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



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.


Chris Stapleton From A Room Volume 1 Album Review

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Thus far I have seen mixed reactions for Chris Stapleton’s new album From A Room. Perhaps the coolness factor of Stapleton has worn off for some or maybe their expectations were unrealistic and incapable of being met. In 2015 Chris Stapleton released his debut album Traveler and it was met with critical praise across the board. However, it wasn’t until Chris Stapleton performed at the CMA awards that November with Justin Timberlake that transformed him into the biggest selling star in country music by a mile. Without significant radio play and with a record label label that is completely inept Stapleton has shown no signs of slowing down. This record which is one of two expected to be released this year received little to no promotion from Mercury and didn’t even have a lead single released to radio until after the album was released. Thankfully Chris did get hourly play from IHeart radio stations once the single was released (not that he needs radio anyway) but it makes you wonder how Mercury could be doing this to their biggest star. It’s as though this was rushed out to the public with no thought behind how to market it at all.

With that all being said though, this is a fantastic album. My complaints about the album are mostly all about how this was released and the fact that it’s only a 9 song album with little new material. I actually think it’s a good idea for Chris to release 2 albums this year because there is an appetite from the fans but also because he is probably sitting on mountains of great songs that have yet to be released. But if the whole idea of this was to get a bunch of songs out to the public why would your first album in 2 years only have 9 songs?

Getting to the content of the album I am amazed that the praise for this album hasn’t been universal. Vocally we all understand how incredible Stapleton is and that is showcased on the lead single “Either Way.” I’m a little bit surprised that they picked a sad/slower tempo song as the first single but this is the best song on the album. The power of Stapleton’s voice in the chorus of this song is breathtaking. The two people in this track are in a marriage that is on it’s last legs. They fake the perfect life when they are out but in reality they are no longer in love with each other. The husband doesn’t care if his wife leaves him or stays because he won’t love her either way.

The album mostly follows these themes of sadness and despair but the tempo and subject matter change on songs like “Second One To Know” and “Them Stems.” The former is a rocking guitar driven love song whereas the latter is a song about you guessed it, pot. I dismissed this song a little bit at first even though it’s not a bad song. I just don’t really connect with these songs about drugs and drug references. It’s so overdone in country music and I’m sure Chris has better songs to get out there.

Stapleton does a remarkable job of covering Willie Nelson on “Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning.” For those of you that don’t know the song, a man describes the day that his wife walked out on him. Everything that morning went wrong including his alarm going off late and spilling his coffee but, the last thing that he needed to happen was his wife leaving him. It’s another song with a simple production and it’s great to hear the harmonica in this song.

Another song on this album that I love is “Up To No Good.” Whether it be the steel guitar or the vocals, it’s great. As a married man Chris sings a lot of songs about relationships and marriage and this is one of them. The wife doesn’t trust her husband even though he has never given her a reason not to trust him. In his past he did some bad things and broke the law but when he met her he got his act together. It’s deeply upsetting to him that she doesn’t trust him after all this time.

“I Was Wrong” and “Without Your Love” are songs that show the importance of a particular love and what what would happen to him without it. The former is just an honest song about mistakes made and the man begging to take back the words he said. He regrets telling her that he didn’t love her and that he would be better off with someone else. He still loves her and he feels alone without her and he was wrong.

The album concludes with “Death Row” which feels like a detour from the rest of the album thematically. A man is waiting on death row to be murdered by the state for a crime that it’s unclear whether he committed or not. The song takes you into the mind and prison cell of this man in the final hours of his life. This song really lets Stapleon’s voice stand out maybe more than any other song and again the dialed back production helps.

This might not be the best album of the year by years end but it will damn sure be close. At the very least I can be sure that nobody will match the vocal performance that Stapleton puts on on this album. I definitely look forward volume 2 and it will be interesting to see if he sticks with the same type of songs or if he goes into other themes/sounds. As a follow up to Traveller this did not disappoint, my only wish was that there were more than 9 songs and that it was rolled out better.

Grade:  A- 9/10

Best Songs:  Either Way, Second One To Know, Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning

Top 10 Current Country Artists

Since I am currently all caught up with the albums that I want to cover this week (next week is another story) I was thinking about different lists that I could make. I think lists can be fun to make and can be useful for the readers. So, I decided to make the least objective list that I could possibly come up with and do a top 10 list of current country artists. Now, I don’t want this to just be a list of all time greats like George Strait and Dolly Parton. I understand that they are still making music however, I wanted this to be a list of more current artists. For the purposes of the list, whether or not the artist is mainstream or independent is irrelevant. The only qualification is that they are a country artist who is semi current. This is just my personal top 10 artists at the moment so there was plenty of artists who could have been swapped. Feel free to comment, agree/disagree. Enjoy!

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10. Josh Turner: One of my all time favorite artists. The mainstream has certainly chased it’s share of trends over Josh Turner’s career however he has stayed true to his neo-traditional sound through it all.

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9. Miranda Lambert: Before The Weight of These Wings was released I would not have had Lambert on this list. However, when you combine her past work with the Weight of These Wings, it’s hard to argue that there are many better artists in the mainstream.

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8. Eric Church: Is there an artist in the mainstream that releases as many quality singles as Eric Church? Sure he’s not a traditional artist but, he makes great, modern country music and he actually has something to say!

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7. Aaron Watson: Perhaps the biggest country artist in Texas and for good reason. Watson does a fantastic job of combining radio sensible songs and powerful songs with a message in his albums. Even in his more modern sounding songs you can still hear tons of country instrumentation.

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6. Kacey Musgraves: Radio doesn’t deserve Kacey Musgraves. A fantastic neo traditional artist who refuses to compromise her art for the radio machine.

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5. Flatland Cavalry: The closest comparison to Flatland Cavalry would be the Turnpike Troubadours and boy is that a hell of a compliment. After only releasing about an album and a half’s worth of songs, they have already established themselves as one of country’s best groups.

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4. Sunny Sweeney: It’s hard to argue Sunny Sweeney isn’t one of country music’s best after her most recent masterpiece Trophy. The neo traditionalist is extremely honest and relateable in her music with loads of traditional instrumentation.

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3. Chris Stapleton: The biggest, most important moment in country music in recent memory was Chris Stapleton performing alongside Justin Timberlake at the 2015 CMA Awards. Stapleton has since become the biggest selling star in country music with perhaps the greatest voice in the genre. He has helped to prove the irrelevance of radio and the fact that people will pay for good music.

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2. Cody Johnson: Cody Johnson is country music. It’s rare that I go a day without listening to a Cody Johnson song. A true cowboy who mixes heartbreak and uptempo tracks with an undeniable country sound.

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1.  The Turnpike Troubadours: The Turnpike Troubadours are the greatest group/artist in country music. Their songs are written so brilliantly it makes you wonder how anyone could have written such brilliant songs. Musically lets just say if you don’t love the fiddle you may want to stay away from this Oklahoma based group.

A Rebuke of This Whiskey Riff Nonsense

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I don’t do this. I don’t write rebuttals to other blogs articles/think pieces but I think something should be said about the idiocy that is the Whiskey Riff Article Here’s The Real Reason You Hate Mainstream Country. The condescending article from the click bate, faux news site Whiskey Riff (written by Wes Langeler) attempts to paint people who are displeased with the direction of mainstream country as nose picking losers who are just jealous of how good looking and successful mainstream country artists are. The article does nothing of course to delve into actual criticisms that non mainstream fans have of the genre. Instead, the article starts off by comparing the mega stars in the mainstream to the jocks on the football team in high school. “Luke Bryan, Sam Hunt and Florida Georgia Line are like those jocks that you loves to hate. The good looking, popular guys that seem to get an unworthy and unjustified amount of attention (and girls). You hated them for it.” So essentially if an artist is good looking and popular then they are off limits to critique. Forget the fact that Luke Bryan has not recorded one above average song during his 11 year career and stop being a hater, obviously Sam Hunt is country. Next in the click bait article Langeler attempts to say that this bro country life style of underage drinking, hunting and fishing is what real people do. If you can’t identify with every song on the radio singing about those things then obviously you never did any of those things. You were just a little geek and you were jealous of the kids that did do those things.

Well Wes Langeler, the truth is we don’t give a rats ass whether the music is mainstream or not, popular or not. The reason that so many fans are fed up with mainstream country is because it lacks any substance, lacks any country instrumentation and is just a cheap rip off of other genres of music and other artists. Your honestly saying that you can’t understand why people would dare say that Sam Hunt isn’t a real country artist? An R&B singer being pedaled to country radio because he would disappear if he went pop? You can’t understand why people would be ticked off at Luke Bryan for putting out songs like “Home Alone Tonight” where he sings about sending drunk revenge selfies to his ex girlfriend? Or how about Thomas Rhett who rips off a different artist with every single?

The reason that independent artists and artists of substance are having greater success than ever and the reason radio is dying is because people are sick of it. Chris Stapleton is the biggest star in country music by a mile according to sales and he can’t even get radio play. Aaron Watson an independent Texas artist has had 2 consecutive number 1 albums despite not getting a lick of airplay on the radio while Chris Lane sold a paltry 6000 albums in his debuts first week. The only place that mainstream country stars are still relevant is the bankrupt, failed radio enterprises who will be lucky to survive beyond the next couple of years.

And as I said, it has nothing to do with mainstream or not mainstream for us it has to do with good music versus bad music. There are certainly artists in the mainstream putting out great music. Eric Church, William Michael Morgan, Miranda Lambert and Chris Stapleton just to name a few. And isn’t it ironic that a mainstream fan would mock independent fans for just being losers. Have you not seen the destruction and chaos that has ensued at some of your hero’s concerts including your boy Luke Bryan punching a concert goer? I could go into more graphic acts of debauchery that have ensued at these concerts but i’ll save you the details.

People are sick and tired of mainstream country because it sucks not because they are/were losers. I sincerely hope you don’t truly believe this incredibly close minded, vacuous idea. This failure to see what is really happening in country music is what is destroying the mainstream and the institutions that support it. When Cumulus and IHeart media’s collapses are complete I hope you have a “safe space” as you so brilliantly called it. TRIGGERED.


This Month’s Rigmarole Featuring Country Music Minds

Hello everyone! Leon of Country Music Minds and I decided to do this collaboration piece to discuss the month of March in music as well as any other notable news. Below you will find the transcript to our conversation. Enjoy!


Alex: I’ll start with the first thing I covered this month. I know we both covered the Nikki Lane album. What were some of your thoughts about it?


Leon: I honestly thought it was pretty good. It didn’t quite click with me as “great”, but it’s a very fun album. I think the beginning is definitely very strong. The middle sort of winds down, and it ends on a high note with “Forever Lasts Forever”. I’d still say for me it’s a 7.5 but again, fun album


Alex: Yeah, for me it kind of fits in where a lot of albums have for me so far this year and that is the B+ 8/10 range. So pretty good but I wouldn’t call it great.


Alex: I feel like I give too many albums that grade sometimes but, I think it’s accurate


Leon: You know, that’s what I’d say about a lot of albums this year. Pretty good, maybe even great, but not something I may return to all that often. There really hasn’t been a consensus “excellent” album other than maybe Sunny Sweeney’s latest, but even that’s subjective


Alex: Right. I think it’s been a down year for albums but I expect big things from Stapleton and the Zac Brown Band later in the year. I think the independent side is lacking compared to the last couple years


Leon: I get what you mean though. 7 is probably my most common grade this year (or 8), and it might seem stingy, but at the same time, it makes it more worthwhile when you get an album that DOES blow your mind, you know?


Alex: Speaking of albums that blew my mind we have to talk about Breaking Grass


Alex: I didn’t expect a random bluegrass find to be an album of the year contender for me


Leon: Zac Brown has the potential to be great, and Stapleton could be as well. With those two though, I feel like we’re going to get a ton of slower songs, and that’s fine, but at the same time I hope neither project bores me.


Leon: I’m actually covering Breaking Grass right now. I have the review about 50% done, so I’ll probably release the review Tuesday.


Alex: Oh great! Would you say its an AOY contender for you?


Leon: In all honesty, no, and you’ll see why later, but I definitely think it’s on the “great” end. I have to say though, it’s cool that you discovered them. How did you find out about them?


Alex: Well, I was looking at the different Bluegrass charts (like all the cool kids do) and I stumbled across this Bluegrass band that I had never heard of. I decided to listen to the album (not expecting much) and I was shocked. I was surprised not only at how great it was but, some of the lyrics left me wide eyed


Alex: Lots of murder songs and creepy songs on this one


Leon: Definitely, I don’t know when you’ll publish this, but I’ll spoil it anyway – I think the first half of the album is great. The more experimental side really shines through in the lyrics and instrumentation. I just don’t personally think it holds up as well in the 2nd half, with the tone shifting more towards traditional bluegrass (not a bad thing though), and the themes not being as interesting save for “Faith Moved A Mountain”. I’d still say it’s pretty great though – probably a 7.5 or an 8 (speak of the devil, haha)


Alex: Ha! And I can hold off publishing this until you release your review


Alex: The album I struggled with most this month and this year was definitely Rhiannon Giddens Freedom Highway.


Leon: No problem. It’s fine with me. It’s just my personal opinion anyway. That brings us to an interesting point though – reviews. I don’t like to call what I do “reviews” so much as just a music fan expressing what they thought about a piece of work. With “reviews” you feel as if you’re supposed to say everything the album supposedly stands for/is about and give an accurate representation of how the crowd might perceive it. I don’t like it. What do you think?


Leon: I understand that. You and Megan Conley of Country Exclusive (look Megan I’m quoting you again). That’s the beautiful thing about having so many blogs – you see different opinions. Is something good or bad? Who knows? I don’t like it when there’s music you feel like you have to either like or dislike just because of what others have said. That’s something I’m doing much better with this year


Alex: I struggle most with giving grades honestly. There’s a lot of second guessing on my part with that and I take that seriously. And yes I’m not sure what I do is necessarily a review either. I try to give an overview of the album and give my thoughts


Leon: You and Megan said the same thing I meant


Alex: I’ll respond to what Megan said by saying absolutely. Even though I still stand by the idea that some music is bad, I do think a lot of it is subjective. Especially in regards to grades because not everyone even grades the same way


Leon: For me, grading is a curse and a blessing. On one hand I do like to have a stamp in time of what I thought of a piece of work, but again, one point in time. It could change at any point. Marty Stuart’s new one has only gotten better while ironically enough I haven’t returned to Rhiannon Giddens as much. For me, it would take an act of God for me to grant a 10. I’m not an asshole (well, maybe I am), but you really know that certain grade. it belongs to the albums that have stirred you the most. 9’s for me are what you’d call the contenders. They’re excellent, but might not have that transcendent quality I’m looking for (I’ll send this now so you can see, but I’m not done)


Alex: I like grades because I feel that should be part of a review. It certainly helps at the end of the year when you are deciding what was the best music of the year. But it’s definitely for me difficult to give grades


Alex: I have second guessed my perfect grade for Sunny Sweeney and that is my favorite album of 2017


Leon: 8’s and 7’s are tough for me. They’re what separate great from good to me. It’s tough to make that judgment call. Again, sometimes you feel like you’re being stingy, but it’s just grades anyway. As you said, not everyone grades the same way. 6’s and 5’s are merely decent to “eh”, as you’d expect. I haven’t given a ton of grades below that, but I rarely go below 2/10. I often try to find even the slightest good in something, or even judge it on a scale. For example, this is terrible, but not as terrible as THAT. You know?


Alex: I have only given 1 album less than a 7/10 because I don’t even want to waste my time with albums that are below that. It takes a lot of time to do album reviews so if it’s not worth my time I don’t do it


Leon: Sunny’s is excellent IMO. It’s ten tracks that don’t waste time (hint to you artists – killer, no filler). But for me, it doesn’t transcend to that top place for me. There’s nothing wrong with it, and I can’t pick out a flaw. I just also can’t “feel” that 10. It’s weird. Just me though.


Alex: That’s why I gave it a perfect grade because I couldn’t find a flaw and I loved it. Represents country music well


Leon: I hear you. Last year I don’t think I graded anything lower than a 7. I get it. I do now, but that’s because my personal philosophy has shifted over the course of this blogging journey…many times.


Leon: And that’s perfectly fine. What defines a perfect album is different for all of us. It’s the one grade I do care about for me since I don’t want to go overboard with it, but again, for ME


Alex: To put into perspective the work I do for album reviews I have done 2 pages of notes on the first 6 songs on Dailey and Vincents new album lol. It’s 16 songs!


Leon: Actually, I have a note on negative reviews, and it might get cynical…


Leon: I have to give Dailey and Vincent a listen. 16 tracks though…Woah boy, haha.


Alex: 2 songs do not have lyrics but still lol.


Alex: Let’s get cynical go ahead!


Leon: Well, you know that piece from LA Weekly that criticized Americana acts? I don’t disagree with the spirit of that. I disagree that most of the criticisms devolved into name calling and other unnecessary remarks, but I do agree there’s a sense of elitism hidden in the entire independent side (not just Americana). The writer just did a piss poor job of expressing that. (Cont.)


Leon: Anyway, the reason why I started doing negative reviews again was because, it helps the honesty shine through. With mainstream albums I have no problem detailing what’s wrong or saying that something is absolute shit. With independent albums though, there’s this sense of “oh, this is SO much better”. In other words, it has to be great. I’ve unfortunately contributed to that by being swept away with it, but there’s some of it that’s absolute shit, some even worse than the mainstream. That brings me to another point (cont.)


Alex: I did read that. They weren’t wrong about everything they said but, the name calling in my opinion was just to rile people up to get views.

Alex: And for me I don’t care if it’s mainstream or not. That doesn’t have anything to do with how much I like something. Either it’s good or it’s not


Leon: Remember that piece about my contact page? I’ve had a few submissions here and there, and most of the time it’s to get an artist a review. But come on, what’s a review really mean? Honesty or good publicity? Plus, you’re getting this music for free, so obviously you owe them right? Screw that. I think it’s time to take that same mindset I take with mainstream albums and apply it to everything. Blogs are often praised for “telling it like it is”, but is that the entire truth? That’s a question about quality though, so it’s tricky to answer.


Leon: Oh yeah, I don’t meant to accuse you of anything, just a general observation about the entire scene. I just think there’s nothing wrong with negative feedback (just my personal philosophy). If you don’t, it creates echo chambers I think


Alex: I’m new so I haven’t had too many pitches but, I assume if someone asks me to cover something they expect a ringing endorsement of the work. If it’s not good and they ask me to cover it I won’t cover it because I won’t lie


Alex: Even though my major is PR I don’t do PR for them lol


Leon: Good on you. I’ve had that, and I’ve stuff pitched that wasn’t good. I just ignored them since I didn’t know what to say. That could be a good segue into another topic – blogs, and the personal pressures and drama and bullshit that come with it (as Josh Schott said). What do you think about the number of blogs shutting down lately?


Alex: It’s honestly pretty sad to see Country Perspective go. Josh and Trigger at Saving Country completely changed me as a music fan and that’s not speaking in hyperbole. When I was in High School and younger I listened to what was on the radio because that’s all I knew existed. When I found Country Perspective and Saving Country it changed the whole ball game. Heck if it wasn’t for Josh I probably would never have created a blog. He was a great inspiration and his work will be greatly missed.


Alex: You and Megan at Country Exclusive summed up my thoughts pretty well in your farewell letters


Leon: Agree 100%. Those were the first blogs I discovered as well. It’s sad to see, but I get it. Josh addressed the “drama and bullshit” of running a blog on his Twitter letter, and I get that. It’s hard to know what to do with a blog. In the end you have to do what makes you happy. Both on the blog and outside of the blog. You know, I’ve been rude. I’m the one asking the questions right now instead of you. What else did YOU want to discuss, friend?


Alex: I want to talk about Deep South before we sign off but that brings me to something I have been thinking about lately. Do you think that your excitement for new albums is being taken away to some extent when basically half the album is being released before the album? For example, I should have been over the moon excited when Josh Turner’s new album came out after 5 years. But, because I had already heard half the album the excitement wasn’t really there. Maybe this doesn’t matter but, it’s something I have been considering.


Leon: Good topic. In all honesty my answer would depend on the album. For some albums, if the song is really great it can get you excited for the rest of it. For example, I had no plans to cover the new Mavericks album since I found their last album pretty boring, but then I heard “Damned If You Do” from their new one, and now? I’m looking forward to hearing the album. It works the other way though. You can be disappointed as well. It’s probably not good – after all, it sets up pre-expectations, something that probably isn’t good haha. In terms of excitement, yeah, I can totally see that. At the very least, it makes some albums easier to cover since you’ve already focused on particular songs so many times


Alex: From a writing perspective it definitely makes it easier to review when you heard 5 songs already but from a fan perspective I have noticed a clear lack of excitement when I have heard a good deal of the album already


Alex: But anyway speaking of Deep South what were some of your thoughts about it?


Leon: Deep South? Hmm, in all honesty it hasn’t held up as well for me. I still find the title track to be a guilty pleasure, and songs like “Hometown Girl”, “Lay Low”, “Hawaiian Girl” and “Never Had A Reason” are definite highlights, but other than that it’s just pretty boring. I used to think “Wonder” was the standout, but even that I think works better as a ballad. But in terms of albums that haven’t held up well I could give you a list of albums this year. Still, happy he’s back.


Alex: Josh Turner could sing the alphabet and it would sound great to me but yeah his new album was disappointing

Leon: Anything else man?


Alex: Is there anything else you wanted to talk about or do you want to give a preview for what you will be covering in April?


Leon: April? Hmm….lots of stuff – Chris Shiflett, Jason Eady, Angaleena Presly, Charlie Worsham…just a few names that could make the month great. You?


Alex: I’ll b covering Charlie Worsham, Brad Paisley, Jason Eady and Dailey and Vincent for sure. I’m sure other things will pop onto my radar also… Hopefully I can find another gem like Breaking Grass! Haha


Leon: Oh yeah, Dailey and Vincent are a group I want to get to as well. This week I’m covering Steve Moakler, Breaking Grass and hopefully Trace Adkins and the Mavericks. I’ve also got some other pieces in the works (including fake news haha).


Thanks to Leon at Country Music Minds for joining me for this collaboration piece. It was a lot of fun having this conversation and I hope you guys found it to be interesting as well.


Throwback Spotlight: Josh Turner “Another Try”

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The song “Another Try” was written by Chris Stapleton and Jeremy Spillman for Josh Turner’s 2007 album Everything is Fine. “Another Try” was the second single off of Josh Turner’s third album and was released to country radio in 2008. The song was performed by Turner and Trisha Yearwood although, it was hardly a duet. Yearwood compliments Turner’s already strong vocals by harmonizing some of the words Turner sings but, does not have any unique lines of her own. Yearwood’s harmonies add to the pain in Turner’s voice but, are not meant to be the harmonies of a new character. The story is only told from one point of view which is further demonstrated by Yearwood’s absence in the music video. This song received an award at the American Country Music Awards for Vocal event of the year. One of the co-writers of the song was actually Chris Stapleton who we know has become perhaps the biggest act in country music. The producer of the song Frank Rogers, has produced every one of Josh Turner’s 5 albums.

Turner explains in the first verse what went wrong with the relationship and why it is over. He takes full responsibility for the demise of the relationship by explaining how he never shared his emotions “All the things I felt and never shared” and he mentions how even when he was with her she was lonely “All the times that she was lonely with me there” and finally, when the relationship was coming to an end he did not fight to save the relationship “How I let her go without a fight.” After the first verse there is a bridge sound that takes us to the chorus which is only a two second drum beat. In the chorus Turner says that what he said in verse one is the reasons that he is alone “The reasons I’m alone, I know by heart” he is admitting that he knows the reasons he is alone by heart and tells the listener that he does not want to be alone forever “I don’t want to spend forever in the dark.” He uses darkness to symbolize being alone and lonely. In the last part of the chorus he tells us that if he ever gets another chance at love he will fight for it “I swear next time I’ll hang on for dear life, if love ever gives me another try.” What adds to the sadness of the chorus is that he seems unsure if he will ever find love again and since he has learned from his mistakes you find yourself rooting for the narrator to get “another try.”

Following the first chorus we hear the same exact sound used in the introduction of the song used in the bridge to the second verse. The second verse is really what the plot of the music video is about. He explains to the listener that we cannot change things we already did and that if he could go back in time he would not make the same mistakes again, “There’s no changing things that we regret, the best that we can hope for is one more chance, if the hands of time could just move in reverse, I wouldn’t make the same mistake again, with her.” Again he is acknowledging his mistakes and demonstrating through his words that he knows what he did wrong and if he is lucky enough to get another chance, he will not blow it. This is the first time we hear the female in the song Trisha Yearwood who comes in when Turner sings “If the hands of time could just move in reverse.” She only sings small parts that would not confuse the listener into thinking that she is playing the antagonists role in the story. She is only repeating the protagonists words.

Yearwood then comes in again following a short two second bridge and sings the entire chorus with Turner which is the same as the first chorus. Following the second chorus we have the longest bridge in the song before we have the chorus played again. The bridge involves the violin and the steel guitar which like the entire song is in the minor chord. In the final chorus of the song Yearwood again harmonizes the same words as Turner and you can hear the pain in her voice. At 3:10 in the song when she sings “Try, try” it sounds like she is exhausted and in tears at this point. Finally, the outro is the same sound we heard in the introduction with the addition of the violin to end the song.

The video is shot in reverse order to portray the narrators wishes to go back in time and correct his mistakes. The video switches between the story and the narrator sitting in a dark room alone playing the guitar. The entire video is undiagetic, there is no sounds coming from the video only the actual song. The narrator is in dark clothing to symbolize sadness and loss. The video begins with Turner at a bridge with a suitcase. Since the story in the video is moving in reverse order the suitcase is actually flying back up to the narrator because, in regular time he threw it off the bridge into the river. At 17 seconds in the video we see Turner in the dark room playing the guitar sitting down. He is in dark clothing and begins to tell us why his relationship did not work out. The video switches back between the story and the room very frequently regardless of what part of the song is being sung. In reverse we see Turner get back into his truck on the bridge and go to a town square. When he gets out of his truck we see an analog clock on a building and the “hands of time” are literally moving in reverse. In the next scene we see Turner in a restaurant alone at a table having coffee. The coffee and milk for the coffee are seen going back into the pot and container. We also see a waiter drop a tray and see all of the items move in reverse back onto the tray as though nothing has happened.

During the final bridge that leads into the last chorus we see the narrator arrive back home walking backwards in the hallway. We finally see what was in the suitcase that caused Turner to throw it off of a bridge in the future. It is items that the narrator had gotten for her in the past including a sweater and heart shaped necklace. The important thing however is the note that he finds. We can infer that this is his girlfriend breaking up with him and leaving him the gifts that he had gotten her in the past. After he reads the letter he is so upset that he ripped the letter and set it on fire in the fire place. An interesting part about this scene is that where he burns the letter is where we see him throughout the video sitting in the dark room playing guitar. Until this last scene, where the story took place and where Turner was sitting were not the same place. This final scene is where everything comes full circle.

Seeing the narrators reactions to the moments just after the relationship ended show just how painful the breakup was. For example, in the first scene of the video we see Turner throwing a suitcase off a bridge. We do not find out until the end what was in the suitcase and we are left wondering until the end. At the end of the song we realize that what was in the suitcase was actually items that the narrator had given to the girlfriend and the letter where she tells him that the relationship is over. Watching Turner burn the letter in the very fire place that he sits next to for much of the video was a very interesting idea in the video. The video supported the song well based on the overall tone of the song. The song is a gloomy song about the end of a relationship and the video portrayed the plot of the song well.

Link to Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngHkbz8wTuk