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Now keep in mind these are simply the CDs that I liked more than other CDs this year. Nothing scientific about it. You might agree you might not. :)
Zac Brown Band "Uncaged"
I think the Zac Brown Band is simply exceptional. They are amazing musicians and amazingly VERSATILE musicians. They can play a very bluegrass-feel song and then go into an almost James Taylor-style ballad. There is absolutely no way they can release a CD that wouldn't make it into my Top 10 and there isn't another band or act in any format that compares to their musicianship. Zac had a hand in writing almost every song on the CD and vocally he just blows me away. I'm not 100% sure if I like this CD as well as the first two which is why it ended up as #5. But you can tell by listening that ZBB doesn't just put an album out to put an album out. You can tell the songs, the order, the arrangements...everything is very well thought out. This CD is money well spent.
Interesting Thing You Might Not Know About ZBB: They are building a camp for underpriviledged and special needs kids. So when I say this CD is money well spent that is where part of the money goes. Read about it here: http://www.campsouthernground.org/
My What The Heck Moment When Listening To This CD: "Overnight"...it's a TOTAL R&B song! And the surprising part is I think Zac could have a career as an R&B singer. He's that good.
Most Touching Lyrics: "The Day I Die" I heard this song for the first time when I went to see them in Des Moines last year. Zac said "this is a brand new song we just wrote and we want to see if you like it"...I did. :)
Little Big Town - Tornado
YAY for Little Big Town! This is a band that I've thought should be absolutely huge by now - it just goes to show what one song can do for a band. "Pontoon" is their first number one and once you listen to this CD I think you'll agree that it won't be their only number one off this CD.
LBT is doing their own thing - there's not another band that compares to them. Their vocals are simply like no other band out there. They blend together so well and effortlessly and the CD goes from a backwoodsy (for lack of a better term) to a classic country type of songs that are about big-time heartbreak. I'm so happy that with this CD people will FINALLY sit up and take notice of a band we should have been appreciating more for a long time.
The I Don't Always Know How To Pick 'Em Song - "Pontoon". Seriously. I didn't get that song when they first released it. I thought "what the heck kind of country song is this?". I remember one day I was out with friends and it came on the jukebox and before it hit me what I was listening to I thought "I really like this song". And THAT is when I got what everyone else already got!
And Another Reason To Like Them: They can whistle. Listen to the whistling at the beginning of "Tornado" - that's Kimberly and Jimi. And listen carefully for a kind of evil laugh. That's Kimberly too.
This was a CD that I really looked forward to hearing. So much so that they sent me an advance of it - a five-song sampler. It was an actual burned CD and they actually wrote on the CD with a sharpie "Dustin Lynch". That's how much I bugged them about it. So I listened to that CD over and over and I had no idea the names of the songs or anything but all I knew for sure is I wanted MORE!
I mentioned when talking about Easton Corbin's CD (#9 on my list) that I think that country music needs more COUNTRY artists. Lots of the women seem pretty pop to me and a lot of guys are kind of rock/country (nothing wrong with it because I do love those sounds) but we need more straight-down-the-middle COUNTRY artists. And this CD is that. I love every song on it. There's not one that you'll skip which is amazing because this is his first CD. I can't wait to hear what's coming from him down the road.
The Most Obvious Statement Ever: Talking to Dustin one day he said "She Cranks My Tractor" isn't about tractors. You think?
Make Sure You Listen All The Way Through: The last song "Your Plan" is beautiful. It's Dustin and a guitar (and that is Dustin playing the guitar). When I first heard the song (on my burned CD) I thought it was him singing about a girl. When I read the lyrics I realized it was a prayer. Beautiful.
Jason Aldean "Night Train"
This came close to being my Number One CD and one reason it wasn't was because I liked Jason's last CD better. BUT that said - I love this CD. I like that he takes chances and does it his way. And he finds the songs that fit him. I read that the producer on this CD went through 5400 songs to find these 15. Wonder how long that took him...
But that dedication to his sound is what makes this CD work and actually that's what makes me like all of his CDs. AND once again - there are 15 cuts on this CD. (He had 15 on his last one too.) That's like four or five more than most people put on a CD. It starts off strong with "This Nothin' Town" (and growing up in a small town I can totally relate to that song) to cut #15 "Water Tower Town" (which again being from a small town is a song I can relate to) it's a great CD.
My Personal Absolute Favorite Song Off This CD That I Can't Quit Listening To: "1994". Joe Joe Joe Diffieeeeeeeee. I interviewed Jason last November and told him how much I love that song and said "That's probably the stupidest song we've ever recorded." I say FUN! And maybe some young kid will hear it and look up some old Joe Diffie songs and give them a listen...and realize what a great artist Joe is.
The One Song I Looked Forward To Hearing The Most This Year: "The Only Way I Know". When I heard Jason was teaming up with Luke Bryan and Eric Church for this one I was SUPER excited. When I got the CD I couldn't get it in the player fast enough and I went straight to this song. It's the first one I listened to and I LOVE IT!
MY NUMBER ONE CD OF 2012...
Dierks Bentley "Home"
This was an absolute no-brainer for me this year. I remember walking my dog one night and thinking about what was going to be my number one and it was like someone was yelling in my head...DIERKS BENTLEY!!!!!!!!!!
Dierks has had THREE number ones off this CD so far and his new single, "Tip It On Back" is actually my favorite song on the CD. I had the pleasure of talking to him a few times in the past year and a half about this CD. It was actually supposed to come out last year but after he wrote "Home" he wanted to push it back to this year so he could release that song before the CD came out.
And when I'm deciding on my Top 10 CDs I always think back to their last CD - and compare - is this one better? How does it stand up compared to what they've been doing? Well, with Dierks you can't compare because his last CD was a total bluegrass CD "Up On The Ridge".
I think Dierks Bentley is underappreciated. I think he's an amazing artist. He writes GREAT songs and is a guy who will take a chance (like put out a bluegrass CD). If you don't have this CD yet. Go buy it. Thank me later. :)
Special "Hidden" Moment On This CD: Now if the last cut "Thinking of You" doesn't touch your heart...his little girl singing it at the end certainly will. Someone recorded her singing that to surprise Dierks and they put it on the album in an absolutely, beautiful, touch-your-heart-make-you-cry sort of way.
What Dierks Said In My Interview With Him That REALLY Surprised Me: They recorded another CD and it wasn't right and they started over and came up with this CD. That's why I love Dierks.