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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.

INTERVIEW: CMA Award Winner and Grammy Nominee Deana Carter

DC

She is likely best known for her debut single, “Strawberry Wine,” but singer/songwriter Deana Carter has a plethora of albums, songwriting credits, award nominations, and a CMA Award on her shelf. Admittedly, I bought Deana’s first album in 1996 (with the hologram cover, thank you very much!) and I couldn’t resist kicking off our interview with a play on the CMA Awards Album of the Year Nominee Did I Shave My Legs For This? So, to answer the burning question you all have, no, Deana did not, in fact, shave her legs for our interview. She also did not imbibe any strawberry wine because “it’s not Friday yet!” After I got these (likely) very much anticipated references to Deana’s breakout project out of the way, I was able to hone in on what this talented, poised, hardworking, and unbelievably sweet musician has been doing as of late.

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

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?

REVIEW: Sarah Darling, Jenn Bostic, and Emily Brooke in South Florida

Sara_Kauss_Photography_JSE

Occasionally you go to an intimate show and are fortunate to experience an incredible performer up close and personal. Very rarely are you able to have that experience multiplied by three. On February 26th in Jupiter, Florida, Nashville recording artist, Sarah Darling; UK chart topper, Jenn Bostic; and local teenage prodigy, Emily Brooke, shared the stage at Tiki 52 for one night only … And it was a night that attendees won’t soon forget.

Emily Brooke opened the night with a bang, almost literally, as she took on Miranda Lambert’s “Kerosene.” As always, Emily charmed the crowd immediately with her soulful voice, stunning guitar playing, and adorable personality, made especially apparent by the huge smile that crossed her face when the audience joined her in a loud “HA!” during this hot opener. In true Emily Brooke fashion, she introduced almost every song, told cute little stories, made herself giggle, and, like a seasoned professional, swiftly returned to her set list seamlessly. A crowd favorite was Darius Rucker’s “Wagon Wheel,” which Emily introduced and then, elatedly, said that she heard someone in the audience say how much she loved this song. Onlookers sang and clapped along as Emily strummed the guitar and crooned this popular tune that oftentimes receives a warm reception and rave reviews. Other highlights of Emily’s set list included Hunter Hayes’ “All You Ever,” The Civil Wars’ “Devil’s Backbone,” and original song (on Emily’s Here Right Now album with a corresponding video on YouTube) “Dance Hall.”

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

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

Jo Dee Messina

With one month to go until the release of Jo Dee Messina‘s new album, Me, I am still recovering from the emotional roller coaster that was caused by last week’s featured song, “Say Goodbye to Superman.” To offset the heartbreaking ballad that I had on repeat all last week (okay okay … I was still listening to it this morning), this week the feature songs (yes, plural) are the upbeat “Take It” and “He’s Messed Up.”

“Take It” is a song that, undoubtedly, can be translated into an anthem of freedom for Jo Dee, as she embarks on the new journey of an independent artist. In a true art imitating life moment, Jo Dee sings “I’m breaking free from these chains that bind me; anything that ties me down.” “Take It” is a song about embracing what lies ahead, rather than letting the weight of the world stay on your shoulders. The song teaches a lesson about letting go, looking forward, and hitting the accelerator without hesitation. Drop your convertible top, roll down the windows, crank this song on high as you cruise down the street. Nothing is going to hold you back, and if you have a moment of doubt, let Jo Dee’s words and actions inspire you!

“He’s Messed Up” is a unique song for a very special reason — Jo Dee’s fans were involved in the recording of this track. During the chorus, there are background responses to the lyrics, as well as clapping throughout. The voices and hands you hear belong to fans who donated to the Kickstarter project to produce this album. The message in this song is that, no matter how much you wish someone will change for you, it is inevitable that the person will always remain the same. Jo Dee encourages those who have had the lingering thought of “he will change for me” to put on their walking boots because, to put it simply, “he’s messed up.” You will find yourself bopping your head side to side and/or up and down as you listen to this song that is reminiscent of a No Doubt sound … if Gwen Stefani suddenly acquired a twang. The highlight of this track, other than the cameo by supportive fans, comes early in the second verse, but you will have to pre-order the album and/or follow Jo Dee on Facebook and Twitter to uncover this highlight!

Remember, there are only five weeks left until Me is released. You can pre-order the album now on iTunes and receive two immediate downloads (“Peace Sign” and “A Woman’s Rant“).

Pre-Order Jo Dee Messina’s “Me”

Image courtesy of Jo Dee Messina

We have been raving about Jo Dee Messina and her upcoming album, Me, for several months and wishing time would fast forward so you all could experience this album for yourselves. Today, we welcome you back to Keepin’ It Country with exciting news! There are only six weeks left until the big release, and you can now pre-order the album on iTunes! Upon ordering the album, you will immediately be able to download two songs off of Me – the first single, “Peace Sign,” and the sassy “A Woman’s Rant.” These two catchy, upbeat future hits have the power to tide you over until the March 18th release date!

Twelve spectacular songs for $9.99 and two early downloads … What a perfect way to start your New Music Tuesday!

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!