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Scott, Owen, McKenna lead new sounds

Friday, July 29, 2016 – Hillary Scott released her first album apart from Lady Antebellum, and she goes a very different route. "Love Remains" is essentially a religious/spiritual album from Hillary Scott & The Scott Family, which consists of her sister, Rylee, and parents (Linda Davis, who enjoyed a hit or two back in the day, is her mom, while songwriter Lang Scott is her father). "They Will" is the first single from the project, which was produced by Ricky Skaggs. After the passing of her grandfather in 2011, Hillary Scott alongside her family, leaned on faith and music. The Scott family wanted to thank loved ones for their support and set out to record demos of family-favorite hymns. As the summer of 2015 wound down and Lady Antebellum went off the road, the family's plans for a five-song CD as a gift to family and friends, mushroomed into what is now Hillary Scott & The Scott Family's debut.

Jake Owen releases his fifth studio album, "American Love." The 11-song release includes "American Country Love Song" with Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn fame singing. Owen co-produced seven tracks with Shane McAnally and Ross Copperman and four with Lukas Bracewell. The release follows Owen's divorce.

Lori McKenna is beset known these days as a songwriter. Helping write a song like "Girl Crush" will do that for you, but the Massachusetts native also has a long history of releasing her own albums. "The Bird & The Rifle," her 10th, is out today and includes her version of "Humble & Kind," a hit for Tim McGraw. The 11-song disc was produced by Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton).

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CD reviews

Greetings from...Jake Owen CD review - Greetings from...Jake Owen
Jake Owen contributes to the writing of his album "Greetings From...Jake" on just one song called "Damn." Therefore, the success this project rises or falls with his vocals and song choices. Fortunately, Own has chosen some memorable songs to sing, and his singing voice has never sounded better. He's never better than on the single and album opener, "Down to the Honkytonk." It's a 'friends in low places' drinking song, where Owen's voice gets »»»
The Tree CD review - The Tree
It's difficult to know where to start when praising Lori McKenna's "The Tree." It's so good in so many ways. Artists like Little Big Town and Tim McGraw have benefited greatly from recording McKenna songs, yet it's unlikely many mainstream country music fans recognize her name. Fans of Miranda Lambert and Kacey Musgraves, two women that consistently and effectively write straight from the heart, would love McKenna's songs -- if only given the chance. »»»
American Love CD review - American Love
Most everyone has made up their mind on bro-country music. Maybe you love the breezy images of the beach dippin' and sippin' lifestyle, or you write it off as empty headed and repetitive. Either way, Florida native Jake Owen was a torchbearer for the genre, and it's rewarded him well - four albums and five Number One singles (remember "Beachin"?). His career has been on a more-or-less upward arc, with higher-profile tours and bigger hits each time out. »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Rising Appalachia buck the mainsteam, and that's fine with them – Rising Appalachia would not be accused of being in the musical mainstream. Not too many bands who combine folk and Appalachian sounds with new world music could possibly be. And that suits the sister-led duo of Chloe Smith and Leah Song just fine. In fact, at one point, Chloe made it clear she did not embrace radio play as a sign of success... »»»
Concert Review: Bingham plays with something to prove – Ryan Bingham mainly focused on songs from his sixth album "American Love Song," for this lively show. Backed by a supportive band that also included two female backup singers and a fiddler, Bingham's eclectic setlist touched upon country, singer/songwriter folk, rock and blues. Bingham reached for lively country sounds early on, with... »»»
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Currently at the CST blogs

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Thinkin' Problem CD review - Thinkin' Problem
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Onward CD review - Onward
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Travelin' Thru The Bootleg Series Vol. 15 1967-1969 featuring Johnny Cash CD review - Travelin' Thru The Bootleg Series Vol. 15 1967-1969 featuring Johnny Cash
All these many years later, Bob Dylan 'bootleg' songs are still better than many intentional studio releases from other artists. Although some might have been shocked at the time to learn of Dylan's sojourn south to Nashville »»»
Play the Hits CD review - Play the Hits
When The Mavericks call an album "Play The Hits," It really should be qualified as "Play The Selective Hits" because this band has never been especially interested in performing only what's commercially viable.  »»»