The weather's getting cold and gray and so are the singles. Not a lot of up-tempos to be found. Normally that'd be fine with me - a welcome break from the happy happy joy joy - but too much of the same gets old. If this is a look into the music of the next month or two, load up on Red Bulls till spring. No Four Lokos though, please!
*click the links for listens of each song*
Josh Turner - I Wouldn't Be a Man
I've heard this before, but it's been a while so at least it's a "fresh ears" judgment. This is a nice cover of the 1989 Don Williams hit. I still prefer the original, but this is very strong.
Loretta Lynn, Miranda Lambert and Sheryl Crow - Coal Miner's Daughter
The inclusion of Crow here is baffling to me and she adds little, but this isn't a bad take on the classic. Miranda is a perfect fit and Lynn is in superb voice.
The Judds - I Will Stand By You
Meh. Bunch of boring inspirational platitudes. I've been more emotionally moved reading Hallmarks in the Target greeting card aisle. Don't call it a comeback; this is flat-out terrible.
Why mess with perfection? The original was much better; in fact, I prefer Dwight Yoakam's excellent cover to this. Pianos and crashing guitars do nothing for my 2nd favorite Elvis tune. Pointless.
The Harters - If I Run
This is a pleasant enough swelling pop country ballad in the vein of Lady Antebellum and Gloriana, but it's nothing new or remotely memorable.
Kenny Chesney - Somewhere With You
People complaining about all of Chesney's "reminiscing" songs and beach anthems, take heed. This isn't one of those. It's also a different sound for Kenneth... AAA. Decent, but after it hits #3 or so on the charts and drops, nobody will request it again.
Little Big Town - Kiss Goodbye
Speaking of Gloriana, this also sounds like them. I had to check the display to make sure it wasn't. Eh, I expect better from LBT, though the chorus is pretty moving.
Lee Brice - Beautiful Every Time
This sounds like a country take on "Dock of the Bay," but more boring. Lee should branch out a little; this is too much in the same pocket as his previous hit... whatever that was called. Dull dull dull zzzz...
Gary Allan - Kiss Me When I'm Down
This is well written and decently sung. Less than I hope for from Allan though. He really needs to step it up before he becomes a B-List afterthought. Admittedly, all these low key songs are negatively coloring my perception of the individual tracks on this comp, but...
Jamey Johnson - Playing the Part
One of the less exceptional cuts from The Guitar Song is still better than most everything else on this collection. It's probably too late for this song to make a dent in the charts, but it would be a breath of fresh air amongst the Flatts and Swifts.
Billy Currington - Let Me Down Easy
Billy's got such a good, good voice. This is a simple (low key) break-up song that brings nothing new or exciting to the table, but it's got some indefinable "it" factor going for it. And that voice...
The Randy Rogers Band - Steal You Away
I reviewed this song here.
Brett Eldredge - Raymond
I've heard a lot about this song, but this is my first time to hear it. Alzheimer's has been dealt with in country music before, but not this effectively. Brett's voice is fresh and emotive, a strong baritone. "Raymond" pulls all the right heartstrings, but you never feel like it's taking advantage of your sympathies. This is one of the strongest debut singles since Currington's "Walk a Little Straighter."
Joey + Rory - That's Important to Me
Simple and effective, but maybe too simple to find a large audience. I want good things for this talented duo/couple, but they're going to have to release harder hitting singles to make it in this market.
Mark Cooke - Can't Cheat in a Small Town
Mark's voice isn't unique, but it's solid enough. The song is 90s sounding, well-written, but again... low key... and I'm drooling on my desk at this point. Must all winter releases be yawners?
Uncle Kracker w/Kid Rock - Good to Be Me
Here's an anomaly. A more upbeat, summery track in the midst of all these gray skies. Sure it's Uncle Kracker, but this is every bit as "country" as nearly every other song here. And I like it... it's a guilty pleasure. Bouncy, singable and possibly released at the perfect time to be alternative programming to all these other party poopers. Bite me; it ain't bad.
Christian Kane - The House Rules
Apparently this guy is on some TV show I've never seen before. Whatever. He reminds me of Blake Shelton a little. This song is way more upbeat than most of the previous tunes. Wait... "you know they're gonna show 'em if they got 'em"?? This is pretty risque for the format. Oh no, a crowd sing-along at the end. That's a full letter grade off. Mmmm, not sure if I like this a ton, but it could be a hit.
Sarah Darling - With or Without You
A U2 cover... pretty cool. Glad it wasn't a cover of "Lemon." She's got a sweet voice. She better wail at the end with the "oh oh oh's" though. As low key winter releases go, this isn't bad at all. Don't care for the backing vocals much. A male contrast would have sounded better there. Ugh, no "oh oh oh's"! Letter grade off. Pretty good, but the song had no high point to really set it off.