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Reviews

Morgan Frazier
Curb Nashville
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Morgan Frazier, ‘Yellow Brick Road’ – Song Review

Morgan Frazier plays Dorothy to the men she comes upon in her major label debut single 'Yellow Brick Road,' but she's hardly the shy, nervous character from the famous narrative. The 'Wizard of Oz' metaphor that drives this rocker is a clever way for the 19-year-old to get noticed, but the power of her voice is what will ultimately impress country music fans.

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

Back country roads are becoming crowded this summer, with Jason Aldean's 'Night Train' the latest to take a girl and a fifth of something to a secret spot. The title track from this singer's most recent album stands out above many of the rest, however. It's a rare Aldean vocal showcase that uses a train to put a slightly different spin on this story.

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Leann Rimes
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images
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Album Spotlight: LeAnn Rimes, ‘Spitfire’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

During 'I Do Now,' a song from LeAnn Rimes' new 'Spitfire' album, the singer name-checks the Dixie Chicks. The track is a feel-good, take-my-life-back kinda song nestled between much more moody and emotional fare. The similarities between the two acts were never so apparent until she says it.

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Dustin Lynch
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images
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Dustin Lynch, ‘Wild in Your Smile’ – Song Review

'Wild in Your Smile,' Dustin Lynch's third single from his self-titled debut album, is another vocal showcase for the 28-year-old Tennessee native. The song is a fan favorite, one many liked for the followup to 'She Cranks My Tractor.' As Lynch hashes out a familiar story, his confidence is both reliable and charming.

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Dierks Bentley
Christopher Polk, Getty Images
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Dierks Bentley (Feat. Kacey Musgraves), ‘Bourbon in Kentucky’ – Song Review

Dierks Bentley breaks from his longtime producer Brett Beavers to record his new single 'Bourbon in Kentucky.' Sonically, the song is more experimental than anything the Batman and Robin duo put together. Beavers and Bentley's best work shook like a rattlesnake or pierced deep into the veins with a heartbreaking poison capable of inducing painful flashbacks of past relationships. Few have been as successful over the past decade.

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Jaida Dryer
Streamsound Records
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Jaida Dreyer, ‘Half Broke Horses’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

'Half Broke Horses' is a song many songwriters would be afraid to record. Jaida Dreyer's single is rooted in difficult memories. There's no mistaking the pain in her twang as she tells the story -- and it is a wonderful story. The problem with recording such songs is they often turn out brilliantly, and fans want to hear you sing them again... and again... and again. Blake Shelton knows this -- it's why his wife Miranda Lambert cut 'Over You' instead of him.

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Darius Rucker
Kevin Winter, Getty Images
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Darius Rucker, ‘True Believers’ – Album Review

Darius Rucker sings with more energy than a nuclear power plant, but his new album 'True Believers' is safer than solar power. He captures the spirit of his live show -- one of the best in the business -- on each of the 12 tracks, but one yearns for for something unique and unexpected. 

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David Nail
MCA Nashville
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David Nail, ‘Whatever She’s Got’ – Song Review

'Whatever She's Got' represents a new sound -- and new look -- for David Nail. The 'Let It Rain' singer previously relied on a strong voice and bittersweet lyrics to work songs up the charts. The new track is pop-friendly and not nearly as deep.

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George Strait
Ethan Miller, Getty Images
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George Strait, ‘Love Is Everything’ – Album Review

George Strait steps back in time for his newest release, 'Love Is Everything.' In the past, the singer always found a way to add a touch of contemporary to his traditional sound. There's nothing to separate this from albums he made throughout the '80s and '90s, but that's not necessarily a criticism.

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Dakota Bradley
AristoPR
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Dakota Bradley, ‘Somethin’ Like Somethin” – Song Review

Dakota Bradley's debut single 'Somethin' Like Somethin'' is a mostly charming pop-country love song that showcases the 18-year-old's spunky personality. He doesn't run from his Bieber-ness. Instead, he adds just enough steel guitar to keep him on the right side of the radio. 

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Pistol-Annies
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Pistol Annies, ‘Annie Up’ – Album Review

Strong production keeps 'Annie Up' -- the new album from Pistol Annies -- from being something their debut effort certainly was not: boring. The women thrive among thick, bluesy guitars that moan and wail throughout the 12 cuts. It's a throwback sound that fits the trio as well as the daring outfits they've become known for wearing.

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Craig Campbell
Bigger Picture Music Group
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Craig Campbell, ‘Never Regret’ – Album Review

Craig Campbell does a lot of things better than average. He's a better than average singer who has chosen better than average songs for his new album 'Never Regret,' yet somehow, the project ends up feeling rather ordinary.

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