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Reviews

James Wesley
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James Wesley, ‘Thank a Farmer’ – Song Review

James Wesley has a real feel for the life and struggles of the blue-collar American. His new song 'Thank a Farmer' is similar to his previous Top 30 hit 'Real' in its honest, no-nonsense approach. The worst thing a singer can do with a song like either of these is come off as contrived. Wesley is a long way away from being accused of that. 

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Kacey Musgraves
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Kacey Musgraves, ‘Blowin’ Smoke’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

The magic of many of the songs on Kacey Musgraves' debut album -- including her new single 'Blowin' Smoke' -- is in the little details. 'Merry Go 'Round' thrived in efficient specificity. The follow-up is equally effective in its portrayal of a life waiting tables.

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Kacey Musgraves
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Album Spotlight: Kacey Musgraves, ‘Same Trailer Different Park’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

Kacey Musgraves' Mercury Records debut album is everything a new artist dreams her first record will be. 'Same Trailer Different Park' is well-written, edgy (yet familiar) and coated in "cool." Musgraves is an original who at age 24 is surprisingly wise and adept at using her voice to share her experiences. 

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Wynonna
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Wynonna, ‘Something You Can’t Live Without’ – Song Review

It takes a few listens to absorb the new sound Wynonna reveals on her new single 'Something You Can't Live Without.' The singer and 'Dancing With the Stars' competitor hasn't had a hit song in a decade, but comparing this to music from the 'What the World Needs Now Is Love' album would be like comparing Kelly Clarkson now to her 2003 self, but flip-flopped.

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Casey James
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Casey James, ‘The Good Life’ – Song Review

Casey James' third single from his self-titled debut album is a pleasing three minutes and five seconds, but the toe-tapper is easy to forget. 'The Good Life' lacks the emotional hook that the best carefree country expressions posses.

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Shooter Jennings
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Shooter Jennings, ‘The Other Life’ – Album Review

Fans of early albums from Shooter Jennings will appreciate the singer's return to center on 'The Other Life,' his sixth studio album, available for purchase as of March 12. Still far from mainstream, the collection of songs isn't quite as experimental as projects that followed 'Put the "O" Back in Country.'

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Pistol Annies
RCA Nashville
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Pistol Annies, ‘Hush Hush’ – Song Review

The themes found on 'Hush Hush' -- the new single from the Pistol Annies' anticipated sophomore album 'Annie Up' -- work within the portrait of the hard luck, rural America that the trio of women painted on 'Hell on Heels.' One recognizes a few characters, but one element is missing:

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Billy Currington
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Billy Currington, ‘Hey Girl’ – Song Review

Billy Currington is a master of melody, always finding songs you can't get out of your head (and usually don't want to). 'Hey Girl,' the lead single from an upcoming album deviates little from his brand of country meets R&B. 

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Justin Moore
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Justin Moore, ‘Point at You’ – Song Review

Justin Moore's lead single from his third studio album is a familiar combination of all of his best songs. It's the well-meaning bad boy in 'How I Got to Be This Way' meeting the soft and sensitive lover in ''Til My Last Day.' Fans familiar with Moore's previous two studio albums can find a few more tracks 'Point at You' resembles.

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Sheryl Crow
Warner Music Nashville
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Sheryl Crow, ‘Easy’ – Song Review

Sheryl Crow's new country single 'Easy' is as advertised. It's easy to be seduced by Crow's carefree warmth and laid-back style. It's easy to overlook the effective songwriting, and it's easy to fall into her story again and again.

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The Band Perry
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The Band Perry, ‘Done’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

Not since their debut effort has the Band Perry released a song as fun as 'Done,' the second single from the trio's upcoming sophomore album 'Pioneer.' It's a track that makes the hair on your arms stand straight up as you pound along to the beat.

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Tim McGraw
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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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