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Reviews

Carrie-Underwood
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Carrie Underwood, ‘See You Again’ – Song Review

Carrie Underwood changed directions with the release of 'See You Again' as the fourth single from 'Blown Away.' The ballad is anything but dark and stormy. Instead it's an inspirational reminder that will be especially meaningful to fans who have lost someone close recently. 

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Maggie Rose
MaggieRoseMusic.com
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Maggie Rose, ‘Better’ – Song Review

'Better' is the finest ballad from Maggie Rose's new 'Cut to Impress' album. The singer is creative with her phrasing, and the performance is as raw as anything on the 10-song collection. She is still learning how to be a great storyteller, however, and with more experiences and a few years behind her, the single promises to only get... better.

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Blake Shelton
Warner Music Nashville
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Blake Shelton, ‘Boys ‘Round Here’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

There is comedy in Blake Shelton singing with Pistol Annies, as he does on his new single 'Boys 'Round Here.' One imagines a country Hugh Hefner surrounded by his beauties. In real life, the Annies likely (very likely) don't attend to his every need and agree with him at all costs, but they do on this song, and it's absolutely charming. 

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Thompson Square
Anthony Baker
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Thompson Square, ‘Just Feels Good’ – Album Review

The best songs on Thompson Square's new album 'Just Feels Good' sound like a conversation between the two married lovers. Early on, their back-and-forth is light and playful. Later ballads take a more somber tone, but all that find the 'If I Didn't Have You' singers sharing lead are highlights from the duo's sophomore project.

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Blake-Shelton
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Album Spotlight: Blake Shelton, ‘Based on a True Story …’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

Women who already think Blake Shelton singing is the sexiest thing since Johnny Castle pulled Baby from the corner may want to take the rest of the week off. The best moments on 'Based on a True Story ...' sizzle, and not in that ironic "bow-chicka-wow-wow" sort of way that's occasionally implied with this singer's sense of humor. Songs like 'Mine Would Be You' are safe to put on any red wine and candles soundtrack. Guys, you can thank Shelton via his Twitter account, if you'd like.

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James Wesley
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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James Wesley, ‘Thank a Farmer’ – Song Review

James Wesley has a real feel for the life and struggles of the blue-collar American. His new song 'Thank a Farmer' is similar to his previous Top 30 hit 'Real' in its honest, no-nonsense approach. The worst thing a singer can do with a song like either of these is come off as contrived. Wesley is a long way away from being accused of that. 

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Kacey Musgraves
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Kacey Musgraves, ‘Blowin’ Smoke’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

The magic of many of the songs on Kacey Musgraves' debut album -- including her new single 'Blowin' Smoke' -- is in the little details. 'Merry Go 'Round' thrived in efficient specificity. The follow-up is equally effective in its portrayal of a life waiting tables.

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Wynonna
Erika Goldring, Getty Images
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Wynonna, ‘Something You Can’t Live Without’ – Song Review

It takes a few listens to absorb the new sound Wynonna reveals on her new single 'Something You Can't Live Without.' The singer and 'Dancing With the Stars' competitor hasn't had a hit song in a decade, but comparing this to music from the 'What the World Needs Now Is Love' album would be like comparing Kelly Clarkson now to her 2003 self, but flip-flopped.

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Kacey Musgraves
Facebook
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Album Spotlight: Kacey Musgraves, ‘Same Trailer Different Park’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

Kacey Musgraves' Mercury Records debut album is everything a new artist dreams her first record will be. 'Same Trailer Different Park' is well-written, edgy (yet familiar) and coated in "cool." Musgraves is an original who at age 24 is surprisingly wise and adept at using her voice to share her experiences. 

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Billy Currington
Kevin Kane, Getty Images
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Billy Currington, ‘Hey Girl’ – Song Review

Billy Currington is a master of melody, always finding songs you can't get out of your head (and usually don't want to). 'Hey Girl,' the lead single from an upcoming album deviates little from his brand of country meets R&B. 

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Katie Armiger
Jason Merritt, Getty Images
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Katie Armiger, ‘Playin’ With Fire’ – Song Review

Katie Armiger continues to show off her feisty side on her new single 'Playin With Fire,' a bluesy, rebellious cut from the 'Fall Into Me' album. Her message should hit the sweet spot for teens or young 20-somethings full of angst and with little patience for the sage advice of an elder. 

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Drake White
MCA Nashville
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Drake White, ‘The Simple Life’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

Songs like Drake White's 'The Simple Life' end up inspiring scores of new singer-songwriters to bring their talents to Nashville. White makes it look so easy, singing about familiar pleasures we all know and usually under-appreciate. 

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