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Rick Diamond, Getty Images
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Gretchen Wilson, ‘One Good Friend’ – Song Review

Gretchen Wilson may not be one of country music’s top female vocalists any longer. No, she’s transcended the genre, in a way Alison Krauss did hers years ago. Except Wilson’s not getting any of the recognition, until maybe now. ‘One Good Friend’ is a brilliant ballad about the meaning of friendship. However, it’s perhaps too professional to fit between the stars on modern country radio — a problem Krauss, and more recently Vince Gill, know very well. 

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Category: Reviews
Jason Merritt, Getty Images
Jason Merritt, Getty Images
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Carrie Underwood, ‘Blown Away’ – Song Review

‘Blown Away’ is the signature song on Carrie Underwood‘s new album of the same name. It’s the dangerous storm cloud that looms over the other tracks on a surprisingly dark project. Is this really the same woman who cut ‘All-American Girl?’ This is what critics are talking about when they hammer the importance of subtly reinventing one’s self with each new album. The singer has built to this point over three previous albums.

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Jason Merritt, Getty Images
Jason Merritt, Getty Images
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Edens Edge, ‘Edens Edge’ – Album Review

There’s a thread of instability that weaves in and out of each song on ‘Edens Edge’ that makes it an album you look forward to finding in the morning. Lead vocalist Hannah Blaylock tells stories like a woman who’s lived through a few too many bad boyfriends, but still wants to show her friends she can smile about it. She’s all over the place — country’s equivalent of Jess from ‘New Girl’ on Fox.

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MCA Nashville
MCA Nashville
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Josh Turner, ‘Punching Bag’ – Album Review

Josh Turner‘s booming bass voice has never sounded better than on songs from his fifth studio album ‘Punching Bag,’ in stores June 12. However, it’s not enough to lift many of the tracks past mediocre.

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Category: Reviews
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.
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‘Shallow Grave,’ ‘Rock of Ages’, and ‘Superman’ — Check It or Chuck It

A list of five things to enjoy and five things to avoid for the week includes Danny Boyle’s ‘Shallow Grave’ on Blu-ray, ‘Rock of Ages,’ and ‘Abraham Lincoln Vs. Zombies’ Which should you check out and which should you chuck?

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Kris Connor, Getty Images
Kris Connor, Getty Images
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Trace Adkins, ‘Them Lips (On Mine)’ – Song Review

Perhaps this was the song Trace Adkins was recording naked? The big man has become quite a sex symbol for women over a certain age, and his new song ‘Them Lips (On Mine)’ is sure to stir their pots. Adkins avoids lyrical euphemisms, but underscores his steamy message with suggestive guitar licks and his trademark growl.

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Alan's Country Records / EMI
Alan's Country Records / EMI
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Alan Jackson, ‘Thirty Miles West’ – Album Review

There’s a song on Alan Jackson‘s ‘Thirty Miles West’ album that could be the title-track. Actually, ‘Nothin’ Fancy’ could be the title-track for his entire career. This isn’t the best song on the project — one gets lost in the long, sleepy melody — but it’s a message that speaks to why we love this country legend.

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Kevin Winter, Getty Images
Kevin Winter, Getty Images
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Miranda Lambert, ‘Fastest Girl in Town’ – Song Review

Every once in awhile, an artist like Miranda Lambert needs to remind the country music community what crazy looks like. All this talk of marriage, babies and puppy dogs could have left some (unwisely) wondering if Nashville’s most explosive firecracker had settled into life as a domestic diva. ‘Fastest Girl in Town’ is Lambert breathing fire again.

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Rick Diamond, Getty Images
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Craig Morgan, ‘Corn Star’ – Song Review

Craig Morgan is winning the battle to be country music’s most agriculturally minded singer, but his latest single may leave farmers hiding behind their tractors. The singer has pushed against the cheese boundary before, but with ‘Corn Star’ he joins Trace Adkins (‘Brown Chicken Brown Cow,’ anybody?) in embracing jokes that make eyes roll so hard that the price of Tylenol goes up.

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Rick Diamond, Getty Images
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Big and Rich, ‘That’s Why I Pray’ – Song Review

With the exception of their submission to the ‘Footloose’ soundtrack, Big and Rich have just released their first new single since 2007. Both members of the duo have found some success as solo artists, but ‘That’s Why I Pray’ serves as a reminder of how much Big Kenny Alphin and John Rich need each other.

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Big Machine Music Group
Big Machine Music Group
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Rascal Flatts ‘Come Wake Me Up’ – Song Review

When he’s on, few vocalists commit to an emotion quite like Rascal Flatts‘ Gary LeVox. The singer will recklessly throw himself into love, heartbreak or desperation. ‘Come Wake Me Up,’ the new single from ‘Changed,’ is another fine example of how this trio continues to work at a level few country artists are aware of.

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David McClister
David McClister
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Willie Nelson, ‘Heroes’ – Album Review

Willie Nelson‘s new album ‘Heroes’ is an eclectic collection of ambient emo-country, Texas swing and jazzy ballads. The singer isn’t confined by the country genre on any of the 14 songs. No one will ever doubt his credentials, so even songs like ‘The Scientist’ feel like one Hank Sr. may have chosen decades ago. OK, perhaps that’s an exaggeration, but few other singers could give the political lyric the proper twang.

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