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Reviews - Page 11

Lisa Mattasa
It Is What It Is Records
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Lisa Matassa, ‘Somebody’s Baby’ – Song Review

Long Island native Lisa Matassa offers a mix of pop and rock alongside a big country voice on 'Somebody's Baby.' She is a true vocal talent who could demand more attention if she broke free of cookie cutter production.

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Blackberry Smoke
Jason Merritt, Getty Images
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Blackberry Smoke, ‘Pretty Little Lie’ – Song Review

There's a genuine honky tonk feel to Blackberry Smoke's new single 'Pretty Little Lie.' The song is short on polish and long on lugubrious love. While honest and heartfelt, it's a story that's difficult to embrace.

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Tim-McGraw
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Album Spotlight: Tim McGraw, ‘Two Lanes of Freedom’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

"Optimism" is the word Tim McGraw uses to describe his new album 'Two Lanes of Freedom,' and despite a garnish of somber ballads and hopeless love stories, the singer is dead on. The project's production creates the buoyant mood that carries each of the 15 songs on the accelerated deluxe version. In fact, one's opinion of 'Two Lanes of Freedom' may rest on production decisions made by McGraw and Byron Gallimore.

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Joel Crouse
Jim Wright
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Joel Crouse, ‘If You Want Some’ – Song Review

Country newcomer Joel Crouse sings with more confidence than   20 years provides most artists. He's been playing since before he could drive, and writing songs even longer. That experience shines through in his easy delivery of 'If You Want Some,' Crouse's debut single on Show Dog-Universal.

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Kenny Chesney
Donald Bowers, Getty Images
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Kenny Chesney, ‘Pirate Flag’ – Song Review

From the first note, one knows the new single from Kenny Chesney's upcoming album is filled with more hope than much of the pensive material on 'Welcome to the Fishbowl.' 'Pirate Flag' opens softly -- with strings and a bouncy mandolin -- before Chesney begins to tell his story. 

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Chris Janson
Bigger Picture Music Group
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Chris Janson, ‘Better I Don’t’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

Chris Janson's new single comes at you like a Mack Truck with a wild-eyed driver -- and it never lets up. 'Better I Don't' delivers in every way imaginable. It's a pure country original that promises to break the Missouri native's career like 'All My Friends Say' did for Luke Bryan in 2007.

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Greg Bates
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Greg Bates, ‘Fill in the Blank’ – Song Review

Greg Bates flashes a mischievous sense of humor in his new single 'Fill in the Blank.' The 'Did It for the Girl' hitmaker is proving to be from the George Strait school of music, but he must have taken a Master Class on Tracy Byrd somewhere along the way.

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Parmalee
Stoney Creek Records
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Parmalee, ‘Carolina’ – Song Review

"Polished" is not a word one would have used to describe Parmalee after the North Carolina foursome shared their debut single 'Musta Had a Good Time' in 2012, but the rowdy country rockers' follow-up single 'Carolina' is as radio-friendly of a track as you'll find. It's not clear that either style is a perfect fit for the Thomas brothers and their bandmates.

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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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Lady Antebellum
Capitol Nashville
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Lady Antebellum, ‘Downtown’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

Lady Antebellum have never been funkier than on their new single 'Downtown' -- the first from the trio's upcoming fourth studio album. A guitar lick postmarked 1962 steers the song and pushes the band in an exciting new direction.

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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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Jake Owen
RCA Nashville
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Jake Owen, ‘Anywhere With You’ – Song Review

Jake Owen found his niche with songs from the 'Barefoot Blue Jean Night' album, but the unidirectional theme is wearing thin with the arrival of his new single 'Anywhere With You.' There's a thread of spontaneity and nostalgia throughout all of Owen's most recent hits. He is the essence of carefree, which is refreshing... but no longer surprising. 

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