Show Review: Lee Brice In Fort Smith

Lee Brice and Brian Davis Make It Hard Not To Love Em’ After Their Show! Last week Lee Brice made his way to the Natural State! He played at the Convention Center in Fort Smith, Ark. on Friday, January 25. Brian Davis opened the show and started the party with his acoustic set. He played all his rocking songs he is known for, but then tried to tell the crowd that ballads weren’t really his thing. I strongly believe he should rethink that, because I was truly impressed with his performance of “Against the World.” Like I said, this was only an acoustic set. I can’t wait to catch him with his full band! Brice hit the stage after his good friend, Davis and the party continued! He sang “Beer,” “She Ain’t Right,” “Hard to Love,” “Picture of Me,” the hit he wrote “Crazy Girl” that most have heard from the Eli Young Band, a new one that will be on his next record, “Whiskey Use To Burn” and more! Brice wasn’t about to leave the stage without singing his #1 hits and I don’t think the fans would have let him! The crowd sang along word-for-word to “A Woman Like You” and you could hear the thank you in Brice’s voice when he let out the lines “you make the best fried chicken, I love the sound of your name!” As soon as the opening notes to “I Drive Your Truck” filled the room, the mood shifted. Yes, everyone was stilled excited, but it was a different kind of excitement. Everyone had their eyes on the stage, while some pulled their loved one close. The people who stood in the back all night, moved closer. It was a great thing to see. Everyone thought the show was minutes away from ending when Brice started “Love Like Crazy,” even me! But we were wrong! He finished his breakout hit and left the stage. His drummer blew everyone away with what seemed like a 10 minute solo and then the band and Brice was back! He played a few more songs and then Brian Davis came back on stage to finish the night with Hank Jr.’s “Family Tradition!” The night was great and the show even better! Brice fully entertained his fans and I’m sure gained some more while in the process! Brice will be doing his thing on the road for a few more weeks and then he will be joining his friends Miranda Lambert and Dierks Bentley for the Locked and Reloaded Tour! Current Lee Brice Tour Dates and Tickets!

Gary Allan Set You Free Album Review

Gary Allan Hits with Full Force with New Album Release Set You Free. Gary Allan‘s single “Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain),” featured on his new album which dropped last week, is already a run away success having reached Gold status earlier this month. After listening to Set You Free from beginning to end and over again, it’s simple to see that “Every Storm” is in good company with the other eleven tracks featured on the new record. Allan’s album has that rocker edge to it that we all know and love, and each song reaches right in and grabs a hold of you, pulling you in with well-written lyrics, haunting and/or catchy melodies and Gary’s gruff but velvety vocals. Poetry of a Broken Heart. The major theme on this album is easily heartbreak. Even songs like “You Without Me”  and “One More Time” that aren’t strictly about broken hearts and relationships are still  heart wrenching because the love and desire for a life well lived he describes are just so intense! Even though most of the songs share different variations of this common thread, each song still manages to be poetic, unique and powerful. There is a different story for each track, and each is as compelling as the next. With “Sand In My Soul,” it is easy to visualize the beach, the tiki bar, and a lone figure drinking alone then shuffling off to his room as the world moves on around him. Anyone who has loved can relate to the addiction metaphor  (“stoned mind” “jonesing for another kiss” “high on love” “strung out on a woman”) employed in “Hungover Heart.” As you listen to the album, each track is just a vivid as the next and it’s difficult to not have an emotional reaction to the music. Two songs which stand out from the heartbreak theme are “Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)” and “Good As New.” Both of these tracks are optimistic and bolstering. Like the heartbreak songs, these two tunes don’t deny the hurt in the world, but highlight it, and in the process emphasize just how good the good things really are in contrast. This lyrical quality is in keeping with the more mournful tunes as it still maintains a poetry and powerfulness that is certain to touch listeners. It’s The Little Things. Besides having 12 well-written, compelling and unique songs on Set You Free, there are little details embedded in each song that add musical diversity to the album as a whole while setting the tracks apart from each other. In “Bones” there is a strong presence of harmonica that gives it a serious groove. The intro to “It Ain’t The Whiskey” features an organ riff that immediately caught my attention. With “Sand In My Soul“, the fiddle stands out and really adds an extra layer of sorrowfulness to accompany the lyrics. When we get closer to the end of the album “Drop” really shakes things up with a jazzy/bluesy quality that increases Continue reading Gary Allan Set You Free Album Review

Backroad Anthem Live at Georges Majestic Lounge

Backroad Anthem Explodes Onto The Country Scene with Performance at Georges Majestic Lounge, Headed Somewhere Fast! I have a feeling that sometime soon, I’ll be telling everyone how I met the boys from Backroad Anthem before they made it big. I first stumbled across this group of local talent when they opened for Dustin Lynch at Georges Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, AR at the beginning of January. I didn’t even know they were on the night’s bill until I got to the show, and I was immediately blown away by the energy in their performance, their original sound, and how they had the fans on their feet and grooving in a matter of seconds. I thought maybe Dustin’s fans were just particularly exuberant, but I caught Backroad again just a little over a week ago when they headlined at George‘s and sold out the venue. For the second time, I was taken aback by these guys, especially considering that, as I later learned, they’ve only been together a short time (less than six months!). No matter the short time frame, these talented young men have hit just the right note, and they’re headed in the right direction. The Energy The first thing you’ll notice about Backroad Anthem is the raw, no holds barred energy that they put into their performances. according to lead vocalist frontman  Craig Strickland this is exactly what they’re aiming for. “We want to offer people somewhat of a country power band, where everyone is incredibly talented at their instrument. When people walk out the door from a live show we want them saying ‘That band had something that other bands don’t have. Their crazy energy on stage is addictive.’” – Craig Strickland For his part, Strickland never stays in one spot for long as he’s constantly jumping, running around on stage, dancing on an amp or interacting with the crowd. At the same time the extraordinarily talented fiddle player, Eric Dysart, isn’t taking any breaks either and keeps things upbeat and sizzling with his superb skills. Meanwhile, Isaac Senty kills it on the drums, Toby Freeman‘s smooth vocals balance out Craig’s more rocker vibe while adding to the overall sound with his rhythm electric, and Josh Bryant keeps a cool demeanor without holding back as he fires away as lead guitarist.  Every single one of them is constantly giving it their all, and the result is a loud, well-performed, high energy show that has the audience on their feet, dancing, singing along, and cheering for more the entire time. Bottom line, one thing is for sure, the crowd won’t leave without having a great time. The Sound Besides the high energy of their shows, Backroad Anthem has an interesting and original sound, and is sure to draw folks back for more. Granted, at this early stage, they are still filling their set with a lot of covers of popular country hits, but even still, they demonstrate a pretty wide range in the process. They cover classics Continue reading Backroad Anthem Live at Georges Majestic Lounge

Randy Houser How Country Feels Album Review

Randy Houser’s New Album How Country Feels Well Worth the Wait! With the first few guitar strums and drum beats of “Runnin’ Outta Moonlight“, the first track on Randy Houser‘s new album How Country Feels, country fans are sure to be hooked. This first song has more of a pop edge than I expected from Houser, but its feel good, live in the moment lyrics immediately made me feel warm and happy (despite the cold January chill right outside my window!). From that first song, the record just gets better and better as it balances between a variety of sounds, themes and rhythms. Upbeat and Living In The Moment. Tracks like “Growin’ Younger,” “Top Of The World” “Absolutely Nothing,” “Goodnight Kiss,” and “Let’s Not Let It” keep things on the livelier side going back and forth between pop-ish (“Goodnight“) and more rock-ish (“Growin“). Lyrically, these songs encourage focusing on the important things in life and living in the moment in that way only a country song seems to be able to do. Anyone of these songs would be perfect for a Friday night bonfire or a lazy afternoon, and country fans are sure to have them playing on repeat. Slow and Bittersweet. On the other hand, Houser, slows things down and strikes a bittersweet note with the lovesick tune “The Singer“,  almost ballad-esque tracks like “Power of A Song,” and “Like A Cowboy,” and the gospel tinged “Along For The Ride.”  The music and lyrics of these tracks add an extra dimension to the album when placed along the faster songs, and proves that Randy Houser is capable of offering fans more than just one brand of country. Southern Rock Vibe. This album also embodies a broad spectrum of a southern rock vibe that is distinctly heard in three of the songs, title track “How Country Feels, “Shine” and “Sunshine On The Line.” If you were to put these three songs on that southern rock spectrum “How Country Feels” is at the least intense end with more pop-country mixed in with the electric guitar. “Sunshine On The Line” rests at the opposite end of that spectrum bordering on an almost hard rock sound opening with an intense guitar riff and raw vocals from Houser. “Shine” features a blue collar storyline, noticeable keyboards and more electric guitar than you hear from the average mainstream country tune. It’s not quite as intense as “Sunshine” and lacks any of the radio pop friendly elements in the title track, so it rests in the middle of the spectrum. Altogether, this southern rock vibe just adds yet another layer to Randy’s already complex sound heard throughout the album. A Heck of a Duet. One of the best moments on this album, though, is the powerful duet between Houser and CMNB favorite Kristy Lee Cook on “Wherever Love Goes“! Houser’s and Cook’s voices blend perfectly and compliment each other wonderfully. One thing I really appreciate is the mellow production on this song, the music is toned Continue reading Randy Houser How Country Feels Album Review

Dustin Lynch: Live Show Review

Dustin Lynch Proves He’s The Real Deal with Live Performance at George’s Majestic Lounge In Fayetteville, AR. When I first heard Dustin Lynch‘s debut album, I knew I just had to see him live. I was primarily curious to see if he would be as good live as he is on his record. After seeing his recent performance in front of a packed crowd at George’s Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, AR, I can honestly tell you that Lynch is even better in person! This talented young man has charisma coming out of his ears, and he really knows how to work a crowd. The audience that night came for a good time, and boy did they get it! Well-Rounded Set of Great Music! Of course it really doesn’t hurt that straight out of the gate, Dustin has an album of fourteen tracks that are sure to please a crowd. Playing upbeat tunes like his current feisty single, “She Cranks My Tractor,” and the sassy “Wild In Your Smile,” and then slowing it down with songs like the bittersweet “Hurricane” and the subtly sexy “Sittin’ Pretty,” Lynch had a song for everybody. Besides playing his own music though, he had a few covers to offer up like a great rendition Garth Brooks’ classic “Friends In Low Places.” He kept the energy in the high straight through the end, and finished things up with his hit “Cowboys and Angels” that had everyone singing along, and all the young women in the room swooning (though to be fair, they were pretty smitten during the entire concert!). Concert Had a Great Energy! Besides having a well rounded set though, Lynch didn’t hold back on interacting with audience members which added to the energy of the show. Whether he was handing out cold beer from the stage or pulling guys and gals from the audience on stage for an impromptu dance contest of sorts, Dustin made sure the whole concert felt like a party! From beginning to end, things never lagged and it was a night that fans were sure to remember. As a matter of fact, I was in line at George’s just this past weekend for another show, and folks were still talking about Lynch’s show. I’d say he left some kind of a good impression! All Signs Point to a Great Guy! Besides all that, even after the concert had finished up Dustin was still willing to give his time to his fans. Guys and girls lined up to take pictures and greet their new favorite country artist, and he took the time to meet each and everyone of them. I’m talking over an hour of taking photos and shaking hands after giving such an energetic show, and this country newbie was just as warm and friendly to the last as he was to the first. I can’t promise that fans will get similar chances after every show, but it’s clear the Lynch cares about his fans and is willing to repay Continue reading Dustin Lynch: Live Show Review

Easton Corbin All Over The Road Single Review

Single Review: Easton Corbin All Over The Road, Has It Got The Staying Power? I have to say apart from “Lovin’ You Is Fun” I had never really listened to Easton Corbin. So when I first heard this song, I was bowled over by how purely 90s it sounded (I’d like to clarify that I mean that positively!) Although I don’t listen to any particular artists from the 90s, sometimes I put on 90s country internet radio just to relax with, and if I had heard this song play on it, I wouldn’t have been any the wiser. Easton’s voice has that tonal quality to it, and the production that surrounds it, to make it a real tribute to that sound from 20 years ago. Tribute to 90’s Country, but Modern Too. However, despite the musical era it’s rooted in, there are elements of modernity. For example, the guitar solo reminds me of the songs of some of the biggest stars in Nashville right now. When the final chorus kicks in, the instrumentation is suddenly stripped back to the acoustic guitar playing a melody-based pattern, something which has often been used and is very effective. As expected, the drums then kick in, and the steel guitar and other instruments join it to complete the song as it began. Relaxing Quality But Is That Enough? As a song it’s fairly simple, it’s foot-tapping, head-bobbing, and is perfect for the car radio, or perhaps a bar. However, the beat is slower than other songs of its type, and doesn’t encourage liveliness. Rather, it’s a cheerful, fun song that asks you to chill with a beer for a bit. The melody is simple and easy to sing along to, there’s not a huge range of notes, and it perfectly functions as something to have on while you’re relaxing. Lyrically it repeats a lot of the ideas recycled again and again in country music, about driving with his girl, getting a little frisky, high on life, and not being able to wait until he can get her home. May Not Have Staying Power. This is well and good and I like the song, but it’s not a song I can get very excited about. It doesn’t hit me in any sort of which way, and unfortunately, it feels a little average. Songs to ‘have on in the background’ aren’t necessarily the ones to stick around. ‘Lovin’ You Is Fun’ Easton’s previous release, did so well because it had that catchy hook. Whilst this song has kind of catchy elements, it blends into the wallpaper of country music far more, and I fear it will get lost among the rest. I think it will do fairly well in the charts because Easton’s star is growing, particularly after his previous single being the 8th top selling country song in all of 2012 (according to Billboard’s end of year charts), but it won’t be one that people remember particularly, not as far as I can see. Looking Continue reading Easton Corbin All Over The Road Single Review

Lee Brice: I Drive Your Truck Single Review

Lee Brice “I Drive Your Truck” Straight To A Country Hit? – Review. Lee Brice missed out on being honoured as winner of the New Artist Award at the 2012 CMA Awards, but that’s to no detriment of his music. He’s not new to the scene as the nomination suggests, but released an album in 2010, Love Like Crazy that managed to get to number 9 in the charts. I’ll be honest in saying that I’d never heard of him until the release of “A Woman Like You” that shot in to the number 1 country spot, with its follow-up “Hard to Love” coming in at number 4. His new release “I Drive Your Truck” is certain to do well, and I predict a solid number 2 for this country/pop belter that really pulls at the heartstrings. The Story Behind the Single. Lee has previously said that he’s dedicating this song to his granddad, and that when he heard it he just ‘had to record it’. With that background information it’s easy to make sense of a certain interpretation of the song, the lyrics telling the story of a man driving the truck of a loved one who is no longer with them, and trying to cope with the sudden news of death. It’s a theme which is universal, even if not everyone copes with death by driving that person’s old truck, and Lee recognizes that, “people got their ways of coping, oh and I got mine”. Lines such as “that flag and stone ain’t where I feel you anyway” are particularly heartbreaking and I know will be endlessly quoted by people who relate to that very same sentiment. Why This Single Is So Great. Lyrically it’s fantastically crafted, (so hats off to the songwriters Jessi Alexander, Connie Harrington and Jimmy Yeary) and is definitely worth listening to properly and pouring over the lyrics for this reason. Musically, it’s a driving kind of song (appropriate) with its ‘driving’ beat and downwards guitar strumming, piano adding a more delicate and softer approach and providing the main riff. There’s also a pedal steel guitar in there to offset the pop/rock feel that is evident through a lot of Lee Brice’s music, for a more country element. Essentially, it’s a power ballad, which is what really makes this song work and emphasizes the feelings of intense emotion and desperation when a loved one dies. Predictions for Lee Brice… This is one of the best lyrical efforts I’ve heard in a long time, and the instrumentation and Lee’s meaningful and slightly straining vocals (great for the song’s mood) are only there to support the lyrics, but only in that they don’t overpower the meaning of the song. With “I Drive Your Truck“, it’s all in the specific details and imagery that makes it so universal and beautiful, because as they say, “it’s always the little things.” Fantastic song, and I can see big things to come both for Lee and this release, as it Continue reading Lee Brice: I Drive Your Truck Single Review

Taylor Swift Red Album Review

Album Review: Taylor Swift Grows Up and Moves On with Red. There’s no denying that Taylor Swift has positioned herself as a powerhouse in Country Music. So, I think its fair to say that there was a pretty substantial amount of anticipation surrounding her new album, Red, and its release. For the past few years, Swift has been branching out and evolving her musical style, and based on the single releases preceding the album’s debut (today! October 22nd), it was a little unclear to me whether or not Red was going to be a country album or not. Despite its iTunes categorization in the “Country” genre, my short answer is no, this isn’t a country album. However, if you want the long answer and why I don’t think this is a negative thing, read my complete review below. Since the release of her first album, Swift has clearly been on some kind of a musical journey of self-exploration, sharing all of her insights, heartbreaks and hopes with her fans. In a recent interview with a CBS news affiliate, Taylor described the progression of her musical career and album releases saying the following: “Fearless was about the breakthrough and all the discovery… with Speak Now, I felt like I really had something to prove, because that last album was so big. I wanted to write the record by myself, to prove to myself that I could do it… with Red…I wanted to learn. I wanted to take my comfort zone–which at that point was writing songs alone–and I wanted to throw myself into a different realm.”-Taylor Swift After listening to Red end to end more than a couple times, it is easy to see that Taylor was trying to challenge herself and expand with this album. It’s interesting too, because it is very clear that since Speak Now, and especially since Fearless, she has grown up quite a bit. The fairytales are gone, and what we hear in her lyrics are snippets of real life (well, as real as a superstars life can be at this point), and things not going the way you planned, a sentiment anyone can relate to. There is also a complexity to this album, and it is this complexity that I think moves it far beyond the bounds of Nashville. Taylor brings in pop, alternative and even rock elements and blends them with the country sound she debuted with six years ago. While I’m sure many country fans won’t be interested in this new sound, I genuinely enjoy it. Its fresh and its interesting, especially on tracks like “Starlight“, that even has a kind of epic electric guitar riff, and “Holy Ground” with its steady drumbeat and almost punkish edge to the vocals. I’ll be honest though, my favorite tracks are the ones where the echoes of Taylor’s country background come through the strongest like “Everything Has Changed“, “Begin Again“, “Sad Beautiful Tragic“, “I Almost Do” and “Treacherous”. All in all, Red is made of a Continue reading Taylor Swift Red Album Review

Alan Jackson At The AMP

Alan Jackson Shows Arkansas Fans A “Good Time.” Last Friday Alan Jackson made a visit to Northwest Arkansas for a highly anticipated performance at the Arkansas Music Pavilion. Though the weather was not perfect, the show was as close as it could be! Jackson opened the show with “Gone Country” and closed it with “Where I Come From.” There was not one moment in between those two songs that let the audience down. It was like each time the band would start a new song, everyone’s face got brighter because they were thinking and mostly screaming “I love this one!” “I Don’t Even Know Your Name,” “Who’s Cheatin’ Who,” “Little Bitty,” and “Don’t Rock the Jukebox” took me back to my younger days. “Livin’ On Love,” “Small Town Southern Man” and “Here In the Real World” made me appreciate that I was there hearing those songs live. “Blues Man” made me want to wave my hands in the air from side to side and “Remember When” had me tearing up. “Summertime Blues” and “Chattahoochee” made me wish the summer wasn’t over. “Where Were You,” which is always an emotional song, had a bigger effect on the crowd that night. Being so close to the anniversary, it seems like yesterday he was performing that song for the first time on the CMA Awards. I really love the fact that all of his success is because he has a gift with music. No gimmicks or special effects. He plays his songs and he plays them well. One thing you won’t see at a Jackson show is fire or smoke. Just him on stage, moving his leg and tapping his guitar! So over all, this was without a doubt, one of the best shows that the AMP has ever put on! Even with the rain, which was bearable, the staff did everything they could to make the show run smoothly. I’m sure there were some ticket holders who decided not to venture out, but the true fans were there for the long haul. I couldn’t start to count the amount of camouflage and coveralls that made it to the show that night! Be sure and pick up Jackson’s latest album,Thirty Miles West, and read our complete review now! BIG THANKS to our friends at the Arkansas Music Pavilion for bringing another great act to the stage! Show ’em a little love, and check them out on Facebook! Exclusive Alan Jackson photos: Live at The AMP!

Easton Corbin All Over The Road Album Review

Easton Corbin Gives Fans What They Have Been Waiting For In All Over The Road. Easton Corbin’s sophomore album, All Over The Road, is, in my opinion, right on the money! It has fun songs about the highs of love and slower-paced songs that show the the lows. The title track is the first one on the album and it gets you happy from the beginning. I can’t help but giggle when I listen to it, picturing the scene Corbin is describing is too cute! “Lovin’ You Is Fun” was the first single from this album and it was a great pick! I am OBSESSED with the first line… “You gotta cousin who’s tellin’ you somethin’ that doesnt’ have nothin’ to do with the love that we’re in, baby” This song definitely makes my heart smile. From the instrumentals to the don’t-care-what-others-think-attitude, it is all around a great tune! “Hearts Drawn In The Sand” is Corbin’s second single. This one, as well as every other track on this album, really gives a clear, crisp listen to Corbin’s sweet, country, signature sound. “Dance Real Slow” gives us that George Strait feel that so many compare Corbin too. I think that it is a great comparison. I believe what makes people think of Strait when hearing Corbin is the songs they sing seem to have the same vibe, nothing about “drinking down a back road.” There’s just a sweet confidence they both exude! “Tulsa Texas” is genius! I have nothing to say about it other than listen to it pronto! I know this album doesn’t drop until next week, but I’m telling you…buy it immediately and play track 10! Then go back and listen to the whole thing! If I had to be the one to pick Corbin’s third single from this record it would be “Are You With Me.” It has a kind of dark feeling, but always ends with just wanting to love someone and having them accept your love. “I want a love so hard it could rip my heart out, get so lost that I’ll never be found, are you with me?“ “That’s Gonna Leave A Memory,” “A Thing For You,” “This Feels A Lot Like Love,” “Only A Girl” and “I Think Of You” all help to mold this album into the perfect little country package! Add a good-looking dance partner and you’ll be set! Remember, All Over The Road hits store shelves and digital outlets alike on Tuesday, September 18! All Over The Road Track Listing: 1. All Over The Road 2. Lovin’ You Is Fun 3. That’s Gonna Leave A Memory 4. Hearts Drawn In The Sand 5. Dance Real Slow 6. A Thing For You 7. Are You With Me 8. This Feels A Lot Like Love 9. Only A Girl 10. Tulsa Texas 11. I Think Of You