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Rock Rewind: Johnny Cash “Hurt”

It might seem odd to feature a country singer in the Rock Rewind, but then again, Johnny Cash was “crossover” before crossover became a thing.  He’s always appealed to the counter-culture in some way, and when he released his cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Hurt” in 2003, it was an indelible moment in music history that can’t be overlooked. Already in failing health while recording his American series of albums, […]

Kid Rock “Rebel Soul”: Album Review

Atlantic (2012)

As a performing artist, Kid Rock has always been a bit of an anomaly. Mixing genres like they were cocktail ingredients, the end result can be often confusing. His sound is largely a concoction of country, blues and hip-hop. And what do we call it? Rock & roll. Go figure. At the same time, perhaps unfortunately, Kid Rock’s persona feels also a bit of a caricature, in that it is […]

Taylor Swift “Red”: Does It Live Up to the Hype?

Big Machine Records (2012)

One would think it was Superbowl weekend. Let’s just say when retailers like Walgreens use their marquis to count down the days until Taylor Swift’s Red is available, it’s a sign of just how much hype has surrounded the release of the latest album by country music’s hottest young superstar. The pitfall with this much PR, of course is, that there is a huge expectation that the album must live […]

Melissa Etheridge Returns to Her Roots on “4th Street Feeling”

Island Def Jam (2012)

For some artists, a “return to roots” simply means the artist has returned to his/her musical roots—in other words, the music style that first put that artist on the map. However, on her new record 4th Street Feeling, rocker Melissa Etheridge takes this idea much deeper by returning to her roots in a much deeper sense—as in, returning to her upbringing, to her biographical roots. The end result is a […]

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 […]

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 […]

John Mayer’s Confessional? “Born and Raised”-Album Review

Columbia (2012)

Over the years, singer/songwriter John Mayer has dipped his toes into several genres, with his music touching on pop/rock, R&B, blues, and now…1970’s country/folk? Yep. Apparently so. Born and Raised, Mayer’s newest studio album, carries all the hi-fi production value you’d expect from a recording made in 2012, but most of the songs themselves sound like they could have been written 30 years ago.  Furthermore, the arrangements are fairly stripped […]