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Reviews - Page 9

Tim McGraw
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Tim McGraw (Feat. Taylor Swift and Keith Urban), ‘Highway Don’t Care’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

While Tim McGraw and Taylor Swift's vocals on 'Highway Don't Care' would be enough to make the song a hit and one of the best of 2013, it's Keith Urban's guitar that makes the track one of the best collaborations of the decade -- maybe even ever. Each artist brings his or her best effort to the song from McGraw's 'Two Lanes of Freedom' album. It's a sterling example of what can happen when artists are left to be artists, without the handcuffs of music business politics. 

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Brad Paisley
Joe Raedle, Getty Images
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Brad Paisley, ‘Beat This Summer’ – Song Review

Brad Paisley wasn't joking when he said he was working to push himself places never gone before on his upcoming album, 'Wheelhouse.' The second single, 'Beat This Summer,' is a double-take sort of record in that after it begins, you do a double-take toward your stereo or computer to try to make sense of what's going on.

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Randy Houser
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Randy Houser, ‘Runnin’ Outta Moonlight’ – Song Review

Much like he does on the lead single from 'How Country Feels,' Randy Houser forces you to smile on 'Runnin' Outta Moonlight.' His vocal performance demands attention and offers a pleasing reward in a story of two lovers enjoying a date in the country.

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Jason Merritt - Rick Diamond / Getty Images
Jason Merritt - Rick Diamond / Getty Images
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Song Review: The Highway Don’t Care – Tim McGraw Featuring Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift took a little heat from some of her country fans regarding some of her recent music; namely "We Are Never, Ever Getting Back Together."  While most of you decided to give the song a shot, many of you felt that the tune was not country.

There's no doubt it was a deviation from her "normal" thing but I expect an artist as young

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Jason Aldean
Broken Bow Records
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Jason Aldean, ’1994′ – Song Review

Jason Aldean's nostalgic trip to a time of mullets and loud, heavily-starched cowboy shirts is a fun novelty on the 'Night Train' album. But if '1994' had a cinematic equivalent from that same year, it'd be 'It's Pat.' Like the movie, the song is cute the first time, and maybe fun when it's late and you're drunk, but after that ... 

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Gary Allan
MCA Nashville
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Gary Allan, ‘Pieces’ – Song Review

If Gary Allan's chart-topper 'Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)' was optimistic, his follow-up single 'Pieces' is downright plucky. The uptempo country-rocker may be the most contented single he's ever released.

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Tim-McGraw
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Album Spotlight: Tim McGraw, ‘Two Lanes of Freedom’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

"Optimism" is the word Tim McGraw uses to describe his new album 'Two Lanes of Freedom,' and despite a garnish of somber ballads and hopeless love stories, the singer is dead on. The project's production creates the buoyant mood that carries each of the 15 songs on the accelerated deluxe version. In fact, one's opinion of 'Two Lanes of Freedom' may rest on production decisions made by McGraw and Byron Gallimore.

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Blackberry Smoke
Jason Merritt, Getty Images
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Blackberry Smoke, ‘Pretty Little Lie’ – Song Review

There's a genuine honky tonk feel to Blackberry Smoke's new single 'Pretty Little Lie.' The song is short on polish and long on lugubrious love. While honest and heartfelt, it's a story that's difficult to embrace.

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Kenny Chesney
Donald Bowers, Getty Images
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Kenny Chesney, ‘Pirate Flag’ – Song Review

From the first note, one knows the new single from Kenny Chesney's upcoming album is filled with more hope than much of the pensive material on 'Welcome to the Fishbowl.' 'Pirate Flag' opens softly -- with strings and a bouncy mandolin -- before Chesney begins to tell his story. 

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Chris Janson
Bigger Picture Music Group
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Chris Janson, ‘Better I Don’t’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

Chris Janson's new single comes at you like a Mack Truck with a wild-eyed driver -- and it never lets up. 'Better I Don't' delivers in every way imaginable. It's a pure country original that promises to break the Missouri native's career like 'All My Friends Say' did for Luke Bryan in 2007.

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Greg Bates
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Greg Bates, ‘Fill in the Blank’ – Song Review

Greg Bates flashes a mischievous sense of humor in his new single 'Fill in the Blank.' The 'Did It for the Girl' hitmaker is proving to be from the George Strait school of music, but he must have taken a Master Class on Tracy Byrd somewhere along the way.

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Gary Allan
Facebook
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Album Spotlight: Gary Allan, ‘Set You Free’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

Gary Allan delivers the emotionally rich album his fans expect while stretching his sound in multiple new directions on 'Set You Free,' the singer's ninth studio album and first in three years. The songwriting is strong from the first track to the last, with Allan mixing moments of joy and hope within his familiar anguish.

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