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Album Reviews

Album Reviews

Gary Allan
Facebook
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Album Spotlight: Gary Allan, ‘Set You Free’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

Gary Allan delivers the emotionally rich album his fans expect while stretching his sound in multiple new directions on 'Set You Free,' the singer's ninth studio album and first in three years. The songwriting is strong from the first track to the last, with Allan mixing moments of joy and hope within his familiar anguish.

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Randy Houser
Stoney Creek Records
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Randy Houser, ‘How Country Feels’ – Album Review

Randy Houser comes in from the edges of country music with his third album 'How Country Feels' -- his first on new label Stoney Creek Records. The singer wrote just seven of the project's 15 cuts, but employed many of Nashville's top songwriters to help with the others.

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Katie Armiger
Cold River Records
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Katie Armiger, ‘Fall Into Me’ – Album Review

Katie Armiger's new album, 'Fall Into Me,' features 14 songs that describe love's highs and lows. It's a rollercoaster ride that at times feels like that line from Taylor Swift's 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,' i.e., "I say 'I hate you,' we break up, you call me, 'I love you.'" Fortunately, Armiger's way with words is more debonair.

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Nashville
Big Machine Records
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‘The Music of Nashville: Season 1, Volume 1′ – Album Review

Without the expressions and the palpable tension between characters, songs from 'Nashville' lose their edge. Flaws otherwise hidden by the drama step forward to dilute your favorite moments from the ABC drama.

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Florida Georgia Line
Jason Kempin, Getty Images
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Florida Georgia Line, ‘Here’s to the Good Times’ – Album Review

Never has a single better represented an artist's album than 'Cruise' does for Florida Georgia Line's 'Here's to the Good Times.' Thick production, heavy guitarwork and big fat hooks define the 11 songs -- six of which were written by Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard. 

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Toby Keith
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Toby Keith, ‘Hope on the Rocks’ – Album Review

Toby Keith's new album 'Hope on the Rocks' is a loud and sudsy collection of songs about beer, barrooms, heartbreak... and beer. Much like a Saturday night out at your favorite watering hole, it's rowdy and fun, but difficult to remember the next morning.

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Lady Antebellum
Capitol Nashville
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Lady Antebellum, ‘On This Winter’s Night’ – Album Review

Lady Antebellum are practically built for Christmas albums. There's a Captain and Tennille quality to their partnership that's made hip by youth and intriguing subject matter. The trio's take on standards like 'I'll Be Home for Christmas' and 'Silent Night' are timeless, in that they could really be transported to any decade of country music. For them, covering yuletide hits is as easy as looking good. 

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Taylor Swift
Big Machine Records
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Taylor Swift, ‘Red’ – Album Review

Taylor Swift's new album, 'Red,' doesn't provide much to quiet the haters who will forever accuse her of being "too pop." It's inaccurate to say she leans that way on most of the 16 new songs. That tower in Pisa leans. Swift is in a pike position diving toward sugary waters. 

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Scotty McCreery
Mercury Nashville
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Scotty McCreery, ‘Christmas With Scotty McCreery’ – Album Review

Scotty McCreery shares a warm holiday hug with many of the most well-known Christmas classics on his new 'Christmas With Scotty McCreery' album. From top to bottom, this is a consistent project that takes few chances, but offers 11 pleasant recordings to easily slip into one's yearly holiday playlist. 

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Jason Aldean
Broken Bow Records
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Jason Aldean, ‘Night Train’ – Album Review

If four or five songs from Jason Aldean's new 'Night Train' album reach No. 1, does that mean it's indisputably a great country music record? This seems likely to happen -- the hits are there and Aldean is red hot right now -- yet from top to bottom, the singer's fifth project leaves one wanting some magic never felt before.

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