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Now keep in mind - this is all just MY opinion! You might agree and you might not. The CDs I pick have to be released in this calendar year (so you will not see Eric Church on this list, he was my number one LAST year!)
So here you go!
Kenny Chesney "Welcome to the Fishbowl"
Number Ten was the CD I debated most on probably. There were several CDs that I think deserve to be on the list but ten is TEN! The reason I picked this CD is because I think it's his best CD in a long, long time. I got kind of tired of the "island country" as I call it and I wanted to hear something a little different from him. The one thing that kept it from being higher on the list is it doesn't have a lot of tempo to it. But I do love a ballad and I think Kenny is one of the best around at singing them. You can really tell he put a lot of thought into this CD. I do feel like this CD has more variety to it - so you get more sides of Kenny.
Surprise moment: Kenny rapping on "Welcome to the Fishbowl" (OK, it's not very long)
Grab a Kleenex: "While He Still Knows Who I Am" - powerful
"Island Country" song I really like: "Time Flies"
Easton Corbin "All Over The Road"
It's hard to believe but this is only Easton's SECOND CD! It's his "sophomore" CD as they say in the business. His first CD was in my Top 10 CD and I can't say that this CD takes him in a different direction - but I can say this is a straight-down-the-middle great COUNTRY CD. Now that George Strait is retiring we need someone like Easton in country music. The arrangements on these songs are excellent, his singing is just smooth - it's like listening to an old friend. I mean as soon as you hear "Dance Real Slow" that fiddle starts playing and you can't help but think of a classic George song. With so many male country artists taking it to the edge of country and rock it's very nice to hear a great COUNTRY CD. Thank you Easton!
Highlights: "Are You With Me" - the song just has a haunting quality about it and I think it's so different and beautiful.
My Sister's Favorite Song In The World Right Now: "Tulsa Texas" and think it's such a great song too.
Nicest Surprise On The CD: "I Think Of You", it's a song every girl would like to think was written about her. You think the song is over at the 3:20 mark - let it keep going. The last minute or so is just instrumental and it is BEAUTIFUL.
Lee Brice - Hard 2 Love
I remember the first day I popped this CD into my computer in my office and "Hard to Love" started and I KNEW by a minute into the song that this CD would be on my Top 10 of the year. The first song is great and it just gets better as you listen to it. Especially since cut #2 is "A Woman Like You" - Lee's first #1 song. Lee is an exceptional songwriter but didn't write all of the the songs - out of the 13 cuts he wrote/cowrote eight of them. That's what makes him a great artist, he can write but he can also find songs that fit him and his style.
Lee can sing the hell out of a ballad. I absolutely love "Seven Days A Thousand Times", "That Way Again" (and listen to that song all the way through, you don't want to miss the beautiful string arrangement at the end of it) and "One More Day"...but then he can make me laugh when he sings a song like "Beer". To touch your heart and make you smile on one CD is a talent.
I've been a Lee Brice fan for a long time. He's worked very hard to get where he's at and I'm so happy that he's finally getting the recognition he deserves. And he put out one heckuva a great CD with this one. There isn't one song you'll skip.
Biggest Songwriter Surprise: Eric Church is a co-writer on "Life Off My Years"
The Song You Have To LISTEN To: "I Drive Your Truck". The lyrics are powerful. Have a tissue handy.
Song You Have To Listen To All The Way Through:"One More Day" . You'll understand how hard it is to spend so much time on the road once you hear his little boy at the end of that song.
If you would have asked me to predict a new band that would have really taken off in 2013 I would have definitely picked Edens Edge. I'm still baffled why this trio isn't absolutely HUGE!
They have everything in place - the songs, the talent and the incredibly vocals of Hannah Blaylock. LOVE HER! She sings like a cross between and angel and Dolly Parton. Somewhere in the middle there. Her voice blends so well with Cheryl and Dean's vocals that sometimes it's actually hard to hear the individual parts. And speaking of Cheryl and Dean - crazy talented those two. They come from a bluegrass background and you can really hear that influence on some of the songs.
And what makes me even more excited about this CD is that it's their FIRST CD. I can't wait to hear what they do next. Just because they didn't become a household name in 2012 doesn't mean they won't in 2013! I see big things ahead for this band. And I could listen to Hannah sing all day. I put the CD in my car and probably didn't take it out for a month!
Most Amazing Song on the CD - "Christ Alone" it's totally acapella and one of the most beautiful songs I've ever heard.
The Song I Can't Believe Hasn't Been Written Before - "Who Am I Drinking Tonight" "are you a Kenny tequila, Buffet Margarita or an Alan Jackson hurricane. Are you a good time, glass of moonshine, going George Strait to my brain" ..."so what's in the cup, order it up, who am I drinking tonight?"
The Song I Want Them To Release as a Single: "Swingin' Door". The arrangement, the harmonies...perfect.
Dwight Yoakam - 3 Pears
This was probably my biggest surprise of the year. I am a HUGE Dwight Yoakam fan but I have to be honest, I just didn't really like his last couple CDs. I loved "Guitars and Cadillacs" (who doesn't?) and "This Time" could be one of the best country CDs ever but his last CD sure didn't come close to that magic. So after seven years, that's right SEVEN years, I heard he was putting out a CD. Part of me was super excited and part of me was super apprehensive.
Until I listened to it. As soon as the first song started I knew it was THAT Dwight! The one I love.
This CD is everything I love about Dwight Yoakam. It's not like it's a CD from an artist who is going back and trying to recreate a sound that worked for him. It's Dwight Yoakam that feels very 2012. He wrote or cowrote every song on the CD except for "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke" and that is one kick ass cover I might add.
The One Thing I Would LIke to Ask Dwight: "Why did you name it "3 Pears"? (That's probably my least favorite song on the CD.)
The Song I Would Sing To Little Kids If I Had Any: "Waterfall" "If I had a big giraffe tried to dance and made us laugh every smile and giggle would be free. If I had a big moon light we'd turn it back on every night just so the dark could try to get some sleep" The lyrics just make me smile.
Most Surprising Thing About This CD: Beck co-produced a couple of the tracks.