Tag Archives: Album

Exclusive Interview: Ross Cooper

Ross Cooper

In today’s country music, it is common to find new artists putting a pop/rock twist on tracks, sometimes blurring the lines between what is truly defined as country music and what is more often referred to as “Top 40.” Enter Ross Cooper, a native-born Texan who couldn’t have the heels of his cowboys boots dug deeper into classic country in every sense of the word.

Ross grew up in a rodeo family, so, naturally, he became involved with rodeo at a young age. However, his mother, albeit a rodeo lover herself, was also involved in music. Growing up, Ross’s mother had a guitar, but, for some unknown reason, he (like many kids) took piano lessons. Finally, Ross reached the end of his rope with the piano, put his cowboy boot down and told his mother he wasn’t playing piano any longer and wanted to take guitar lessons instead.

Once his mother agreed to let Ross make the instrument switch, he also began writing songs. The first song Ross wrote was when he was ten years old and it was with his mother on piano, and, admittedly, the song was “terrible.” In junior high, Ross decided he wanted to start a band, “because that’s what you do!” and he got together with a few friends, one of whom’s mother owned a local blues bar. The group would sneak into the bar and play their Sunday night jams. By the time the group entered high school, they had a well-groomed band.

While Ross was making music with his friends, he was also becoming more and more involved with the rodeo. Ross was a bucking horse bareback rider through high school and even quit football during his sophomore year to focus on riding. He continued on this path through college and then started to pro rodeo. In an unfortunate twist of fate, Ross tore his knee, not once, but twice, and was required to take time off from rodeoing. At that point, he had to figure out what path to take moving forward, as he was still playing music regularly. “Music kinda filled the gap, so much to the point that I had to make a choice between the two. So, here I am.”

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?

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

Lucy Hale’s Album “Road Between” Set For June 3rd Release

Image courtesy of Billboard

Country music newcomer, Lucy Hale, recently revealed plans to release her country debut album in late spring. Lucy’s debut record, Road Between, will release June 3rd on DMG Nashville/Bigger Picture Group.

“This has been a dream of mine since I was a little girl singing Faith Hill and Shania Twain songs into my hairbrush in the mirror,” reveals Lucy. “It was both exciting and scary for me to be so vulnerable making this album, and it’s turned out to be something genuinely me and something I’m really proud to share.”

The exciting news doesn’t stop here for Lucy! She has been invited to make her debut on the Grand Ole Opry this Friday, February 21, 2014!

Congratulations to Lucy! Let us know what you are looking forward to most as Lucy’s bright country music career progresses!

Levi Lowrey Announces Tour & Launches Album Pre-Order

levi-lowrey-album-dates

Although you may not yet recognize the name Levi Lowrey, we’re positive that you’ve heard a song he had a hand in crafting. He was a co-writer on the Zac Brown Band‘s mega-hit “Colder Weather” and is preparing to release his self-titled, sophomore album February 25, 2014  through Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Artists.

The album was executive produced by Zac Brown at Southern Ground Studios in Nashville and includes a laundry list of talented collaborators and musicians including Clay Cook (Zac Brown Band), fiddler Ross Holmes (Mumford & Sons/Cadillac Sky), Oliver Wood (The Wood Brothers) and performer, producer and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee Mac McAnally. The album was co-produced by Clay Cook and Matt Mangano, with the entire thing recorded from start to finish in two weeks.

Pre-order is now available through iTunes.

In addition to releasing his new album in February, Lowrey will be touring, both on his own and as an opener for the Zac Brown Band in arenas across the midwest and the south. Notable dates include two nights in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic for “Sun, Sand & Southern Ground” at the Hard Rock Hotel, and album release concerts in Atlanta  (2/25) and in Nashville  (2/27). 

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

Image courtesy of Jo Dee Messina

Country music superstar, Jo Dee Messina, is releasing her next studio album, Me, on March 18, 2014. As you may already know, this album is quite unique in the sense that Jo Dee’s fans played a major role in all aspects of the project, from funding the production to choosing the songs and album title.

Beginning today, we will be counting down the weeks until Jo Dee’s big album release, which symbolizes Jo Dee’s hard work and dedication to her craft, as well as her artistic freedom to release exactly the kind of music she and her fans want. In anticipation of the release, we will provide weekly reviews of each of the twelve tracks off the album, starting today and ending on March 17, 2014.

Cassadee Pope Scores Her First Top 10 Hit

Image courtesy of VEVO

Vocalist Cassadee Pope has already experienced a multitude of successes in her young country music career. Add another tally mark to the list, as Cassadee’s first country single, “Wasting All These Tears” (off her debut solo project, Frame By Frame) has broken into the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot Country Airplay charts, after spending thirty-three weeks on the charts. Cassadee’s single, “Wasting All These Tears,” is currently approaching RIAA platinum certification, as it has far exceeded the five hundred thousand copies distributed mark.

Congratulations to Cassadee on another accomplishment in country music! We anticipate reporting on the official platinum certification of her album in the very near future!

Jo Dee Messina’s Official Album Release Date

Image courtesy of Jo Dee Messina

If you read our October 2013 interview with Jo Dee Messina, you likely noticed that we announced a March 18, 2014 release of her next studio album, Me. Today, Jo Dee’s camp confirmed that March 18th will, indeed, be the release of the highly anticipated fan-funded project.

Today, on JoDeeMessina.com, it was announced that Jo Dee’s new full-length album will be released Tuesday, March 18th. The album, entitled Me, which was chosen by fans, has been described as Jo Dee’s “most personal album to date as she wrote or co-wrote many of the songs and will release it on her own newly established label, Dreambound Records, with distribution by eOne Music.” From the beginning to the end of the creation of this album, Jo Dee has been able to maintain complete creative control, something that was lacking in her career before this point.

REVIEW: Caroline Kole’s Debut EP – Money To Me

Cole Kole Money To Me EP

We have said it before, and we will say it again – Caroline Kole is a soul much older and wiser than her age. You needn’t have a conversation with Caroline to substantiate that statement. You can simply listen to her music, focus on her beautiful vocals, and let the lyrics take you someplace else in order to understand that Caroline is an artist who is years ahead of her time. This EP contains six original tracks, each of which is distinct in sound and story, and allows Caroline to explore different characters, capturing each one seamlessly and effectively.

Album Review: Jennifer Nettles’ “That Girl”

jennifer-nettles-that-girl-review

On January 14, Jennifer Nettles will release her first solo effort, That Girl, produced by the legendary Rick Rubin and recorded in Malibu, California at the famous Shangri-La Studios. If that sounds far from Nashville and Sugarland, it’s because it most certainly is. On That Girl, Nettles flexes the vocal muscles that she honed with Sugarland, but also stretches past the limits of country music’s imagination.

While country purists and Sugarland diehards may question whether this album has something for them, the answer is absolutely yes. Look no further than the torchy ballad and album opener, “Falling.” The track’s skillful lyrics and huge building bridge would not have felt remotely out of place on any previous Sugarland release.

Following it in a one-two torchy ballad punch is “Me Without You,” an ode to empowerment and a seemingly impossible life after leaving someone. The track paints her as a “caged bird” spreading her wings, but also touches on uncertainty and an unexpected new life. It’s hard not to wonder if the track pays homage to Nettles branching out on her own, singing “I don’t know this road I’m on or where it’s leading to, but I know I’m gonna be alright.”

Although the two opening tracks seem to feel oddly familiar, the rest of the album veers into somewhat unfamiliar territory for Nettles. Although her voice is one of the most distinct of our generation, her rangy twang and intonation unmistakable, some of the tracks are quite the departure for this country girl. There’s the bluesy “Moneyball,” with a throwback vibe and jazzy timbre and the mid-tempo “Jealousy,” a tongue-in-cheek look at a perfect girl one can’t help but envy. There’s the piano ballad “This One’s For You,” which breathes of co-writer Sara Bareilles’ influence. There’s also a rather impressive cover of Bob Seger’s “Like A Rock.”

Listeners of any type will be delighted by “Know You Wanna Know,” an up-tempo satirical ode to a culture obsessed with celebrity. “It’s on every dot com, so it must be true, the internet wouldn’t lie to you,” Nettles laments amusingly in this ear-wormy track that immediately begs for audience participation. In contrast to that raucous track, there’s also the stunningly beautiful “This Angel,” which reads as a love letter to Nettles’ son, Magnus. This is the “Stay” moment of the album where Nettles’ heart is on full display, except it’s no longer breaking with pain, but bursting with unspeakable love.

While That Girl may perplex some country purists, Nettles’ distinct twang and powerful voice is at its finest on this album and she’s never sounded better. With her uncanny ability to curve and bend a word for every drop of emotion, That Girl proves Nettles to be a phenomenal vocalist, true artist and incomparable storyteller.