Shoot Me Straight: Brothers Osborne Single Review

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“A fun lead single that could be 4 minutes shorter” 6/10

It’s hard not to root for the Brothers Osborne. For the last two years they have been duo of the year at the CMA’s and ACM’s, dethroning the insufferable Florida Georgia Line.

Although not particularly country, the duo represents quality and uniqueness in the mainstream and a great alternative to most of what is on country radio.

With their new lead single I am left questioning some choices that were made. The most obvious question is why the song needs to be nearly 7 minutes long.

The song essentially ends at the 2:30 mark before we get the over 4 minute long guitar solo. This would be fine for a non single album cut or during a live show but for a single it is ridiculous.

In fact, after hearing the song 5 times now I find myself skipping to the next song after the 2:30 mark because the guitar solo is not that interesting. I don’t believe it enhances the song whatsoever.

Lyrically the song is fine with the great line “Lay my 6 foot 4 inch ass out on the ground” but thematically it’s nothing groundbreaking.

Overall I like the song but there are some real problems that I have with it specifically the ridiculous guitar solo. It’s a fun lead single that could be 4 minutes shorter.

I have seen people say that this song can’t do well on radio which I don’t understand considering the radio edit should be under 3 minutes long, it’s uptempo and radio has been fairly receptive of the duo.

I look forward to hearing this song within the context of a full album.

Writers: John Osborne, TJ Osborne and Lee Thomas Miller


Ranking the Country Chart

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Welcome to the weekly ranking of the top 30 Mediabase Country Chart! For this exercise I rank each song in the top 30 based on grade and then give a grade for the top 30 as a whole.

  1. Tin Man: Miranda Lambert 9/10
  2. Broken Halos: Chris Stapleton 9/10
  3. The Long Way: Brett Eldredge 8/10
  4. Boy: Lee Brice 8/10
  5. Round Here Buzz: Eric Church 8/10
  6. Five More Minutes: Scotty Mccreery 8/10
  7. Make a Little: Midland 7/10
  8. I Could Use a Love Song: Maren Morris 7/10
  9. Ask Me How I Know: Garth Brooks 7/10
  10. Outta Style: Aaron Watson 5/10
  11. She’s With Me: High Valley 5/10
  12. I’ll Name the Dogs: Blake Shelton 5/10
  13. Girl Like You: Easton Corbin 5/10
  14. Yours: Russell Dickerson 5/10
  15. Like I Loved You: Brett Young 5/10
  16. For the First Time: Darius Rucker 5/10
  17. Light It Up: Luke Bryan 4/10
  18. Marry Me: Thomas Rhett 4/10
  19. Stay Downtown: Cole Swindell 4/10
  20. Female: Keith Urban 4/10
  21. The Rest of Our Lives: Tim Mcgraw/Faith Hill 3/10
  22. Legends: Kelsea Ballerini 3/10
  23. The One’s That Like Me: Brantley Gilbert 2/10
  24. Singles You Up: Jordan Davis 2/10
  25. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright: David Lee Murphy/Kenny Chesney 2/10
  26. Written in the Sand: Old Dominion 2/10
  27. All on Me: Devin Dawson 2/10
  28. Happens Like That: Granger Smith 1/10
  29. Losing Sleep: Chris Young 1/10
  30. You Broke Up With ME: 37 year old with 7 Kids 0/10

Grade: 47% F (140/300)

New to the Top 30: Stay Downtown: Cole Swindell

Left the Top 30: None


Critics Have a Genre Dilemma


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Imagine you are back in school. Your history teacher has given you an assignment to write an essay about Paul Revere’s role in the Revolutionary War. The assignment was due on a Friday and so that’s when you handed it in. You did an admirable job and it’s the best essay you have ever written. There’s only one problem, you wrote about the Irish Potato Famine.

Had the assignment been about the Irish Potato Famine you would have easily gotten an A. You were thorough and explained the causes and effects of the Famine in great detail but you still got a D. Despite your great work, you didn’t do the assignment that was given to you. The teacher was kind to give you higher than an F.

The point of this made up story has to do with the dilemma that we now face in mainstream country music. As critics and fans, we are judging music under the country label that has no resemblance to country music.

Even when the music is good (which it often isn’t) it is usually mislabeled. If you are releasing a song to country radio and selling it as a country song then shouldn’t we judge the work based on that?

Take “New Years Day” by Taylor Swift as an example. I actually find “New Years Day” to be a quality song that is better than a number of songs on country radio. The problem is that it is a pop song, from a pop album, from a pop artist that is being pushed as a “country” single. If it is labeled as a country song it is not deserving of the grade I would give it had it been properly labeled. Also, as someone that listens to very little pop music I find it difficult to review something from a genre I know little about in 2018.

I have seen some blogs go about this problem by simply giving the song a country grade and a pop grade which can be a tricky thing to do. If it’s not a country song and actually requires two separate grades then shouldn’t the country grade be a 0/10? I mean you are admitting that the song isn’t country which is the whole reason you needed the pop grade. Another option is to just review the song/album as a pop review but if it is being labeled a country song and played on country radio should you be doing that? And finally, I have seen blogs just give the song/album a lower grade because it is not truly a country song. But, as I said if it’s not a country song how do you give it any country grade besides a 0?

To be clear I am not saying there is one right or wrong way to go about doing this. I think it’s a very tricky and difficult decision that any reviewer has to figure out for themselves. I do think that the conversation needs to be had now more than ever as country radio drifts farther and farther away from the roots of the genre.

2018 Plans

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Hello everyone, hope you are having a good new year! I am getting back into the swing of things and wanted to share some of my plans for this blog in 2018. There were things that I liked from 2017 and things that I did not. It was my first year running a blog so, some experimentation was necessary.

Community Writing Piece

One of the things that I really enjoyed was the community writing piece. For those of you that are new to the blog, the community writing piece was an opportunity for you the readers to submit your own writing. Whether it was a song, poem or story, you could submit it in the comment section or via email and your writing will be shared in a collective piece. Other readers will get a chance to read your piece/s and comment on the work. I personally feel this was the coolest, most unique feature that this blog had from last year. We read so much about other peoples art over the course of the year and don’t get an opportunity to share our own work. I would like to do this at least once a month and this month I will set a deadline of Friday January 19th to be included in the January piece. Depending on how many submissions I get will determine how often I publish these. The email is

 Spotlighting Artists/Songs

This is a new idea that I had in which I will spotlight an artist or song that is not getting a lot of attention. It will be an opportunity to learn about music that isn’t getting the coverage it deserves. This will also include interviews and music shared to me through PR professionals that I feel is deserving.

Ranking the Top 30 Mediabase Songs

This is a continuation of Re-Charting The Chart. The name was clumsy but I like the idea which is ranking the top 30 songs on the Country Mediabase Chart in order of quality.


Finally, in general I would like to be more consistent with this blog in 2018. There were periods in 2017 where I was unable to really commit to this blog and I want that to change in the new year. I want to continue to have great conversations with all of you whether we agree or disagree. The community is why I enjoy doing this and I thank all of you that contribute to the conversation. If you have any suggestions or comments always feel free to share them.

Congress is Taking Action Against Walker Hayes

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The year is 2017. Congress can agree on nothing and even with a majority in all branches of government the Republican party has had a dickens of a time passing legislation.

The country has been looking for something, anything to bring congress together and end this partisan divide and that is where Walker Hayes comes in. Middle aged father of 7 Walker Hayes has released an album so outrageously dreadful that congress has literally stopped all other business in order to attend to this crisis.

Reports have been coming out of Washington that 11 senators had to be rushed to the hospital over the course of the weekend after being exposed to boom.

Mitch Mcconnell made an impassioned speech on the Senate floor Monday in which he said, “This is too much! Where do we draw the line? How many innocent Americans can we allow to be subjected to this sewage?”

Every senator from both parties stood up and applauded the majority leader’ words. So what is congress planning on doing to combat the filth that has permeated out of Nashville? They have agreed in a unanimous vote to pass the Middle Aged White Guy Talk Singing Act which will likely send shock waves throughout Nashville.

Sam Hunt and his team could not be reached for comment however, it is expected that his days making “music” are numbered. The only question that remains is whether or not President Trump will sign the bill into law. His Tweets about the album have been extremely unclear and troubling (see below).

Tweet 1. Walker Hayes’ new album is the greatest country album of all time. He has already sold more albums than fake country little Georgie Strait ever did #MCGA

Tweet 2. Why is Hillary trying to stop the public from hearing the GREAT Walker Hayes album? And WHY ISN’T THE FBI INVESTIGATING THAT?! #MCGA

Tweet 3. Fake blog sites with very low ratings Farce the Music, The Musical Divide and Country Exclusive are trying to hurt my good friend @WalkerHayes. I’ve heard many people, good people say that those blogs r crumbling. They hate REAL COUNTRY MUSIC! #MakeCountryGreatAgain #FakeBlogs

Whether or not the President signs the bill into law, both the house and the senate have veto proof majorities and will likely override him.

As citizens we can only pray that congress does the right thing and ends this madness.


Fake News

10 Favorite 2017 Albums

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Over the course of 2017 there were plenty of albums that I listened to (over 20,000 minutes of music) according to Spotify. However, there were plenty of great releases that slipped through the cracks during an extremely busy and complicated year for me. That’s why instead of doing a best of 2017 list I thought it would be more appropriate to list my favorite albums of 2017. Here are my favorite albums of this year, 1 year after I created Critically Country.

Very Honorable Mentions: Puxico (Natalie Hemby), At Home in the Big Lonesome (Drew Kennedy), Hell of a Highway Ep (Jake Worthington) and Canyons of my Mind (Andrew Combs

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10. The Nashville Sound (Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit) My favorite Jason Isbell project that tackles topics like politics, love and race. Sharp, honest songwriting and a lively sound.

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9. Purgatory (Tyler Childers) Many people’s pick for album of the year, this album has sharp songwriting and represents traditional/independent country well. I love the instrumentation on this album.

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8. Rule 62 (Whitney Rose) I have yet to hear a bad song from this Canadian born artist through 3 albums and an ep. A throwback sound with a modern spin.

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7. Chris Stapleton (From a Room Volumes 1 and 2): Chris Stapleton is one of the top vocalists and songwriters in all of music. My biggest criticism of these albums is that there aren’t enough new songs and it would have been better to just have one album with the best of Volumes 1 and 2.

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6. Vaquero (Aaron Watson) Pleasant is the best word that comes to mind when discussing Vaquero. The albums lead single “Outta Style” is also Watson’s first career top 10 song on the Media Base country chart.

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5. Trophy (Sunny Sweeney) My number 1 album for much of 2017 Sweeney delivers her best album making the album that she wanted to. Sweeney’s cover of “I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight” is one of the best songs of the year.

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4. On The Rocks (Midland) I couldn’t care less about any authenticity concerns. Midland’s music is the real deal traditional country sound that is completely missing from the airwaves in 2017.

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3. A Long Way From Your Heart (Turnpike Troubadours) Was there any doubt that this would be an absolute masterpiece? A Long Way From Your Heart further cements the Troubadours as country musics best and most consistently great band.

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2. Silence in These Walls (Flatt Lonesome) This Bluegrass group gets better with each album. This heartbreak album came out during a particularly difficult time of the year for me making this album so relatable.

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1. Tenderheart (Sam Outlaw) My favorite album of 2017 and without a doubt one of my all time favorite albums. This smooth California country album never gets old despite being released way back in April.


Sunday Morning Time Capsule

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Like so many in the country music community I was incredibly sad to hear of the passing of Troy Gentry who was one half of the duo Montgomery Gentry. Now this isn’t going to be an obituary or a sad post but I just wanted to share how Troy and Montgomery Gentry as a whole affected me. As a child growing up in New Jersey I wasn’t exposed very much to country music in fact there wasn’t a country radio station in our market (New York) until I was 17. I remember two songs in particular that I heard on a car ride with my father when I was 11 after visiting family that made me want to discover more music from the country genre. Those songs were “Cowgirls Don’t Cry” (Brooks and Dunn with Reba) and “My Town” by Montgomery Gentry. I remember telling my best friend at the time about the incredible song that I heard on the radio and how he should listen to it as well. This was my first real exposure to country music, a genre that I never had given a chance up until that point in my life. Discovering this song and country music in general has been to me at least one of the most important parts of my life and has lead to me discovering other genres I love including Bluegrass and Americana. Thank you Troy Gentry.