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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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Love and Theft
Frederick Breedon, Getty Images
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Love and Theft, ‘Runnin’ Out of Air’ – Song Review

The difference between country newcomer and country star can be one irresistible single, and 'Runnin' Out of Air' is that song for Love and Theft. Sure, 'Angel Eyes' was a No. 1 gold hit, but the new track from the duo's self-titled album is like a busted piñata that just keeps giving sweet goodness.

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Brantley Gilbert
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Brantley Gilbert, ‘More Than Miles’ – Song Review

Fans will learn more about Brantley Gilbert in a song than during any radio or newspaper interview. The singer pours the emotions of what (and who) he left behind to chase country music dreams into his new single 'More Than Miles,' available only on the deluxe edition of his 'Halfway to Heaven' album.

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Jason Aldean
Broken Bow Records
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Jason Aldean, ‘Night Train’ – Album Review

If four or five songs from Jason Aldean's new 'Night Train' album reach No. 1, does that mean it's indisputably a great country music record? This seems likely to happen -- the hits are there and Aldean is red hot right now -- yet from top to bottom, the singer's fifth project leaves one wanting some magic never felt before.

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Hunter Hayes
Atlantic Records
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Hunter Hayes, ‘Somebody’s Heartbreak’ – Song Review

What's remarkable about Hunter Hayes's three singles -- including his newest, 'Somebody's Heartbreak' -- is the consistency. There is nothing amateur about this country newcomer. All three fly flat along a bar raised high above the reach of many Nashville singers, both young and old.

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Craig Morgan
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Craig Morgan, ‘More Trucks Than Cars’ – Song Review

From the very first notes of Craig Morgan's new single 'More Trucks Than Cars,' you'll know you're in for a no tricks, no twists country song from the man who's made a living painting a scenic picture of rural America. The song is as genuine as any Morgan has released. It's only muted by his own strong catalog of (other) farm boy hits. 

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Clay Walker
Curb / Sidewalk Records
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Clay Walker, ‘Jesse James’ – Song Review

Fans of Clay Walker know him as a lot of great things, but 'outlaw' is not one of them. It's a fair question for people to ask if his new single, 'Jesse James,' is sung with tongue loosely planted in cheek. One leans towards yes after checking out the cover art. The hat is a little big, the pants a little too pressed. He's a cowboy if cowboys shopped at Banana Republic.

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Brad Paisley
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Brad Paisley, ‘Southern Comfort Zone’ – Song Review

Brad Paisley's new single 'Southern Comfort Zone' is another socially important song, joining previous hits like 'Welcome to the Future' and 'This Is Country Music.' The singer's voice carries more weight in 2012 than it did in 2008 or 2004, and one senses that he's aware of his influence. This song recorded by someone like Hank Williams Jr. or Toby Keith would be labeled as pretentious or preachy, but Paisley's understated delivery (combined with a lovable personality) allows him to pack the punch he's been working toward.

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