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album review

album review

Vince Gill Paul Franklin
MCA Nashville
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Vince Gill and Paul Franklin, ‘Bakersfield’ – Album Review

It's almost unfair to call 'Bakersfield' a Vince Gill and Paul Franklin album, because there are so many other skilled musicians who add an important solo, fill or backbeat to the 10-song project. Often when so much talent fills a room, egos bump like elephants at feeding time. But there's space for everyone on this project.

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Brett Eldredge
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Brett Eldredge, ‘Bring You Back’ – Album Review

Buying a full album from a new artist is something like a trust fall. Typically you've heard one or two songs, leaving nine or 10 question marks. Breathe easy putting down cash for 'Bring You Back,' the debut from Brett Eldredge. The Paris, Ill.-born singer will catch you.

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Civil Wars
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Album Spotlight: The Civil Wars, ‘The Civil Wars’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

The great mystery that sews intrigue at the root of 'The Civil Wars' is how two people who clearly don't get along can pretend with such conviction. The second album from this duo isn't tainted by disdain, contempt or ambivalence that hardens one's heart. In fact, it's more emotional than their Grammy-winning debut album. So clearly they're either brilliant actors, or they're in love.

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LoCash Cowboys
Paul Brasil for Taste of Country
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LoCash Cowboys, ‘LoCash Cowboys’ – Album Review

The LoCash Cowboys' career has been a series of stops and starts -- until now. With the release of their self-titled debut album, Chris Lucas and Preston Brust finally get to show fans all sides of their personality. Ballads like 'Best Seat in the House' and the previously released 'Keep in Mind' soften the image that songs like 'C-O-U-N-T-R-Y' and 'Here Comes Summer' helped build.

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Leann Rimes
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images
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Album Spotlight: LeAnn Rimes, ‘Spitfire’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

During 'I Do Now,' a song from LeAnn Rimes' new 'Spitfire' album, the singer name-checks the Dixie Chicks. The track is a feel-good, take-my-life-back kinda song nestled between much more moody and emotional fare. The similarities between the two acts were never so apparent until she says it.

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Darius Rucker
Kevin Winter, Getty Images
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Darius Rucker, ‘True Believers’ – Album Review

Darius Rucker sings with more energy than a nuclear power plant, but his new album 'True Believers' is safer than solar power. He captures the spirit of his live show -- one of the best in the business -- on each of the 12 tracks, but one yearns for for something unique and unexpected. 

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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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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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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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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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