Sunday, July 31, 2011

Album Review: Eric Church - Chief

Eric Church has a sound unlike any in country music.  In fact, he does not have much of a sound at all.  None of his songs seem to sound like any other, and that is part of his sound.  The interesting thing about him is that he charts at all after recording "Lotta Boot Left To Fill", a song that tore apart mainstream country (I believe specifically Jason Aldean) as sing "what nobody feels".  That is something that Eric does great though, he sings about what he, and others, feel and he makes the music he wants to.  "Chief", his third album, is expected to debut at #1 of all albums in the US, making it his first #1 country album as well, and for good reason.

"Creepin" - Church leads the album off with a song that has a lot of rock influence, with heavy drum beats and a guitar solo that combine to steal the show.  The singer is recovering from a heavy night of drinking after being left in a hurry by the woman he loves.  He is trying to move forward, but no matter how hard he tries, the memories catch up with him: "Head for the future/ Run from the past/ Hide from the mirror/ Live in a glass/ What dreams forget the whiskey remembers/ Just like molasses in late December/ Just Creepin'"

Put A Drink In My Hand - In what is sure to be a bar anthem along the lines of Dierks Bentley's "Am I The Only One", the singer has been working hard all week for nothing, and is ready to party, as long as they "put a drink in (his) hand".  The song does not stand out, as it is a common theme for country music, but it is still a fun tune and I would bet it being released as a single next summer.

Keep On - If Aerosmith made a country song, it would probably be "Keep On", everything from the guitar to the way it is sung shouts that influence.  Incidentally, it is one of my favorite songs on the track.  "Keep On" tells the story of the girl he is going to pick up, her guy who is going to fight him because of it, and the morning after deciding if he is going to call in sick if they "Keep on lookin' at me that way".  The chorus even sounds like Steven Tyler is a guest singer.

Like Jesus Does - Church slows the album down for a love ballad, much along the same theme as "Guys Like Me" from his debut album "Sinners Like Me".  The singer is broken, beat down, a sinner, and far from perfect, but his woman's love for him is unconditional: "All the crazy in my dreams/ Both my broken wings/ Every single piece of everything I am/ Yeah, she knows the main I ain't/ She forgives me when I can't/ And  the devil, man, no he don't stand a chance/ Cause she loves me like Jesus does"

Hungover & Hard Up - In another twist that shows Church's diversity of style comes the tropical-influenced "Hungover & Hard Up".  The song is a lot like "Creepin" in theme and, while it is not bad, among all the other songs, it is easily forgettable.

Homeboy - The first single off of "Chief", the song reminds us of how different life can be if you make the wrong choices.  The singer tells of his brother, who instead of being the country boy working on the farm where they grew up, is running the streets and bouncing in and out of jail.  The chorus is a plea for his brother to return, especially in light of their parents failing health: "If you don't ever do anything else for me, just do this for me brother/ Come on home, boy"  Enjoy the video:

Country Music Jesus - I think this is my favorite track on the album, picking up where "Lotta Boot Left To Fill" left off on his previous effort "Carolina".  The song talks about how country music is broken, and they need someone to come fix it, "Preachin' from the book of Johnny Cash/ A sheep among the wolves there standin' tall/ We need a country music Jesus/ to come and save us all".  The chorus has distinct gospel roots, as you would expect, to offset the heavy guitar riff that runs through the verses.  The song may never be a hit, but it is a great look at where country is and used to be.

Jack Daniels - Once again, Church has turned to the bottle to solve his women woes, but this one has a bit of unique sound to it that sets it apart.  Church has a reputation for being tough, never backing down from a fight, but as soon as the memory of lost love turned its head, "Jack Daniels kicked my ass again last night".  The song definitely has some solid guitar-picking though, that makes a solid song from start to end.

Springsteen - This song could easily be compared to Taylor Swift's song, "Tim McGraw", but for an older crowd.  Like Swift, Church is remembering young love, and associating it with a famous artist, in this case, Bruce Springsteen.  I am sure this song is going to bring back memories for many of Eric's fans, especially those older than I, and it is a great late night cruising song to sing along to.

I'm Gettin' Stoned - This time, alcohol just might not do it to recover from the news he just read, his ex just got married.  The song is a fun play on the words for wedding rings and getting high: "Read it in the paper/ Marked the date on my wall/ To remind myself to celebrate/ The day I lose it all/ They made plans to be together/ I made plans to be alone/ She got a rock/ I'm gettin' stoned".  

Over When It's Over - Eric Church must have serious problems holding on to a woman, or he is struggling with the same one for the whole album, because he closes the album where he left off, trying to get over her. The song is definitely easy to sing along to, but by the time it rolls around on the album, you are ready for a new theme.

Overall, "Chief" is up there with my previous review of Justin Moore's "Outlaws Like Me" as the best things to come out in the country genre this year.  The only thing that leaves this album short of a perfect score is the worn out theme of getting over a love that populates over half of the songs.  Musically, the album is fantastic, and no two songs sound the same.  Eric Church has truly created a unique sound that he can call his.  9.5/10

Sorry it took so long to get this one up, been in the field and I am trying to make time.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Album Review: Justin Moore - Outlaws Like Me

Justin Moore is one of my favorite artists.  He first burst onto the country scene with his hit "Small Town USA" in  the fall of 2009 and has three top ten singles, two at number one.  His sophomore album "Outlaws Like Me" has already climbed to #1 on the country albums and has produced a number one hit, "If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away".  Moore stated that his goal with this album was to create some real country music, the stuff that George Strait would make, and I think he has succeeded.

Redneck Side - This is a song that was cut from his debut album, but Moore plays it at his concerts and it became such a fan favorite, he had to re-cut it for the new album.  It is a great party song, and serves perfectly as the lead-off song for the album.  The song talks about how, no matter how hard he tries, he cannot hide who he really is.  He goes to fancy parties and meets his girlfriend's parents, and tries to act proper, but eventually, he cannot help it, his redneck side comes out and he ends up "in their pool at 2am/ wearin' nothin' but a farmer's tan/ No I can't hide my redneck side/ It's in my blood till the day I die"

My Kind Of Woman - After showing off his "Redneck Side", Moore tells us about the redneck kind of woman that he likes, saying "She looks good on my tractor/ Good in my truck/ Good in her bed when the sun comes up/ She's good with a cane pole/ Good with a gun/ It's cornbread, sweet tea where she's from/ She's my kind of woman/ good as they come".  The blend of a little rock and a little romance slows the pace that the lead track started just enough to make a seamless transition to the lead-off single that follows.

If Heaven Wasn't So Far Away - Anyone who listened to Moore's debut album knows that he loves his late grandfather, and misses him dearly.  Justin wishes that heaven were just a bit closer, so he could "Pack up the kids and go for the day/ Introduce them to their grandpa/ Watch 'em laugh at the way he talks".  Moore continues to list off the people he would visit while their: The girls who died from the class of 99, his bird dog, Bo,  Hank Williams Sr., Janis Joplin, and his cousin, who died in Vietnam.  "Heaven" is definitely one that will strike home with everyone who hears it as they think about who they would see if they could just drive to heaven for a day.  The song is already a hit, having reached #1 on the charts.  Enjoy the video:

Run Out Of Honky Tonks -  Honky Tonks is what people think of when they think of the negative side of country: My baby left me and I am trying to drink her away.  Moore nails it though, as he tells about trying to run to every bar where she might not catch up to him.  He realizes it is not working though, wondering "what if I run out of honky tonks/ Before I get over her?"  Moore manages to take this stereotypical song, and apply his unique twang to make it his.

Beer Time - Moore apparently is over his woman woes, as the mood picks up with "Beer Time".  He has just made it "Country Rich" with his bird dog having had babies that he can sell for a pretty penny.  He has a couple debts off, but more importantly, he has an empty ice chest, and that is the issue he is determined to remedy, heading with the boys to the county line to pick up some beer.  Then it is off to the muddy roads and a Hank Jr concert for an awesome weekend.  This song, combined with "Redneck Side" make an awesome combination for a bar or party scene, and I find myself singing it all the time.

Bait A Hook - Ever had an ex that you saw with a new guy/girl who was the exact OPPOSITE of you, and the opposite of everything that ex said she wanted in a relationship?  Pretty sure everyone has, and Justin tackles this is a humorous way, making for my favorite track on the album.  Moore is not worried though, as this guy, who Can't bait a hook, skin a buck, has no idea who Jack Daniels is, and eats sushi and drinks umbrella drinks will quickly bore her and she will come crawling back.  Anyone who has been in this situation will find themselves laughing, thinking "Yup, been there done that".  It is easy to see why this is the new single from the album, and will hopefully climb high on the charts.

Flyin' Down A Back Road - Moore has been everywhere, and feels like he has done everything, starting off with "I've been on the Grand Ole Opry/ I played a show with ZZ Top/ Went on tour with Skynard/ And man they still rock/ Shot the bull with Bosephus/ Before he climbed up on his jet/ Played South Florida with Alan Jackson/ That's some things that you never forget".  But none of that compares to being home, relaxing, and spending time with friends and family.  The song makes it obvious that he is grateful for all of his opportunities, but still enjoys the small town roots where he came from.  It is a bit slower, but very catchy, and he paints a vivid picture that one can almost design their own music video in their head.

If You Don't Like My Twang - Moore's version of "Kiss My Country Ass" is not as catchy, but still a lot of fun, even throwing in a reference to the song that made him famous.  "I don't care if you don't like my twang/ Cause I know they love it in Small Town USA/ It's the way I live/ It's the way I talk/ Hell yeah, it's the way I sing/ So I don't care, if you don't like my twang".  Moore comes off almost arrogant in this song, but his attitude makes it work.

Guns - This is easily my least favorite song on the album.  I feel as if the "political stance" is just too overdone in country music, whether it is most of what Toby Keith makes or Brad Paisley's "Welcome to the Future" or a lot of Charlie Daniels music. but Moore is determined to make it known that he loves his guns, and there is no way you are going to take them from him as long as he lives.  The song itself is not bad, but political is overused and makes it feel a bit old.

Sunshine Babies - Justin Moore contributes his piece to the likes of Jason Aldean's "She's Country", singing about what he loves about the various girls in different parts of the country.  "All across the land, workin' on a tan/ Drivin' country boys crazy".  The song definitely fits in with that style and makes for a great highway driving song.

Til My Last Day - The singer has not had a very clean past, and most people say that his woman should give up on him, as he is no good for her.  But he is determined to prove them wrong, that he can change and that he is going to love her until his last breath.  Moore does a great job again of mixing the romance in without slowing the song done too much, saving the slow stuff for the final two songs.

Bed Of My Chevy - Even though I am a Dodge Fan, "Bed Of My Chevy" is one of my favorite songs.  He is determined to prove what he said in the previous song, driving out to the middle of nowhere and treating his woman to the best view in town of the moon and fireflies.  The song feels like a direct sequel to "Like There's No Tomorrow" off the debut album, and it serves well in that role.

Outlaws Like Me - Moore turns inward as he reflects on who he is on this title track.  He has been everything, good and bad, whiskey pounder and church goer, "But each days a choice, which one I'm gonna be/ God bless outlaws like me".  He knows his full potential on either end of the spectrum and is thankful that God loves him for who he is.  The slow end to the album is a beautifully written song, putting a lot of the focus on Moore's voice and guitar.  After he finishes singing, the guitar comes in again for about two minutes as the album draws to a close.

Overall, Justin Moore's "Outlaws Like Me" is almost pure country gold.  He does a brilliant job of taking the songs and making them his own, and his voice is one of those distinguishable voices in a genre of clones.  The album is mixed beautifully, transitioning from fast to slow rather than jumping like most albums do.  "Outlaws" is easily the best country album to come out so far in 2011.  9.5/10

Friday, July 22, 2011

Album Review: Chris Young - Neon

Chris Young follows an emerging trend among country artists today, but this is not a negative one.  Following in the footsteps of Trace Adkins, Jamey Johnson, Randy Houser, and Josh Turner, Young is not creating the music everyone else is, but is instead distinguishing himself by having a unique voice.  He has become one of those artists who, even having never heard the song before, you can identify him just by how he sings.

"Neon", Young's third album, follows "The Man I Want To Be", which produced three number ones ("Getting You Home", "The Man I Want To Be" and "Voices").  With "Neon", Chris picks up right where he left of, relying on his voice to serenade the ladies and talk about the advice he has received over the years.  Unfortunately, it debuted the same week as Blake Shelton's "Red River Blue", so it debuted at #2 on the country albums and #4 overall. So, how does this album stack up against his breakout sophomore album?

I Can Take It From There - The lead off song takes its cues from Joe Nichols' "Gimme That Girl" as well as Young's own "Gettin You Home" and the tempo falls somewhere in between the two.  The singer decides that  it would be more fun to shun the big party or the restaurant and stay home with his baby.  The song does a good job of setting the tone for the rest of the album, but it still does not do enough to hook the listener right from the start.

Lost - Chris Young is definitely all about just spending some one-on-one time with his baby.  This time, instead of staying home, he wants to get lost in every way imaginable, physically, mentally and emotionally as he sings about losing himself "Down some old back road/ Lost in a song on the radio/ Lost in your deep blue eyes".  The song is a little more fun than "Take It From There", and listeners will quickly learn the words and find themselves singing along.

Tomorrow - Everybody has found themselves there, broken, and wanting just one more night before they truly accept the end of a relationship.  Young's first single from "Neon" (currently #2 on the charts) is about just that.  He knows the relationship has run its course, that there is no salvaging it, but he still wants one more night to forget it all, including the morning after, before he finally lets go.  "But tonight I'm gonna give in one last time/ Rock you strong in these arms of mine/ Forget all the regret that is bound to follow/ We're like fire and gasoline/ I'm no good for you/ You're no good for me/ We only bring each other tears and sorrow/ But tonight, I'm gonna love you like there's no/ Tomorrow".  In a genre full of sad songs, Chris Young stands out as someone who rather than just wishing for one more night, takes the opportunity that he has and you can feel the emotion and imagine him the next morning thinking, "okay, maybe TOMORROW"....  But for now, enjoy the music video:

Save Water, Drink Beer - Young's town is in the midst of a four-month drought, but the singer has found the solution to preserve the environment, and it is an enjoyable one at that.  Save Water is easily the most fun song on the album, but for that reason, it feels out of place in its position.  The song will definitely catch on in the bars for years to come if it becomes a single (which it should!)

Neon - The title track to the album returns to the slower pace that Chris is known for.  This ode to bars is fits well among the likes of Jamey Johnson and other slow drinking tunes.  As Young sings, one can imagine an run down honkytonk full of men trying to drown their troubles away, and you will find yourself swaying with it as you cradle your drink in both hands.

Old Love Feels New - Grandpa's stories come into play, as he relates to Young how he and his grandma met, and how he knew from the start that she was the one, saying "That's how you know..... / You feel like she's always been in your soul...../ That's how you know it's true/ When an new love feels old/ And an old love feels new".

You - Chris does not relent on the love songs, this time telling his own woman how he knows that she is perfect for him, even making him change his ways  "I used to rush off for work and get home late/ but now I show up late and rush back home".  This feels like the type of song for spontaneous serenading from a guy to a girl, it is catchy and easy to learn.  Nothing special, but still a good song.

Flashlight - Shortly after learning a lesson from his grandfather, the singer's dad makes an appearance.  Young's "Flashlight" feels like a mix between "Dashboard" and "Voices" off of his previous album, as he sings about the lessons about life that his dad taught him while working on his truck.  Young admits that even to this day, he cannot fix a vehicle, but he "Sure did learn a lot/ Just holding the flashlight".  The song is a feel good song, and will even make you laugh at the end of the second verse: "Then I asked him about women, and he just laughed/ Said if we stayed out here all year/ We wouldn't have time enough for that"

When She's On - This is one of my favorite songs from the album, because I live it every day (yes Lynzee, I mean you).  The verses all describe his lady as she is turning heads when she is trying, but even that does not compare to the version he sees when she is really on, not trying to look pretty, and just having a natural beauty to her in her laid back style.  Young sings "When you see her dressed to kill/ And it drops your jaw/ You ought to see her when she's on that leather couch/ reading that fairy tale, that's when she's on".  Every guy can relate to this, because every guy knows a girl like this.  I am just lucky enough to have one.

She's Got This Thing About Her - Young closes the album with one more serenade about his girl.  He just cannot describe what makes her special, but he is going to do his best to try.  You get the feeling that he could just carry on and on and on about her and still never touch on what it is that he loves about her.  It is a beautiful song to end the album with.

Overall, "Neon" is not an overly catchy album, but it does not need to be.  Chris Young has established himself as the type of singer who is more comfortable singing to a woman, and definitely has the voice to make their legs weak.  Look for a lot of the same in the future, as Young has found his zone, and is sure to sell out record stores and concerts for years to come.  7.5/10

This weekend, I will be reviewing Brad Paisley's latest album, "This Is Country Music" as well as Justin Moore's "Outlaws Like Me"

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Album Review: Colt Ford - Every Chance I Get

Colt Ford is one of those artists that causes a division among fans of country music.  Fans of the more historical side of the genre say that rap has no place in country music.  Others, like myself, will say that country music is not about the instruments and the style in which it is played, but the words, and the feeling behind them is what makes it "country".  This division is evident when you compare the two albums the Georgia Boy has released prior to "Every Chance I Get", released a couple months ago in early May.  Those who praised his debut album, "Ride Through The Country", downed "Chicken and Biscuits" (Colt's sophomore release) as being too much singing and not enough of the rap that made his music unique.

One thing is for certain, Colt Ford is a rising star in the genre, whether you call it country, rap, or some mix.  He is currently celebrating having penned a number one song, Dirt Road Anthem, which he and buddy Brantley Gilbert penned and recorded, before allowing Jason Aldean to take it, make it his own, and take it to the top of the charts.  Colt also has no problems making friends with fellow country artists, both established and rising stars.  Previous albums have included collaborations with John Michael Montgomery, Jamey Johnson, Darryl Worley, Randy Houser, DMC, Kevin Fowler, Joe Nichols, Rhett Akins, Josh Gracin and more.  "Every Chance I Get" is no exception, with all but the title track featuring a special guest, and I believe that Colt has found the perfect blend of country and rap to satisfy both fans and critics of the first two albums.

Country Thang - This song features Eric Church, one of the fastest rising names in country music today.  It was also the first single released from the song.  The two artists work together well to paint a picture of a small town, and subsequently, his small town girl, describing it all as being "a country thang" that is "either in your blood or it ain't".  It serves as a great anthem for anyone who has grown up in a rural town, with dirt roads and bird dogs, and definitely sets the mood for what turns out to be a great driving album.

Work It Out - The upbeat pace continues as Luke Bryan lends his voice to the chorus of this song, which expresses every husband or boyfriend's frustrations at how life gets overbearing. Bills are stacked high, the lawn needs "mown", the truck is broken down. There is just not enough time to get everything done, but when it comes down to it, they know that they can "work it out" with their baby by their side, saying "Baby it's true/ all I need is you/ Just unplug the phone/ Let me get you all alone/ and work it out/ why don't we start right now?".

Waste Some Time - Nappy Roots (Southern Rappers from Kentucky) and Nic Cowan (Debut Album coming in August) join Colt on one of my favorite songs of the album.  The group has decided that instead of taking everyone's advice to "Focus on my life/ work a little harder/ do my part/ start living right", they just want to waste some time and kick back and enjoy the world around them.  The rhythm and guitar picking (definitely drawing inspiration from "Sweet Home Alabama") when combined with the lyrics leave one picturing the group cruising down the road in pickup trucks and having fun.  Colt Ford actually takes more of a backseat in this song, really only performing the first verse and letting the others get the spotlight for a bit.  This is recognized later, when one of the rappers thanks both God and Colt: "Got a little wealth so I gotta thank the Lord/ Couldn't do it by myself, got some help from Colt Ford".  Overall, though it slows the pace set by the first two songs a little bit, the song is very catchy and you will find yourself bobbing your head along.

Do It With My Eyes Closed - Josh Thompson ("Beer On The Table", "Way Out Here") is the guest on what I consider to actually be one of the weakest songs on the album.  The song just sounds too much like "Work It Out", talking about how hard life can be, "But loving you's so easy/ I could do it with my eyes closed/ Day and Night/ Night and Day/ Sound asleep/ wide awake/ Loving you is something I know".  It just does not have that hook that the rest of the songs do, and so close after "Work It Out" just does not fit with the rest of the album.

This Is Our Song - Danny Boone of Rehab ("Sittin at a Bar/The Bartender Song") joins Colt in this credo/anthem of the country lifestyle.  Fans who do not enjoy the rap aspect of Ford's music are not going to enjoy this, but may find themselves relating to the statements nonetheless:  "Folks 'round still believe in God/ and the right tote a gun/ and our flag don't run/ ain't askin' you for nothin'/ if we can't get it on our own/ tell the government to leave our check and church alone".  Later, at the end of the chorus, they challenge those who disagree "And if you don't like/ then don't come around".  It is one of the stronger songs on an amazingly strong album.

Titty's Beer - As one can guess from the title, this is easily the funniest song on the album, and Trent Tomlinson ("One Wing In The Fire", "She Just Might Have Her Radio On") joins the 300 pound rapper as he tells the story of his Uncle Titus, who wants to sell his own beer.  Titus realizes that he can make money, not off of taste, but off of the name: "He called it Titty's, Titty's, Titty's Beer/ Just the thing to get you grinnin' ear to ear/ Whether you're from the country or the big ole city/ One thing's for sure, EVERYBODY LOVES TITTY'S!".  I know that about the time of the second line of the chorus, I found myself laughing my head off, and while it is not a "Strong" song, the innuendos of selling it in "Jugs" and having Dolly Parton in the ads, definitely makes it among the best songs.

She Wants To Ride In Trucks - Colt Ford finally slows the album down for what he considers his favorite song of the album, and he has found the perfect guy to join him for a sentimental song for his daughter, Craig Morgan ("Bonfire", "Redneck Yacht Club", "Tough").  The song tells the story of being a father, and the struggles of raising a teenage daughter that he is so close with: "It seems like yesterday we were bringing you home/ I was so scared to hold you/ now I'm scared to let go" sings Colt, and the emotion is evident.  The song continues as Colt sees himself in the boy she brings home, and while the theme is a bit overdone in the country genre, Ford and Morgan do a great job of painting the picture of a father looking out a screen door as she drives off.

Pipe The Sunshine In - Newcomer Tyler Farr and Colt Ford combine on what is actually one of the more forgettable songs on the album.  "Pipe The Sunshine In" has a fun chorus, but like "Trucks" above, the idea of living in the middle of nowhere and making your own moonshine has been overdone.  Unfortunately, there is not much to distinguish this song from any other like it.

Every Chance I Get - The only song on the album without a guest appearance, Colt and his band handle this one on their own.  The song is a improvement of "Pipe", but still is not a standout, talking about growing up and getting out of the party life for a woman:: "And now/ I only do it every chance I get/ It ain't a habit/ I got a handle on it/ It ain't an all day everyday thing/ Unless I think I can./  I used to do it every morning noon and night/ Now I could stop it/ and I ain't lying/ I slowed down so much, you could say I quit/ Cause now I only do it every chance I get".  The guitar in the song is definitely the highlight in an otherwise mediocre song.

What I Call Home - Eventually, every artist does a tribute to his fans, and Colt enlists JB and the Moonshine Band to help him with this one.  Colt goes on a rap about all the places he has visited, hitting pretty much every state on the way, which gets old after a while, however, he truly does sound grateful for the opportunities that the fans have given him over the years, embracing an artist that blurs the lines of country music.

Overworked & Underpaid - The legendary Charlie Daniels joins in on the last of the string of "re-hashed" country songs that make up most of the second half of the album.  This one is a tribute to all of those "Overworked and underpaid/ the one's who make this country great".  Colt dedicates this song to everyone from the Soldiers, Police, and Firemen to the teachers and those who work hard to bring us the music.  The real shame of this song is the lack of showcasing Charlie Daniels' fiddlin' skills. There is a brief solo about the two-minute mark, but not nearly strong to distinguish it from anything that anyone who knows how to play could do.

Skirts & Boots - Up and Coming artist Frankie Ballard ("Tell Me You Get Lonely" and "A Buncha Girls") helps bring the life back to the album, and the party.  This song could easily be a popular bar song, as that is exactly what it is about, the girls who go, and the boys who go to see them.  The song could easily be a sequel to "All About Ya'll" from the previous album, "Chicken and Biscuits".  I see this song being a potential upcoming single for Colt, after "She Likes To Ride In Trucks" is done.

Twisted - This is a song that Colt originally recorded and put on his debut album ("Ride Through The Country"), but this time, he has convinced none other than Tim McGraw to sing the chorus on the track.  When the original album came out, this song did not strike me as that great, but quickly grew to be one of my favorites and still is.  The song does not sound too much different with McGraw than it did with his bandmates, but is still a solid song to end the album with, telling the story of a young adult, faced with the choice of staying in his small town after high school, or going to "chase the bright lights of the California nights" by going to play football for UCLA.  He chooses the latter, but after getting laughed at for ordering sweet tea, he realizes everything that he left and heads home where he belongs.

Overall, Colt Ford has put out a solid album, whose only real flaw is that the second half sounds too indistinguishable from the themes of every other country song out there.  However, Colts unique blend of styles makes the most of it and the album makes great driving music.  This is Ford at his best, doing a solid mix of the country and rap and is sure to have something to please even the staunchest critics.  8/10

Next, I will review Chris Young's newest offering, "Neon"

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The First Review: Blake Shelton - Red River Blue

Blake Shelton is one of the biggest artists in all of music right now.  It seems that no matter where you turn, he is in the spotlight.  He has a beautiful new wife, fellow country star Miranda Lambert, a soaring career, both in music and now on Television.  He is now one of the coaches on the new NBC singing show, "The Voice", where his comedic act often steals the show from arguably bigger names, such as Christina Aguilera.  In 2010, Blake released three separate albums, two six-song EPs (Hillbilly Bone and All About Tonight), as well as a "Best Of" album titled "Loaded".  He also has one of the best twitter feeds I have ever seen (He once declared war on PETA, even going so far as to get himself blocked by one of their accounts).

It is easy to see why he has dubbed himself "The Most Interesting Man In Country Music" (If you have not seen the videos, you should definitely check them out).  Right now, he is.  So, with all of this going for him, how does his new album stack up?

"Red River Blue" is the sixth studio album (eighth if you include the EP's) released from Blake.  It has already spawned a number one hit, the song "Honey Bee" which spent about a month as the #1 Country Song in the US.  The album was released on July 12, 2011 and is projected to debut at #1 on the Country Albums chart as well as the Billboard 200 Chart.

Now to look at each track individually:

Honeybee - As mentioned before, this was the first single to be released from "Red River Blue".  The song is definitely catchy, and it is easy to see why it climbed the charts so fast.  In the song, Blake expresses that he is not very good at telling his lover how he feels about her, but he is going to try, admitting that "it came out a little country", saying that if she will be his honeysuckle, he will "Be her honeybee". Overall, this track is fantastic, and I see it being in playlists and bars for a long time.

Ready To Roll - This song  is a fun number, perfect for a Saturday or Sunday theme song with one's baby.  After working all week, Shelton is ready to kick back and just enjoy the day doing nothing, but making sure that all of that "nothing" is done with his baby, saying "We got a whole lot of nothing to do, and nowhere to go.  So baby, I don't know about you, but I'm ready to roll."  I really enjoyed the heavier bass beat that drives this song, and the fingers snapping in the background and simple lyrics set it up to be a fun song for his concerts.

God Gave Me You - The second single to be released from the album, this song is currently climbing the charts and sits at #31.  "God Gave Me You" is one of those slower love songs that shows appreciation for the ones that settle us down, complete us, and most importantly, forgive us when we mess up.  The song is reportedly written for his wife, Miranda Lambert, at a time when he has messed up.  This song serves perfectly in this role.

Get Some - This is one of the goofier songs on the album, but that makes it one of the better ones, because it is where anyone who follows Blake's twitter feed knows he is most at home.  He talks about what he knows best, drinking and sex.  The chorus shows this perfectly: "Everybody get sideways to have a little fun.... Everybody's dyin', To get some".  "Get Some" is written in such a catchy and simple way that makes it perfect for everybody to raise their glasses and sing along in the bars. This song is one of my favorites from the album.

Drink On It - If anyone is noticing a trend, it is that Blake Shelton likes two things: Women and Alcohol.  "Drink On It" is no exception.  It is a "bar room love song", which finds the singer hitting on a girl who is preparing to leave, as she has to work tomorrow and has a lot on her mind.  But instead of giving up, Blake buys another round and suggests that they "Drink on it".  The song is about as smooth as a guy tries to be in the situation, and it works.

Good Ole Boys - This fun song follows in a growing trend of wondering what happened to the new generation of teens and "adults" and why has it changed so much from how it used to be.  The song opens, "Well every time I turn around/ I see some dude dressed like a clown/ Baggy pants and a cap on sideways/ They don't say ma'am or sir no more/ They won't even hold a door/ for a woman well it's a cryin' shame".  The title and older style of country suggests a nod to Waylon Jennings.  The spoken part at the end is definitely worth listening to, as is the entire song.

I'm Sorry - Martina McBride makes a guest appearance on the sad song "I'm Sorry", but personally, I do not think she is featured enough here.  The singer's girl has left, but come back saying she is sorry, but as he points out "I'm sorry/ Sometimes sorry/ just ain't good enough".  I am not a big fan of this song, as it is just a bit too slow and depressing for my taste.

Sunny In Seattle - This is one of those feel good serenades.  One in which the singer pretty much says that there is no way in hell that he will stop loving his woman.  He states that the only way his love will end is "When it's sunny in Seattle, and snowin' down in New Orleans".   It feels a little out of place and ironic after "I'm Sorry", which is a shame because it really is another solid, catchy tune.

Over - Another serenade, but this one with the singer wondering what it would take to GET the girl.  He starts out laying out everything he would do if she were his, "I would dare/ Feed your dreams/ and starve your fears".   The tone and style of the chorus, however, feels and sounds a lot like "She Wouldn't Be Gone" off of Blake's "Startin' Fires" album.  This song, though, ends up as a "meh" on an album containing a lot of good songs.

Hey - This is probably my favorite song of the album, and with it, Blake returns to his fun loving side.  Blake uses the word "Hey" (or its heterograph "Hay").  The song is a fun, upbeat song, and gives a shout-out to you no matter what your truck of choice is: "Hey, Hey/ Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet/ Diff'rent Stroke for Diff'rent folks" and then launches into one of the best interactions of the song.  Overall, it is a great song that I am sure is going to be a lot of fun to drive to.

Red River Blue - The title (and final) track to the the album swings back to the sad side of country music.  The singer stands on the Oklahoma side of the Red River, looking out across into Texas (where his baby lives) and wondering what went wrong to end his recent relationship.  Wife Miranda Lambert makes an appearance on this track, and the two really work well together.  Even though it is not as upbeat as the music I typically like, it is still among the strongest tracks on the album.

Overall, "Red River Blue" is a solid album for one of the biggest careers in music.  Blake really shines when he is singing about the stuff that he is known for, comedy, alcohol and women.  I highly recommend this to anyone who is a fan of country music.  8/10.

Update:  It is official, "Red River Blue" debuts atop the Billboard 200, having sold more than 115,000 copies.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


So, I decided that I am going to start a blog about the two things that I love most, Country Music and Line Dancing.  On here, I will be posting my personal reviews of new country albums as well of videos of line dance instructions.  I am going to go back a couple of months in music to start, just to make sure I cover the current year, and as I get new albums, I will post my reviews. 

If you guys have any requests for line dance videos or album reviews, let me know and I will do my best to get them up.  Among the first albums to come:

Justin Moore - Outlaws Like Me
Blake Shelton - Red River Blue
Chris Young - Neon

So, give me your feedback, let me know what you want reviewed, and let me know what you think.  Do you agree? Disagree?  Tell me.