My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

Daily Archives: December 28, 2009

CD Giveaway: Sugarland – ‘Gold and Green’

Hope everyone had a great Christmas! Congratulations to Marc and David, they both won a copy of Sugarland’s holiday CD. Check your inboxes guys, we’ll be contacting you.

Christmas time is very close – less than a week away.  The hottest Christmas album on the charts right now is Sugarland’s latest Gold and Green, which is sitting in the top 5. The duo recorded a mini Christmas EP to tack on to their Enjoy The Ride album back in 2006, and sold the special edition disc exclusively at Wal Mart.  All of the previously-released songs are  here, plus five new original holiday tunes, from the pens of Sugarland members Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush.

We have 2 copies of the album to give to 2 lucky winners.  To enter, just leave us a comment telling us why you think you deserve to win one of them.  There are no right or wrong answers, and we look forward to hearing your reasons.  All we ask is you keep it clean and polite.  The contest will run from now until December 24 at 11:59 PM.

Good luck and Merry Christmas from everybody at My Kind of Country!

For a preview of what you’re entering to win, you can stream the entire Gold and Green album at Last FM.

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Classic Rewind – Sara Evans – ‘Three Chords And The Truth’

Year In Review: J.R. Journey’s Top 10 Singles

The consensus among country bloggers and critics alike seems to be that 2009 was one of the weakest years in country music history.  I admit that I didn’t have to whittle my list down as much as I did last year, but it was still easy enough to find ten top-rate songs to call my favorites of the year.  My biggest problem was where to rank them, since I love all these songs.  I kept my list to songs that were released as singles this year – whether they charted or not.  Here’s hoping some of these are your kind of country too.

10. ‘Toes’ – Zac Brown Band

The feel-good hit of the Summer of 2009, the Zac Brown Band really won me over with this fun release.  I had already bought the album for ‘Whatever It Is’, but this third single from the group made me a huge fan.  It’s just not often we hear a fresh sound in country music these days, or acts willing to take chances with their lyrics.  With ‘Toes’, the Zac Brown Band did both, and delivered a mighty fine tune.

9. ‘Need You Now’ – Lady Antebellum

With its infectious melody and oh-so relatable lyric, Lady Antebellum had their biggest hit of the career so far with this song.  I’ll agree with the consensus that there’s not anything traditional about it, but country music has always had a place for the adult contemporary sound.  And I have too, as long as it’s quality music.  And this is quality music.

8. ‘Consider Me Gone’ – Reba

Reba’s 23rd Billboard #1 hit – and 34th overall – is a throwback to the classic 90s hits that made her a superstar.  The theme is a little tried and true, but the chorus still gives us some great lines and Reba delivers nothing less than a brilliant vocal.  This has fast become one of my favorite songs in her immense catalog.

7. ‘Reconsider’ – Charlie Robison

This dark chronicle of a relationship crumbling, which finds the narrator wondering if he’d done things different, would his lover still be with him comes from Robison’s ‘divorce album’, Beautiful Day – he was married to Dixie Chicks member Emily Irwin-Robison.  Though this track never charted on the country charts, it was released, and it’s a shame radio wouldn’t play it.  We sorely need deep, cerebral songs like this to balance out the top 40 playlists.

6. ‘Sing’ – Wynonna

The title cut, and only new track, on Wynonna’s most recent covers album, this Rodney Crowell-written tune sounds like it was written specifically for the singer.  It’s message of hope and looking on the bright side fits Wynonna’s daily platitudes for living lifestyle perfectly, while lines like ‘Sing it like you hear it/Like you have no need to fear it now’ remind us it’s from the pen of a master.

5. ‘Keep The Change’ – Holly Williams

Everybody loves ‘Mama’, the universally-acclaimed track from Williams’ critics-favorite Here With Me album.  I have to admit I was highly impressed and very surprised that I liked the album so much.  I just didn’t expect this much in the way of an alt.country album from the granddaughter of Hank Williams.  Guess I shouldn’t have underestimated that Williams bloodline.  Getting back to the song at hand, I was drawn more to this track than any other on the set because of its message of I’m-hitting-the-road.  The entire chorus is worthy of quoting, but I’ll just leave you with ‘It’s been a long time comin’/I’m jumpin’ off this reckless pity train‘ and hope you want to hear more.

4. ‘Even Now’ – Caitlin & Will

I just knew these two were destined for stardom when Sony released ‘Even Now’ to radio.  It was smart, well-performed, and had actual adult fare. Before it had a chance to climb, the duo was out on a radio tour promoting the single, when radio programmers supposedly flipped over the song ‘Address In The Stars’ a syrupy three-act story song about, you guessed it, death.  This prompted the label release that instead.  Too bad, since ‘Even Now’ was one of the best singles of the year, and one I think could have really made a name for the Can You Duet-winning duo.  Fate wasn’t on their side I guess, as even the second single – the one radio programmers flipped over – didn’t get any airplay either, and thus ended their recording career.  We haven’t heard anything from them since – and a quick glance at their website and MySpace page shows no news.

3. ‘Drunk Dialer’ – Miss Leslie

Miss Leslie has been one of my favorites since I got my copy of her last album, Between the Whiskey and the Wine.  This year, she didn’t release an entire album of new material, but she did give us this excellent tune about the friend who always calls you up, repeatedly, ‘begging you to join her at the local dive’.  Some of us relate as the dialing friend, and some as the friend on the receiving end of the calls.  Either way, it’s a great listen, and one of my favorites of the year.

2. ‘If You Want Fire’ – Terri Clark

Terri gave us one of the best albums of the year, so it’s only natural one of the singles from that release would find its way to the upper reaches of my singles list.  This melody-driven tune, released only in Canada, is just a real lyrical treat with a great hook. Spoken like someone who’s been burned a time or two herself, Terri imparts a bit of wisdom she’s picked up, ‘If you gotta have it, all that madness and  passion, then you’ll learn/If you want fire, it better be worth the burn.’

1. ‘Breaking Apart’ – Chris Isaak (with Trisha Yearwood)

The ‘rock star next door’ released his 13th album this year, titled Mr Lucky.  The finest track on that set is a sweet duet with Trisha Yearwood called ‘Breaking Apart’.  This also got zero love from country radio, but is as fine a country song as I’ve heard the past 12 months.  Yearwood’s smooth and always pitch-perfect harmonies compliment Isaak’s own, whether he’s in tenor or falsetto.  As the pair take turns trading lines on the verses, we find Yearwood in the company of the best duet partner she’s ever taken on IMO, and I’m sure the same can be said for Isaak.

Album Review: Sara Evans – ‘Real Fine Place’

Here’s another guest contribution from our long-time friend, and frequent collaborator Michael Allan.

Released shortly after the title cut became her fourth #1 hit, Sara Evans’ Real Fine Place debuted atop the Billboard Country Albums Chart (and at #3 on the all-genre Billboard 200) in October of 2005. It is her most recent studio effort and contains four Top 40 singles, including her last Top Ten hit to date.

The album opens with its third single, ‘Coalmine’, which, due to some unfortunate timing, peaked at #37. (It was released right around the same time as the Sago coal mine disaster in West Virginia.) It’s a shame more people weren’t able to hear the song because, thanks to its fiddles and sly lyrics, it paints a better portrait of small town life and serves as a better ode to hard working, blue collar men than anything on country radio in 2009. No offense, Justin Moore, Billy Currington, Jason Aldean, Jason Michael Carroll, et al.

The album’s second track and lead single is the title cut. Written by Radney Foster, it serves as a strong example of pop country done right. The song’s bouncy vibe makes you want to turn up the volume, put down the top and go for a cruise – sing along with the breeze in your hair and then… press repeat.

Second single and third track is the deliciously scathing ‘Cheatin’. It’s a humorous ( without venturing into novelty territory) lesson that living well is the best revenge… even better than taking a baseball bat to a cheating boyfriend’s car headlights. This fun song would have been right at home on a country radio playlist in the early 90s.

‘New Hometown’, a plea to the protagonist’s lover to give up the city life for something a little more rural, ironically doesn’t sound very country at all. However, Evans voice is in fine form and her tone is clear.

‘You’ll Always Be My Baby’ was the final single and peaked at #13 on the charts.  It is one of my least favorite songs on the album. The three arc story song is so predictable, uninspired and generic that it sounds like it was assembled in a factory somewhere in Nashville. Despite having served as a co-writer on this song, Evans deserves better material than this.

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