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Reviews

Randy Houser
Stoney Creek Records
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Randy Houser, ‘How Country Feels’ – Album Review

Randy Houser comes in from the edges of country music with his third album 'How Country Feels' -- his first on new label Stoney Creek Records. The singer wrote just seven of the project's 15 cuts, but employed many of Nashville's top songwriters to help with the others.

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Jake Owen
RCA Nashville
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Jake Owen, ‘Anywhere With You’ – Song Review

Jake Owen found his niche with songs from the 'Barefoot Blue Jean Night' album, but the unidirectional theme is wearing thin with the arrival of his new single 'Anywhere With You.' There's a thread of spontaneity and nostalgia throughout all of Owen's most recent hits. He is the essence of carefree, which is refreshing... but no longer surprising. 

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Katie Armiger, ‘Fall Into Me’ – Album Review

Katie Armiger's new album, 'Fall Into Me,' features 14 songs that describe love's highs and lows. It's a rollercoaster ride that at times feels like that line from Taylor Swift's 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together,' i.e., "I say 'I hate you,' we break up, you call me, 'I love you.'" Fortunately, Armiger's way with words is more debonair.

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Eric Church
EMI Nashville
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Eric Church, ‘Like Jesus Does’ – Song Review

Eric Church has released his most devoted love song from 'Chief' as the album's fifth single. 'Like Jesus Does' reveals the singer's vulnerabilities in a way none of his previous ballads have done. Like 'Springsteen,' reference is made to famous classic rock standards, giving the song some familiarity even before a first listen is finished. 

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Billy Ray Cyrus
Slaven Vlasic, Getty Images
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Billy Ray Cyrus, ‘Hillbilly Heart’ – Song Review

Billy Ray Cyrus evokes sounds of the Mississippi Delta with his new single 'Hillbilly Heart.' The song leans against a big, bad, foot-stompin' guitar lick before the singer reveals his best blues voice. The result is ugly ... in a good way. 

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Kip Moore
MCA Nasvhille
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Kip Moore, ‘Hey Pretty Girl’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

'Hey Pretty Girl' is the signature track from Kip Moore's remarkable 'Up All Night' album. The singer slows down the tempo and proves himself to be one of the most emotionally complete artists in the genre.

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Kristen Kelly
Arista Nashville
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Kristen Kelly, ‘He Loves to Make Me Cry’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

After listening to Kristen Kelly's new single 'He Loves to Make Me Cry,' one can be forgiven for trolling the internet to find out who first recorded it. The soulful ballad has a classic feel, meaning it surely must have come from another era... right? 

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Florida Georgia Line
Mark Davis, Getty Images
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Florida Georgia Line, ‘Get Your Shine On’ – Song Review

Florida Georgia Line wasted no time following their infectious debut single with one that cements the duo as the good-time country party band they introduced themselves as. 'Get Your Shine On' had already charted before 'Cruise' reached No. 1. Both rely on a big, fat hook and songwriting that's sharper than they'll get credit for.

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Miranda Lambert
Mark Davis, Getty Images
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Miranda Lambert, ‘Mama’s Broken Heart’ – Song Review

Dark and volatile are this year's black in country music, and Miranda Lambert reminds fans she is still the lead diva of danger with a new single called 'Mama's Broken Heart.' Her performance is every bit as enjoyably unstable as previous hits like 'Kerosene' and 'Gunpowder and Lead.' When she's mercurial, she's magic. 

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Mumford and Sons
Simone Joyner, Getty Images
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Mumford and Sons, ‘I Will Wait’ – Song Review

Mumford and Sons' honest and revealing lyrics give their hit song 'I Will Wait' a shot with a genre that is typically nervous around outsiders. The folk-rockers from England have offered their gold single to country radio four months after releasing it as the lead single from their Grammy-nominated 'Babel' album. 

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Nashville
Big Machine Records
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‘The Music of Nashville: Season 1, Volume 1′ – Album Review

Without the expressions and the palpable tension between characters, songs from 'Nashville' lose their edge. Flaws otherwise hidden by the drama step forward to dilute your favorite moments from the ABC drama.

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Easton Corbin
Merucry Nashville
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Easton Corbin, ‘All Over the Road’ – Song Review

It didn't take much -- maybe just a pinch or a skosh -- but the spice added to Easton Corbin's new song 'All Over the Road' will leave fans and followers looking at him a bit differently. It's wholesome enough to be mother-approved, but saucy enough to leave daughters interested.

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