Tag Archives: Review

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

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

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

Image courtesy of Jo Dee Messina

We are only six weeks away from the release of Jo Dee Messina‘s first studio album as an independent artist. Me promises to fulfill all of your musical cravings, as it contains the fun-loving country tunes you have come to love, as well as those big ballads that anybody with a true appreciation for moving music and stunning vocals can’t live without.

Slowing it down this week, we introduce you to a beautiful ballad on Jo Dee’s upcoming album, entitled “Say Goodbye to Superman.” The song is sung from a mother’s viewpoint and asks the all-too-common question of how does a mother explain to her young child that his father has chosen not to come home. In a society where divorce is the unfortunate norm, this song will certainly hit close to home for mothers, fathers, and children of divorcees alike.

From the opening strokes of the piano keys and the first words uttered by the incomparable Jo Dee (“I’m down on my knees trying hard to find answers …”), this song pulls you close while simultaneously tearing you apart. Jo Dee searches for a way to tell her son that his father isn’t the superhero he thought he was, and rather, he is just a man who fell victim to his own devices. Jo Dee hits her knees as she pleads for a way to pick up the pieces of her brokenhearted son. Of course, as a wife and mother left behind, Jo Dee prays to God that He will help her cope with the loss she also endured, crooning “Lord I need your strength to help me make it through because the man that was his Superman was my superhero too.”

As a product of divorced parents, this track brought me back to my childhood home and the trials and tribulations I witnessed and experienced within those four walls. It reminded me of the struggle of the parent who remains behind and is forced to take on multiple roles — mother, father, confidante, and pillar of strength. This track puts into perspective that a parent in a broken home is forced to put his/her own emotions aside to first care for young children who are affected by the choices made by the adults in the situation.

This song is, by far, a favorite of this particular writer’s … and not just on Me, but within Jo Dee’s entire impeccable catalog. I truly cannot wait for country music fans to get their hands on this album and be exposed to unforgettable songs like “Say Goodbye to Superman.” Jo Dee makes it clear with work like this that she is surely not an artist we are saying goodbye to anytime soon.

Image courtesy of Jo Dee Messina

REVIEW: Chuck Wicks “Us Again”

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Tomorrow is a big day for Chuck Wicks, as his highly-anticipated single “Us Again” hits iTunes in advance of its January 27th release to radio. We got a sneak peek at the heartfelt ballad and we think Chuck just may have another hit on his hands.

The track is his debut single with new label, Blaster Records, and is a stunning ode to lost love. It’s a plea to get back to what once was and “just be us again.” Frankly, we’re not sure how any woman could possibly turn down a crooning like this one. Country music is no stranger to lovelorn ballads and in a sea of party songs, Chuck’s track is an earnest offering, a romantic breath of fresh air.

Love may be lost here, but Chuck isn’t willing to leave it in the past, pleading with his lover to give them another chance. He shares, “‘Us Again’ is one of those songs that reminds us all why we fall in love in the first place. It reminds us to never lose those moments that were so great and so simple in the beginning… and if we do? It’s never too late to get them back again.”

Chuck’s voice soars on the ballad, conveying hurt, desperation and longing. It’s a shame that he has yet to truly have a huge hit as he’s one of the best vocalists in country music today. If “Us Again” is any indication of his new music, we can’t wait for his new album, and we suspect that Chuck will soon be spinning his own track on America’s Morning Show on NASH-FM!

The track was co-written by Wicks, Andy Dodd and Tiffany Vartanyan, and will serve as the lead single for his upcoming album with Blaster Records. “Us Again” will be available for download via iTunes and other digital outlets tomorrow, January 21st, and will be going for radio adds on January 27th.

REVIEW: Brooke Eden at the South Florida Fair

Brooke Eden

Brooke Eden is a little bit country, a little bit rock ‘n’ roll, and a whole lot of talent jam-packed into a pint-sized package of girl power. A South Florida native, Brooke was welcomed home from her current residency in Nashville, Tennessee, as she took over the main stage at the South Florida Fair and performed a lengthy set, never once losing an ounce of her energy. Brooke’s setlist was cleverly crafted with original songs laced between a selection of cover songs that could have been written for Brooke herself. The interplay between covers and originals ensured that the audience’s excitement never waned and that the crowd was glued to every song, anticipating what would come next.

Brooke opened the show with Gretchen Wilson‘s “Here For the Party” and immediately shared her energy with the audience, proving that the choice to stop in on a cold South Florida night was a wise one, indeed. Brooke showed her versatility throughout her entire show, covering soloists, duos, and groups without fail. From The Band Perry to Florida Georgia Line to Adele to Big and Rich, Brooke captivated her audience, bringing the heat to a winter night as she danced around the stage with a presence comparable to the incredible Miranda Lambert.

Album Review: Jennifer Nettles’ “That Girl”

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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.

Review: Lucy Hale’s “You Sound Good To Me”

Lucy Hale You Sound Good To Me

Admittedly, I remember little Lucy Hale, the American Junior contestant. I distinctly recall watching the show, being amazed by Lucy’s chops, and being thrilled when she was one of the lucky kids named to the American Juniors group.

Fast forward ten years and Lucy is not only a well-known actress, but an up-and-coming country artist currently making her way on to the scene. Lucy’s first attempt at country music comes in the form of a single, entitled “You Sound Good To Me.”

Lucy, a Tennessee native, envelopes her country roots in this radio-friendly tune with an extremely catchy hook. The lyrics cleverly describe sounds that are pleasant to Lucy’s ears, which she compares to the feeling she gets when she thinks of her love interest. Lucy’s single shares the giddiness of a couple, whom you envision skipping through a field of flowers toward one another, which can only make hopeful listeners smile, dance, and sing along.

“You Sound Good To Me” is a memorable song for Lucy right out the gate, with mass radio appeal and an upbeat melody that country music fans will surely embrace. Download “You Sound Good To Me” on iTunes today, and don’t forget to catch the video premiere on ABC Family tonight!

REVIEW: Arabella Jones “Let’s Roll”

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Arabella Jones is here to play dirty on her new single, “Let’s Roll.” The track features some of country music’s favorite cliches – mud, partying & trucks – yet still manages to sound fresh. Although she takes a page from the current crop of country males, the song excels because it’s NOT just another frat boy anthem. “Boy if you want a little mud on your tires, let’s roll,” sings Jones in her country-pop twang. The song is a playfully coy come-on to the type of guy who is looking to get a little mud on his tires. Pretty boys need not apply here, as Jones invites boys to “shift down and start this party” and join in her “country playpen”

The track, available on iTunes 9/3, sounds equal parts Band Perry, Miranda Lambert & Cassadee Pope. With it’s pulsing guitar, catchy hook and flirty lyrics, we can imagine country girls everywhere adopting the single as their newest anthem. Cruise on out of the way Florida Georgia Line, we’re ready to “Roll” with Arabella.

For more info on Arabella Jones, make sure to visit her official website and follow her on Twitter.

Review: Single – “Home Sweet Home” by The Farm

photo credit: nickhoffman.com

Although it hasn’t been released to radio quite yet, the debut single of The Farm is creating quite the stir among social networking sites, like Twitter. The group, made up of Damien Horne, Krista Marie, and Nick Hoffman (who plays fiddle and guitar for Kenny Chesney), was signed to Warner Music Nashville in April of this year. The single isn’t set to release to radio until next month, but I couldn’t help but give it a listen. And I’m real glad I did.