ll have to settle for the memories of it that this song brings back. Hopefully you’ll enjoy listening to this Brooks and Dunn classic as well!

Keep talkin’ twangy!


New Music Monday- Music from “Nashville”

As you may have heard, there’s a new TV series on ABC called “Nashville.” Because I am in love with Music City, I inevitably had to watch the premiere. I loved being able to point out the places I (somewhat) know and definitely love in my favorite city, but I was also intrigued by how good the music was. I didn’t expect for the music to sound all that genuine, but I was pleasantly surprised. It’s obvious that the actors spent time making their voices sound just right, and it really added an extra good finishing touch to the show.

Hayden Panetierre’s (as Juliette Barnes) voice fits well with the driven, up-tempo “Love Like Mine,” and Charles Esten (as Deacon Claybourne) also plays quite a convincing role as a legendary songwriter with his heartfelt performance “Back Home.” In the end, though, the one song that had me completely floored was Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen’s (as Gunnar Scott and Scarlett O’Connor) version of “If I Didn’t Know Better,” which was made famous by the Civil Wars. I most definitely do love the Civil Wars, but this version could definitely put up some competition to theirs! Whenever I first recognized the guitar part to the song as the show’s first episode was coming to a close, I didn’t expect much, but it was actually pretty incredible. Their voices are somewhat similar to those of John Paul White and Joy Williams (The Civil Wars), but they were just unique enough to make me fall in love with the song all over again. It’s definitely worth a listen, and I hope those two characters have many duets to come on the show!

Find the music from the first episode of Nashville here:

“Love Like Mine” by Hayden Panetierre
“Back Home” by Charles Esten
“If I Didn’t Know Better” by Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen

You can watch “Nashville” Wednesday nights at 10/9c on ABC.

Keep talkin’ twangy!


Throwback Thursday: 10.11.12

Scotty McCreery performed at the Brad Paisley show that I never got the chance to write a review for, and he sang this song during his set. Scotty’s voice doesn’t have the same distintive sound that Travis’ does, but it was a fantastic cover of a classic song nonetheless. I remember hearing this one growing up, and I’m pretty sure I could sing it before I even knew what t-r-o-u-b-l-e would spell!

Song: “T-R-O-U-B-L-E”
Artist: Travis Tritt
Album: The Very Best of Travis Tritt

Keep talkin’ twangy!


Show Review- Kicks 101.5 Country Fair

When a friend asked me in July if I wanted to see Alan Jackson last weekend, I knew I couldn’t say no. If country music royalty existed, Alan Jackson would definitely be of that noble heritage, and I almost felt as if I couldn’t call myself a true country fan until I’d seen a legend like him in a live performance setting.

Alan was the headlining act of the Kicks 101.5 Country Fair, put on by one of the major country radio stations in Atlanta, Georgia. The show was held at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Alpharetta, Georgia on Saturday, October 6th. Corbette Jackson, Jana Kramer, and Clay Walker also performed.

Because my friend Shelby and I were coming from Athens, we didn’t make it in time to hear Corbette Jackson play. We arrived right after he had finished, and we staked out our spot on the lawn just as Jana Kramer’s gear was being moved onto the stage.

I saw Jana Kramer play as a part of Brad Paisley’s Virtual Reality Tour several weeks ago (I never got around to writing a review– please forgive me), and her set was only the slightest bit different from that performance. She sang several songs from her debut album, including “I Hope It Rains,” “King of Apology,” “One of the Boys,” and of course her first radio hit, “Why Ya Wanna.” She also threw in a few covers of current pop songs and some classic rock. Her set was enjoyable, but the whole time I felt like she was trying harder than was really necessary, and there was almost an unnatural air about her. She was born and raised in Michigan, so I’ll chalk up her lack of relaxation on stage to her non-Southern heritage 😉

Between Jana Kramer and Clay Walker’s sets, some of the on-air personalities from Kicks 101.5 came out on the stage to recognize a Purple Heart recipient. He brought his girlfriend out on stage and gave a heartfelt little speech about how important loved ones are to those who serve in the military. To make a long story short, by the time he walked off the stage, his girlfriend had become his fiancee! It was quite a sweet proposal.

During the lag between the proposal and Clay Walker, Kix Brooks himself came out with just a guitar and sang “Red Dirt Road” as well as one other song. He was sort of an MC for the event, but I’m glad he performed as well.

After what seemed like quite a while, Clay Walker took the stage. I grew up listening to some of Clay’s hits, most notably the catchy, quasi-tropical, “Then What?” He did play that song, as well as a few of his other older songs like “If I Could Make a Living” and “Live, Laugh, Love.” I had forgotten that he also had a few recent hits until he played “Fall” and “She Won’t Be Lonely Long.” One thing I noticed is that he never shied away from difficult melodies and high notes like some artists do when they’re afraid of messing up something that’s on the recorded version of the song; it’s a small thing, but I definitely noticed and gave Clay some mental quality points in my own mind for being fearless. His set was longer than I expected, but the longer duration wasn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Alan Jackson finally took the stage around 9:15 PM. From the moment he walked out, it was obvious that he was truly just a “Small Town Southern Man” who could play some good country music. Despite his incredible success, his humility was evident throughout his entire performance. He played a good number of his classic hits that are still heard on the radio even today, and I was proud to know almost every word. His band inserted a few riffs and runs here and there to shake things up. The fiddle player introduced “Little Bitty” with a melody that incorporated the Andy Griffith theme, and of course I shed a few tears at the sound of that sweet tribute. Alan played just about every song that was iconic to his career, including “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” and “Livin’ On Love,” just to name a few, but he also played more recent hits like “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” and “Good Time.”

The most emotionally intense performance of the night was undoubtedly “Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning),” which beautifully captures the emotions of Americans following September 11th, 2011. I used that particular song in my July 4th post (which you can find here), but there’s nothing that could compare to the haunting emotions that came with Alan’s live performance of the song.

The entire show was most definitely well worth the drive and the fair amount I paid for my lawn seat. I’m so glad I got the chance to see a country legend like Alan Jackson in concert, and it’s not something I will soon forget.

Keep talkin’ twangy!


New Music Monday- Brad Paisley: Southern Comfort Zone

I saw Brad Paisley live in concert several weeks ago, but I’ve been so insanely busy that I never found the time to write a review for his incredible show. To make up for my lack of a review, I wanted to feature Brad’s rockin’ new song, “Southern Comfort Zone” this week!

I am a Southern girl through and through, and as soon as the song began, the voice-over tributes to all things Southern made me tear up with pride, especially Andy Griffith’s voice. I found the lyrics to be relatable to my transition to college– when I got here, I realized just how many different cultures are present in the world outside of my semi-rural Georgia bubble. I absolutely love that Brad chooses to convey complete respect and even awe– not ignorant hatred– for those who have been raised in a different culture than his own.

The musical sound of this song is certainly not typical of Brad Paisley’s signature feel, but nonetheless, I definitely don’t hate it. It has a driving, almost pop-rock beat to it, especially when the chorus kicks up with a prominent cymbal part. It does, however, have a swanky guitar interlude– I’m convinced that a Paisley song simply can’t be without one!

Just as he did in “This Is Country Music,” Brad Paisley has managed to honor a culture in “Southern Comfort Zone” that is very close to my heart, and I will always admire him as a songwriter for that ability.

If you haven’t listened to the song all the way through, I encourage you to watch the official lyric video and pay special attention to the lyrics as well as the extra voices lending some extra southern heart to this tune.

Keep talkin’ twangy!


Throwback Thursday: 9.20.12

This week has been nonstop madness for me, so I chose this song because I can truly relate to it! This is another one of those songs that I remember hearing countless times as a youngster, probably due in large part to the fact that my parents loved Alabama (and still do!). But I ain’t complainin’!

If you– like me– are “in a hurry to get things done” and you’ve been “rushin’ ’til life’s no fun” lately, take a few minutes to slow down and enjoy a classic Alabama song. I promise you won’t regret it!

Song: “I’m In a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why)”
Artist: Alabama
Album: 16 Biggest Hits

Keep talkin’ twangy!