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Kacey Musgraves
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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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Kris Connor, Getty Images
Kris Connor, Getty Images
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Glen Campbell Returns Home to Arkansas on Final Goodbye Tour

During last night's (September 6) near-capacity concert in Little Rock, Ark., the Robinson Center Music Hall audience was on their feet before the band ever played a note of music, the packed room delivering a heartfelt, standing ovation for Glen Campbell, Arkansas's native son and the country music icon on the final stops of his unprecedented Goodbye Tour.

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Gary Allan
Jason Smith, Getty Images
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Gary Allan, ‘Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)’ – Song Review

Gary Allan tries on optimism with his new single 'Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain),' and surprisingly, it fits. The master of melancholy may be turning over a new leaf with his upcoming album. This song is borderline inspirational. 

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Dimitrios Kambouris, Getty Images
Dimitrios Kambouris, Getty Images
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Gloriana, ‘Can’t Shake You’ – Song Review

Gloriana’s new single ‘Can’t Shake You’ takes time to build, but by the second verse, the trio is able to put real hurt into a mid-tempo song about failed love and regret. The second-to-last chorus finds a Gossin brother (Tom, Mike… who can tell them apart without looking at them?) digging deep for what may be the most vulnerable moment on their new ‘A Thousand Miles Left Behind’ album. 

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Capitol Nashville
Capitol Nashville
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Darius Rucker, ‘True Believers’ – Song Review

Darius Rucker takes a simple story of two lovers who defy odds and skeptics and places it gently on a cloud in the stratosphere — a place few others can reach. ‘True Believers’ begins as a mild and unremarkable pop-country song before clever production and Rucker’s unforgettable voice find one soaring in the euphoria. 

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RCA Nashville
RCA Nashville
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Joanna Smith, ‘We Can’t Be Friends’ – Song Review

If Joanna Smith‘s new single ‘We Can’t Be Friends’ was released 30 years ago, we might call it a classic in 2012. Since the singer is relatively new, however (the sexy single ‘Georgia Mud’ barely cracked the chart in 2011 ), we’ll restrain ourselves from over-selling this portrait of caged yearning. Smith is the perfect voice to tell the story.

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Valory Music Co.
Valory Music Co.
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Thomas Rhett, ‘Beer With Jesus’ – Song Review

No one is going to pull out the calendar, but if Thomas Rhett was legally old enough to enjoy a ‘Beer With Jesus’ when he recorded the song, it wasn’t by much. What matters is whether or not the Georgia born singer is polished enough to carry the poignant lyric. 

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EMI Nashville
EMI Nashville
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Dierks Bentley, ‘Country and Cold Cans’ – Album Review

EPs are often like movie sequels in that they often feel like a ploy to make a few dollars instead of a chance for an artist to expand upon a theme. Much like ‘Empire Strikes Back,’ and more recently, ‘Toy Story 2′, Dierks Bentley‘s ‘Country and Cold Cans’ proves to be an exception. 

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Republic Nashville
Republic Nashville
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Florida Georgia Line, ‘Cruise’ – Song Review

In just a few short seconds, Florida Georgia Line make a memorable impression on ‘Cruise,’ their debut single with Republic Nashville. The duo have been performing together since graduating from Belmont University, and their formal training shows in the tight execution of this lyric-heavy summer song. It’s Tyler Hubbard’s unique voice that stands out immediately. 

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