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Album Reviews

Album Reviews

Kenny Rogers
Warner Brothers
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Album Spotlight: Kenny Rogers, ‘You Can’t Make Old Friends’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

Kenny Rogers' new album 'You Can't Make Old Friends' is a collection of songs as diverse as this legend's career. No two of the 11 cuts could be placed neatly within the same sub-genre of country music. Intense displays of love, hope, anger and patriotism keep the listener pulled forward to hear what will come next.

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Joe Nichols
Christopher Polk, Getty Images
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Album Spotlight: Joe Nichols, ‘Crickets’

'Crickets' is a fine way to describe Joe Nichols' new album. The singer aims for a relax-on-the-riverbank vibe with many of the mid-tempo cuts on this project. The album begins and ends with crickets ( literally), and in between it offers a fairly level ride.

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Randy Travis
Warner Bros.
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Album Spotlight: Randy Travis, ‘Influence Vol. 1: The Man I Am’

Randy Travis' 'Influence Vol. 1: The Man I Am' is a simple collection of covers from artists that inspired him. Merle Haggard is the most represented singer, with eight cuts influenced by or recorded by him at some point. Three of the first four are Haggard songs, with 'What Have You Got Planned Tonight Diana' being the one to remember.

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Tyler Farr
BNA Records
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Album Spotlight: Tyler Farr, ‘Redneck Crazy’

Tyler Farr's first three singles are a fair representation of his debut album 'Redneck Crazy.' There's a little pain, a little heart and a little cray-cray. The singer relies on his unique voice, but nothing about the project feels self-indulgent.

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Alan Jackson
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Album Spotlight: Alan Jackson, ‘The Bluegrass Album’

If you ask him, Alan Jackson will tell you that 'The Bluegrass Album' is long overdue, but fans will find the collection to be not too much different than the music he's known for making of late. The singer's naturally slow-paced storytelling style is highlighted on a project that provides his team of talented pickers plenty of room to fiddle about. It's an intimate album, with Jackson even talking directly to his fans at one point.

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Billy Currington
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Album Spotlight: Billy Currington, ‘We Are Tonight’

Billy Currington adds a pinch of rock, two tablespoons of R&B and a heavy dose of soul to his new 'We Are Tonight' album. The result is a project that tastes different, but remains true to a sound he's cultivated over the last decade.

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Justin Moore
Slaven Vlasic, Getty Images
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Album Spotlight: Justin Moore, ‘Off the Beaten Path’

The songwriting is sharper and Justin Moore's focus more clear on his new album 'Off the Beaten Path.' It's an album that will definitively brand the 'Point at You' singer as a traditionalist, but that's not to say he plays it entirely safe. 

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Chris Young
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Album Spotlight: Chris Young, ‘A.M.’

For all the talk of a rowdier set of songs, Chris Young's 'A.M.' is still built upon concepts introduced during 'Neon' and 'The Man I Want to Be.' The guitars get a workout on 'Aw Naw' and one or two others, but no one is going to call Young country's next rocker.

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Keith Urban
EMI Nashville
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Album Spotlight: Keith Urban, ‘Fuse’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

'Fuse' is a fine title for Keith Urban's seventh studio album, but 'Short Fuse' might be even better. There's very little to burn before one gets to the heart of this explosion of energy set to a modern country beat. The collection of 13 songs is the singer's least traditional offering to date, but few will complain about that.

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Sheryl Crow
Larry Busacca, Getty Images
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Album Spotlight: Sheryl Crow, ‘Feels Like Home’

Sheryl Crow didn't need to change much to fit in with Nashville's top female vocalists, and on the best songs from her 'Feels Like Home' album, she didn't. An easy (no pun intended), direct delivery serves the "newcomer" well.

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