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Vince Gill Paul Franklin
MCA Nashville
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Vince Gill and Paul Franklin, ‘Bakersfield’ – Album Review

It's almost unfair to call 'Bakersfield' a Vince Gill and Paul Franklin album, because there are so many other skilled musicians who add an important solo, fill or backbeat to the 10-song project. Often when so much talent fills a room, egos bump like elephants at feeding time. But there's space for everyone on this project.

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The Band Perry
Republic Nashville
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The Band Perry, ‘Don’t Let Me Be Lonely’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

'Don't Let Me Be Lonely,' the third single from the Band Perry's 'Pioneer' album, is thematically similar to their biggest hit, but few will confuse this song with 'If I Die Young.' The latest track may not be as instantly catchy, but it's every bit the sharp songwriting effort the cut from the trio's debut album was.

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Zac Brown Band
Christopher Polk, Getty Images
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Zac Brown Band, ‘Sweet Annie’ – Song Review

The Zac Brown Band's new single 'Sweet Annie' is another vocal and lyrical showcase for the singer. The collaborative spirit that defined them early on is missing, making the ensemble sound more like Zac Brown's band instead of the Zac Brown Band.

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Austin Webb
Streamsound Records
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Austin Webb, ‘Slip on By’ – Song Review

Austin Webb's soulful new ballad 'Slip on By' will catch you off guard if you let it, and that's not such a bad idea. Webb sings a familiar, but not overdone, lesson about appreciating every moment we have on this Earth. 

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Brad Paisley
Arista Nashville
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Brad Paisley, ‘I Can’t Change the World’ – Song Review

'I Can't Change the World' is Brad Paisley's anthemic ballad from his 'Wheelhouse' album. As a vocalist, he rarely soars like he does on this sonically complex, but lyrically simple love song. His performance as a singer and guitarist actually overshadows the strength of the song.

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Civil Wars
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Album Spotlight: The Civil Wars, ‘The Civil Wars’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

The great mystery that sews intrigue at the root of 'The Civil Wars' is how two people who clearly don't get along can pretend with such conviction. The second album from this duo isn't tainted by disdain, contempt or ambivalence that hardens one's heart. In fact, it's more emotional than their Grammy-winning debut album. So clearly they're either brilliant actors, or they're in love.

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Brett Eldredge
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Brett Eldredge, ‘Bring You Back’ – Album Review

Buying a full album from a new artist is something like a trust fall. Typically you've heard one or two songs, leaving nine or 10 question marks. Breathe easy putting down cash for 'Bring You Back,' the debut from Brett Eldredge. The Paris, Ill.-born singer will catch you.

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Jennifer Nettles
Universal Music Group
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Jennifer Nettles, ‘That Girl’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

It would have been foolish to expect anything less than an original from Jennifer Nettles' debut solo effort. 'That Girl' rides in that funky furrow Sugarland cut deep for so many years without sounding like the duo at all.

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Granger Smith
grangersmith.com
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Granger Smith, ‘Silverado Bench Seat’ – Song Review

They don't come much easier to enjoy than Granger Smith. The Texas country singer's understated delivery is something of a trademark, and his latest single 'Silverado Bench Seat' doesn't stray from what fans know and love.

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Kellie Pickler
Christopher Polk, Getty Images
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Kellie Pickler, ‘Little Bit Gypsy’ – Song Review

Kellie Pickler's new single 'Little Bit Gypsy' is a step back vocally, but not a step backward. There's no flaws in her performance, but her power is stifled when compared to her previous single. 

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Randy Travis
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Randy Travis, ‘Tonight I’m Playin’ Possum’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

It's possible the context in which Randy Travis releases his new single 'Tonight I'm Playin' Possum' could cause fans and critics to overstate its impact. Then again, maybe not. There are, after all, only so many words available to heap effusive praise on this brilliantly composed and performed traditional ballad.

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Luke Bryan
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Luke Bryan, ‘That’s My Kind of Night’ – Song Review

Luke Bryan's new single 'That's My Kind of Night' promises to be his most controversial release to date. The singer goes all-in on the country-rap style that -- despite loud objections from traditionalists -- is covering the radio like kudzu. He sounds both horribly out of place and right at home.

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