Friday, July 31, 2015

New Music Video From JT Hodges- "Ray Bans"

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Mac McAnally Readies New Album For September Release

Nashville Songwriters Hall Of Fame member Mac McAnally will release his self-produced, performed and sung A.K.A. Nobody album on September 18 on Mailboat Records.

A.K.A Nobody is McAnally's latest solo album, sung, performed and produced by the much beloved session ace. All but one of its songs were written by McAnally, either on his own or with co-writers including Jimmy Buffett, Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown, Sonny Landreth, Chris Stapleton, Al Anderson, and others. His expressive range is on full display -- swampy blues on "Place Where You Belong," some exotic Parisian-style swing on "Zanzibar," a saucy Cajun swagger on "Loser Gumbo" with McAnally rocking the piano as Sonny Landreth wails on slide guitar, complex but catchy pop reminiscent of Steely Dan's best on "Someday," straight-ahead, steel-sweetened country with Southern rock seasoning on "Coast of Carolina."

Perhaps the album's biggest surprise, "With a Straight Face," a sensitive portrayal of two gay children raised by parents who can't understand their kids are "something God made." "I have a heart for the underdog and for the oppressed and persecuted," McAnally says, addressing "With a Straight Face." "And I have close friends who have suffered for no good reason I can see. This song is for all the above."

With a track record that includes writing No. 1 hits on his own for Kenny Chesney ("Down the Road") and Alabama ("Old Flame") as well as penning chart-toppers for Sawyer Brown ("All These Years") and Shenandoah ("Two Dozen Roses"), it's no wonder that he has been voted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

"This selection of music made me stay up late and get up early, filled up my fairly big heart and historically large head for the last several years in between also working on musical projects with other artists, which I also love to do," Mac says. "Because of the long process in recording this album I had the chance to give some long attention to the songs that demanded it, and the ones I thought would benefit from a spontaneous joyfest in the studio with a great band were saved for last. I'm very proud of both the work and that my fans continue to follow my little career. Small though it may be it's one of the biggest blessings ever. I'm grateful... and to borrow one of the song titles 'Proud To Be Alive.'"

A.K.A. Nobody track listing:

 1. A Little Bit Better (Chris Stapleton/Mac McAnally)
 2. Last But Not Least (Zac Brown/Wyatt Durrette/Jimmy De Martini/Coy Bowles/McAnally)
 3. Mississippi, You’re On My Mind (Jesse Winchester)
 4. With A Straight Face (McAnally)
 5. Don’t Remember Leaving (McAnally)
 6. Zanzibar (McAnally)
 7. Place Where You Belong (Al Anderson/McAnally)
 8. Proud To Be Alive (McAnally)
 9. Better Get Your Story Straight (McAnally)
 10. Everything (Ain’t Too High a Price) (McAnally)
 11. Loser Gumbo (Sonny Landreth/McAnally)
 12. Coast of Carolina (Jimmy Buffett/McAnally)
 13. Someday (McAnally)
 14. Island Rain (Kenny Chesney/McAnally)
 15. Working Prayer (McAnally)

New Live Performance Music Video From Ashley Monroe- "I'm Good at Leavin'"

New Music Video From Emily Hearn- "Thank God You're Holding Me"

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Alabama To Release Southern Drawl On 9/18

Artist: Alabama
Album: Southern Drawl
Label: BMG Chrysalis
Release date: 9/18/15

Country Music Hall of Famers Alabama return with their first country album Southern Drawl on Sptember 18.  Though they have had released three Gospel albums, a live album and a few compilation albums, "Southern Drawl" will be their first completely new project since 2001′s "When It All Goes South."

"Country music when we took our vacation is not the same country it is today," Cook tells USA Today. "For people who knew the original Alabama, it's going to be a little different to their ears."
A few lucky fans have been able to hear a few of the songs on Southern Drawl. In June, Gentry showed up at the group's fan appreciation concert in Fort Payne, Ala., invited a handful of fans into his car and played them some the new music.

"Some of them would get out with tears running down their faces. Then I'd get three or four more," he recalls. "I did that for two hours."

"They'll play to a new generation that didn't know them back in the '80s. I think that's exciting," Bob Romeo, CEO of the Academy of Country Music, says. "When they came on the scene, that was the introduction of the country-rock sound. It changed the shape of country music. It opened the doors for some of the stars of today."

One of Southern Drawl's tracks, "Come Find Me," even features the gorgeous vocals of Alison Krauss. "She sang some harmony on the bridge with Randy and me and played fiddle, too," Gentry says. "I thought of her and thought it'd be neat to have her voice on there."

Although Alabama have taken a significant break from recording new music, fans still very much care about the band - and no one is more grateful than Owen, Gentry and Cook.

"I'm so thankful people care about the music we made," Owen says. "They still come to the concerts, and they're very enthusiastic. Hopefully, this new music will be something they'll enjoy. I put everything I had in it. It's amazing that three people who see the world through very different eyes could come to the decision to put together and get it done and do a new CD," he adds.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Levon Helm's Daughter Amy Helm Releases New Album, Didn't It Rain

Artist: Amy Helm
Album: Didn't It Rain
Label: eOne Music
Release date: 7/24/15

"I'm just trying to tell some stories as honestly as I can," Amy Helm says of Didn't It Rain, her first solo album and her eOne Music debut.

Although the rootsy Didn't It Rain is her first release under her own name, Amy Helm has been making music for most of her life.  She's already won widespread praise as a singer, songwriter and live performer, first as a member of the celebrated alt-country collective Ollabelle and subsequently for her extensive work with her father, musical icon Levon Helm, who passed away in 2012.  

Didn't It Rain marks the final recording sessions of Levon Helm, who acted as the project's executive producer as well as adding his unmistakable drumming on three tracks; Levon's distinctive count-off can be heard kicking off Amy's rousing take on Martha Scanlan's "Spend Our Last Dime."
Helm had originally planned to release her solo debut a bit sooner, but chose to substantially rework the album that she initially recorded, recutting more than half of the songs with the road-tested Handsome Strangers. Amy's album also features her touring band, The Handsome Strangers, along with special appearances by Allison Moorer, John Medeski, Bill Payne (Little Feat), Catherine Russell, Marco Benevento and more.

Many of Didn't It Rain's songs are the product of an extended period during which the artist endured a series of personal trials and life changes, including the April 2012 passing of her father and chief musical mentor.  

"The past few years have been profoundly transformative for me, so I wanted to tell some of those stories as honestly as I could," she asserts. "I thought about the people I had lost, and things that had fallen apart and things that were coming together, and that influenced the way I sang these songs."
"I always did gigs through high school and college," she explains, "but my fears and insecurities kept me from committing to it.  That's when my dad became a huge influence; he scooped me up when I was in my mid-20s and put me in this blues band.  I was very, very green, but I got my road-dog status with him.  It was like walking through fire every time I got on stage, but it forced me to decide if I wanted to do this.  And I decided that I absolutely wanted to do it."

"He was the best teacher, in so many ways," Amy says of her father.  "He wasn't interested in overthinking anything; all he cared about was playing music.  He saw himself as a working musician, and it was serious business and it had to be right.  Playing side by side with him in the Ramble band for ten years, and building those shows with him, really changed the way I approached things, and his humility influenced and shaped me as a musician, as it did everyone who played with him."

Saturday, July 25, 2015

New Live Opry Performance Music Video From Ashley Monroe- "The Blade"

New Music Video From Brett Eldredge- "Just a Taste"

That Nashville Sound's Best Albums From The First Half of 2015

For those that follow this site on a semi-regular basis, you recognize that we cast a very wide net with our definition of country music. The genres of traditional classic, bluegrass, Americana, red-dirt, pop-country and even a little Delta blues make it across these pages. Hell, we even give some print to the bro-country movement sweeping the FM dial. But for the most part, it isn’t that proverbial radio dial that is producing what That Nashville Sound considers to be the finest music released thus far this year.

Before I get commentary about how we consciously exclude any modern trends or mainstream artists, let it be known that they represent on the list as well. But clearly the finest music being released thus far is far from the party-first summer dirt road anthems that are claiming to be more country than you. No, these artists are releasing deep lyric-first songs with drama. They make you feel. Pleasure. Pain. Happy. Sad. They tell stories that, like a great movie, run the gamut of emotions and make you stop and take notice. And there have been some fantastic releases so far.

Rather than count them down numerically (which we’ll do plenty of at the end of this year), we’ve broken down our favorites into two different categories: Best of the Best and Best of the Rest.  There will certainly be some names on here that you don’t immediately recognize. I encourage you to track them down and sample some of their music. I promise you will not be disappointed in the least. Without further ado…

Best of the Best:

Chris Stapleton - Traveller

As I had written in an interview with Stapleton at Saving Country Music: It isn’t often that a musician achieves an illustrious 15-year career that includes five number one hits, Grammy Award nominations, feature film contributions, producer credits and the respect of his peers before he ever releases his first solo album. But Chris Stapleton isn’t your average musician. The near-universal critical acclaim that has been heaped upon his debut album Traveller has been nothing short of amazing.

With a ZZ Top look-alike beard, Stapleton doesn’t look like your average country artist. With a booming voice that Rolling Stone’s Jon Caramanica called “liquor-thick and three-drinks limber,” he doesn’t sound like your average country artist. And with an incredible songwriting sensibility that draws as much inspiration from blues and soul as it does from country in his birthplace of Kentucky, his music doesn’t even sound like the average country artist—which is one of the reasons, for nearly everyone who listens, it stands out as a superior piece of art.

His songwriting credits span all genres and include artists like Adele, George Strait, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Darius Rucker, Josh Turner, and Jason Aldean. His work with the The SteelDrivers gave the band nearly unprecedented success in bluegrass circles. He even dabbled with some southern rock with a project under The Jompson Brothers. But it is Traveller that has brought the proper spotlight on Chris Stapleton as a solo artist.

Courtney Patton - So This Is Life

As I had written in an interview with Patton for Saving Country Music: Come hell or high water, Courtney Patton was determined to make a true country record. Her Kickstarter headline read, “A Traditional Country Record.” Her notes on that same crowdsourcing campaign describe the end-product perfectly: “It’s country. And it’s full of waltzes. And I’m not apologizing for either of those things.”

The hell might be the life material that she’s been handed to draw upon for autobiographical lyrical fodder. It includes a divorce of her parents after 30+ years of marriage, a death of a college-aged sibling, a divorce of her own and the trials and tribulations of being a female singer-songwriter in the hugely male-dominated radio airspace that’s called Texas. (A location that just might be even more difficult to cut through the glass ceiling than even Nashville.)

The high water? It could be the title from her 2013 critically-acclaimed second album, Triggering a Flood. It could also be the devastating Texas floods that impacted Patton’s friends and family within the last month.

But like a diamond, true talent has a tendency to shine through the darkness and Patton’s skill as a singer-songwriter has done just that. She is quickly becoming a driving force within the Red Dirt and Texas music scenes. Patton married fellow musician Jason Eady in March of last year and released So This Is Life.

The album is phenomenal. In an era in which clich├ęs and bravado is mistaken for bold noteworthiness, there’s something far more brave in peeling back highly personal and emotional open-book songs and delivering them with sensitivity and sentiment. Patton has done just that. She is the consummate storyteller on this project and her producer Drew Kennedy lets the soft arrangements breathe and let the truly intelligent lyrics be the focal point. Heartache isn’t just described, it’s tangibly felt. Nowhere is this more evident than on the title track. She channels the heartbreaking story of a stay-at-home mom whose supposed fairytale life crashes around her with such realistic honesty, it can only mirror life experience. It’s clearly one of the best songs of 2015.

Randy Rogers and Wade Bowen - Hold My Beer Vol. 1

The album, produced by Lloyd Maines (Dixie Chicks, Robert Earl Keen), is a studio extension of their Hold My Beer and Watch This Tour, a fun-loving, friends-first trek across Texas and nearby states off-and-on tour that the two have been on for the better part of the past decade.

The album is representative of everything that’s good about friends collaborating. They cover their personal favorites, including a cover of Willie and Merle’s “Reasons to Quit." But it's the originals that stand out on the album including the phenomenal story-song of "El Dorado" and the introspective "In The Next Life." As you would expect, it's full of the Texas-standards of fiddle and steel and is equal parts smiles and deep-thinking. It's terrific enough for us to hope for Volume 2 and beyond.

Whitey Morgan and the 78's - Sonic Ranch

The history of country music has no shortage of characters hit by hard luck: the hard-working man who can't seem to make ends meet, the heart-of-gold drunk who just can't seem to put down the bottle, the woman who wants to do right but ends up, time and again, doing wrong. No matter the tragedies at the center of the songs, in most cases those characters come off like just that – characters; inventions of either a particularly gifted songwriter looking to spin a tall tale or a lazy one looking to pad out an album. But in the case of Whitey Morgan, those characters – the drinker, the troublemaker, the struggling, hard-working man – all seem arrestingly real.

That's largely because the stories on Sonic Ranch -- a big, nasty, whiskey-slugging, bare-knuckle bruiser of a country record – are pulled from Morgan's own back pages.

Credit most of the album's fighting spirit to Morgan's childhood in the economically challenged town of Flint, Michigan. A teenager who, in his own words, "got my ass kicked on a daily basis," Morgan witnessed the toll the city's troubled economy took on the people closest to him. "I experienced Flint through my parents and relatives," he explains. "A lot of them lost jobs at General Motors, and I saw a lot of factories close and get torn down." Despite the turmoil, Morgan's family was close. "We never dwelled on the negative. My mom always had dinner on the table and my dad worked everyday for GM to make sure there was always food. They never let on that things were getting bad, ever. Growing up in Flint ignited the 'never give up' attitude I apply to every part of my life. That's what you learn when you grow up in that town. You also learn that you don't take shit from anyone, ever."

Morgan dishes it back out on 'Sonic Ranch.' On the grizzled, smoky cover of Waylon Jennings’ "Goin' Down Rocking," he digs his heels in against anyone who would dare try to steamroll him. On "Low Down on the Backstreets," over staggering piano and glistening apostrophes of pedal steel, he's pushing back against a broken heart with country songs and dancing girls. And on the harrowing cover of Townes Van Zandt's "Waitin' ‘Round to Die," he's staring down mortality with his jaw set and his eyes narrowed. "I have loved that song since the first time I heard it," Morgan says. "It's a dark masterpiece that looks in on a not-so-perfect, but not uncommon, life story. I did my best to put my own heart, soul and experiences into my version. I had a vision of making it sound as if it could be the score for the next Sergio Leone classic." Morgan achieved his vision; with its ominous, shadowy guitars and spectral lap steel, the song serves as the album's grim, potent centerpiece.

Even in its lighter moments – the holler-along revelry of "Ain't Gonna Take It Anymore"; the tender ‘Good Timin’ Man,” which tackles the pressures of love and persona – Sonic Ranch embraces the grit while maintaining a determinedly unvarnished sound. Much of that has to do with the relaxed atmosphere in the studio that gives the record its name. "My manager told me about this place he had been to outside of El Paso called Sonic Ranch," Morgan says. "That was a real departure from the usual studio vibe. My manager knows how much I do not like the 'studio' thing -- I never feel comfortable. This was exactly what I needed: a laid-back place with great gear where we could make a great record."

"The goal for me on this album was to keep moving forward musically, and try to give the fans my best album yet," Morgan says. "I don't really look at the big picture, I just always try and outdo myself." On Sonic Ranch, he's done exactly that.

Will Hoge - Small Town Dreams

As I had written in an interview with Hoge for Saving Country Music: With all the hullabaloo surrounding recent radio executive comments about the importance of radio in validating a country artist’s career, Will Hoge stands as a shining star example about how you can carve out a career in music doing it independently. Despite a year-and-a-half stint with Atlantic Records, Hoge has developed a significant following of fans and produced ten albums over the course of the last two decades. An extremely prolific songwriter, Hoge has written a small catalog of songs for others and even received a Grammy nomination for Eli Young Band’s number one hit, “Even If It Breaks Your Heart.”

What comes next is (the) release of Small Town Dreams, a new album produced by Marshall Altman and assisted by the likes of Chris Stapleton, Gary Allan and Vince Gill. Now with two boys at home, Hoge seems to have entered a new phase in his songwriting with plenty of nostalgia. It’s pure Americana. It’s Americana in its sound at times, but much more so in its topic of storytelling. He’s telling the small town American story of growing up, moving away to chase dreams, looking back and making a new home.

The album also includes “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To,” which should be one of the early favorites for Song of the Year. A dedication to his father, the song has a level of intimate poignancy that rivals anything else released to the marketplace in recent memory.

Best of the Rest (in alphabetical order):

Aaron Watson - The Underdog
Cody Jinks - Adobe Sessions
Darrell Scott10 - Songs of Ben Bullington 
Elenowen - Pulling Back the Veil
Emily Hearn - Hourglass
Jamie Lin Wilson - Holidays & Wedding Rings
John Anderson - Gold Mine
Kacey Musgraves - Pagaent Material
Levi Lowrey - My Crazy Head
Logan Brill - Shuteye
Mavericks - Mono
Ray Wylie Hubbard - The Ruffians Misfortune
Reba McEntire - Love Somebody
Statesboro Revue - Jukehouse Revival
SteelDrivers - The Muscle Shoals Recordings
T. Graham Brown - Forever Changed
Wade Hayes - Go Live Your Life
Zac Brown Band - Jekyll and Hyde

Thursday, July 23, 2015

New Vintage Recording Live at the Bottom Line Being Released by Dolly Parton

Artist: Dolly Parton
Album: Live at the Bottom Line
Label: Hotspur
Release date: 7/24/15

In the late 1970s, Dolly Parton, having already established herself as a country superstar, was on the verge of crossing over to a bigger pop audience. This May 14, 1977, performance, broadcast as part of the Live at the Bottom Line radio series, was recorded on the final evening of a three-night engagement at New York's prestigious Bottom Line club that marked her first concerts in the Big Apple.

In addition to the big hits "Coat of Many Colors," "I Will Always Love You," "Jolene," All I Can Do," "The Seeker," and "Love Is Like a Butterfly," the set also features songs from her 1977 album New Harvest... First Gathering, as well as a Parton composition,"Do I Ever Cross Your Mind," she wouldn't release for another five years. The complete broadcast was recorded and now reproduced in digitally remastered sound with background liners.

Track listing:
01  (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher
02  All I Can Do 03  Jolene 04  There's No Place Like Home 05  My Tennessee Mountain Home 06  Do I Ever Cross Your Mind 07  Coat of Many Colors 08  Applejack 09  Light of a Clear Blue Morning 10  I Will Always Love You 11  Getting In My Way 
12  Me and Little Andy 13  How Does It Feel 14  Holdin' on to You 15  The Seeker 16  You Are/I Wish You Sweet Love 17  Love Is Like a Butterfly

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Meghan Linsey Unveils Upcoming Believer Album

Artist: Meghan Linsey
Album: Believer
Label: Bold Music Group
Release date: 7/27

The Voice finalist and former member of the duo Steel Magnolia, Meghan Linsey, has released the details on her newest project, a decidedly more pop/soulful album called Believer.

"Recording this time around was really just about finding me voice as a solo artist, and for me, that meant getting back to my roots," Linsey told ETonline. "I grew up in New Orleans and I've always had a soulful sound, I'm just now really able to showcase it."

"I wanted to write about what I know and what I've been through," Linsey says of the collection. "I haven't always been confident. I'm still not always confident. I struggle with feeling balanced and good enough, all the time. I've been through some hard stuff and I've come out on the other side and I'm ok. I'm stronger than ever. I think people can relate to that. I want to be an inspiration to others."

The six-track EP will be released on Garth Brooks' GhostTunes starting Monday, July 27, and will be available on iTunes and all other digital retails on Friday, July 31.

Believer Track List
 1. Counterfeit
 2. Believer
 3. Sunshine In My Soul
 4. This Side of Heaven
 5. Everything Is Happening
 6. Best of Me

Monday, July 20, 2015

New Projects From Don Henley, Bucky Covington & Toby Keith

Artist: Don Henley
Album: Cass County
Release Date: 9/25
Label: Capitol Records

"I'm associated with California a lot because of that other band that I play in, but I really and truly was born and raised in Cass County, Texas," Henley said last month during a private listening party in Nashville. "I'm a Southerner and a Texan. I have ancestors in Tennessee, Mississippi and Georgia. So this is a natural progression for me. It's not me trying to do the 'Don Henley country album.' It's who I am and where I come from." 
Track listing:
1. "Bramble Rose" (with Mick Jagger and Miranda Lambert)
2. "The Cost of Living" (with Merle Haggard)
3. "Take A Picture of This"
4. "Waiting Tables"
5. "No, Thank You"
6. "Praying for Rain"
7. "Words Can Break Your Heart"
8. "That Old Flame" (with Martina McBride)
9. "When I Stop Dreaming" (with Dolly Parton)
10. "A Younger Man"
11. "Train In The Distance"
12. "Where I Am Now"

Artist: Bucky Covington
Album: Happy Man
Release Date: 7/14
Label: Independent

“This project means a lot to me as an independent artist,” Bucky says. “The good part is that there’s no one telling me what songs to pick, and the bad part is no one is there to tell me what songs to pick or paying for making the music, so all the risk is on me. That said, I hope everyone loves it as much as I do!”

Track listing:
1. “I Feel Ya” (Eric Mallon, Ruben Estevez, Jason Afable)
2. “Girl You Get To Me” (Dale Oliver, Serg Salinas, Michael Harter)
3. “I’m Saying Something” (Matt Warren)
4. “Somewhere Looking Beautiful” (Bucky Covington, Dale Oliver, Dan Couch)
5. “Buzzin” (Brad Hull)
6. “Happy Man” (Shannon Lawson)

Artist: Toby Keith
Album: 35 MPH Town
Release Date: 10/9
Label: Show Dog Nashville

Brandy Clark, Bob DiPiero, and Shane McAnally penned the collection’s debut single, “Drunk Americans,” and songwriters Pinson, Scotty Emerick, and Rivers Rutherford also have cuts on the new project.

Track listing: TBD