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Country Music


Country Acts to Watch: Meet Edens Edge

This week, the eponymous debut CD from Arkansas-based trio Edens Edge hit store shelves and iTunes, offering a blend of bluegrass and modern country that is certain to put this young band on the map. It appears that Edens Edge has been somewhat groomed for this moment for some time. Emerging, quite literally, from the country, the band was formed by members Hannah Blaylock, Cherill Green and Dean Berner, all […]


Little Big Town Makes Waves with “Pontoon”

In my humble opinion, Little Big Town is one of the more underrated acts in country music today. Although this quartet of vocalists has been around since 1998, and although they’ve have had platinum-selling records and several Top 10 hits, they’ve still wound up dwelling in the huge shadows cast by acts like Sugarland and Rascal Flatts, spending more time as concert openers than as headliners. So when the band […]


Josh Turner “Punching Bag”—Album Review

“Ladies and gentlemen,” booms the voice of noted boxing ring announcer Michael Buffer as the introduction for Josh Turner’s new album Punching Bag. “Fighting out of the traditional country music corner…the tornado of testosterone, the bone-shaking baritone…let’s get ready to RUM-BLE, with the unmistakable voice of JOOOOSSSH TURRRNERRRR!” …Aaand that’s about as exciting as it gets, folks. It pains me to say it, because I am a fan of traditional […]


CMT Music Awards–Recap

The annual CMT Music Awards (country’s equivalent to the MTV Music Video Awards) took place last night in Nashville, packing a total of eight awards in between an abundance of performances in a 2-and-a-half hour show. Co-hosted by Toby Keith and Kristin Bell, the awards show itself serves as a perfect example of how modern country music is relying on crossover appeal to reach a wider audience. The opening song […]


Alan Jackson “Thirty Miles West”: Album Review

ACR/EMI (2012)

Over the years, Alan Jackson has displayed a talent for channeling his music as a sort of soundtrack for his own life, letting us all read pages from his diary, so to speak—and yet, managing to do it in a way that is honest without being uncomfortably personal. Jackson’s 17th studio album Thirty Miles West is no exception to this rule, as Jackson uses solid old-school country as a backdrop […]


Country/Folk Legend Doc Watson Passes Away

The world of country/folk has lost another icon. Legendary guitarist Doc Watson died on Tuesday in a Winston-Salem, North Carolina hospital, after complications from colon surgery. He was 89 years young. What Earl Scruggs (whom we lost just last month) was to the banjo, Doc Watson was to the guitar. His unique, super-fast style of flatpicking literally changed the way people thought of this instrument. Before Doc Watson, the guitar […]


Willie Nelson “Heroes”: The Legend Can Still Bring It

Sony Legacy (2012)

After more than 200 records over a career spanning nearly 60 years, one might think Willie Nelson would be content to hang his hat on a nail, sit on the front porch, indulge in his favorite substance vices, strum a guitar now and then, and leave the record-making to the young-uns. That’s what most country legends would do, I suppose. But not Willie. Now 79 years young, Willie Nelson has […]


Josh Abbott Band Beats the Odds with “Small Town Family Dream”

Pretty Damn Tough Records (2012)

Conventional wisdom says if you want to sell enough records to get on the charts, you don’t diss the industry in your songs. Apparently, the Josh Abbott Band didn’t get that memo when they recorded Small Town Family Dream (their third studio release). And yet, the band is beating the odds, debuting at a respectable Number 5 on the Billboard Country Albums chart, and Number 15 on the Billboard 200. […]


Carrie Underwood Explores Her “Darker” Side on “Blown Away”—Album Review

19 Recordings Limited (2012)

Since rising to the top, American-Idol-turned-country star Carrie Underwood has scarcely experienced what could be called a “slide”—even though her previous release Play On had a fairly tepid reception. But listening to Blown Away, Underwood’s fourth studio release, I can’t help but feel that any doubts about her will be laid to rest. There are enough solid, singable, radio-friendly tunes on this album to keep her at or near the […]


Top Five Country Music Movers and Shakers

While country music has been going through a sort of identity crisis in recent years, there are a few acts that are helping re-focus or re-define the genre, to help take country into the next generation. Sometimes these “movers and shakers” are impacting country mucis by their crossover appeal, occasionally blending elements of pop and rock into the mix (if you’ve read me at all, you know I’m a “purist” […]


Why Lee Brice’s “Hard 2 Love”…Isn’t (Album Review)

Curb Records (2012)

There’s no denying that Lee Brice is well on his way to being one of the biggest names in modern country music. His breakout hit “Love Like Crazy” spent a record-breaking 56 weeks on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart and garnered two ACM nominations, and at the time of this writing, the single “A Woman Like You” (from his new release Hard 2 Love) is sitting comfortably in the Number […]


Johnny Cash “Bootleg Vol IV–The Soul of Truth”: a Collection of Rarities

Since the death of Johnny Cash in 2003, there has been no shortage of vintage material available for fans, as the Cash camp seems quite committed to preserving his legacy. The latest installment of the “Bootleg” series, Bootleg, Vol. IV—The Soul of Truth is a 51-track, 2-disc set that attempts to gather all of Cash’s gospel music into one collection. Johnny Cash history buffs know that the Man in Black […]


Carrie Underwood’s “Good Girl” Single Makes Waves

There’s no point in mincing words: Carrie Underwood is hot. Underwood’s new single “Good Girl” has been racing up the country charts (as well as Billboard’s Hot 100) in advance of her upcoming release, Blown Away, due to drop May 1.  And with good reason. The song is undoubtedly the most radio-friendly, hookiest tune Underwood has put out in awhile, and is likely to rival or even surpass the success […]

Bluegrass Legend Earl Scruggs Passes Away

Bluegrass Legend Earl Scruggs Passes Away

Legendary banjo player and Country Music Hall-of-Famer Earl Scruggs passed away on March 28, after a long season of failing health. He was 88. Scruggs was indisputably one of the most influential bluegrass banjo players of all time. His signature three-finger picking style (known today as Scruggs style), a style he developed himself, was duplicated by thousands of banjo players after him, and became a defining characteristic sound in bluegrass music. […]

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