Heidi Newfield-Why’d You Have To Be So Good

August 11, 2012 Leave a comment

Heidi Newfield hasn’t had a single go any higher than twenty-something since her debut single, “Johnny and June,” rose to a peak of #11. Nearly four years after releasing her debut solo effort, Heidi is back with a slow, passionate lost love song, but is it enough to live up to her debut single?

She’s singing about a lover who’s no longer in her life, and the ache that she fills with him being gone. In the chorus, she lists off the reasons he was so good: “Why’d you have to be so good/ Why’d you have to love me so much/ Why’d you never let me down/ Like everybody else in this town/ Just when all my faith was leaving/ It finally had me believing/ When I didn’t think I could/ Oh, why’d you have to be so good.”  She sings with true ache in her voice, as if she actually lived through loving someone as good as the man in the song.

There aren’t layerings or any type of backing vocals in the song, allowing her voice to shine, just as it had when she was in Trick Pony and on her debut solo single. Similarly to J&J, this track has is different enough where it will stand out a little, though not too much, on today’s radio. That should be enough to get stuck in people’s heads and help Heidi climb toward the upper part of the charts again. Hopefully this will be another huge single for her, and perhaps even earn her nominations, much like J&J did.

Highlights: Heidi’s voice, lyrics

4/5 Stars

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahGalQ5RCV8

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Lee Brice-Hard to Love

I was never the biggest fan of Lee Brice, but he’s slowly changing my mind. It started with his last single, “A Woman Like You,” and is continuing with this current single, “Hard to Love”, off of his second studio album, “Hard 2 Love.” Brice has his work cut out for him, after only reaching the top 10 twice out of 7 previous single releases, though coming off of the #1 success of “Woman,” Brice should have no problem finding that top 10 once again.

A guitar and a solid drum drive the song, which is backed by Brice’s also solid vocals. “I am insensitive I have a tendency to pay more attention to the things that I need/ Sometimes I drink too much, sometimes I test your trust, sometimes I dunno/ Why you’re staying with me,” Brice sings in the first verse with the emotion of a seasoned singer, an emotion which he carries into the chorus and then into the rest of the song.

Brice lets loose of the chorus in the right ways, dropping his pride and admitting his faults: “I’m hard to love, hard to love/ I don’t make it easy/ I couldn’t do it if I/ Stood where you stood/ I’m hard to love, hard to love/ You say that you need me/ I don’t deserve it/ But I love that you love me/ Good.”

The bridge is where Brice finally lays out the fact that he’s “just a man,” and that he’s not superman, but the “million second chances” that his lover gives him is his saving grace.

I believe you can have someone sing every song pitch perfect, and of course it will sound good, but it won’t sound believable until you add in that emotion behind each lyric: Brice has soared here. By putting himself fully into the song, as well as fantastic lyrics and a smooth production, this song shines as one of the best songs released thus far in 2012.

Highlights: Drum, Brice’s emotion and vocal

4.5/5 stars

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x0liNLHmvKY

Categories: Singles Tags: ,

Tim McGraw-Truck Yeah

ImageTim McGraw is back with his debut single for his new label, Big Machine. Titled “Truck Yeah,” this tune already sounds like it’s going to be an in your face country song. Guess what? That’s exactly what the lyrics are.

Lead by heavy steel guitars, the song is definitely gets in your face, and it doesn’t get any calmer as the song progresses. The heavy steel guitars are a sound that McGraw shouldn’t try again. While it may work for some artists, it doesn’t work for McGraw. The lyrics don’t help at all, as the title is obviously supposed to be “@&%$ Yeah” instead of “Truck Yeah.” Like any in-your-face country song, the lyrics talk about what it is to be a stereotypical country boy: “Sling a lil mud off the back, we can do that/ Friday night football, Saturday Last Call, Sunday Hallelujah, if you like it up loud and you’re hillbilly proud then you know what I’m talking about,” McGraw sings in the first verse, with the second sounding very similar.

The chorus doesn’t save the song from the obnoxious verse: “Truck Yeah/ Wanna get jack up Yeah/ Let’s crank it on up Yeah/ With a little bit of luck I can find me a girl with a Truck Yeah/ We can love it on up Yeah/ Til the sun comes up Yeah/ If you think this life I love is a little too country/ Truck Yeah.” The “Yeah” in the chorus may become catchy, but being catchy doesn’t make a song good, though it might help the song get more play at radio, as well as making it more fun. Though again, something like being fun doesn’t make it a good song.

The layering of vocals in the first verse is interesting though, and actually add a little to a song that is another to be tossed into the pile of forgettable in-your-face country songs. Hopefully the single will either peak quickly or just fall off the charts as soon as it gets on them so we can have something from McGraw like his older material. One can only hope.

Highlights: None

1.5/5 Stars

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=taIwJ-IIzYU

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Josh Turner-Time Is Love

Country sound? Check. Great lyrics? Check. Baritone voice? Check. This is definitely a Josh Turner song, and definitely a hit for the  talented artist.

Turner offers up a happy, upbeat song that is perfect for summer, singing about his love with his wife, and how loving her is all he wants to do with his time: “I only get so many minutes/ Don’t wanna spend ’em all on the clock/ In the time that we spent talkin’/ How many kisses have I lost?” Turner sings in the second verse, convincing us that he’s thrown himself into the song and truly wishes he could spend every possible moment with his wife.

Repeated 4 times in the song (which may be a little much, but it works), Turner sings the chorus accompanied by steel guitar, a mandolin, a guitar, and a bouncy drum that moves the song right along in all the right ways. “Time is love, gotta run/ Love to hang longer/ But I got someone who waits/ Waits for me, and right now/ She’s where I need to be/ Time is love, gotta run,” Josh sings in the chorus, not giving his best vocal performance on an up-tempo track (such as “Firework”), but giving us a a convincing and solid performance.

Unfortunately, we don’t get to hear his deeper voice much, but with how the song puts a smile on your face when you listen to it, I think that can be overlooked (and that part of his voice will hopefully be on a later single release from this album). Turner has given country fans a great glimpse into his upcoming 5th studio album, “Punching Bag,” and if this single is any indicator as to what the album will be like, I think we can expect a fantastic album from Mr. Turner.

Highlights: Great up-tempo track, nice country leaning sound.

4/5 stars

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fefu8tca4EY

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Kellie Pickler-100 Proof

After finishing in 6th place on “American Idol,” Kellie Pickler dove into a country music career, releasing singles that should have been much larger hits than they eventually turned out to be, such as “Red High Heels,” “I Wonder,” and “Best Days of Your Life,” to name a few. As the second single off her third album, which shares its name with this song, Pickler has once again released a solid single.

“100 Proof” carries a pleasant sound throughout, fitting just outside of the arena of country-pop and dipping it’s toes into the traditional country group of songs that exist today, despite how small that group is. Smooth steel guitars cover the song, adding in the depth that Pickler already gives the song through her vocals.

“We’ll go home and lay down safe in the arms of love/ And we’ll dance all night long on the edge of can’t get enough/ And we’ll wake up in the morning like we always do/ Drunk on the beautiful truth/ We got love a 100 proof” she sings convincingly during the chorus, sounding as if the song describes exactly how passionately she feels about her husband.

She sings most vulnerable during the bridge and the stripped down first two lines of the last chorus: “Yes baby, I’m addicted to your touch/ I’m still hung over from the last time we made love like this/ This ain’t in no shot glass, no bottle baby, no.” Her longing to be with her lover transfers into the listener, the way a song should make a listener feel.

Though possibly a song that, in another singer’s hands, could have been lost amid the songs released, Pickler handles the song well and brings it to a point where it stands out from the rest, proving why she survived so long on “Idol”, and once again establishing the fact that she is perhaps the most under appreciated female artist on radio today. It took Miranda Lambert one song (“The House That Built Me”) to shoot her to super stardom, and now her career has blasted off. One can only hope Pickler will follow Miranda’s example with the release of this single.

Highlights: this is simply a beautiful song. Everything.

4.5/5 stars

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nItZjACkOq8&ob=av2e

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Thompson Square-Glass

Undoubtedly country music’s hottest duo, Thompson Square finally lets Shawna take lead vocals on a single. Her husband, Keifer, has been singing lead on their last three releases, and it’s refreshing (and a good move) to have a different voice solely leading the duo.

Shawna begins singing with just her and an electric guitar: “Tryin’ to live and love/ With a heart that can’t be broken/ Is like tryin’ to see the light/ With eyes that can’t be opened,” showcasing her voice before the sound becomes what we’ve come to expect from the duo: a full backing band instead of something stripped down. Though the lyrics ask for a more stripped down performance, what the duo has created is still a beautiful piece of music.

“We may shine, we may shatter/ We may be pickin’ up the pieces here on after/ We are fragile, we are human/ We are shaped by the light we let through us/ But we break fast, ’cause we are glass/ ‘Cause we are glass,” the husband-wife duo sings during the chorus, comparing people to glass, while the verses offer comparisons of a person’s soul and heart to glass. Can anyone say possible “Single of the Year” nominee and winner?

Perhaps the most exciting part of this duo has been the chemistry they’ve shown, especially on this track. Not many groups come out of the gate with as much capability of singing together as Shawna and Keifer do. Perhaps it’s that they’re in love and married, so they share a special connection while singing, or perhaps they’ve been singing longer than most bands have before they got signed. Whatever it is that gave these two such amazing chemistry, we are thankful for having these two making country music.

In an exciting new single, the duo has shown that both parties are capable of singing lead just fine, which is rare in a group or duo, save a few. After the major success of “Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not?” the duo has a lot to live up to, but their new song has surpassed those expectations and will surely help to nicely set up their sophomore set.

Highlights: lyrics, Shawna on lead.

4/5 stars

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tPd1GIwjRFM

Categories: Singles Tags: ,

Big & Rich-That’s Why I Pray

They’re back! After nearly 5 years without a real single out, Big & Rich are finally releasing new music! Titled “That’s Why I Pray,” from their upcoming album “Hillbilly Jedi,” the new single from one of country music’s biggest “pushing the boundary” acts is good, but a disappointing release.

Sharing full vocals (which sound fantastic) on this song, the duo returns with a very radio-friendly song that country music lovers will most likely eat up. The song’s lyrics highlights some problems that our society faces today: “My neighbor lost his house/ Because he can’t find a job,” the duo sings early in the song before the second verse: “Some stupid video posted as a joke/ Somebody’s life gets ruined/ Out of everything we can create/ Where’s the cure to keep the sick from losing/ Babies having babies/ Because their parents are always gone/ Somehow we’ve forgotten how to make a house a home.” People will undoubtedly turn this song up because it describes many of their lives, though lyrics aren’t all that make a song.

The track’s feel is similar to their sole #1 hit, “Lost in This Moment.” Despite the familiar Big & Rich vocal from the duo, the familiar overall sound of the song for the duo is what causes it to fall flat. Their earlier singles, such as their most popular (“Save a Horse (Ride a Cowboy)” and “Comin’ To Your City”), offered a very different sound on country radio, and it was refreshing and helped the duo to stand out. Artists should be able to offer (especially after a 5 year hiatus) a new sound, or at least stick with their style that fans came to love, and not just have a sound that’s more radio-friendly and not totally yourself. Though, this song does sound different than a majority of country radio, so it will probably still stand out a little.

Though the chorus does reflect a message of hope: “I’m begging for forgiveness/ I wanna make a difference/ Even in the smallest way/ I’m only one person/ But I can feel it working/ I believe in better days/ That’s why I pray,” it’s not enough to bring the song back up from the already done sound. None-the-less, this is a great comeback song for the duo, and it will hopefully put them at the top of the current group of duos, where they belong, and lyrically I could see the song receiving a nod for “Single of the Year.”

Highlights: the chorus, the fact this is will hopefully be the comeback song for the duo.

4/5 stars

Video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QjJyZfDCa88&ob=av2e

Categories: Singles Tags: ,