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Album Review: Natasha Borzilova, “Out Of My Hands”

Natasha BorzilovaNatasha Borzilova’s newest CD “Out Of My Hands” broke my computer. Seriously, my Mac didn’t want to play it; it kept skipping. I was able to listen to the album in its entirety in my car, but after doing so, I really couldn’t blame my computer: I didn’t want to listen to it either.

Good news though: Natasha is a true singer/songwriter. The songs come from the heart and stay out of the way of genre labels and mainstream sensibilities. She wrote every song and produced the album herself, and even adds her talents on the acoustic guitar.

The music is not generally bad, it just did nothing for me. Her airy voice sounds contrived in some way, almost like a classically-trained vocal was trying to stuff itself inside a soft, folk style.

I will venture to guess that Natasha is enjoyable as a live performer. Given the proper band and setting, I would enjoy songs like Better Than Me. Her passion and talent are apparent; they just didn’t translate to the recording studio.

Overall: Not for everyone, but probably captivating for a select few.

For more on Natasha, visit: www.natashaborzilova.com

Track listing for “Out Of My Hands”

  1. Better Than Me
  2. Cynics Hate Hollywood
  3. Out Of My Hands
  4. The World Below
  5. Fisherman’s Wife
  6. Gypsy
  7. One Soul Desire
  8. Winter Season
  9. One Second Flat
  10. Long Night
  11. Tiny Little Things
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Album Review: Self-Titled Debut By THE FARM

When I first met THE FARM a year ago as I interviewed them and then saw them perform for the first time at Warner Music’s “Pickin’ On The Patio”, I knew there was something special about them and great things would be coming from them in the future. At least, I hoped so!

THE FARM is comprised of Nick Hoffman, Krista Marie, and Damien Horne. Their debut self-titled album is strongly driven by Nick Hoffman’s incredible fiddle playing, tight harmonies of all 3 members, and a contemporary country sound. Their songs are inventive, diverse, and catchy. Nicely produced by the talented songwriter/producer, Danny Myrick.

Here’s the first interview that I did with them, if you want to check it out:

My favorite off the album is still “Home Sweet Home”, their first single that is currently in the top 20 of the charts and still climbing. It’s an uptempo, fiddle-driven tune about not forgetting about where you come from and how nice it is to go back home.   Another favorite is “The Train I’m On”, I loved how it starts out slow lead by the vocals of Damien and builds.  This is a mid-tempo to up-tempo tune that has a great groove.  “Fresh Off The Farm” is another fun, uptempo standout to me and this was lead by the vocals of Nick Hoffman.   Another of the standouts on the album is beautiful ballad “Be Grateful” – especially poignant on a day like today when you turn on the news to hear/see tragic events that seem to plague our world far too often.  Remembering to be grateful for the good things you have in life is a good reminder to have and this song will touch you.

It was hard to pick a least favorite from the album because I really enjoyed the whole album, but if I have to pick it would be “Every Time I Fall In Love”.  Although it was beautifully lead by the vocals of Krista Marie, it was a little too slow for me.  I tend to enjoy uptempo songs more.   It was well-written, just not a big fan of the melody.

I highly-recommend this album by THE FARM that is out in stores now.  I like how they each feel comfortable taking the lead on the album and switch out.  All 3 are strong singers and equally talented musicians (Nick – fiddle,  Damien – guitar, Krista – guitar).

If you get the chance to see them perform live, be sure to.  They are high-energy, polished, and dynamic performers who easily recreate what you hear on the album live on stage.

For more information about THE FARM, go to: www.thefarmmusic.com

Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

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Album Review: Self-Titled Debut Release By JT Hodges, Due In Stores August 21st

Listening to this self-titled debut release from Showdog Records’ JT Hodges, I am struck by the versatility and ease of his voice.  He has a gritty sound that I believe sets him apart from many of his male counterparts in country music today.  The songs lean towards a mix of contemporary country and a little bit of classic rock with some blues mixed in for good measure.  I enjoyed the diverse subject matter, the depth of the songs, and found it very easy to listen to.  It’s a good, solid effort and he penned 8 out of the 10 songs on this album.  I found his writing to be interesting and skilled.  His words easily paint a picture in your mind and tell a story, which I enjoy.

One of my favorites off the album is: “Sleepy Little Town” – a mid-tempo song about dark secrets of a small town that you don’t expect.  Another, “Hunt You Down” was his first single from this album and is a playful, mid-tempo song with a nice groove about a fun night out on the town in Memphis with a woman he just met.  “Right About Now” another mid-tempo song that I enjoyed about an ex-lover unable to let go of a past love as he thinks of what she’s probably doing right about now.  “When I Stop Crying” was a touching ballad about losing love that showed so much depth and gave me chills at times.   Showed a completely different side to his music and I loved the steel guitar in this song.

I found it hard to pick a song that is what I consider a least favorite of mine.  I guess “Green Eyes Red Sunglasses” was my least favorite of the album, but even with it, I enjoyed some of the elements like the more bluesy feel of the song overall.  Just wasn’t as strong or enjoyable to me as the others.

Overall, this is a solid effort filled with diverse, well-written songs.

For more information about JT Hodges, check out his website: www.jthodges.com

Rated 4 out of 5 stars.

Also, check out this interview we had with him this past spring right here:

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Nashville TN  July 18, 2012 —   Show Dog-Universal Music will release JT Hodges’ self titled, debut CD on  August 21, 2012.   Hodges penned eight of the CD’s 10 tracks (see full track listing below). Earlier this month, Hodges asked fans to help him select the next single, and at the halfway point, the contenders have been narrowed down to two: “Sleepy Little Town” (far and away the frontrunner) and “Rather Be Wrong Than Lonely.”  Fans may continue to vote here:   http://on.fb.me/SGRxx9.

 

About JT 

He burst onto the country music scene in 2011 with the release of his debut single, “Hunt You Down,” and a slot on Toby Keith’s Locked & Loaded Tour. Earlier this year, JT was a semi-finalist in the Academy of Country Music’s New Artist of the Year category. “Goodbyes Made You Mine” was the second single from the artist’s soon to be released CD. In his Music Row review of the single, respected music critic Robert K. Oermann  said, “this has a certain ‘presence.’ JT’s not only a solid writer, but his vocal performance is up-close and personal, packed with personality and exuding confidence. The deep-twang guitar and driving production are also pluses. A star is born.”

Tracks on JT Hodges

1.     Rather Be Wrong Than Lonely

2.     Sleepy Little Town

3.     Hunt You Down

4.     Give It One More Night

5.     When I Stop Crying

6.     Goodbyes Made You Mine

7.     Leaving Me Later

8.     Right About Now

9.     Rhythm Of The Radio

10.  Green Eyes Red Sunglasses

For more information on the artist, please check out these links: http://jthodges.com/,

https://twitter.com/#!/HelloJTHodges and https://www.facebook.com/jthodgesmusic.

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Album Review: Punching Bag By Josh Turner

Josh TurnerJosh Turner could sing straight from the phone book and make it sound great.  He’s just THAT good.  I could listen to his soothing, deep baritone voice all night.  Most of his songs are both radio-friendly and have a very traditional feel that he never strays from.   He’s very consistent.  While I don’t expect him to win any Entertainer of the Year awards because his shows are not known for being really exciting, his voice doesn’t need a lot of fanfare and I think it’s just more his style to simply let his voice/music speak for itself.  He has great range in his voice and it all just comes so naturally for him with each release. This new album does not stray from previous albums of his and I think his fans will be pleased.  This is an album filled with plenty of traditional country and songs with religious overtones that he is known for.

One of my favorite songs off the album is “Left Hand Man” – a mid-tempo, optimistic song about love.  I love the melody and lyrics.  “Time Is Love” is another favorite.  Mid-tempo, well-written, and probably my favorite off the entire album.  I heard a lot of steel guitar and mandolin in this one.  Always my favorites to hear on any country song.   Also, “I Was There” gave me goosebumps from the start.  It is a deep, meaningful ballad.  “Good Problem” is an optimistic, uptempo song about love that I really enjoyed, too, and think would make a great single.

The one song I wasn’t crazy about was “Pallbearer”.  This song was just a little to sad and slow for me.  Don’t see this one doing well at radio if it was ever released.

Overall, this is a great album.  Well-written, meaningful, deep, beautifully sung and produced.  I highly recommend it to anyone that is both a fan of traditional and contemporary country music.

For more information, please go to his website: www.joshturner.com

Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

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Album Review: New Jersey Material By Pat Guadagno

Pat GuadagnoThis new album by Pat Guadagno is a mix of classic rock with electric guitars with almost a Spanish feel similar to that of Santana with the song “Pray That We Will”, which was the lead song, to songs with more of an Americana feel like “You Never Even Tried”, then switched to a song with Scotch-Irish influences: “Gravedigger”.  An eclectic mix of songs, for sure.   Even included an acoustic cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born To Run”.   Pat Guadagno‘s gritty voice is soothing and honest, not great, but it just flows out naturally.  This is an artist who seems to have honed his craft through travels with many years on the road and that is reflected in his music.  At least, that’s my guess.  Someone who has seen the world and his music reflects that.

Most of the songs were stripped down to simple acoustic, tell a story, and filled with intricate guitar playing.

My least favorite song was “People My Age”.  I just wasn’t crazy about the lyrics or the song as a whole.  Too simple and stripped down.

My favorite songs from the album were “Pray That We Will” and “I Can’t Take Me Anywhere”.  I enjoyed “Pray That We Will” for the intricate guitar playing, gritty voice, and darker melody with a slight Spanish influence that hinted of Santana.  I, also, liked “I Can’t Take Me Anywhere”, which might possibly fit on today’s country radio.  It was a nice, mid-tempo song and his voice less gritty on this one.

Overall, I think this was an enjoyable album with a mix of songs that might appeal to many people with its many genres it can be placed into, but I see more of an older crowd in late 30s up enjoying it more.  However, I don’t think it’s one that would receive much, if any, airplay and I don’t see any huge commercial appeal.  It’s hard to even place the album into one musical genre, but I don’t believe the artist was going for that.  It’s a good effort, but not great.  I think he just wanted to record songs that he enjoys without being pigeon-holed into any one category.

I noted that he did not appear to have written any of the songs and one thing I really respect is a songwriter. Where he lacks in songwriting, he more than makes up for in guitar picking.

For more information about Pat Guadagno, go to his website: http://magombo.com/

Rated: 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.

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Album Review: Lovely In Blue By Michelle Turley

Michelle TurleyOverall, I appreciated the traditional country feel through this entire album, especially the use of a lot of steel guitar throughout, which is one of my favorite instruments and missing too much in today’s country.  As a whole, it was very soothing and kind of an escape.  Not an album that I would listen to over and over again, but enjoyable for its traditional country qualities.   This is just the kind of country music that my dad would have enjoyed.  Although, I don’t think it would fit at all in today’s country market or receive radio airplay.  Michelle Turley‘s voice was ok, but not great and had a sort of yodeling quality to it that I was sure she would break out yodeling any minute.  Never been a huge fan of yodeling, but it does take some skill to do.  I wouldn’t say that there was any point in this album that really stood out to me and wowed me, though.

My favorite song on the album was the duet “What If” with Jay Tighe.  A pretty ballad.  “Doin’ Time” was a fun, uptempo song that I would expect to hear coming out of the doors of any of the honky tonks on Broadway.

“Stand In Line” was probably my least favorite of the album.  Just too slow in the beginning and I got that little bit of yodeling that I was expecting to come.

Notably, Michelle Turley wrote or co-wrote every song on this album.

For more information about Michelle Turley, go to her site:  www.reverbnation.com/michelleturley

Rated 2 out of 5 stars.

 

 

 

 

 

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Album Review: Dirt Road Communion By Chase Rice

Chase RiceWhile I appreciate the production, musicianship, and the melodies of the album as a whole, I found the entire album a bit cliche.  There are just too many songs about dirt roads, trucks, beer, whiskey, girls, and tractors.  Nothing groundbreaking, profound, or will truly touch your heart here.  The vocals are ok, but will not blow you away and seemed a little strained at times.  I was looking for something with a bit more depth and something to really stand out for me in this new release from Chase Rice, who many will remember as being a runner-up on the hit CBS show ‘Survivor’.

I did enjoy the mid-tempo song “Jack Daniels & Jesus”.  This song had some depth, a great melody, and good lyrics.  “PBJs & PBRs” was a fun uptempo song reminiscing about college days.  This song is radio-friendly and would do well as a summer release.

“Whoa” was a low point for me on this album.   Chase tried to rap during one part of the song. Personally, I think that any kind of rapping should be left off of a country album.  It just doesn’t belong in the genre.  I did like the melody of the song, but the lyrics were lacking.

Overall, this new album is a good listen, but not great and filled with too many country cliches that have been overdone.  It just didn’t blow me away or lacked in true depth.

For more information about Chase Rice, please visit his website at:  www.chaserice.com

Rated 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.

 

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Album Review: Florida Georgia Line ‘It’z Just What We Do’

I know, I look like I just made a big typo in the title, right? ha  No, but I’ll readily admit that you’ll see a typo from me on occasion no matter HOW much I proofread! 🙂 

‘It’z Just What We Do’ is the name of this brand new 5-song EP from up-and-coming country duo, Florida Georgia Line, comprised of Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard.  Released on iTunes just this week, it’s already doing quite well on the iTunes country chart and seems to be creating quite a buzz about this new duo.  There’s also sure to be more buzz created as they are embarking on the 2012 Country Throwdown Tour that features headliner Gary Allan along with Sunny Sweeney, Josh Thompson, Justin Moore, Eric Paslay, Rodney Atkins, and more artists.

This new EP is just plain fun to listen to.  It’s the type of music that is both catchy and just takes you away from your troubles for a bit.  I enjoyed the blending of their two voices together and found the album very easy to listen to.  Very radio-friendly.  I didn’t have to listen a second time to decide if I liked it or not, I just do and it immediately caught my interest.  I wouldn’t say the lyrics have deep emotional depth, but I found it to be very catchy combined with the excellent musicianship I heard on this new release.   There wasn’t a song that really pulled at my heartstrings, but overall I found this new release very enjoyable, filled with uptempo tunes, stellar production, and I imagine live that these guys are quite fun.   Plus, I’m sure all of the ladies will take quite an interest in them, too!

My favorite songs on the album are “Get Your Shine On” and “Tell Me How You Like It”.

Find them on iTunes and give them a listen!

Rated 4 out of 5 stars.

Check out this related article and listen to “Cruise” from the album HERE.

 

 

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Album Review: Marlee Scott, “Beautiful Maybe”

Marlee ScottBack during CRS time, we got to interview the lovely Marlee Scott (check that out here.) She’s a lot of fun and we had a great interview. (Thanks Marlee!) So naturally I was excited to hear her music, and she had just released Train Wreck to country radio.

I listened and didn’t like it. (Sorry Marlee!) And I mean, I really didn’t like it. I still don’t; it does nothing for me. What’s worse, I feel like I’m not allowed to dislike it: Sarah Buxton, a very talented singer/songwriter helped pen the song and (get this) Vince Gill is on background vocals!

HOWEVER… one song does not define an album, so when I got the full album, “Beautiful Maybe,” I dove in with an open mind, and I really liked it! (Yes, I just began an album review with “I liked it…” And somewhere, a music critic begins to cry.) Anyway, listen up:

The album is a great introduction to Marlee as an artist with an eclectic mix of songs. It feels like Carrie Underwood meets Shania Twain plus rock guitars, banjos and big melodies, all coming together to create “Marlee Scott.”

She’s got some sassy up-tempos (Train Wreck, I Love Hating You), several story-rich slower songs (Let It Rain, Life Is Not A Movie, Kiss Of Coming Home), and a number of songs that I could see being a hit on the radio (Beautiful Maybe, Jane Doe). She even has a Toby Keith-style talking/rapping song, Crazy For You.

Overall a very talented singer and a very good selection of songs. “Beautiful Maybe” will be released Tuesday, June 19th on Big Ride Entertainment, and is absolutely worth picking up to check out a great new artist.

For more information, visit www.MarleeScott.com.

Beautiful Maybe album track list:
“Beautiful Maybe”
“Jane Doe”
“I Love Hating You”
“I Won’t Love You Anymore”
“I’m Not Your Baby Anymore”
“Let It Rain”
“Planet Of Your Own”
“Rhinestone In The Rough”
“Crazy For You”
“Kiss Of Coming Home”
“Train Wreck”
“Life Is Not A Movie”

 

Train Wreck Official Music Video

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Album Review: Briana Tyson ‘Back To Me’

Brian TysonBriana Tyson  is our featured artist and track for the month of May.  Her new 5-track EP entitled ‘Back To Me’ is one of the best albums I have had the pleasure to hear this year! Her voice is not only powerful, but filled with such amazing depth and emotion.  If you have the chance to see Briana perform live, you’ll be drawn into her genuine spirit and her live performance will literally give you chills.  I had a friend who couldn’t stop talking about her over 2 weeks after he had seen her perform for the 1st time.  “Wow” was the word he used to describe her and how she gave him chills as she sang.  I couldn’t agree more! In a town filled with many incredible artists, it’s not easy to stick out like this, but she does! Briana has a very special quality about her and definitely worth a listen.  Both contemporary and traditional country music fans will enjoy her music.

Track by track review:

“When You’re Drunk”:  This is my favorite off the album.  It’s an uptempo, fun song with a twist at the end.  Briana starts off acapella–something that most would shy away from because might be a flaw in their voice.  However, no flaws her.  Just control and strength.

“Back To Me’:  A beautiful mid-tempo song about longing to be with a loved one.

“Head Over My High Heels”:  Another fun, mid-to-uptempo song.  I can almost see a legend like Patsy Cline singing this song at Tootsie’s on Broadway.  It’s contemporary but a bit of a throwback to an earlier time in country music.  Something that country traditionalists will love.  Then there’s a section with a trumpet solo where I could’ve sworn I just entered the French Quarter in New Orleans.  So, it even had a little jazz influence, too.

“Almost”:  A beautifully-written and sung ballad about missing a lost love.

“Left My Heart With You”:  This song will bring you to tears.  It did me.  It’s written from the perspective of the person who has passed away as they are watching over their loved ones and trying to give comfort to them from Heaven.

What’s pretty amazing is Briana is only 19 years old, yet her voice and songs have the maturity, emotional depth of someone older who has experienced so much more.  She even writes or co-writes all of her music and co-produced this album herself.  Be sure to find Briana on Facebook at: www.facebook.com/brianatysonmusic

You can buy this EP at iTunes for only $4.95.  Buy it now and support this amazing artist!

Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

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