Brad Paisley releases second (and better) installment of new album with ‘Beat This Summer’ – Single Review

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If there’s one thing you need to know about this song, it’s
beautiful chaos. I’d like to just leave it there, but perhaps I should explain
my position. As soon as the song began, I immediately started dancing
(resistance is futile), and the initial melody, imitated in Brad’s vocal, is SO
catchy, it puts all those catchy country/pop tunes to shame (I’m struggling to
stop dancing along to write this review, in fact). Not that this is country/pop
however, there are still remnants of Brad’s signature style with the bluesy
distorted guitar solo which is so characteristic of his recordings. It appears
a little more erratic than normal, however, and that is a pretty apt
description for the rest of this track.

There is too much going on in the mix for me to give a kind
of laundry list like I usually do with a single, but the interplay between the
electric guitar riff and the plucky banjo loop, that fills the intro and
underlies the rest of the song is flawless, and that’s what makes the song so
addictive, fundamentally. I’m no aural genius, but to my ear the four chords
that are used sound pretty basic (which is more than can be said for some of
Brad’s tracks… C# minor anyone?), which is makes it all the more amazing that
he can make the song sound so interesting, and, on one level, a bit radical.
There is so much contrapuntal going on (lots of different melody lines and
sonic tidbits playing at the same time), that I’m shocked they’ve been able to
make it work. It’s true, there are times where it feels like certain parts are
clashing harmonically, but it’s enough to be creative without moving into the
realms of bad music.

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Eric Church ‘Like Jesus Does’ Single & Video Review

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The fifth (and I’m guessing final) single from Eric Church’s
award-winning (and chart staying – still #10 this week) 2011 release ‘Chief’ is
‘Like Jesus Does’. I was surprised to hear this as it’s not the most commercial
song in the world, being a quiet ballad that doesn’t try to intrude upon your
life if you don’t want it too. It’s easily ignored.

But that’s almost the beauty of it. Previously, the other
singles from ‘Chief’ have been fairly upbeat and rock-infused, for example
‘Drink In My Hand’, ‘Creepin’’ and ‘Homeboy’. ‘Springsteen’ is perhaps an
exception at times but the chorus sells it on a mass scale. ‘Like Jesus Does’
however, waits for you to come to it – it doesn’t shout you down and demand
attention. In this way it intrigues me more, because its understated nature is
perfect for the deep and thoughtful lyrics. It is a song of thanks,
essentially; of how the narrator’s wife/partner loves him so unconditionally it
is almost akin to the love Jesus has for him. That’s a powerful metaphor for
love if ever I saw it. It doesn’t get bigger than that.

As I watched the new video for it on YouTube, I read the
usually juvenile comments that actually raised an interesting point. People
were pointing out their religious beliefs in reference to the song, for example
atheists saying that they still loved the song despite not believing in Jesus.
And I think that’s a valid point. From the title one would assume that it is a
spiritual song, but it rather is a commentary on true love, and even if someone
does not believe in Jesus, they can appreciate the sentiment with just a casual
knowledge of the basics of Christianity. It is universal songs like this that
are often the most successful.

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‘Pirate Flag’ by Kenny Chesney Provides Intrigue For The Album – Single & Video Review

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There has been much hype around this song, claiming it will
begin Kenny’s move to a different terrain musically, and that the album will
follow that. However, when I first listened to the track, I find it a bit odd
and confusing.

The track begins with a quiet, unobtrusive organ melody, and
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s made the mistake of trying to turn it up to
full volume due to this. Handclaps and a nicely strummed mandolin jump in, and
it sounds quite nice, quite sweet. At this point I was totally thrown off base
by a subtle key change in the music that happens mere milliseconds before Kenny
comes in with the vocals, that are in line with this sudden key change, in a
kind of pitched melodic rapping. To add to the confusion, the sweetness of the
instruments already in the mix are added to by a heavier drum beat and some
snappy muted distorted guitar, just hitting the bassier strings. The two ends
of the sonic spectrum clashing plus this rapping in a key that to me doesn’t
automatically fit with the key of the music, makes it rather a melting pot. The
heavier guitar part becomes more prominent as the song progresses, and then we
have its saving grace: the chorus.

The chorus launches in full pelt with the kind of country
rock from Kenny that we’re more used to hearing and the melody and key parts
that originally confused me begin to make a lot more sense. The chorus links
the whole song together and without it I’m not sure it would work, as after
that the second verse etc feels a lot easier on my ears. I can see Kenny’s
trying to go for something different and off-base as country music does tend to
stick to the familiar, traditional keys and melodies. Perhaps that’s why it
feels a little uncomfortable to me – I’m so used to hearing what I’m expecting
and what is ‘familiar’, that anything different sets me on edge. I think this
one is a grower, and definitely the more I hear it the more I get used to it.

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Sarah Darling ‘Home To Me EP’ Review

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Sarah Darling has been on the map for a few years but
according to Wikipedia (not the most reliable source I know) the single ‘Home
To Me’ has been her first entry on the chart. It seemed fitting, then, that I
take this opportunity to introduce myself to her music through her brand new EP
of the same name.

‘Home To Me’, the lead off single and title track of the EP,
is a country/pop love song using that well-known tactic of country ‘buzzwords’
to get on country radio and find a way in to the romantic metaphorical lyrics
14-year-old girls post on Tumblr. This time these ‘buzzwords’ are the names of
states, comparing certain aspects of the narrator’s lover to these states, I
guess creating various symbolisms and connecting to fans living in those
states. Yet, to Sarah, her lover feels like ‘home’ to her, and maybe she’s
saying each of these states are home to her because they’re all part of the
South. Either way, it doesn’t convince me that this is a country song.
Musically we have a banjo underlying throughout the whole song and a vague
steel guitar, as if this is another injection of country to what is frankly, a
rather pop-sounding song, totally reminiscent of both the pop and country
charts in the early noughties. The non-gender-specific harmonies are taken straight
from this period too, in addition to your typical soft electric guitar and drum
unit, maracas guiding the verses. That’s not to say I don’t like the song, it
reminds me of the music I loved when I was 14, and it will be hugely popular
with that demographic. Vocally she reminds me a little of Kellie Pickler and
generally it’s a sweet, nice song that is gentle on the ears and accompanies a
sunny day quite satisfyingly, the chorused blues-ish guitar solo adding a
slightly-out-of-place element to the song. However, it doesn’t kick me out of
bed or make me sit up and listen.

I’m hopeful that the second track on the EP, ‘How Dare You’,
will round out the image a bit and show me more to a singer who appears to
finally be coming over the horizon this year. To be perfectly honest it feels a
bit like more of the same. A classic singer/songwriter style pop song with
banjos added, lyrics about being helpless in love, as you can probably imagine
from the title. It’s well-sung, but a bit cliché, and the weird pop-style
echoes on the title lyric don’t sit all too well for me. Having said that, I
feel a bit harsh being negative about it, because it’s one of the least
offensive songs I have ever listened to. It’s simply pleasant and teenage girls
will lap it up.

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