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All posts in "GAC Album Review"

Dec 16

GAC Album Review: Danielle Bradbery’s Self-Titled Debut

GAC Album Review: Danielle Bradbery’s Self-Titled Debut

Danielle Bradbery’s 2013 self-titled debut album. Photo courtesy of BMLG.

Danielle Bradbery is the newest country talent to emerge from the hugely popular TV singing competition, The Voice. Along with fellow The Voice winner Cassadee Pope, also coached by Blake Shelton on the show, Danielle’s journey to the championship reinforces the exploding mainstream popularity of the country music genre. Now on her self-titled debut, Danielle shows that while her sound is largely contemporary, the 17-year old Texan also has some Red Dirt roots.

Working with top Nashville producer Dann Huff (Keith Urban, Billy Currington), Danielle stays true to the types of songs she chose while a contestant on The Voice. Having covered the likes of Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift on the show, Danielle blends strong female voices like these with a teenager’s restless heart. The album opener “Young In America” sings of youthful love and escape through the lines, Let’s crank up the truck, kick up some dust/Leave it all behind, just me and you, before giving shout outs to the south as well as NYC and LA. With a crisp, clean sound that favors bright notes, the production and performances are meant for all. And on the fiddle-driven single “The Heart Of Dixie” and forward-looking, “My Day,” Danielle preaches the strong self-empowerment heard in some of the genre’s top female artists.

Danielle stays the contemporary course on songs like “Talk About Love” and the dramatic “Wild Boy.” However, the latter, a song about falling for the dangerous type, provides the first glimpse at the subtle earthiness hidden in Danielle’s voice. Wrapped in her slight drawl is a rich tone that sounds perfectly at home on open arrangements. The bluesy, shuffling “Endless Summer” and country-swing “Yellin’ From The Rooftop” both head in roots-driven directions. Hunter Hayes provides a thoughtful guitar melody on the former while Danielle’s voice carries a strong edge on the Miranda Lambert-influenced latter. The best example of Danielle’s Texas Country twang comes on the windswept “Daughter Of A Workin’ Man,” one of the project’s best songs. If love’s to be my compass then I’m fine with what’s to come/Cause part of knowin’ where I’m goin’ is knowin’ where I’m from, she sings with introspective rhythm through a chorus full of acoustic guitars and dobro.

Danielle’s voice is best on the album’s most dynamic songs. A lot of this has to do with allowing her pure technical skill to shine through. On the dramatic “I Will Never Forget You,” she matches epic strings with a soaring chorus and on the jazz-tinged “Never Like This,” Danielle shows off soulful inflections through the chord progression’s descending notes. Danielle continually meets the arrangement’s level of difficulty, most often exceeding it to keep her voice the star of the show.

On her debut album, which is available now, Danielle crafts a set that will no doubt please fans familiar with her through The Voice. However, where she really gains momentum is on those cuts that allow her to spread out. With songs like the understated “Dance Hall” offering new twists on current format staples such as secluded dirt road romance, Danielle shows she’s up for the challenge of carving out a new niche in the format with a voice that blends the mainstream with a little Texas twang.

Key Tracks – “I Will Never Forget You,” “Endless Summer,” “Never Like This,” “Daughter Of A Workin’ Man”

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Posted at 3:02 pm | Permalink
Dec 9

GAC Album Review: Parmalee’s Feels Like Carolina

GAC Album Review: Parmalee's Feels Like Carolina

Photo courtesy of Dashboard Media.

Country rock group Parmalee’s debut album, Feels Like Carolina, pounds to the blue-collar sound of a young band establishing themselves in a continually diverse format. Hailing from Parmele, NC, the band – consisting of brothers Matt Thomas (vocals, guitar) and Scott Thomas (drums), cousin Barry Knox (bass) and lifelong friend Josh McSwain (guitar) – plays a brand of power chord country that matches a rugged Southern Rock swagger with a contemporary lyrical slant. Ranging from party anthems to power ballads, Feels Like Carolina, which hits stores on Tuesday, keeps the volume up and its messages straightforward.

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Posted at 4:58 pm | Permalink
Dec 2

GAC Album Review: Krystal Keith’s Whiskey & Lace

GAC Album Review: Krystal Keith's Whiskey & Lace

Krystal Keith’s 2013 album, Whiskey & Lace.

Country music fans were first introduced to Krystal Keith during the 2004 CMA Awards. During the telecast and still in her teens, Krystal sang with her father, Toby Keith, on the song “Mockingbird.” Nine years later, Krystal steps fully into the spotlight with the release of her debut album, Whiskey & Lace.

Due in stores December 10, Whiskey & Lace is the work of a confident young woman with a powerful voice. Growing up, Krystal promised her parents that she would complete college before pursuing the family business. A recent graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Krystal held up her end of the bargain and Toby held up his by co-producing the project along with Mark Wright (Gary Allan, Trace Adkins). During the recording process, Krystal’s sterling wedding ballad “Daddy Dance With Me” – a song she co-wrote as a gift for her father – became a viral hit and prompted Krystal’s label to release a self-titled EP in April to help introduce her to fans.

Whiskey & Lace starts with all four of the songs on Krystal’s EP presented in the same order. Toby co-wrote all of these except “Daddy Dance With Me,” and subsequently, his influence is stronger here than on any of the project’s newer material. Krystal leans into the lines on “What Did You Think I’d Do” with a melody reminiscent of Toby’s “God Love Her” while “Doin’ It” makes its mark as a fun summertime anthem with tempos and pacing reminiscent of her father. Krystal spreads out on the album’s back half, however, where she takes chances with a confident and striking voice. Continue Reading

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Posted at 9:54 am | Permalink
Nov 26

GAC Album Review: Jake Owen’s Days Of Gold

GAC Album Review: Jake Owen's Days of Gold

GAC Album Review: Jake Owen’s Days of Gold.

On his breakthrough 2011 album, Barefoot Blue Jean Night, Jake Owen began to align his brand of country with a more contemporary sound. Huge choruses and shiny production connected well with audiences and the album produced four consecutive No. 1 singles. Now releasing his fourth studio project, Jake stays the course with a new collection that emphasizes the Florida native’s Southern surfer personality while also taking new risks along the way.

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Posted at 6:50 pm | Permalink
Nov 24

GAC Album Review: Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas

GAC Album Review: Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas

Duck The Halls: A Robertson Family Christmas album.

It’s a duck-callin’ Christmas when the Robertson family gets together to celebrate the holidays. From the hit reality television series Duck Dynasty, the Robertson clan mixes traditional standards with fun-loving and sentimental originals and some of country’s biggest stars on a uniquely-camouflaged Christmas album.

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Posted at 11:19 am | Permalink
Nov 19

GAC Album Review: Brandy Clark’s 12 Stories

GAC Album Review: Brandy Clark's 12 Stories

Brandy Clark’s 2013 album, 12 Stories. Photo courtesy of Shore Fire Media.

Cutting her teeth on Music Row’s songwriting circuit, Washington native Brandy Clark’s wry wit has filtered through some of country music’s biggest hits over the past few years. Brandy co-wrote Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart” and The Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two” in addition to Kacey Musgraves’ current single “Follow Your Arrow.” Now, on her debut album 12 Stories, which is available now, Brandy delivers a stunning tour-de-force worthy of mention alongside the very best albums of the year.

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Posted at 12:19 pm | Permalink
Nov 19

GAC Album Review: Donna Ulisse’s Showin’ My Roots

GAC Album Review: Donna Ulisse's Showin' My Roots

Donna Ulisse’s 2013 album, Showin’ My Roots. Photo courtesy of donnaulisse.com.

A celebrated songwriter with multiple International Bluegrass Music Association nominations in recent years, Virginian Donna Ulisse mixes it up on her new project with a collection of covers pulled from her favorite songs. Showin’ My Roots, Donna’s sixth album in seven years, digs deep into the catalogs of Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and others while serving up recast versions of classic songs.

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Posted at 10:11 am | Permalink
Nov 11

GAC Album Review: Kellie Pickler’s The Woman I Am

GAC Album Review: Kellie Pickler's The Woman I Am

Kellie Pickler’s 2013 album, The Woman I Am. Photo courtesy of Black River Entertainment.

On her 2011 album, 100 Proof, Kellie Pickler stepped away from the confines of pop-based country with a decidedly traditional sound. Though she subsequently parted with her label after the project’s release, 100 Proof was met with critical acclaim as the American Idol alum delivered one of that year’s best traditional albums. Now on her new project, The Woman I Am, hitting stores November 11, Kellie stays the course with 12 songs ranging from Honky Tonk to heartbreaking while consistently celebrating strong women.

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Posted at 4:08 pm | Permalink
Nov 11

GAC Album Review: Will Hoge’s Never Give In

GAC Album Review: Will Hoge's Never Give In

Will Hoge’s 2013 album, Never Give In. Photo courtesy of SweetTalk Publicity.

An independent artist whose last major label release was in 2003, it’s possible Americana singer/songwriter Will Hoge is one of those great musicians you haven’t heard of but have undoubtedly heard. Will’s current single “Strong” serves prominently as the theme song for the 2014 Chevrolet Silverado (it’s the one you love in the Chevy truck ads) while his resume includes Grammy, CMA and ACM nominations for co-writing Eli Young Band’s No. 1 hit “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.” Now releasing his sixth studio album, Will continues to deliver his heartland perspective with gritty guitar and an insightful eye.

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Posted at 12:41 pm | Permalink
Nov 8

GAC Album Review: Thomas Rhett’s It Goes Like This

GAC Album Review: Thomas Rhett's It Goes Like This

Thomas Rhett’s 2013 album, It Goes Like This.

Thomas Rhett’s brand of country is meant to push boundaries. The 23-year old son of singer/songwriter Rhett Akins has quickly become known along Music Row for blending a downhome drawl with country storylines and a dose of self-aware hip hop. Thomas co-wrote Jason Aldean’s Joe Diffie-inspired thumper “1994” as well as Florida Georgia Line’s No. 1 hit “Round Here,” and on his first LP, the Georgia native continues to blur the lines with a smart, country-fried debut.

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Posted at 10:50 am | Permalink