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Reviews

Willie Nelson
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Willie Nelson, ‘Let’s Face the Music and Dance’ – Album Review

'Let's Face the Music and Dance' is a great place for a young country music fan to meet Willie Nelson. It won't be his most famous, and it won't create any hit singles. This wonderfully consistent effort proves what longtime fans of the legend already know: At 79 years old (80 on April 30), Nelson is still as important and skilled a vocalist as there is in country music. 

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Vote to Determine the Top 10 Videos of the Week in Taste of Country’s Countdown

Can anyone stop Carrie Underwood? 'Two Black Cadillacs' has built a house on top of the ToC Top 10 Video Countdown, but there are more than a few big bad wolves looking to blow it down. New videos from Florida Georgia Line and Taylor Swift enter the voting poll this week, in addition to returning Top-10ers from Miranda Lambert, Blake Shelton and Toby Keith

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Luke Bryan
Capitol Nashville
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Luke Bryan, ‘Crash My Party’ – Song Review

Luke Bryan's new song 'Crash My Party' would fit well on his last album 'Tailgates and Tanlines.' The ballad is a continuation of themes introduced with 'I Don't Want This Night to End' and 'Drunk on You,' two No. 1 hits for the ACM Entertainer of the Year. At first listen, it's difficult to become excited about a song that's so familiar. 

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Brad Paisley
Ethan Miller, Getty Images
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Brad Paisley, ‘Wheelhouse’ – Album Review

Brad Paisley's 'Wheelhouse' delivers a familiar mix of humor, life lessons and scorching guitar solos, but it does it in a way different from any of the other eight albums the 'Beat This Summer' singer has released. He took his old formula, balled it up, lit it on fire and tossed the ashes in the garbage. The result is a meaty and ambitious project that doesn't always click, but clears new ground when it does.

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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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