Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Sunny Sweeney "Sunny Sweeney" EP Review

I’ll admit that I’m a little late getting to the party so to speak with talking about Sunny Sweeney.  Sunny Sweeney is one of the best new female country artists to come on the scene with a traditional sound.  If you haven’t heard of her yet, just give it time and you will.  Sunny is not your normal artists that has been coming out lately with a pop crossover sound.  Instead Sunny shows her roots with a Texas twang that she just can’t hide in her songs.  Country music has been missing this presence since Leeann Womack started fading from the air waves of country radio.
While this isn’t her first album, her newest EP release has helped introduce her to a lot of people, me included.  The self titled EP Sunny Sweeney already has a top ten hit in “From A Table Away”.  This song had many excellent reviews and people were talking about how refreshing it was to finally have a traditional sounding country music female on the radio again.  Now Sunny is releasing her second single off of the EP entitled “Staying’s Worse Than Leaving”.  Like the rest of the songs on this release, it’s a heartbreaking cheating song.  However, I do have to question the release a little.  It’s not that I don’t like the song, and in fact I believe that all five songs on the album are great.  I just believe she would have had a better chance keeping her momentum up by releasing “Drink Myself Single.”  “Drink Myself Single” is a little different than other songs on the EP and would have allowed her to showcase more of an assortment of her talents with an upbeat song.
As I stated before the EP doesn’t have a bad song on it.  Many people who own it have expressed their love for the track “Amy”.  If you are a Sunny Sweeney fan or a person who has been waiting for a different sound than Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift, I believe you will definitely enjoy this release from a future star of country music.
The EP can be purchased here: Sunny Sweeney EP

Friday, April 22, 2011

Now That's Country: Mark Chesnutt "Lost In The Feeling"

I could really pick several Mark Chesnutt hits to fit into this category, but I happened to come across this one while I was looking for another song.  I originally thought it was a newer song, but after doing some investigation it turns out the song was originally released on an album back in 2000.  What’s even better is the fact that it is a cover of a Conway Twitty hit.  People who cover traditional country music lately are few and far in between, but covers of Conway seem to be even more rare.  Blake Shelton is the only one that I can think of in recent memory that covered Conway and I don’t know if it’s the fact that country music is in a “pop” phase or because Conway is such a hard act to follow.  It’s been said that Conway was “the best friend a song ever had” and that is for good reason.
Never the less, finding this video on YouTube helped jog my memory and now it seems I remember hearing this on the radio some back when it originally came out in 2000.  That was back when radio played Mark Chesnutt more.  Chesnutt has stuck to his roots and beliefs and continues producing great traditional country music, which is why we don’t hear much from him.  Chesnutt’s latest album is full of covers from the “outlaws” of country music and he has even put several covers on albums leading up to his latest release.  However, I don’t think that any of them can even compare to his performance in this song.  “Lost In The Feeling” is a classic country love song that was one of Conway Twitty’s best songs and Mark Chesnutt has done the song proud.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find the song available as an mp3 alone.  It looks like the only way to own this is to buy the CD.  That being said, if the song raises chill bumps on your arm like it did me when I heard it, you probably won’t have a problem purchasing the CD just for this song.

Lost in the Feeling

Monday, April 18, 2011

"Dirt Road Anthem" The Way It Should Be Done By Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert

Jason Aldean has recently released his newest single “Dirt Road Anthem” which he debuted at the ACM awards earlier this month.  If you have read my review on his newest album “My Kinda Party” you know that I had mixed feelings about his performance with this one song in particular.  After seeing him sing it live, I dislike his version even more.  His version just doesn’t appeal to me.  I have listened to it several times and the fact that I have heard the original makes it not measure up to the standard that Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert have set for the song.  Reading some of my other posts you, can tell that I tend to like more traditional country music, but this song is one of the exceptions.  “Dirt Road Anthem” was intended to be a “country rap” song and Aldean just can’t pull it off as well as the originals. 
I don’t like giving bad reviews on here because I think it is a waste of my time and yours, if I write and have you read a 500 word post that tells you not to buy a song.  However, I’m going to take this opportunity to lead you to a better version of the song.  Brantley Gilbert and Colt Ford have actually made two versions of “Dirt Road Anthem”, one which appeared on Ford’s first album and the second which is the last track on Gilbert’s album “Halfway to Heaven.”  Give these songs and listen and let me know which you think is the best version.  I’m going to be willing to bet it will be one of the versions by Colt Ford and Brantley Gilbert.
The original version is available here: Dirt Road Anthem Featuring Brantley Gilbert

Friday, April 15, 2011

Johnny Cash "Devil's Right Hand" Review

“Devil’s Right Hand” is probably the best Johnny Cash song that you have never heard.  Most all true country music fans and music fans in general have heard the classic songs from “the man in black”, but this is one that I had not heard of until about a month ago.  I happened to be looking around at music links and found where someone posted this.  I found that it was on the “Unearthed” album which was released in 2003, shortly after his death.  The album itself is a box set that contains mostly unreleased songs from Cash.
“Devil’s Right Hand” has a very similar story to many of Cash’s songs relating to guns.  The song has a lot of similarities to “Don’t Take Your Guns To Town.”  However, this song was actually written and originally performed by Steve Earle.  Cash wasn’t the only one to cover the song.  The Highwaymen featuring Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Waylon Jennings also had a version, along with Waylon cutting the song himself on his own album.  I have listened to all the versions and can definitely say that Cash has the most rocked up version with a solo electric guitar throughout song.  In my opinion, his version is also the best out of the four that I listened to.
The song itself refers to a child seeing a gun for sale and being amazed by it.  The child turns to a man and against the mother’s wishes gets a gun that eventually lands him in trouble.  Like I said, it sounds like a normal Johnny Cash song, but I don’t think I have heard a song with such a strong presence of a “rockabilly” style guitar by him.  I love the song and I would probably put it in my top 10 of all time favorite Johnny Cash songs.  This isn’t traditional country music, but I don’t know that you can classify his music as traditional anyways.  However, if you are a fan of Johnny Cash, I believe you will like this song as much as I do.
mp3 available here: Devil's Right Hand

Monday, April 11, 2011

Craig Campbell "Craig Campbell" Album Review

Last Tuesday brought about the release of new country artist Craig Campbell’s debut album “Craig Campbell”.  Even though you have probably heard the first single off the album being played for several months now, the album was put off until now for release.  This seems to be a growing trend with country music.  I don’t know if the record companies are responsible or if it is the artists’ choice.  The only thing I can think of is maybe they stumble across a great song while making the album and decide to go ahead and release it to hype the album up.  It seems to me that releasing a single six months ahead of the album, allows time for the listeners to forget about the song. Therefore, I’m not sure it is a great strategy.  In any event, if people have forgotten about Campbell’s debut single “Family Man”, they won’t forget about him once they hear some of the other songs on this CD. 
As I have already mentioned “Family Man” was the first that we heard of Craig Campbell and I believe that song turned a lot of heads.  When I first heard the song’s chorus, I thought it was Alan Jackson.   I’m sure that you have heard the song as it has been play a lot by radio stations in my area.  If this is the type of song you like, I think you will enjoy the rest of the album.  There are several other songs that stand out on the album.  I think “My Little Cowboy” probably has a chance to be a single.  It’s about a father’s feelings toward his son.  While the son thinks he is failing at what he does, the father still is proud of him and encourages him to keep trying.  A couple of my personal favorites are “That’s Music To Me” and “It Probably Ain’t”.  “That’s Music To Me” is about the life and music that he loves.  It refers to “Saturday nights full of Haggard and Whitley” as part of the type of music he loves.  “It Probably Ain’t” is a clever song.  I know there seems to be a lot of hit songs now telling people how “country” they are.  This song simple states that if you have to tell how country you are… you probably ain’t. 
Overall, I don’t think the album has a really bad song on it.  There isn’t one instance in listening to the songs on the album where I said “what was he thinking?”    I’m not saying that this will be an all time great CD but I think it is one that you will listen to most of the songs, if not all of them when  you pop it in the CD player or fire up the mp3 player.  Craig Campbell has made a strong statement with this first album.  Not only do the songs have a more traditional sound, but some of them let you know where his allegiance lies.  Let’s hope Craig Campbell, along with Jamey Johnson and Chris Young are on the way to bringing traditional country back to country radio.  The album is available both on CD and mp3, check it out and let me know what you think.
Buy it here: Craig Campbell

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Bradley Gaskin Album Preview

This is just a little something different from the reviews I normally do.  It appears that my visitors are interested in the new singer Bradley Gaskin.  My review of “Mr. Bartender” is currently the most successful page I have on the blog, receiving about 85 percent of the site’s traffic since I posted the review.  Gaskin has been making tours to country music radio stations in Alabama and Tennessee.  There are a few videos that some of the stations have posted to YouTube.  I found one song that Gaskin has repeatedly sung at each session with the radio stations and I believe it’s pretty safe to say that it will be on his first album.  “I Hate That Beach” is a great song that is being sung acoustically and once again he displays his great vocals.  I think this also shows that his sound isn’t just studio produced like many artists are now.  Most people can sound good on an album, but when they sing live, it all falls apart. 

There is still no date for the release of the album.  I had originally heard that May was when the album was supposed to be released, but I checked his website and it only states that the album will be released in the summer. When the album does come out, I’m sure “I Hate That Beach” will be one of the big hits on it.  I can't promise this song will be on the album, but it would be a shame if it is left off.

Chris Young "Tomorrow" Single Review

I’m not big on reality musical contests that are on TV now days.  American Idol has a lot of viewers and millions of people vote for their favorite singer, but how many of the winners actually go on to be a big success.  I will say that I was a viewer of Nashville Star, and that contest gave us one of the best traditional country music singers over the past few years, in Chris Young.  Young has finally started to have some success after his huge hit “Getting You Home”  (AKA The Black Dress Song), but I think the new song “Tomorrow” is just as good, and in my opinion even better.
Tomorrow” covers a topic that so many country music songs and pretty much all genres of music cover.  That is the, I’m leaving but I’m going to give it one more shot song.  While some people think this theme has been covered too many times, there are really only so many things you can write a song about.  The key to making it work is having great lyrics and music to back those lyrics up.  This song pulls that off with the right blend of a traditional sounding steel guitar and an electric guitar solo that doesn’t rock the song up too much.  The lyrics are what really shine with the unforgettable lines of “we’re like fire and gasoline, I’m no good for you, you’re no good for me.”  The song tells of regret that will come in the morning, “but tonight I’m going to love you like there’s no tomorrow.”
As I already stated, I believe this is one of Young’s best songs yet.  I personally still like “Drinking Me Lonely Tonight” and consider it his best, but I believe this would come in second for me.  Young’s new album is set to come out this summer; therefore this song is currently only available by mp3 download.  I’m sure you have heard the song by now and if you haven’t I have embedded a YouTube link.  I think it’s a shame that he wasn’t asked to sing it at the ACM awards, but that wasn’t much of a country show.  I would have much rather seen Chris Young and Justin Moore instead of the rock and pop artists, but I’m getting off the subject here.  Give the song a listen if you haven’t heard it.  I think it’s another song you will want to add to your mp3 collection.