My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Norah Jones

Classic Rewind: Dolly Parton ft Norah Jones – ‘The Grass Is Blue’

Album Review: Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong – ‘Foreverly’

foreverlyNorah Jones, best known as a jazz singer, has a longstanding love of country music, with her very first album including a cover of Hank Williams and her side project band The Little Willies. Her latest release sees her teaming up with rocker Billie Joe Armstrong for a tribute to the Everly Brothers, whose country roots were rarely far from the surface despite their massive success as pop stars. Interestingly, this tribute passes by the brothers’ pop hits in favour of their folk, country and oldtime influences, by choosing to recreate their Songs Our Daddy Taught Us collection from 1958.

Billie Joe’s voice acts as an effective foil for Norah’s sultry tones, and the pair harmonise unexpectedly well together. The sound of this album is actually what I had hoped for from Alison Krauss and Robert Plant when they worked together a few years ago, a tasteful acoustic blend of freshness and tradition.

I loved the duo’s insistent version insistent ‘Roving Gambler’ with its accents of harmonica.

‘Barbara Allen’ is an old English folk song; Billie Joe sings the lead here (rather unsubtly), and this is one of the less successful reinterpretations in that it is performed as something of a singalong with little emotional connection to the tragic tale which falls far short of the Everlys’ tender restraint. Also a little disappointing from the view of convincing emotional interpretation is the rhythmic ‘Long Time Gone’, one of the more contemporary-sounding arrangements, and although I didn’t dislike this version, the original is much preferable.

The glacially paced murder ballad ‘Down In The Willow Garden’ is much better, and one of the best tracks on this album. ‘Lightning Express’ is an ethereal lament telling a sad tale of a little boy rushing home to see a dying mother but with no money for his fare; it may feel sentimental to a modern ear, but has a period style charm about it.

My favorite track is the gently sung description of a hard working old woman, ‘Rockin’ Alone (In An Old Rockin’ Chair)’, which is simply magical. ‘Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine’ is perhaps delivered a bit too cheerily for the rather downbeat lyric, but the sober ‘Put My Little Shoes Away’ is another excellent track.

Norah takes the lead on a mother’s plea to a prison warden, ‘I’m Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail’, and is quite compelling on this tragic tale, which actually works better than the original.

The love song to the state of ‘Kentucky’ is atmospheric and very well done. ‘Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet’ is a hushed lullaby which I liked. I also quite enjoyed the plaintive ‘Oh So Many Years’.

Overall, this is a delightful record.

Grade: A

Album Review: Willie Nelson – ‘To All The Girls’

to all the girlsThe newest Willie Nelson album finds Willie treading familiar ground, recording eighteen duets with various female partners. These partners range from young to old, famous to fairly unknown and across a wide array of genres.

The album opens up with the “From Here To The Moon And Back”, an introspective ballad from the catalogue of duet partner Dolly Parton. This song has a very quiet arrangement with piano being the dominant sound, along with a very light string arrangement – very nice song.

Another very quiet song is “She Was No Good For Me” with the normally boisterous Miranda Lambert assisting Willie on an old Waylon Jennings tune. It is nice to hear Miranda sing a song that requires nuance and restraint.

She was a good looking woman no doubt
A high steppin’ mover that men talk about
Everything bad in me she brought it out
And she was just no good for me

Don’t be taken by the look in her eyes
If she looks like an angel
It’s a perfect disguise
And for somebody else she may be
But she was just no good for me

“It Won’t Be Very Long” opens with a harmonica intro which comes to a dead stop and then starts to a song with a very country gospel feel – something either Roy Acuff or the Nitty Gritty Dirt band might have tackled. The Secret Sisters aren’t really very well known but probably do the best job of any act on the album of actually harmonizing with Willie. Willie and producer Buddy Cannon wrote this song.

“Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story Ends” is a Kris Kristofferson song that originally was a top ten hit for new Country Music Hall of Famer Bobby Bare (it reached #1 on Record World) in 1971. In 1974 it reached #1 on Billboard for Ronnie Milsap. I always preferred Bare’s version as I think the song benefited from Bare’s more laid back approach to the song. Nelson and duet partner Rosanne Cash adopt the more relaxed approach to the song, with Willie’s guitar being the dominant sound of the background, but with a tasteful organ undertone by Moose Brown. Willie and Rosanne’s voices really don’t mesh well together and Willie’s eccentric phrasing is difficult for any singer to handle, but actual harmonizing on this tune is kept to a dead minimum.

“Far Away Places” is one of the classics of the American Pop Standards canon. The song was written by Joan Whitney and Alex Kramer way back in 1948, and was an immediate hit by three artists in late 1948-early 1949, reaching #2 for the legendary Bing Crosby, #3 for Margaret Whiting and #6 for Perry Como. The Como version is probably the best remembered version since RCA kept the song available for most of the last 65 years whereas the other versions have frequently been out of print. Willie and partner Sheryl Crow harmonize well and recreate the dreamy feel of the 1948 versions. This is my favorite track on this album:

Far away places with strange soundin’ names
Far away over the sea
Those far away places with the strange soundin’ names
Are callin’, callin’ me

Goin’ to China or maybe Siam
I want to see for myself
Those far away places I’ve been readin’ about
In a book that I took from the shelf

I don’t know how many times Willie has recorded his own “Bloody Mary Morning” but this version must be the fastest version on disc. I’m not a big Wynonna Judd fan but this is the kind of song she handles well. Mike Johnson (steel) and Dan “Man of Constant Sorrow” Tyminski (acoustic guitar) really shine on this track.

Writers Wayne Carson, Mark James and John Christopher, Jr cashed in big time with “You Were Always On My Mind” as it was a hit thrice (Brenda Lee, Elvis Presley, Willie Nelson) and appeared on many albums generating many millions of sales (and royalties for the songwriters). On this recording Willie is joined by Carrie Underwood in a nice version with fairly minimal backing.

During the 1960s and 1970s semi-permanent male-female duos abounded, nearly all of whom tackled Merle Haggard’s “Somewhere Between”. It’s a great song and Willie is joined by the legendary Loretta Lynn, singing in better voice than anything I’ve heard from her recently. Willie and Loretta trade verses (usually in different keys) and do not harmonize except one line at the end. It’s a great song and full justice is done to the song.

“No Mas Amore” written by Keith Gattis and Sammy Barrett, is given the Mexican treatment by Willie and partner Alison Krauss complete with trumpets. Willies band member Mickey Raphael plays chord harmonica and bass harmonica; Alison’s band member Dan Tyminski adds background vocals and plays mandolin. Usually Alison Krauss duets produce a certain magic, but this one is merely pleasant listening.

“Back To Earth” features Melonie Cannon on this Willie Nelson ballad, taken at a languid pace. The song is nothing special but Melanie and Willie execute it well.

Mavis Staples is one of the best known gospel singers, carrying on the fine tradition of the legendary Staples Family. “Grandma’s Hands” was penned by Bill Withers, probably best known for his monster hits “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lean On Me”. The song was about Wither’s own grandma and is an affectionate look at a loved one, now departed. Willie and Mavis give it a bit of a ‘swamp blues pop’ treatment that fits the song exactly.

“Walkin” features Wiliie’s good friend Norah Jones on a Willie composition. This is a bluesy slow ballad about leaving.

“Till The End of World” is an old Vaughn Horton standard given an up-tempo western swing arrangement. Back in 1949 Ernest Tubb, Jimmy Wakely and Johnny Bond all had top twelve hits with the song, then in 1952 Bing Crosby and ace guitarist Grady Martin took it back into the top ten. Shelby Lynne reestablishes her country credibility with this effort.

“Will You Remember Mine” is a lovely ballad from Willie’s pen. I don’t know anything about Lily Meola but she is a perfect complement to Willie on this song.

Gone are the times when I held you close
And pressed your lips to mine
Now when you kissed another’s lips
Will you remember mine?

I’m sure we’ve all had this thought – indeed.

“Dry Lightning” comes from the pen of Bruce Springsteen. Emmylou Harris can sing with anyone. Therefore it is no surprise that this song works as a duet. It’s another slow ballad, but Emmylou, as usual is exquisite.

I first ran across Brandi Carlile some years ago when the late and lamented Borders chain distributed sampler CDs of her work. On “Making Believe” she proves both that she can sing effective harmony and can sing country music with feeling. This song was written by Jimmy Work but is best remembered as a major hit for Kitty Wells in 1955, with Emmylou Harris taking it back to the top ten in 1977.

“Have You Ever Seen The Rain” is a John Fogarty composition given a slow folk arrangement that enables Willie and (I think) daughter Paula Nelson to convey the lyrics in an uncluttered manner. I really like this recording.

Tina Rose is the daughter of Leon & Mary Russell. Willie recorded an album with Leon Russell in 1979, so it seems only proper that he should record a song with Leon’s daughter. I’m not that impressed with Ms Russell’s vocals, but they work well enough on the vehicle chosen, L.E White’s “After The Fire Is Gone”, which White’s boss, Conway Twitty took to the top of the charts with Loretta Lynn in 1971. Willie and Tina don’t have the chemistry Conway and Loretta had (few do) but the end result is worthwhile.

It remains true:
There’s nothing cold as ashes
After the fire’s gone

All told, there is a very pleasant offering from Willie – I’d give it a B+, mostly because a few more up-tempo numbers were needed. Willie, of course, is always Willie, and as always, he was chosen well in his selection of female guests.

Album Review – Mary Karr and Rodney Crowell – ‘Kin: Songs by Mary Karr and Rodney Crowell’

The relationship between Mary Karr, a New York Times bestselling author, and Rodney Crowell began in 2003 when Crowell mentioned the author in “Earthbound” a track from Fate’s Right Hand. He’d just finished her book The Liar’s Club and had suspicions, based on her background in poetry, she could write songs.

Flash forward nine years and they’ve acted on that premonition with Kin: Songs by Mary Karr and Rodney Crowell, an album for wordsmiths and musical connoisseurs alike. With an all-star cast of heavyweights (Vince Gill, Lee Ann Womack, Rosanne Cash, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson) and fringe artists (Norah Jones and Lucinda Williams) lending their talents, the appreciation is only deepened by results worthy of their talents.

Kin shows its brilliance by presenting each artist in a new light, by giving the listener an unexpected treat with each composition. Producer Joe Henry pushes everyone out of their musical comfort zones with delightful arrangements that deepen their artistic integrity while allowing for substantial growth. Without the need to tread in the stagnant waters of mainstream Nashville, the artists have a chance to explore each song without fear of displeasing younger listeners, a constituency who wouldn’t be drawn to Kin in the first place.

Sonically, Kin is a slice of ear candy, an observation enhanced by the mix of steel, fiddle, upright bass, and acoustic guitar that drench each song. Womack exemplifies this perfectly, turning in her best song in over half a decade with “Mama’s On A Roll.” Soaked in dobro and acoustic guitar, she infuses the song with the slow-burn felt after downing a sift drink at a bar. Equally appealing is Jones, who infuses her trademark smoky warmth into the ear-catching “If The Law Don’t Want You.” By interjecting her performance with her Little Willies playfulness, she proves how compelling she is at singing country music and seduces the listener into hoping she’ll dabble in it with more frequency.

Another standout is the impressive Gill, who turns up the twang with “Just Pleasing You,” a steel and fiddle led number proving him correct in thinking his best days musically lie ahead. “Sister oh Sister,” sung by Cash, is like a visit from an old friend and fits her like a glove. While I would’ve liked to hear Cash sing something a little more energetic, you can’t fault her expressive tone on the somber tune about the relationship between close siblings.

Along the same lines is the sleepy “Long Time Girl Gone By” which finds a wispy Harris running the gamut from soft to strikingly compelling. More folk than country, it needed just a slight pick me up to hold my attention, but there isn’t any denying her artistry. Same goes for Williams who infuses “God I’m Missing You” with her usual tipsy delivery.

Crowell, not to be out done by the guest vocalists, turns in four songs of his own, his first since 2008’s Sex and Gasoline. The Dylan-like “Anything But Tame” rolls along with an acoustic guitar led arrangement, “I’m A Mess” recalls a Steve Earle-like sensibility, and “Hungry For Home” is straight-up folk. But the most appealing is “My Father’s Advice,” a duel role duet with Crowell as the son and Kristofferson as the advice-lending dad. The most country of Crowell’s vocal contributions to Kin, it offers flourishes of fiddle and harmonica that helps move the story along at a nice even pace.

As a whole, Kin is a patchwork quilt infusing distinct individual moments, led by Karr and Crowell’s simple yet evocative lyrics and brought to life by the stellar cast who gathered to record them. It’s a not-to-be-missed collaboration and one of the most original country albums of 2012.

Grade: A 

Album Review: The Little Willies – ‘For The Good Times’

The Little Willies’ first album was released almost six years ago as a side project for velvety voiced jazz-pop chanteuse Norah Jones, then at the peak of her commercial success, whose reputation led, and continues to lead, the marketing of the group. That record allowed Jones to stray from the template of her solo work and pay tribute to the country music she also loved, along with some likeminded friends. It was never just a Jones project, with lead vocals shared with Richard Julian, whose voice is pleasant but unremarkable. Now a second volume has appeared, featuring an interesting mixture of the well worn and less familiar material.

The outstanding track is their exciting and varied reworking of Ralph Stanley’s ‘I Worship You’, with alternate high lonesome and rapid-fire sections, and mixture of solos from both Jones and Julian and close harmonies. Also exceptionally good is the delicately regretful ballad ‘Remember Me’ (a fairly obscure song originally recorded by 1930s husband-and-wife duo Lulu Belle and Scotty, better known for their classic ‘Have I Told You Lately That I Love You’, which like ‘Remember Me’ was written by Scotty (Wiseman)). Some more famous songs are also reworked successfully, with a sensuous interpretation of ‘For The Good Times’ working well, while ‘Jolene’ is effectively brooding.

The Little Willies sometimes come across as a jazz band playing country songs, with interesting, inventive re-imaginings of wellworn material. Examples include their languid, slowed down version of ‘Lovesick Blues’, which is very different from the original, but quite effective at conveying the “lovesickness” of the lyric. A playful approach to Lefty Frizzell’s ‘If You’ve Got The Money I’ve Got The Time’, in contrast, speeds it up, and is very entertaining. However, I did not enjoy the jazzy arrangement of the trucking song ‘Diesel, Smoke, Dangerous Curves’.

‘Fist City’ is enjoyable enough but Norah does not convince me that she would (or could) beat up a romantic rival in the way Loretta does, so her threats ring hollow. Julian’s best moments come on Willie Nelson’s ‘Permanently Lonely’ and ‘Wide Open Road’, a lesser-known but good Johnny Cash song; neither, however, is as good as his highly entertaining cover of ‘Tennessee Stud’ on the group’s first album.

The rather odd ‘Foul Owl On The Prowl’ (not a country song but a Quincy Jones composition which was on the soundtrack of the movie In The Heat Of The Night) is a bit dull and not to my personal taste. The mostly-instrumental ‘Tommy Rockwood’ allows the band members to stretch out.

Overall, this is an interesting record which is not mainstream country, but is worthwhile music in its own right, and a worthy tribute to the genre.

Grade: A-

Album Review: Various Artists – ‘The Lost Notebooks Of Hank Williams’

In his lifetime Hank Williams was keen to be recognised as a songwriter and grateful for pop covers f his work. in the years since his tragic and self-induced death, his songs have been covered from artists across the This album presents a dozen songs based on lyrics or scraps of lyrics left by Hank Williams, which have been completed by contemporary artists. It is an interesting project if a controversial one, and I would have liked it to be clearer what each participant contributed to the creative process. The tunes are all newly composed; the lyrics apparently range from completed lyrics which need only the music to be added (‘The Love That Faded’, the original manuscript lyric for which is the only one to be reproduced in the liner notes) to just a couple of lines serving as springboard for a modern songwriter’s inspiration. Each artist also uses his or her usual producer and their own selection of studio musicians.

The results range from the excellent to the dire, with some in between. The artists include both country singers-songwriters and those from other genres with a longstanding appreciation for country music and Hank Williams in particular, with Bob Dylan the first to be approached. Perhaps unsurprisingly those artists with a deeper grounding in country music have produced results more in keeping with the original, and more to my personal taste.

The best track is Alan Jackson’s ‘You’ve Been Lonesome Too’, which opens the set and manages to sound genuinely inspired by Hank, helped along by Keith Stegall’s sensitively authentic production, the excellent recreation of the Drifting Cowboys by the likes of Stuart Duncan and Paul Franklin and Alan’s straightforward reading. It really doesn’t feel like pastiche, but a genuine unknown Hank Williams song, and one which stands up in its own right as an excellent song.

Vice Gill and Rodney Crowell collaborated on ‘I Hope You Shed A Million Tears’, and perform the song together. The Drifting Cowboys’ Don Helms provides added authenticity by guesting on steel on what must have been one of his last recording sessions (he died in 2008). Gill’s sweet vocal is interspersed with Crowell’s narration – the latter sounds more authentically Hank, but Gill sounds lovely and the final result is a fine song in its own right. I loved Crowell’s line, “I loved you like there’s no tomorrow, then found out that there’s not“. Merle Haggard tackles Hank’s religious side, giving a simple retelling of ‘The Sermon On The Mount’ an attractive melody.

Patty Loveless and husband Emory Gordy Jr carried out the writing duties on, and Patty sings the up-tempo ‘You’re Through Fooling Me’, which is highly enjoyable and sounds convincingly like a hillbilly song from the late 1940s if not necessarily a Hank Williams song. It would have fitted in well on either of her last two albums.

These four songs are the ones for country fans to download if going the digital route, and are all well worth adding to your digital library.

Hank’s grand daughter Holly Williams gives the family’s seal of approval to the project, and is repsosible for another highlight, although like a number of the artists included, her melody, while perfectly attractive, does not sound quite like a Hank Williams song. She delivers a smoothly sultry vocal on ‘Blue Is My Heart’, which is a very strong song in its own right, supported by her father on (uncredited) harmony. Norah Jones’s song, ‘How Many Times Have You Broken My Heart’ has a jazz-based tune and a stripped down production set to the acoustic guitars of Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings, who also add tasteful harmonies. It is pleasant listening but ultimately lightweight, without the emotional intensity the lyrics demand. Lucinda Williams’s effort, ‘I’m So Happy I Found You’, has the opposite problem – a positive love song which sounds more like a dirge.

I was bored by Sheryl Crow’s ‘Angel Mine’ on first listen, but the multi-tracked vocals give it a folky feel which works quite well. Levon Helm’s distinctive vocal on ‘You’ll Never Again Be Mine’ (co-written with Helm’s producer Larry Campbell) has a nice old-time feel, backed up nicely by the backing vocals of Amy Helm and Teresa Williams, but is not the most interesting song.

The songs completed and sung by Bob Dylan (‘The Love That Faded’) and Jack White (‘You Know That I Know’) suffer from both gentlemen’s limited (to put it kindly) vocal ability, although they are both good songs. I would have really enjoyed ‘You Know That I Know’, an accusatory cheating song, if only a more competent singer had been allowed to front the performance, as White is awful. Dylan is not much better, but the sensitive production of his track is some recompense. His son Jakob is an unimpressive and bland vocalist and the melody of his song, ‘Oh Mama, Come Home’, lacks the urgency of the lyric.

Multi-artist tributes or concept albums always tend to be hit and miss, and this is no exception. There are enough tracks which work for this to be worth hearing.

Grade: B

Album Review: Mary Chapin Carpenter – ‘Time*Sex*Love’

After 1996’s A Place In The World, Mary Chapin Carpenter went on a 5-year hiatus from recording, only touring sporadically during that period.  During her off-time from studio albums, Carpenter found time to record a track for the John Lennon tribute album Working Class Hero, and her version of ‘Grow Old With Me’ became a top 20 hit on the Adult Contemporary charts.  Meanwhile, her own ‘10,000 Miles’ was featured as the title track to the movie Fly Away Home. In 1998, she began work on Shane, a Broadway adaption of the 1953 film starring Alan Ladd.  Creative differences with the producers caused Carpenter to pull out of the project in 2000.  When she returned to the recording studio in 2001, the album she created was a stretch from her country albums in the 90s.

Perhaps buoyed by her adult contemporary successes, or her 5 years off the country charts, Carpenter’s new style was coffeehouse folk meets mainstream pop, with all the sensibilities of a hard-core folkie. She’s still singing about the plight of the middle-aged woman, but age and maturity was certainly starting to show, and the themes behind the relationships and emotions became wrapped in darker and more complicated emotions with this album.

Naturally, the singles didn’t find much favor at radio, even though they’re just as good as some of her past hits.  Leading off was ‘Simple Life’, a very slick, pop-sounding tune produced to full effect with echoes and a wall of sound in the chorus.  The basis is of a middle age woman whose life is ‘getting complicated’ and overwhelming her.  The chorus offers that she should ‘just enjoy the view and be glad she made it’.  It’s a smart song that didn’t find an audience, stalling at #53 on the country charts, and not being released elsewhere.

Second to radio, and failing to chart, was ‘This Is Me Leaving You’.  Similar to her most famous songs, the driving force behind it is the melody, plucking along throughout.  As the title suggests, it’s a portrait of a woman leaving a man, guided by the voice of conscience.

‘Slave to the Beauty’ follows in the highly produced fashion with a small orchestra of brass behind the singer.  ‘Maybe World’ is also beefed up musically.  The flute is a nice touch.  ‘The Long Way Home’ is a neat song.  It tells the stories of two very career-successful individuals and how that doesn’t add up to happiness for them.  It’s the one who ‘takes the long way home’ and just stops to enjoy his existence that’s the most content.

My favorite on the album is ‘What Was It Like’, a soft ballad where the narrator is asking her former lover for the details to the demise of their relationship.  She simply can’t remember because time has managed to shield her from the most painful of the memories. ‘King of Love’ is another soft ballad, with a Celtic influence.  A woman is a slave to her desire for a man who will ‘never make her queen’.  It’s a strange song lyrically. Many of the songs fall into a category best defined on The Simpsons as ‘too smart for the corn dog crowd, too dumb for the bagel crowd’.

Time*Sex*Love didn’t sell as well as her past works.  Moving just over 300,000 copies, it was her first not to be certified gold since her 1987 debut, thought it did chart at #6 on the Country Albums chart.  Fans of Mary Chapin Carpenter’s country records may want to avoid it.  Likewise, those who regularly spin Norah Jones, Lucinda Williams, and Sheryl Crow will want to give it a listen.  Time*Sex*Love marked Carpenter’s shift from country radio renegade to Americana mainstay.  Changing styles allowed her to deliver another smart and cohesive set of songs, all written or co-written by Carpenter, and even though it’s not my taste as much as her past work, I can appreciate it for what it is.

Grade: C+

Time*Sex*Love is available in digital and CD format at amazon.

Our Grammy predictions

The 52nd annual Grammy Awards show airs January 31, 2010 at 8 p.m. on CBS.

Earlier we told you who we’d each like to see winning in the country categories this year. Now it’s time to go out on a limb and say who we expect to win. We didn’t do very well last time, due to collectively underestimating the CMA voters’ enthrallment to commercial success.

Best Male Country Vocal Performance
Trace Adkins – ‘All I Ask For Anymore’: Chris
Billy Currington – ‘People Are Crazy’
Jamey Johnson – ‘High Cost Of Living’: Jordan Stacey, Occasional Hope, Razor X
George Strait – ‘Living For The Night’: J.R. Journey
Keith Urban – ‘Sweet Thing’

Jordan: The Grammys always go for this type of song: critically acclaimed, sold a lot of albums, and has been listed in best of lists all year. The Grammy’s won’t ignore Jamey Johnson.
Razor: While I like the Trace Adkins song very much, I think the award for Male Vocal Performance will – and should – go to Jamey Johnson. It received a tepid response from country radio, but the Grammy’s are somewhat less inhibited and Puritanical in their selections. This was a true highlight of 2009, and I expect that the Grammy voters will recognize that and reward the song appropriately.
OH: See my comments below on Song. I believe Jamey will win at least one of these categories, but possibly not both.
J.R.: Strait is long overdue for a string of trophies from the Grammy’s. His first-ever statuette came from the NARAS last year in the Best Country Album race, and I think he’ll add to his collection this year.

Best Female Country Vocal Performance
Miranda Lambert – ‘Dead Flowers’
Martina McBride – ‘I Just Call You Mine’
Taylor Swift – ‘White Horse’: J.R. Journey, Occasional Hope
Carrie Underwood – ‘Just A Dream’: Chris, Jordan Stacey, Razor X
Lee Ann Womack – ‘Solitary Thinkin”

Razor: ‘Just A Dream’ and ‘White Horse’ are the only two songs in this category that can legitimately be called hits. It would be a further travesty for Taylor Swift to win over Carrie in a vocal performance categeory. The Grammy’s are more prone than the CMAs or ACMs to reward artistry over commercial success. While ‘Just A Dream’ is no artistic masterpiece, Carrie is hands down the superior vocalist.
OH: The Grammy voters don’t always care if something’s a hit, but nothing here is sufficiently artistically compelling to win on that account. I agree it’s between Taylor and Carrie, and travesty or not, I think Taylor will carry it on her current awards and commercial momentum.
J.R.: Taylor is white hot right now, pardon the pun. Grammy voters have traditionally either went for tracks that make strong artistic statements or the flavor of the day. This year, with nothing really standing out from the pack as brilliant in this category, I think name-recognition will swing it for Swift.
Jordan: They seem to like Carrie, and it’s a much stronger song than ‘Last Name, so she will probably walk away with this one.

Read more of this post