Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Album Review: Dierks Bentley - Home

It is hard to believe that Dierks Bentley has been in the Country Music world for nine years, but since 2003, the Arizona native has been giving us music to party by as well as music that causes us to reflect.  Six studio albums and eight #1 singles later, Bentley is back with more of what he does best, and his latest album does not disappoint.  "Home", the follow up to 2010's bluegrass filled "Up On The Ridge" has already produced one #1 song ("Am I The Only One") and the second single, the title track "Home", is rapidly climbing the charts.

Bentley kicks the album off with a couple of party songs.  "Am I The Only One", the first single and #1 from the album is a rocked out version of Hank Jr's "All My Rowdy Friends Have Settled Down".  "Gonna Die Young" continues this vibe, which picks up later in the album with "5-1-5-0".  The latter is a reference to the police code for a crazy person and makes for one of the most fun songs to drive and sing along to.  All three of these bring the style that made "Sideways" such a hit for Dierks.

As known as he is for his rocking songs, Bentley might be known even more for his mid-tempo love songs.  Tracks like "Tip It On Back" and "In My Head", two of the likely-to-be underrated tracks on the album, are great examples of this.  "When You Gonna Come Around", featuring Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town, furthers this niche, providing a beautiful duet.

The song that is sure to get everyone talking, however, is "Thinking Of You".  Not only is it a beautiful love long, sure to resonate with both musicians and military alike, it also features Bentley's three year-old daughter, Evie, who sings the chorus on her own at the end.  Just listening to her sing will bring a smile to everyone's face.  She even joined him on stage for one of his shows to sing with her pops.

One other track especially worth mentioning (though they all are), is "Home".  The second single from the album is a reflective track, along the lines of "Every Mile A Memory" and so many of his other hits.  This one will be a #1 song soon, and deservedly so.  The track feels genuine.

The album, "Home", is filled with solid tracks that are sure to appeal to everyone.  Fans of all ages will hear something on this record that they will find themselves singing all day long.  The songs are catchy, but never feel fake.  Dierks does not step outside of the comfort zone, as he did with "Up On The Ridge", but the album is still an enjoyable listen from end to end.  Country music is off to a good start in 2012, and Dierks is sure to continue to be a heavy force in the genre for several years.  8.5/10

The album can be found at here.

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Friday, February 3, 2012

Album Review: Kellie Pickler - 100 proof

Kellie Pickler is another in a long line of country artists who gained fame through "American Idol", having finished sixth in the show's fifth season.  She has fallen off the radar recently, having not released an album since 2008, much slower than the typical country artist.  However, she seems to have found her style in those years.  "100 Proof", Pickler's third album features a much more traditional country sound than the "pop" of her previous albums"

Where's Tammy Wynette: If there was any doubt as to the direction the "I Wonder" singer was going to take with this album, Pickler shatters it with the very first song.  The toe-tapping first song tells of Pickler, unsure what to do about her man, desperately searching the radio for the advice of the Late Country Legend, Tammy Wynette.

Unlock That Honky Tonk:  Kellie is in the mood to party, and a locked bar is not going to stop her.  She does not care that it is only Tuesday.  Her fiery attitude calls for people to wake up the owner, wake the bartender and drag themselves in.  "Unlock that Honky Tonk" she sings.  "Boy, turn the neons on /  Go get the good stuff out / I'm bringing a party crowd".

Stop Cheatin' On Me: Slowing it down, Pickler lays down the rules, with a voice that immediately brings to mind that of June Carter Cash.  She has one simple rule to make this relationship work, "Stop cheating on me / It ain't that hard to do / Stop cheating on me / Or I'll start cheating on you".   The "I can play that game, too" attitude is sure to resonate with a lot of women, and the slow two-step beat is sure to get a lot of playtime in the bars.

Long As I Never See You Again:  The "Red High Heels" singer is at the end of a long period of getting over a breakup.  She no longer turns to the bottle for comfort.  She indicates that she is still fragile after the ordeal though, with the contradictory statement, "I'll go my way / We can still be friends / I'll be alright / Long as I never see you again".  My only complaint about this beautiful song of strength is the stop and start at the beginning of the chorus, which distract the listener with the lack of flow.

Tough:  The first single from the album.  "Tough" has a very similar sound to "Unlock That Honky Tonk".  Pickler uses the title word in multiple ways, both describing herself as "tough" and telling guys that if they do not like it well, then "tough".  This song is sure to be popular among fans who also enjoy Miranda Lambert's style of singing.

Turn On The Radio and Dance:  Finally, Kellie is ready for some genuine love.  She describes driving down by the lake, where it is just the two of them so they can be alone and just be together.  Nothing necessarily sexual, just kick off the shoes, "Turn on the radio and dance" she sings, describing her perfect moment with her man.

Mother's Day:  Anyone who knows Pickler's backstory knows why on the night before Mother's Day, she prays "That there's some way / That life could skip a day / To Monday".  She is obviously grateful for what she has, but misses having a mom in her life.  The simplicity of her and the acoustic guitar make this one of the most emotionally powerful songs on the album.

Rockaway (The Rockin' Chair Song): Told from the perspective of an old lady, sitting in a rocking chair, reflecting on a lifetime of love with her husband.  The bridge of the song describes the perfect ending to the longtime love "I whisper this rocking chair prayer at night/ If your's is ever empty/ Let mine not be far behind".

Little House On The Highway: A song about the life of an artist on the road, Pickler sings opens singing about how hard it is to stay awake, describing her band as a "Three Ring Circus" and finding stations to listen to.  It is definitely the most fun song on the album, and I would not be surprised if it were released as a single in the future.

100 Proof: The title track to the album slows the beat down and uses alcohol to describe the strength of their love.  Pickler compares their relationship with that of a friend's, who just got into a fight.  In the meantime, Kellie and her man are going home to get drunk on each other's love, which is "100 proof".

The Letter (To Daddy):  Pickler sings about the transformation in her father, an alcoholic who finally gave up the bottle and now makes up for lost time.  The song is short, but genuine.  Much like "Mother's Day", the power is in it's simplicity.

"100 Proof" is a step in a completely different direction from the albums Kellie Pickler has previously written.  This new formula definitely fits the young singer well, and provides a traditional sound for those clamoring for the "good ole days" of country music.  Every song comes across as genuine and heartfelt.  I hope Pickler stays with this style.  9/10


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