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Reviews

Florida Georgia Line
Jason Kempin, Getty Images
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Florida Georgia Line, ‘Here’s to the Good Times’ – Album Review

Never has a single better represented an artist's album than 'Cruise' does for Florida Georgia Line's 'Here's to the Good Times.' Thick production, heavy guitarwork and big fat hooks define the 11 songs -- six of which were written by Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard. 

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Rascal Flatts
Big Machine Records
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Rascal Flatts, ‘Changed’ – Song Review

'Changed,' the new single from Rascal Flatts, feels more personal than anything the trio has released up to this point in their decade-plus long career. The song, the title track from their 2012 album, was co-written by Gary LeVox, who talks about his relationship with God instead of just using his name conversationally as he's done in songs before.

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Tim McGraw
Jason Kempin, Getty Images
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Tim McGraw, ‘Mary and Joseph’ – Song Review

Tim McGraw could make a pretty strong Christmas album if he chose to do so. His new release 'Mary and Joseph' is a creative -- but not too creative -- interpretation of the story of Jesus' birth. McGraw tells it like he's told the best stories of his two decade-long career, with a sweet reverence for the struggles his characters are living through.

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Ashley Monroe
Crush Management
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Ashley Monroe, ‘Like a Rose’ – Song Review

The sanguine melody of Ashley Monroe's new bluegrass-tinged song 'Like a Rose' runs counter to the sad (at first) story the singer tells. This conflict makes her new recording one you may find on repeat for reasons you can't quite explain. It's beautiful in a tragic way.

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Jana Kramer
Jason Kempin, Getty Images
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Jana Kramer, ‘Whiskey’ – Song Review

With her second single, 'Whiskey,' Jana Kramer proves the vulnerability she showed on 'Why Ya Wanna' was no fluke. It's tough to turn away from her hurt, which on this song is aided by a tight lyric and sensible mix of pop and traditional country styling.

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Toby Keith
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Toby Keith, ‘Hope on the Rocks’ – Album Review

Toby Keith's new album 'Hope on the Rocks' is a loud and sudsy collection of songs about beer, barrooms, heartbreak... and beer. Much like a Saturday night out at your favorite watering hole, it's rowdy and fun, but difficult to remember the next morning.

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Kelly Clarkson
Michael Loccisano, Getty Images
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Kelly Clarkson (Feat. Vince Gill), ‘Don’t Rush’ – Song Review

How do you convince a skeptical country audience that you're country? You get Vince Gill to sing and play guitar on your first true country single. That's what Kelly Clarkson did with 'Don't Rush,' a song she'll perform at the CMA Awards on Nov. 1. The pairing is magic. 

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Aldean
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Jason Aldean (Featuring Luke Bryan and Eric Church), ‘The Only Way I Know’ – Song Review

Jason Aldean's new single 'The Only Way I Know' weaves from the same spool as his biggest hits. Themes of hard work, loyalty and small town values have been at the core of hits like 'Fly Over States,' 'Tattoos on This Town,' and most recently, 'Take a Little Ride,' even if you need to look beyond the cutie in the passenger seat to find them. On the new single from 'Night Train,' Aldean's message is more direct. but no less effective. 

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Thompson Square
Stoney Creek Records
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Thompson Square, ‘If I Didn’t Have You’ – Song Review

Thompson Square's new single 'If I Didn't Have You' is the fifth straight love song from the married country duo. While some may yearn for more varied subject matter from Keifer and Shawna Thompson, an easy argument could be made for the "If it ain't broke ..." philosophy of life and country music. 

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Lady Antebellum
Capitol Nashville
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Lady Antebellum, ‘On This Winter’s Night’ – Album Review

Lady Antebellum are practically built for Christmas albums. There's a Captain and Tennille quality to their partnership that's made hip by youth and intriguing subject matter. The trio's take on standards like 'I'll Be Home for Christmas' and 'Silent Night' are timeless, in that they could really be transported to any decade of country music. For them, covering yuletide hits is as easy as looking good. 

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Jerrod Niemann
Arista Nashville
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Jerrod Niemann, ‘Only God Could Love You More’ – Song Review

'Only God Could Love You More' is a song that doesn't leave many places for Jerrod Niemann to hide. The second single from 'Shinin' on Me' is vulnerable a la 'Stay' by Sugarland. Niemann steps up to the challenge and delivers what should be his biggest hit. This could be a career-defining song.

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Taylor Swift
Big Machine Records
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Taylor Swift, ‘Red’ – Album Review

Taylor Swift's new album, 'Red,' doesn't provide much to quiet the haters who will forever accuse her of being "too pop." It's inaccurate to say she leans that way on most of the 16 new songs. That tower in Pisa leans. Swift is in a pike position diving toward sugary waters. 

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