Tim McGraw ‘Southern Girl’ – Single Review

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Tim McGraw’s third single has quite a lot riding on it.
After the success of its predecessors ‘One of Those Nights’ and particularly ‘Highway
Don’t Care’, Tim’s renewed lease of career is now under pressure to continue to
perform. With the release of ‘Southern Girl’, however, I don’t think this’ll be
a problem. It’s a catchy summer party hit designed to appeal to young women,
who will drunkenly sing this song to their hearts’ content.

The key to ‘Southern Girl’ is that it’s a grower, but it’s
also sonically appealing upon first listen. With an infectious beat, and Tim’s
tried-and-tested formula of countrified rock plus a slightly unexpected rockin’
solo, this is probably one of the best summer singles I’ve heard this year. The
song is built on a rhythm-led acoustic guitar part, claps (and some more solid
drums), electric guitar and piano to fill out the mix, and the focus on
acoustic guitar is a nice change from previous tracks, in addition to adding a sweet,
chilled out summery feel. Tim is on vocal form and the melody lines are strong,
simple and memorable, familiar without being too much like every other song out
there at the moment. It builds well and has been produced to a high standard, leaving
lots of space for plenty going on without it sounding too messy.

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Kelly Clarkson ‘Tie It Up’ – Single Review

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Kelly Clarkson's going country, but at the same time she can't seem to decide if she is or not. After a country mix of her hit 'Mr Know-It-All', a duet with Reba, a duet with Jason Aldean, being nominated for CMA Female Vocalist of the Year, a country single with Vince Gill ('Don't Rush'), then turning round and saying she wasn't going full country and releasing a few more pop singles, I am confused. I was ready to ignore Kelly for a while as she figured out where she sat genre-wise, but as soon as I began to do it she debuted her new country single 'Tie It Up' at CMA Fest and everything starts all over again. I am not convinced by Kelly's jumping around and I wish she and her record label would just focus their efforts on one thing. You can't just live two separate careers.

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The Civil Wars ‘The One That Got Away’ – Single Review

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The Civil Wars do dark very well, and they supply that in abundance on
their latest single, 'The One That Got Away'. After a mini-hiatus and
cancelled tour dates last year citing ‘irreconcilable differences’, luckily
that didn’t stop the duo making new music. With haunting, gently strummed
electric guitar, suspense-filled mandolin, and a subtle, unassuming yet catchy
guitar hook, this song toes the line between heavy and the ‘less is more’
approach.

However, it isn’t until you really listen to the song that
you really class parts of it as heavy. The duo has largely stuck to their
stripped-back, folky roots, and Joy’s light, wavery vocals are always the icing
on the cake. Juxtaposing the sweet twang of a dobro with a chorus melody worthy
of a big rock song, it subverts what we expect, yet builds with each repetition
of the refrain. Finally, in the third chorus, we are treated to more of a rock
out, but they still hold back. I suspect they do not want to move from their
current musical positioning, although I can imagine they’d do rockier songs
exceptionally well, and I hope to hear more of that from the new album.

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Thompson Square ‘Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About’ – Single Review

Thompson Square’s star is continuing to rise, winning the ACM for Duo of the Year for the second time last April, and releasing successful single after single. ‘Everything I Shouldn’t…

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Court Yard Hounds ‘Sunshine’ – Single Review

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If you’ve somehow managed to miss them, the Court Yard
Hounds are comprised of Emily Robison and Martie Maguire, the two members of
the Dixie Chicks who aren’t Natalie Maines. The duo released a self-titled album
back in 2010, and are back in 2013 with new music. While their next full-length
album(‘Amelita’) is not due until July 16, they released a 4-song EP on June 11
and the lead single ‘Sunshine’ on June 10.

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Kree Harrison ‘All Cried Out’ – Single Review

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Country music loves an American Idol. From Carrie Underwood,
to Kellie Pickler, to Scotty McCreery and Lauren Alaina, these are just four of
the biggest names to come out of the American Idol school of fame and music.
Kree, the show’s newest runner-up, is going through that same hovering between
country music stardom and the annals of Bucky Covington/Danny Gokey period, but
she is being tipped for great things left, right and center.

She’s certainly got the pipes to go the distance. Similar
vocally to Carrie Underwood, ‘All Cried Out’ is a showcase for her singing
ability, and it’s immediately clear that she knows how to make her vocals positively
drip with emotion and sincerity. There’s no doubt that Kree is talented and a
hit with the country audience (of course it helps that she’s best buds with
country’s golden girl Kacey Musgraves).

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The Henningsens EP – Review


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I’d heard a lot about The Henningsens over the last few
months, as I’m sure you have too. They’ve regularly appeared just scraping the
top 25 of each Billboard chart, particularly country radio, with their first
single ‘American Beautiful’ seeming to receive a good response. So when I came
to listen to their music for the first time in the form of their brand new EP,
I didn’t know what kind of sound to expect, but I was expecting good things.

And effectively, that’s what I heard, good things. The
Henningsens’ sound is comprised of a soft rock-infused contemporary country sound,
with sweet, pop-orientated vocals from Clara Henningsen. Direct comparisons can
and will be made between the two reigning mixed-gender trios in country music:
The Band Perry and Lady Antebellum. Apart from anything else, it’s almost as if
Clara’s vocals are the lovechild of Hillary Scott and Kimberly Perry, and it’s
not surprising that The Henningsens would sound similar to one of these
supergroups. They wrote songs with The Band Perry for their debut album,
including hits ‘You Lie’ and ‘All Your Life’, and have thus have similar use of
melodies and production. It’s fair to say if you like The Band Perry and/or
Lady Antebellum then you will enjoy music from The Henningsens.

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Dierks Bentley ‘Bourbon In Kentucky’ – Single Review

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It’d be a bit of an understatement to say ‘Bourbon In
Kentucky’ was highly-anticipated. Ever since Dierks announced his new project
‘Riser’ via an explanatory
promotional video
, due in the Fall, there has been a huge buzz surrounding
the record and the single that would lead this self-professed intensely
personal album. I am not someone who is incredibly familiar with Dierks’ music
(save a few key tracks), so my review of it is largely untouched by comparisons
to previous material, and his star power.

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Jana Kramer ‘I Hope It Rains’ – Single Review

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I am a self-professed disliker of country pop. I prefer
something a little more rooted in traditional song structures, and something
with a little more twang. However, I have always found Jana Kramer far more
listenable than most, and the singles released up until now, ‘Why You Wanna’
and ‘Whiskey’ I think have been strong, and have done fairly well on the charts
considering how new she is to country music. ‘I Hope It Rains’ continues this
pattern, and while all are quite pop-orientated (indeed, this track includes
“na na nas” as a hook), the songs pay a little more attention to ‘country’
instrumentation than some others, and are simply more interesting.

‘I Hope It Rains’ is built around drums and electric guitar,
but has a significant mandolin part that both begins and underlines the song
throughout, and very low in the mix,
a steel guitar is just audible on the chorus. This makes it more
pleasant-sounding and aurally accessible than some of the other straight pop
songs in Nashville, and while it has a pretty conventional sonic unit of the
punchy guitar lines led by a standard drum beat, it’s fairly dynamic and
summery. As is vital for all summer songs, it could easily be played whilst
driving and create a great atmosphere.

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