Category Archives: Reviews

Album Review: Courtney Patton–So This is Life

Rating: 8.5/10

I’ll start here by being honest–when this album came out on June 9th, I had not even heard the name Courtney Patton. So this review comes late for two reasons; firstly, Country Exclusive did not exist then, and secondly, when I did hear of her, I wanted to take my time really listening before reviewing her. For anyone out there like me, Courtney Patton is a Texas country artist, the wife of better known Texas singer/songwriter Jason Eady, and So This is Life is her third album.

So This is Life is characterized throughout by acoustic arrangements and excellent songwriting. I say this now to avoid having to say “the instrumentation and songwriting are excellent” over and over–just assume so unless I say otherwise. “Little Black Dress” tells the story of a one-night stand, and the woman being left alone and brokenhearted. I immediately fell in love with Courtney’s voice here–she tells a story perfectly. “War of Art” is another great story, this one somewhat autobiographical, of a wife and mother struggling with her passion for songwriting and performing. She sings

And I’ve heard it all before
Singin’ to a whiskey-soaked dance floor
Ain’t no job for a mother and a wife
So I try to do things right
But at what cost is it worth the fight
I just couldn’t let that war take my life.

“Her Next Move” is a lyrical low point for me (still good, just not great) about a woman seeking attention from her husband by threatening to do things like “take their daughter across state lines.” “Need for Wanting” is my favorite track on the album; here Courtney again discusses a one-night stand, asking the man in the bar not to “misinterpret my need for wanting tonight.” She says she won’t leave with him but at the end we hear, “But if you like, come in, since you understand my need for wanting tonight.”

“Twelve Days” was written about Courtney missing her husband Jason Eady while he is on the road–“I can make it twelve days, I’ve waited longer.” “Killing Time” is more upbeat, and tells about a woman’s husband “killing time” in prison for stealing money. “Maybe it’s You” is another low point for me lyrically; it is a love song about being forgiven after making some mistakes in the relationship. “Sure Am Glad” goes back to the one-night stand material, this time between two friends–“You caught me off guard when I heard that knock on my door, but I sure am glad that I’m not alone anymore.”

The title track was written about Courtney’s parents. “So This is Life” tells the story of a marriage that wasn’t what they pictured–the wife watches TV and wishes for someone to talk to, while the husband works days and nights trying to get by. They end up divorced after he takes a lover in a midllife crisis. This song is painfully accurate and is my second favorite track. “Battle These Blues” is another lyrical low point for me (again, still good) where a wife deals with a husband who drinks too much and stays out late. By contrast, “Where I’ve Been” is excellent, and here the wife says she’s not getting the love she needs, so she’s being unfaithful. She says, “If you ever decide that you ever want to try again, I’ll be here in the mornin’ just don’t ask me where I’ve been.” “But I Did” closes the album with an autobiographical track about Courtney’s life–“I was born the oldest one with patience like my mother, the fire and heart of my father, and a spirit of my own.”

This album is musically excellent. All twelve songs are good, and most are great. The only thing I wished for is that there were one or two more upbeat songs because listening to the album as a whole sometimes makes it feel slow. All the same, Courtney Patton is a force to be reckoned with, and I highly recommend So This is Life.

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Single Review: Clare Dunn’s “Move on”

Rating: 3/10

So, it’s no secret that I want to see more women getting country radio attention. And for anyone who knows me, it’s no secret that I like a little rock in my country, and love both sides of Miranda Lambert–the traditional country side of “Roots and Wings” and the pop rock side displayed on “Little Red Wagon.” So when Miranda Lambert selected Clare Dunn for her Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars tour, claming that
“you don’t see that many women who get up there and really slay a guitar and play some real rock ‘n’ roll country”
I was excited to hear Clare’s music. Fast forward to a few weeks ago, when Clare’s new single “Move on” became the most added song to country radio after Lambert and Little Big Town’s “Smokin’ and Drinkin,” and I knew I had to review it.

But here’s the problem–where Miranda calls it “rock ‘n’ roll country,” I don’t hear anything country about “Move On.” It’s a pretty good song–certainly wouldn’t make me change the radio station–and that’s why it’s not getting a lower rating, but if this song were being sold as a pop or rock song, I would give it an 8 or 9. Sell it as country, and that’s why it gets a 3.

“Move on” is about a woman asking the man to hurry up and “move on” from pretending to be just friends when it’s obvious they both want more. She uses lines like “Sometimes I wish you just, Well, if I told you what I’m really thinkin’ it might make you blush.” She wants him to “move on, move on, move on, and make your move on me.” It reminds me a little of “Are you Gonna Kiss me or Not” by Thompson Square, and lyrically, it’s not a bad song.

Musically, it’s pretty good too–for a pop rock song. I love the electric guitars and drum loops–but nothing in it is country. This is Clare Dunn being the rock version of Kelsea Ballerini. Kelsea Ballerini is talented, but as a pop artist. Clare Dunn is talented, but as a pop or rock artist. Neither belong on country radio, and it is unfortunate that these women are getting airplay over more traditional artists like Sunny Sweeney or Kacey Musgraves. Apparently, in 2015, you can just write anything short of straight rap–and that’s probably coming–and decide it’s country. Clare Dunn, call yourself pop or rock, and this rating will change drastically.

Album Review: Easton Corbin–About to Get Real

Rating: 2.5/10

Easton Corbin is one of the most frustrating people in country music for me. I became a fan with his first two singles, “A Little More Country Than That” and “Roll With It,” but for me, he has gone downhill from there. With a voice nearly identical to George Strait’s, he lends himself naturally to traditional sounding country and could be a leader in this “country” radio climate. So it is all the more disappointing that he has chosen to capitalize on the bro country craze, and when I listened to this album, it quickly became nothing more than a contest for the song with the worst pick-up line.

The album opens with “Kiss me One More Time,” a relatively decent, if forgettable, love song. I have no problem with this song, although it did not stand out at all. Next is “Guys and Girls,” which is about him asking to be “the guy beggin’ for one last dance” and she’s the “girl who says you missed your chance.” All hope for this song ends here with the next line:

Let’s take it to the parking lot and put the tailgate down
Turn it into a Saturday night and a small town world,
A cooler of beer, a little truck bed twirl in the moonlight.

Contender No. 1 for worst pick-up line on the album.

“Clockwork” is about a relationship that doesn’t work. It reminds me of Chris Young’s “I’m Comin’ Over,” only much more boring. “Diggin’ on You” is next, and contender No. 2 for worst pick-up line goes to “I’m buzzin’ on, kissin’ on, trippin’ on, diggin’ on you.” Seriously, who writes this and thinks it’s good? And immediately after this comes the single, currently at NO. 5 on Billboard Country Airplay, “Baby, Be my Love Song.” This sounds like it would be a great song, but no; here we have the pick-up line, “Be the buzz in my Dixie cup”–I hope there aren’t any women out there who find this at all romantic.

Next is the title track, an actual decent love song (I know, surprising)

It’s about to get real good,
Come on baby, get real close,
Girl, you know I want you real bad, got me fallin’ fast,
Let’s take it where it wants to go.

Following this is “Yup” which is as unoriginal as the title–just a song about picking some girl up at a bar, minus a dreadful pick-up line. “Wild Women and Whiskey” is a pretty good song and reminds me of something George Strait might have sung. This is infuriating because it proves that Easton Corbin is capable of singing something decent. “Are You With Me” is another good song (two in a row, he’s on a freaking roll) about taking a chance on love.

The streak is broken with typical bro country anthem “Damn Girl” which is ironic because he actually says, “this ain’t just a pick-up line, damn girl.” Again, who writes this? “just Add Water” is a summer anthem like Brad Paisley’s “Water”–no problem with this one, but nothing stood out. Last is “Like a Song,” a decent song about a woman who has left him and is stuck in his head like a song.

Musically, About to Get Real was great. Every song sounded country–very few pop or hip-hop influences to be found. Somehow this frustrates me even more. It proves that Easton Corbin could be great if he wanted to be, but he has chosen to cash in on a trend instead. Consequently, I don’t think I will remember most, if any of these songs within five minutes.

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Single Review: Cam’s “Burning House”

Rating: 8/10

“Burning House” is the second single off Cam’s EP “Welcome to Cam Country.” She impressed us with her debut, “My Mistake,” and Bobby Bones is supporting “Burning House” with On the Verge, the program that is largely responsible for the atrocity that is Sam Hunt. This time, at least, he is backing a decent artist.

“Burning House” is about a love going up in flames. The song is entirely acoustic, with only guitars, pianos, and violins. It makes it easy to just listen to the lyrics, something that has been lost in country.

Having said that, I don’t necessarily think the lyrics are great. They are good, but there is no real hook. Cam sings,

I had a dream about a burning house,
You were stuck inside, I couldn’t get you out
Lay beside you, and I pulled you close
And the two of us went up in smoke.

I do like the song, I’m just not sure people will like it, even if Bobby Bones does promote it. However, even though I am not sold on the song yet, I am sold on Cam, and I can’t wait to hear more from her.

Album Review: Kacey Musgraves–Pageant Material

Rating: 9/10

Kacey Musgraves took the country world by storm in 2013 with her debut album Same Trailer, Different Park. Fans fell in love with singles like “Merry Go Round,” a painfully accurate portrayal of life in rural towns, and “Follow Your Arrow,” which was much celebrated for embracing liberal values. In light of the success of Same Trailer, Different Park, her sophomore album has been highly anticipated by many–and here’s where I’ll be honest, not by me. I only bought two songs from Kacey’s debut album and considered it to be highly overrated (I have since changed my mind.) But since I first heard the lead single from Kacey’s second album, I have been looking forward to this release, and I was not disappointed.

Pageant Material opens with “High Time,” a lighthearted track about getting back to the simple things in life. It suits Kacey’s voice, and I am glad to hear her higher register. Next is “Dime Store Cowgirl,” which will be the second single from the album. Kacey sings about how even though she left Golden, Texas, she will always be just a “dime store cowgirl.” This will be a great choice for a single, not that radio will do her any favors.

“Late to the Party” is a weak point on the album, and is basically just about Kacey wanting to be seen coming late to a party with her man. The album’s title track is my favorite and is about growing up in the South and not being “pageant material.” Kacey sings: “I ain’t pageant material. I’m always higher than my hair, and It ain’t that I don’t care about world peace, but I don’t see how I can fix it in a swimsuit on a stage.” Next is “This Town,” a song about the secrets in small towns that just felt like a worse version of “Merry Go Round.” “Biscuits,” the lead single, advises us to “mind your own biscuits, and life will be gravy.” I think this is a great hook, and again, if radio would do her any favors, it would be doing better on the charts.

“Somebody to Love” is a beautiful song about how we are all struggling for acceptance and love. I can’t say anything about this, just listen to it. “In “Miserable,” Kacey complains about people who are only happy miserable. It’s a decent song, but it’s not one that stood out. “Die Fun” is a pop country song that would make a great single–“Let’s love hard, live fast, die fun.” “Family is Family” is (sadly) a picture of everyone’s dysfunctional family.

Next, Kacey protests the “Good Old Boys Club” and says she doesn’t want to be “another gear in a big machine.” Enough said. “Cup of Tea” is a copy of “Follow Your Arrow” but it is just as good. “Fine” is a love song about telling people you’re “fine” when obviously you aren’t. There is a “hidden” track with Willie Nelson to end the album called “Are you Sure.” This was a great choice from Kacey, again enough said.

This album has made me a Kacey Musgraves fan, and I hope radio will actually play her next single. But even if it doesn’t, she obviously doesn’t care, and that’s what I love about her. Oh and one more thing I love: in a world of hip-hop and rap and pop and rock disguised as country, Kacey Musgraves is just country–and Pageant Material is a great country album. I highly recommend it.

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