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Chris Young
RCA Nashville
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Chris Young, ‘I Can Take It From There’ – Song Review

Chris Young darkens his stamp as country music's most reliable romancer with his new single 'I Can Take It From There.' The uptempo lover is reminiscent of 'Gettin' You Home,' but not quite that sexy.

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Jake Owen
Michael Loccisano, Getty Images
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Jake Owen, ‘Endless Summer’ – Album Review

The very nature of the EP lends itself more to an artist's most faithful supporters than middling fans looking for an entry point into a new style or sound. Jake Owen's 'Endless Summer' EP allows his warm weather party with Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw to last a little longer, but like summer love, the four songs will be little more than memories by the first yellow leaves of fall. 

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Clay Walker
Curb / Sidewalk Records
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Clay Walker, ‘Jesse James’ – Song Review

Fans of Clay Walker know him as a lot of great things, but 'outlaw' is not one of them. It's a fair question for people to ask if his new single, 'Jesse James,' is sung with tongue loosely planted in cheek. One leans towards yes after checking out the cover art. The hat is a little big, the pants a little too pressed. He's a cowboy if cowboys shopped at Banana Republic.

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Taylor Swift
Big Machine Records
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Taylor Swift, ‘Begin Again’ – Song Review

Taylor Swift has released 'Begin Again,' a new song from her upcoming 'Red' album. It's a huggable, inspiring, acoustic country ballad that is everything country fans wished her first single 'We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together' was when it was released in August.

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Brad Paisley
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Brad Paisley, ‘Southern Comfort Zone’ – Song Review

Brad Paisley's new single 'Southern Comfort Zone' is another socially important song, joining previous hits like 'Welcome to the Future' and 'This Is Country Music.' The singer's voice carries more weight in 2012 than it did in 2008 or 2004, and one senses that he's aware of his influence. This song recorded by someone like Hank Williams Jr. or Toby Keith would be labeled as pretentious or preachy, but Paisley's understated delivery (combined with a lovable personality) allows him to pack the punch he's been working toward.

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Little Big Town
Tornado
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Little Big Town, ‘Tornado’ – Song Review

'Tornado' is a bold choice for Little Big Town's next single, as it takes on another storm song from a country music superstar with more clout -- Carrie Underwood. As an album, 'Tornado' is sharp and uncompromising, so this brashness should come as no surprise. Few will argue that there isn't room for both of these heavyweights on iPods and country radio.

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Easton Corbin
Mercury Nashville
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Easton Corbin, ‘All Over the Road’ – Album Review

It's easy to heap praise on Easton Corbin's sophomore album for the same reasons fans and critics enjoyed his self-titled debut. 'All Over the Road' -- available in stores and at digital retailers now --is full of traditional country music that goes down like a spoonful of George Strait's sugar. However, Corbin misses an opportunity to identify himself with this 11-song project. 

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Faith Hill
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Faith Hill, ‘American Heart’ – Song Review

Faith Hill has a new album finished, but it seems fans won't get to hear it until a single sticks. 'American Heart' is at least the third new song fans nationwide have heard -- including 'Come Home' and the title track, 'Illusion,' played during the 'CMA Music Festival' special on ABC. Like the others, it's a thick production made accessible by the wonder of Hill's voice. 

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Kacey Musgraves
Facebook
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Kacey Musgraves, ‘Merry Go Round’ – Song Review

The story goes like this: Texas teen auditions for 'Nashville Star,' doesn't win but uses the experience as motivation to sharpen her pen so that she can release her own melodic country music years later. The result strikes deep; right to the bone. It's uncomfortably close to reality for millions of Americans without offering much hope. Sound familiar? 

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Little Big Town
Capitol Nashville
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Little Big Town, ‘Tornado’ – Album Review

Little Big Town assert themselves as a vocal quartet with real power and attitude on their new album 'Tornado.' The project -- their most consistent and satisfying yet -- sheds the milquetoast midtempo exercises that bogged down previous albums in favor of ones with true grit. 

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Kix Brooks
Arista Records
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Kix Brooks, ‘New to This Town’ – Album Review

If nothing else, the 12 songs on 'New to This Town' -- the first solo album from Kix Brooks in 23 years -- serve as reminder that we really don't know the mustachioed half of Brooks and Dunn very well. The project is is downright rowdy, and Brooks is a more colorful singer than he showed on songs like 'Lost and Found.' 

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Kenny Chesney
Donald Bowers, Getty Images
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Kenny Chesney, ‘El Cerrito Place’ – Song Review

'El Cerrito Place' is the signature song on Kenny Chesney's new 'Welcome to the Fishbowl' album. Its release as a single makes certain the direction the singer has chosen for his future. Stadium anthems may be yesterday's news, replaced by revealing ballads that can be uncomfortable to listen to for the very first time.

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