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Album Reviews

Album Reviews

Trace-Akdins
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Album Spotlight: Trace Adkins, ‘Love Will …’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

The idea behind Trace Adkins' new album 'Love Will ...' makes so much sense you almost wonder why he hadn't done it sooner. This collection of love songs is as obvious as the tagless T-shirt, yet for years we went without both.

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Craig Campbell
Bigger Picture Music Group
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Craig Campbell, ‘Never Regret’ – Album Review

Craig Campbell does a lot of things better than average. He's a better than average singer who has chosen better than average songs for his new album 'Never Regret,' yet somehow, the project ends up feeling rather ordinary.

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Lady Antebellum
Capitol Nashville
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Album Spotlight: Lady Antebellum, ‘Golden’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

The best moments on Lady Antebellum's fourth album 'Golden' find Charles Kelley or Hillary Scott singing solo, with minimal help from the other on harmonies. There is no shortage of songs that act as features for the two talented vocalists. The evolution of the trio finds them becoming a dual threat super power instead of a two-headed pop-rock-country group.

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Pistol-Annies
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Pistol Annies, ‘Annie Up’ – Album Review

Strong production keeps 'Annie Up' -- the new album from Pistol Annies -- from being something their debut effort certainly was not: boring. The women thrive among thick, bluesy guitars that moan and wail throughout the 12 cuts. It's a throwback sound that fits the trio as well as the daring outfits they've become known for wearing.

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Kenny-Chesney
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Kenny Chesney, ‘Life on a Rock’ – Album Review

Kenny Chesney's 'Life on a Rock' album is as revealing of a record as 'Be as You Are' -- more so in some ways. The songwriting isn't as sharp as the 2005 project (the most closely comparable to 'Life on a Rock' in style and substance), but the experiences are as mixed and honest.

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Tate Stevens
RCA Nashville
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Tate Stevens, ‘Tate Stevens’ – Album Review

The debut effort from Tate Stevens is about as straight-forward of a country album as you'll find. 'Tate Stevens' is an end cap-at-Walmart sort of record that proves the 'X Factor' winner can compete with the big names in Nashville.

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Granger Smith
Granger Smith
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Granger Smith, ‘Dirt Road Driveway’ – Album Review

If you look back over Granger Smith's early album covers, you'll find that he presented himself as a hat act. Sonically he's come a long way since those efforts, with his latest album 'Dirt Road Driveway' falling squarely in the singer-songwriter sub-genre of country music. It's an album that would sound best at a coffee house, not a honky tonk. 

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Krystal Keith
Show Dog Universal
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Krystal Keith, ‘Krystal Keith’ – EP Review

Krystal Keith proves she has the talent to make it in Nashville, but a larger sample is needed to distinguish her as her own artist. At her best she's Bonnie Raitt for a new generation -- but at other times her style, pacing and lyrics are too heavily influenced by Toby Keith.

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Willie Nelson
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Willie Nelson, ‘Let’s Face the Music and Dance’ – Album Review

'Let's Face the Music and Dance' is a great place for a young country music fan to meet Willie Nelson. It won't be his most famous, and it won't create any hit singles. This wonderfully consistent effort proves what longtime fans of the legend already know: At 79 years old (80 on April 30), Nelson is still as important and skilled a vocalist as there is in country music. 

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Brad Paisley
Ethan Miller, Getty Images
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Brad Paisley, ‘Wheelhouse’ – Album Review

Brad Paisley's 'Wheelhouse' delivers a familiar mix of humor, life lessons and scorching guitar solos, but it does it in a way different from any of the other eight albums the 'Beat This Summer' singer has released. He took his old formula, balled it up, lit it on fire and tossed the ashes in the garbage. The result is a meaty and ambitious project that doesn't always click, but clears new ground when it does.

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