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HARDY
A Rock

There's a special form of alchemy going on with certain country stars these days. Take some Goodwill Store fashion, electric guitar love and mix it with the simple life concerns of a down-home good 'ole boy. Grunge meets Country...Gruntry? Take Michael Wilson Hardy, for example. ...

Heidi Newfield
The Barfly Sessions Vol. 1

There are many encouraged by Tanya Tucker's recent comeback album and rightfully so. She brought a rocker's reckless approach to creating country music back in the '70s. However, Tucker has naturally slowed down some since her youthful beginnings. Therefore, if you're seeking ...

The Avett Brothers
The Gleam III

Usually, albums kick off with a sonic banger. And one might assume such is the case with The Avett Brothers' "The Gleam III," which begins with the promising song title, "Victory." However, the chorus to this sadly reflective opener states, "From victory, I accept defeat. ...

Tim McGraw
Here on Earth

Tim McGraw's collection, "Here on Earth," finds the country star sounding peaceful and down to Earth. He's more meditative than overly active, throughout. It's very much an adult album in that McGraw is speaking from the perspective of maturity, rather than pretending ...

Old 97's
Twelfth

To illustrate its 12th album - appropriately titled "Twelfth"- Old 97's put a picture of Dallas Cowboys star quarterback Roger Staubach on the cover, where he can be seen throwing a pass wearing his number 12 jersey. Since the band is originally from Dallas, it all fits together quite nicely. ...

RaeLynn
Baytown

Country music should put in the by-laws that there must always be heirs to Dolly on the charts. We've seen plenty of ladies who overdo the sex appeal or come across a little aloof (would Shania really have a beer with you?). The world needs women who are spiritual and free-spirits, who ...

Luke Bryan
Born Here, Live Here, Die Here

After taking in Luke Bryan's "Born Here Live Here Die Here," the listener will never guess this full length was released during a pandemic. Maybe that's a good thing. After all, we might need a diversion from the international health crisis now and then. The release opens with ...

Mary Chapin Carpenter
The Dirt and the Stars

There is an air of quiet reflection on Mary Chapin Carpenter's 15th studio album. Although its 11 tracks were written and recorded prior to the global pandemic, "The Dirt and the Stars" is an appropriate artistic statement for these times - days in which socially-isolated people are ...

Rascal Flatts
How They Remember You

Rascal Flatts' swan song EP grapples with the issues like legacy, time and memory. Right off the bat, "How They Remember You" posits that it's not a question of if, but how we're remembered. After we leave this planet for good, we won't be forgotten. ...

Mac McAnally
Once in a Lifetime

Nashville-based singer/songwriter Mac McAnally is best known as a member of Jimmy Buffett's Coral Reefer Band and for writing such hits as Alabama's "Old Flame," but he has also been a recording artist in his own right since 1977. With "Once in a Lifetime," McAnally ...

Tawny Ellis
Love Life

Strangely enough, Tawny Ellis has somehow managed to elude widespread attention, a mystery made all the more confounding given her emotive vocals and solid sense of song craft. Her latest album, "Love Life," affirms the fact that Ellis is decidedly deserving of an attentive audience, given ...

Lori McKenna
The Balladeer

Lori McKenna records should come with a warning label - this product may cause uncontrollable weeping. Every generation has their best songwriters, and this unassuming mom from Massachusetts happens to be one of them. It's the kind of talent that wins Best Country Song Grammys in streaks. ...

The Chicks (formerly Dixie Chicks)
Gaslighter

Much has changed for The Chicks since their last studio release, "Taking the Long Way," some 14 years ago. Rebranding for one. No more Dixie Chicks, thanks to their reaction to the discussion over racial issues in the U.S. following the killing of George Floyd. "Dixie" was no ...

Ray Wylie Hubbard
Co-Starring

The country music world was more than a little surprised by the news of Big Machine Records signing Ray Wylie Hubbard. This, after all, is the label home for mainstream stars Tim McGraw, Rascal Flatts and Sugarland and the former label residence of pop superstar Taylor Swift. ...

Brett Eldredge
Sunday Drive

When an artist achieves the kind of commercial success that Brett Eldredge has, there seems to inevitably be an album that is all about the songwriting. Having described his 2017 self-titled album as his "most honest collection of songs," he doubles down on the sincerity factor and bills ...

Margo Price
That's How Rumor Gets Started

Margo Price recorded "That's How Rumors Get Started" in Los Angeles, and it doesn't take long to pick up on a distinct El Lay sound driving this 10-song collection. The opener (and title track) finds Price sounding a lot like "Rumors" era Fleetwood Mac - specifically ...

The Jayhawks
XOXO

Attempting to assign a specific sound to The Jayhawks is a bit like trying to pin a paper tail on a live donkey. The Minneapolis outfit, fronted by co-founders Mark Olson and Gary Louris, began life in the '80s as a country rock band, but found its greatest critical success in the early '90s ...

Willie Nelson
First Rose of Spring

It's been obvious for some time now that Willie Nelson is essentially super human. At the age of 87, he's as active as ever, a wizened presence, spiritual icon and guiding light for all those that adore country music and Americana. His prowess and proficiency remain undiminished, and the ...

Corb Lund
Agricultural Tragic

Fifteen years ago, Corb Lund defined his approach to modern country music: Hair in my eyes like a highland steer, spring in my step like a white-tailed deer; hitch in my hip like an old sheep dog, puff up my chest like a big bull frog. As fitting a self-written elegy for a rock 'n' ...

Ryan Hurd
EOM EP

Ryan Hurd may well end up being the biggest musical thing out of Kalamazoo, Mich. (does anyone remember The Verve Pipe?) without anybody's help. So far, he's carved out a mild hit for himself ("To a T") and secured a deal with a big label who have high hopes. ...


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