Brad Paisley, Wheelhouse

March 18th, 2013 by Jennifer

brad paisley wheelhouse1 300x199 Brad Paisley, WheelhouseBrad Paisley Leaves Southern Comfort Zone on New Album

The world of country is officially abuzz now that we are less than a month away from the release of the latest effort from Brad Paisley, “Wheelhouse”. Nashville’s Golden Boy has already given his beloved fan base an introduction to the style of country they can expect to hear on the album with the release of “Southern Comfort Zone” late last year; the recent release of “Beat This Summer” gave fans a deeper look at the album’s style, which will be a more mature brand of Brad’s characteristic fun-loving approach to country music.

These two releases actually offer a lot of insight into what we can expect to hear from Paisley’s 8th studio album. In particular, “Southern Comfort Zone” is preparing listeners for a much more culturally aware brand of country music – one that will certainly be new for country listeners. Don’t get me wrong, we’re not going to see Brad forfeit his patriotism any time soon, but SCZ details how a traveling career in music has exposed Brad to a diverse world that has impacted his songwriting. SCZ acknowledges that not everyone sings the songs, drinks the drinks, and believes the beliefs that Brad does in “Dixieland”, but that just means that other cultures have something different to offer to his particular artistic vision.

There are also sure to be some major musical differences on the new album, as can be seen in the two singles. One of the biggest differences – and possibly the most interesting – is the inclusion of a supporting background chorus that can be heard on SCZ and BTS. And I don’t mean “chorus” as a “refrain”, I mean “chorus” as a full-on choir of singers. For country music, this is a huge departure from the usual fiddles, slide guitars and acoustic strumming. Additionally, Paisley has stated that this will be the very first album with which he will have total artistic control in terms of production, songwriting, etc…, so maybe he’s using this opportunity to use sounds and take risks in a way that wouldn’t otherwise be allowed if a production company had the final say on the album. Whether these changes in musical direction will be appreciated by his fans or not, “Wheelhouse” is looking to be one of Brad’s most personal works to-date.

While many people fell in love with Brad’s whimsical country style because of his humor, I’m afraid to say that I think the days of “Online” and “Celebrity” might be long gone. We still saw glimmers of this frivolous songwriting in the last album with “Camouflage” and maybe even “Working on a Tan”, but these songs (featured on “This Is Country Music”) are still more complex than the goofy tracks that he released early in his career. While I am certain that there will still be a detectable tone of humor in the new album, it is more likely to be balanced with a serious message, or at least more sophisticated musical arrangements. Regardless, Brad knows that his sense of humor is what makes him so endearing to his fans, so I think that it will be a long time before he hangs up his “Ticks” Tony Lama cowboy boots and gets too serious for his fans.

True Paisley fans will welcome the new album with open ears and an open mind, and I think that careful listening is what will make “Wheelhouse” a special record for fans. We can already see hints of the new style in the first two singles, so a dozen tracks will be more than enough room for Brad to explore this new musical approach to the fullest. It should also be exciting to hear tracks like “I Can’t Change The World”, “The Mona Lisa” and even the seventh track, which appears to be Chinese characters for what Google believes means “Quiet female” (?). Nonetheless, these songs reveal a more culturally aware brand of country music that we honestly don’t hear too often. The album is officially released on April 9th and I for one can’t wait to hear how Brad decides to escape his “Southern Comfort Zone”.

Jennifer

Gary Allan, Set You Free

March 18th, 2013 by Jennifer

Gary Allan, Set You Free

By Leslie Johnson

 

Break-ups are bad, but they’re a little easier with Gary Allan. His tenth album, Set You Free, is full of love lost with plenty of chances to relate to the songs. The album is cheaper than therapy, and just as effective.

Here’s a prescription for a break-up: ‘Tough Goodbye,’ ‘You Without Me,’ ‘Hungover Heart’ and ‘Good As New’ on repeat. Take daily with a shot of whiskey.

The first single, ‘Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain),’ has achieved thousands of plays on the radio. Any of the other stellar tracks could be his next single.  What’s even more accrediting is that Allan co-produced seven of the album’s twelve songs and co-wrote five.

This time around, four of his five collaborators were women. This bad-boy Highwayman has a way with words, no doubt, but the songs definitely have a woman’s touch. One co-writer, Hillary Lindsey, even sings back-up vocals on ‘Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain).’ It’s such a great contrast to hear his recognizable voice with her softness behind it.

From the gritty ‘Bones’ to the honest ‘It Ain’t The Whiskey’ to the playful ‘No Worries,’ every lyric takes you through this artist’s journey as a man. The calypso beat in ‘No Worries’ is reminiscent of a Jimmy Buffet song and attitude, which is refreshing to hear from Allan’s lips. In November 2010 he had a polyp removed on his vocal chords, changing him as an artist.

“Every time I would go out before the surgery, I would only last full force for about three songs,” Allan says. “I could feel the fatigue, and I could feel my cords swell up, and I had other people hitting notes for me. They removed the polyp, and it was like I was 18 again. It was amazing how well it worked.”

Set You Free is the first album Allan has recorded since the surgery. On behalf of broken hearts everywhere, it’s good to have you back, Gary.

Jennifer

Dierks Bentley, Pat Green, Kip Moore

September 20th, 2012 by Jennifer

Dierks Bentley, Pat Green, and Kip Moore played in front of a sold out crowd at Colorado’s famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre to a total of 9,450 fans that came to see one of the most awaited shows of the summer.

There is definitely somethin’ ‘bout newcomer, Kip Moore who is making a fast name for himself on country radio. Moore made his way to the stage first and rocked his set list from start to finish. It was only a few short months ago that “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” reached number one, which was the first song off his debut album, ‘Up All Night’ and fans seemed to be more than familiar with the other songs he performed that evening.

Pat Green showed up just as the sun was setting over a picture perfect Denver skyline. Green continues to be my favorite performer from the Lone Star state. He has a passion for life and his music is contagious to all who listen. He played most of his hits and favorites from older records including “Wave On Wave”,  “Southbound 35”, “Three Days”, and “Carry On” but left out all but one or two songs from the new album, ‘Songs We Wish We’d Written II’. Not to worry because this fan who loves him as much as Texas is big is not complaining.  Green is an amazing performer and Red Rocks Amphitheatre in my back yard is my favorite place to see him perform,.  Well…unless he actually wanted to perform in my backyard!  And in that case, Pat Green, you have a permanent invite to play in my backyard!

-Jennifer

Dierks Bentley headlined the sold out show. He has been no stranger to Colorado as this was his third appearance in the Mile High City in the past year.  Bentley concluded the Country & Cold Cans tour in Broomfield last November and just this past February, KYGO hosted a listener appreciation acoustic event to honor the release of his newest album, ‘Home’.

Bentley performed all ten of his singles including “What Was I Thinkin’,” “Come a Little Closer,” “Settle for a Slowdown,” “Every Mile a Memory,” “Free and Easy (Down the Road I Go),” “Feel That Fire,” “Sideways,” “Am I the Only One,” “Home,” and his newest hit, “5-1-5-0.”

In the middle of the performance, the band left the stage and Bentley sat on a stool with his acoustic guitar in hand to share an intimate story with his nine thousand closest friends of the evening. He went into detail about how he and the band ran the steps of Red Rocks before the gates opened. To those of you who have climbed those steps, you know what a challenge it can be.  They made it all the way to row 63 (3/4 of the way to the top) where they stopped to work on the evening’s set list and take in the amazing view. In that moment, he decided to do something special, something he has only done at one other performance.

Dierks explained that spending a lot of time living on the road can take its toll on a guy but there is always a buzz in the back of his head that keeps him going. He mentioned that this song won’t ever be a radio hit, but it is his personal favorite and very dear to him because it is about that buzz that continues to keep him going. He sang one verse before his little daughter Evie joined him on stage and sang along with her dad. It was a very tender performance and made it an extremely memorable night for both Bentley and the audience.

Jennifer

Chris Knight, Little Victories

September 19th, 2012 by Jennifer

Chris Knight, Little Victories

Chris Knight’s first album in four years, Little Victories is a record that stands out as one of the best Chris Knight albums ever recorded. With a musical career 15 years in the making and 7 acclaimed albums; Knight has really grown into his own unique style. His music speaks for itself and his songs sure do have a lot to say. The new album takes everything he has built on over the previous albums and displays growth in his vocals and artistry.
Many of the songs on Little Victories are direct reflections about his life experiences in Slaughters, Kentucky, a backcountry coal town (population 200) where he was raised and continues to live.

“About two years ago, we had a big ice storm here in Slaughters that just devastated the whole area,” Knight said. “We were out of power for close to a month, cooking in the fireplace and living by candlelight to survive. Things slowed down to nothing. When we were finally able to head into town, we saw lines of cars for miles outside the gas station. There were hundreds of people outside the hardware store who had nothing even before the storm hit. I watched their behavior and reactions, and that’s when I started writing a bunch of songs I knew would be a part of this record.”

Knight’s extraordinary storytelling about blue-collar hardships in small town America seems to sum up this remarkable album. Little Victories displays honest truths and showcases Knight’s dusty rural poetry which has never sounded better.

-Jennifer

Jennifer

Dierks Bently, Jerrod Niemann, Eli Young Band

September 17th, 2012 by Jennifer

Dierks Bentley, Jerrod Niemann, Eli Young Band

The Country & Cold Cans Tour hit 22 cities in 6 weeks concluding in Denver at the First Bank Center on November 19th. Here is our take on the show:

I have to admit, I am pretty disappointed Eli Young Band (EYB) was the opening band and not Jerrod Niemann. I will be the first to admit my opinion might be a little biased because EYB has always been one of my favorite bands. Their most recent single, ‘Crazy Girl’ not only hit #1 on the Country Music Chart, but earned a Platinum certification by the RIAA for download sales exceeding 1 million. That is a huge success! But after talking to several fans between sets, it seems others were a little confused on the band’s ranking on this tour. Mike Eli who always stands out with an A+ performance struggled with his vocals on ‘Guinevere’ but shined on the other songs on their super short set list.

As far as song writing, Niemann has the upper hand. Leading up to his radio career, he co-wrote three singles for Garth Brooks: the Chris LeDoux tribute “Good Ride Cowboy“, [5] as well as “Midnight Sun” and “That Girl Is a Cowboy”. Despite his songwriting success, I think Niemann was the wrong act for this tour. It was nice to see Dierks Bentley teaming up with EYB, both having strong roots in the Texas/Red Dirt music scene. Pat Green or Miranda Lambert might have been a more appropriate fit. I will give Niemann props for his yodeling skills!

Dierks Bentley, who just happened to be celebrating his birthday that night, put on a stellar performance. The most memorable part of the evening was Dierks telling the audience that he met a military man backstage before the show named Jordan Cable, who gave him his Dog Tag. Dierks went on to share with us that George Jones and George Strait had both signed his guitar.

EYB came back for one last appearance but this time dressed in beer and bologny costumes (cold cans and cold cuts). I guess this was their attempt to be funny but I was actually embarrassed for them.  Is this what a national tour can do to a band that up until recently, seemed to have it all together?

-Jennifer

Jennifer