Category Archives: Review

REVIEW: Miranda Lambert – Platinum

Miranda Lambert.

Miranda Lambert released her fifth album on Wednesday, choosing a simple play on the word Platinum for the title. She could be referring to her platinum blonde hair but, seeing as how her last four albums all went platinum in sales, it is more likely an easy prediction. This album finds Lambert at her most introspective and nostalgic, everything from the lyrical content to the adventurous spirit of the compositions, Platinum relishes the past. Though she presents more of her rootsy side, she blends it with the modern pop sensibility, pushing herself as only a fully-developed artist is able to do.

It is musically her most diverse album to date, going from lively guitar shredding in “Little Red Wagon” to a lap-steel ballad in “Smokin’ and Drinkin’ (feat. Little Big Town)”. On Platinum we find Lambert stretching the limits of the genre and experimenting sonically while keeping her strong voice and persona intact. It is this voice that holds the album together, guiding us through her corner of the south, sharing the perspective of a confident, strong and charismatic woman who offers no apologies. From feminist issues to her marriage to Blake Shelton, she takes her daily concerns and filters them through her realistic and often humorous perspective.

Review: Dustin Vye EP

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Last year, Keepin It Country had the great priviledge of introducing up and coming country singer Dustin Vye in an exclusive interview. The interview mentioned to keep an eye out for a forthcoming EP. On April 15, the EP landed on both iTunes and Bandcamp. And now, it’s our pleasure to be asked to review his debut EP, Dustin Vye, for our readers!

Dustin Vye’s self-titled EP is a great mix of rockin numbers, great for gettin on your line dance, and ballads to snuggle in close to your special someone. It starts out with a bang with the great ‘don’t let the door hit ya in the butt on your way out’ number “So Long”, sure to be resonant with anyone who realized they were just better off without someone.

“Chance” and “Country Life” are great country anthems, one about a girl who catches the songwriter’s eye and one about the simpler life out of the city. Both have great rhythms to keep the toes tapping and melodies you’ll be humming for days.

“Let Her Go” and “Never Loved” are the EP’s two soulful loved and lost ballads. The heartbreak is underscored by minor chords and a prominent fiddle that serve to pull the listener into the singer’s state of heart.

The Dustin Vye EP is a strong debut from a talented young man and is sure to be a great addition to the collection of any country fan. Whether you are looking for a crowd-pleaser for a party or a partner in heartbreak, this EP is for you!

Photocredit: Dustin Vye Official EP Cover

EXCLUSIVE REVIEW: Jo Dee Messina’s “Me” on Monday

Jo Dee Messina

It feels like forever ago when I first spoke with Jo Dee Messina and her album, Me, was months away from its big release. It also feels like eons ago when I began this weekly track-by-track album review, counting down until March 18th. It is hard to believe that tomorrow is March 18th and Jo Dee’s album will finally be making its way into your phones, iPods, cars, and homes.

To wrap up this “Me on Monday” series, I saved the first track on the album, “Not Dead Yet,” for last. Strategically, “Not Dead Yet” made sense as the final track for review because it sends a very important message to country music fans … Jo Dee is still here, and she is ready to remind you why she was nominated for two Grammys and is a chart-topping hit-maker. Regardless of the hard times Jo Dee faced with her former record label, this bold, confident, talented artist hasn’t let it get the best of her. Instead, she barreled through the difficulties and forged her own path. This song let’s those who doubted her abilities to succeed on her own know how very wrong they were.

Jo Dee sings, “You can put me down, you can count me out, I’m not listenin’ to you. I’ve paid my dues, gotten bent and bruised, I’ve walked a thousand miles in these shoes. I’m here and I’m well. I’ve felt the fire, I’ve been through hell. I’m a little out of breath, but baby I’m not dead yet.” In a song that drips of honesty and forthcomingness, Jo Dee admits the road has seemed dim and, sometimes, there is no clear path at any given moment, but she is ready to hit the ground running anyway. In this song of art imitating life, Jo Dee quips (likely aimed toward her former label) that she will not allow anybody to take her down, as she has enough life left in her to create her own destiny.

And, a charmed destiny she has created, especially considering the caliber of her new albumMe, which will be available tomorrow. From front to back, this album will bring you strong, hard-hitting tracks, as well as emotional ballads that will choke you up and make you sympathize with Jo Dee and/or the character she portrays in the song. From beginning to end, this album will provide you with must-hear tracks, impeccable vocals, and a variety of instrumentation that will appeal to fans of several different styles of country music. I am so excited for you to finally hear what I have been hearing for all of these months, and I thank you for trusting me to guide you toward this album and take you on this weekly ride. I guarantee the destination was well worth your wait.

I would like to extend a very special thank you to Jo Dee Messina and Team JDM for believing in me and adopting me into their special circle to promote this album so vigorously over the last couple of months. It has been a distinct honor and privilege to be involved with such fabulous people.

REVIEW: Sara Evans’ “Slow Me Down”

Sara Evans Slow Me Down

Sara Evans has been climbing the charts and playing through your stereo speakers since the late 1990′s, and if there is one thing we can say about Evans, it is that nobody can slow her down. At a time where it seems that a lot of our favorite veteran female country singers are releasing new music, Evans is back with an album, Slow Me Down, that will not disappoint. With three duets (two of which might surprise you!) and several new solo tracks to introduce, Evans reminds us all why she entered the hearts of country music fans many years ago and why she has remained in our hearts since.

On this, Evans’ seventh studio album, the pristine artist proves that her music career remains full speed ahead. Slow Me Down kicks off with the chart-climbing title track, which talks about a relationship that is nearly over, but before one of them walks out the door, the other is given a final chance to hurry up and say the right thing. “Slow Me Down” is an appropriate start to this eclectic collection of tracks because, right from the beginning of this album, Evans hits the ground running with potential hit after hit.

EXCLUSIVE REVIEW: Jo Dee Messina’s “Me” On Monday

Jo Dee Messina Kiss

We are only eight days away from the release of Jo Dee Messina’s new album, Me. Where did the time go?! With only two Mondays left before the release, we have three tracks left to get you excited for before the album officially drops. This week we want to introduce you to “Strong Shot of You” and “Love on a Maybe,” which are two more tracks on Me that will have you dancing in the driver’s seat of your car.

“Strong Shot of You” may have lyrics that are classified as “typical country” because you could get drunk if you imbibe the beverages mentioned in the first verse; however, the song itself is anything but. “Strong Shot of You” actually trades in the booze for a man, as Jo Dee orders up “those burnin’ kisses that go down easy” and “a hit of your love, just a little buzz in your ninety proof” from her bartender. While Jo Dee sings about how tipsy she already is from this man’s kind of lovin’, she certainly does not shy away from placing the order again … and again. This song is one that you will blast as you are getting ready to go out for a night on the town and stands out from the rest of the album, as it borders the more modern country rock that is so prevalent on today’s radio, while maintaining Jo Dee’s signature sound.

“Love on a Maybe” slows things down a bit … until the chorus, where you can’t help but bob your head and dance to the beat. When I heard the lyrics to this song, I said out loud to my co-worker, “ugh, sounds like my life!” and I am confident that many of you out there will relate. “Love on a Maybe” tells the story of a relationship where every time they get close, the man pulls away, leaving her wondering where exactly they stand. Then, without fail, he comes back around as if he never strayed. In this song, Jo Dee finally puts her foot down and tells him that the back and forth needs to stop and he is either in or he’s out, and if he’s in, it is about time he proves it! Jo Dee sings, “Can’t come back around, can’t come back around, getting my hopes up, just to tear them down. I, I don’t need you for a minute, don’t stand there tellin’ me you’re in it, ’cause I need you to show me you won’t leave me hangin’, no. I can’t give, give up my love, no, I can’t give my love on a maybe.” This song sends a message of independence and confidence, and tells women not to allow the uncertainty of men’s minds to control their hearts. Message received, Jo Dee!

Remember, Me will be released NEXT TUESDAY, March 18th, and is already available for pre-order now on iTunes. You can also pre-order a bundle package from Jo Dee’s website while supplies last!

Image courtesy of Team Jo Dee Messina

REVIEW: David Nail’s “I’m A Fire”

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When it comes to country music, there are few vocalists out there who have the power and skill of David Nail. The MCA Nashville artist released his new album, I’m A Fire, today and just like the title suggests, Nail is warm, roaring and unbridled.

The album’s title and same-name track is particularly personal to Nail. He says, “There’s so many moments on this record that make me think about the last for years that I’ve been married, and ‘I’m a Fire’ just sums it all up. It (the title track) says ‘I’ve walked through flames, come out on the other end, and the foremost reason is because of you.” It’s definitely a bright spot of the album.

Although, the album comes on the heels of its lead single “Whatever She’s Got” hitting #1, it doesn’t rely solely, or really much at all, on that formula. Although “Whatever She’s Got” was a bonafide bouncy hit, Nail shines brightest on the moodier offerings, including the Bob DiPiero, Brandy Clark and Shane McAnally penned track, “Burnin’ Bed.” The tracks wraps you in immediately, with Nail mysteriously crooning “Tangled. Vodka. Midnight. Can’t stay. Taxi. Goodnight.” Another immediate standout is the slow burning ember, “The Secret,” an ode to an affair that literally goes to the grave. The track epitomizes country music at its finest. “I can’t help, but think about all that we could’ve been had you not stayed here and settled for a life with him.” Nail croons, “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, buried is the secret that was us.”

Other highlights of the album include “When They’re Gone (Lyle County),” featuring the incomparable Little Big Town on background vocals. The foursome add an incredible depth to the track that quickly elevates it from good to great. The Glen Campbell cover “Galveston” features LeAnn Womack, and like the collaboration with LBT, Womack’s vocals only elevate the track and force us to wonder where she’s been and queue up “Last Call” to play after I’m A Fire ends.

“Kiss You Tonight” is the album’s second single and although it’s decidedly less catchy than “Whatever She’s Got,” it’s still a solid track with a hint of earworminess. “I’ve been trying to do without you, but I can’t give up this fight.” Nail pleads, “Everything will be alright if I can just kiss you tonight.”

Much like Dierks Bentley‘s RISER, released last week, this album is a hyrbid of a departure combined with natural progression for David Nail. It relies more on guitar than piano and shows Nail flexing his impressive vocal chords over varied melodies, lyrics and emotions. It’s been a bit of a rough ride through bro-country music lately, but albums like I’m A Fire and RISER give us high hopes for Nashville’s most talented leading men.

Buy I’m A Fire here: http://smarturl.it/qr01kb

EXCLUSIVE REVIEW: Jo Dee Messina’s “Me” on Monday

Jo Dee Messina Like a Kid Again

We are finally into March … You know what that means? It is the month of Jo Dee Messina‘s album release, and it’s about darn time! We have been loving every moment of providing you all with our weekly reviews of tracks on the upcoming album, Me, and we are especially excited to tell you about “Like a Kid Again.”

While there are some deep, emotional songs on Me, other songs are more carefree and light. “Like a Kid Again,” though it can definitely cause you to sit back and evaluate how fast your life seems to fly by, is the type of song that also makes you want to let loose, be young and free, and just enjoy the moments before they pass. As adults, we all experience the burden of adulthood, whether it is the stresses of work, the responsibility of paying bills, or the roller coaster ride that is raising children of our own. Some days, don’t you just want to be silly and free, just like you were able to before being a grown up meant all of these things?

Review: Dierks Bentley ‘RISER’

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From the opening strains of “Bourbon in Kentucky,” the mood is set for RISER, an album that Dierks Bentley describes as his most personal yet. Although the opening track was released as a single, it never quite took off, but sets the mood for an album of depth and reflection, sprinkled with humor and all held together by Bentley’s gravelly rasp.

Speaking to Rolling Stone, Bentley admits that this album comes from a different place than many of his others. Although previous endeavors touched on the heartbreak that ultimately comes with dating and relationships, this album comes from a different heartbreak, the death of his father, and the instability of life with the birth of his third child. “The record I had originally made, my dad was alive at the time and my wife and I had two kids. Life was stabilized,” Bentley says to the magazine. “And then all of a sudden my dad passed away. Then my wife got pregnant and my son was coming, which was just a whole mix of emotions for me.”

The album is truly a journey through Bentley’s psyche, highlighted immediately by his current single “I Hold On” and the equally-reflective “Here On Earth.” The former has Bentley clinging to things such as his old truck, his first guitar, his faith and his wife, while the latter was inspired by the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting and asks the bigger questions about life. “The only answer I’ve found for all this hurt,” Bentley sings, “Is there ain’t no answers here on Earth.”

Review: Levi Lowrey’s Self-Titled Album

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From the moment you begin track one, it becomes apparent that Levi Lowrey‘s self-titled album isn’t your typical type of modern country, and that’s okay. What quickly exposes itself is a polished and well thought out album that is as much of a lyrical triumph as it is a musical one. If you’re looking for songs about cold beer, cut-off jeans or tailgates, you’re in the wrong place. However, if you’re looking for substance and songs that touch on deeper issues of faith (“That Is All,” “I’ve Held the Devil’s Hand), family (“Urge for Leaving”) and things like the status quo (“Barely Getting By”), look no further than Levi Lowrey.

Levi is one of the mega-talents signed to Zac Brown‘s Southern Ground Artists and a co-writer on the ZBB hit “Colder Weather.” Additionally, this album was executive produced by Zac Brown, but aside from some formidable fiddling and an incredible beard, don’t expect a ZBB copycat here. The album kicks off with the up-tempo country-rock groove of “Picket Fences” that sets an immediate tone. The musical journey then weaves through incredible highs and lows, Levi’s voice ranging from impressive grit and gruff to soulfully soothing and warm, before concluding with an impressive cover of Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” that would make Ozzy proud.

EXCLUSIVE REVIEW: Jo Dee Messina’s “Me” on Monday

Jo Dee Messina

We are getting close, folks! As more information (and a new single/music video) begins to emerge, the March 18th release of Jo Dee Messina‘s album, Me, is drawing closer and closer. Can you feel the excitement?!

We were recently able to catch up with Jo Dee, and she specifically mentioned our next featured track from Me due to its pop roots that stray from the pure country sound you may be accustomed to from this country starlet. The track, aptly titled “I’m Free,” celebrates complete abandonment from something/someone who is weighing you down. As you know, Jo Dee broke the chains that bound her to her former record label and has since experienced more freedom with her musical and career choices.

In the first verse, Jo Dee sings “You tried with all your might, you had to have control. You held on so tight, you almost crushed my soul. And now I’m breaking from these chains, not looking back again.” While some may relate this song to a former relationship, others may apply the lyrics to other situations when they have felt as though they were stuck with no escape. Regardless of what you hear when you listen to this song, the beauty of this track (and all of the others from this album) is that its message is something to which everybody can relate. The chorus of this song proudly boasts “Hey, look at me now I’m flying, ’cause you ain’t got the best of me. Yeah, these wings will take me higher than you thought I’d ever be. Look at me, I’m free.” This track truly mirrors Jo Dee’s place in her career and does so in the most empowering of ways.

“I’m Free” is somewhat unique to Jo Dee’s usual sound, as it is closer to pop rock than country, made especially apparent by the stellar electric guitar arrangement in the bridge of the song. Make no mistake though … a slight stray from a normal sound does not mean a stray from the sensational vocals with which fans have fallen in love. Jo Dee’s voice in this song is as effortless and flawless as you would expect from this artist who is an expert in her craft. “I’m Free” proves that this singer/songwriter can conquer anything she puts her heart, mind, and soul into, and this opinion will surely be echoed by fans as they listen to Me from front to back.

Image courtesy of Jo Dee Messina