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Nettles "Plays" with new label

Friday, May 13, 2016 – Jennifer Nettles is out today with her second solo release, "Playing With Fire." This marks her debut with Big Machine after releasing "That Girl" in 2014 on Mercury. Nettles wrote 7 of the dozen songs with Brandy Clark on the new set. Jennifer Lopez has a guest vocal turn on the closing track, "My House." The first single from the Dann Huff-produced release was "Unlove You."

Darrell Scott may be better known for his songs recorded by others ("You'll Never Harlan Alive" by Brad Paisley and Patty Loveless and "Long Time Gone" by the Dixie Chicks), but he's enjoyed a long career as an artist in his own right. "Couchville Sessions" has an unusual history in that the songs were first recorded in the springs of 2001 and 2002 with Danny Thompson, Kenny Malone and Dan Dugmore in Scott's living room. Fast forward to spring 2015 when Bill Payne sat in on keyboards and piano with a master overdubbing. Scott also covers James Taylor, Townes Van Zandt, Peter Rowan, Hank Williams and Johnny Cash on the set.

The 2013 debut from Hard Working Americans was apparently no fluke. The group of singer Todd Snider, bassist Dave Schools from Widespread Panic, Neal Casal of Chris Robinson Brotherhood on guitar and vocals, Chad Staehly of Great American Taxi on keyboards and Duane Trucks, younger brother to Derek, on drums, is out with "Rest in Chaos," a 13-song set.

Another installment from the "Nashville" TV show is out. "The Music of Nashville Original Soundtrack Season 4/Volume 2" drops today with 17 songs with Buddy Miller once again producing. Singers include Clare Bowen, Jonathan Jackson, Chris Carmack, Hayden Panettiere and Connie Britton.

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CD reviews

To Celebrate Christmas CD review - To Celebrate Christmas
Christmas is a season that calls into view that old adage that "bigger is always better." Bigger trees, bigger light displays, and bigger presents are, if we're being totally honest, always welcome. When it comes to the music, it's very much the same. While the quiet, jazz-tinged standards of Crosby or Cole go well over a hot cup of cocoa, few things get our holiday juices flowing like a big, joyous Christmas favorite. And who better to deliver those songs from her big »»»
Couchville Sessions CD review - Couchville Sessions
For those who remain unaware of Darrell Scott, "The Couchville Sessions" is an ideal starting place. Long one of "rock, folk, country (and) blues" (to misquote the lead track, "Down to the River") most esteemed sidemen (Robert Plant's Band of Joy, Guy Clark, Steve Earle), collaborators (Tim O'Brien) and songwriters ("Long Time Gone," "You'll Never Leave Harlan Alive," "It's A Great Day to Be Alive," "Hank »»»
Playing With Fire CD review - Playing With Fire
If you happened to hear Jennifer Nettles' debut solo record, "That Girl," you may have come away thinking that she was a frustrated torch singer. That effort was chock full of emotive ballads, which, while heartfelt, sure was missing a certain element of F-U-N. Problem solved. From the opening sustain of gospel organ, Nettles storms out of the gate in a sensational tour-de-force. Everything about the record screams fearlessness, whether it's in the sweet abandon of the music »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Carlile warms hearts with empathetic thoughts – Brandi Carlile, dressed festively with a Santa hat, began her mid-week concert set with Joni Mitchell's "River" and closed with the carol "O Holy Night." In between, she sang about an equal measure of old and new songs. And on this first night of a short acoustic tour, Carlile was both in fine spirits and voice.... »»»
Concert Review: Daniels wears out bows, but music endures – After each of the first few songs Charlie Daniels played, his 'fiddle tech (?)' exchanged his bow. Is this because he was playing particularly hard? Perhaps. Whatever the case, Daniels and his five-piece band clearly appeared to be giving it their all during the act's hour-and-a-half set. As it is the Christmas month, Daniels sang a... »»»
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Currently at the CST blogs

Washburn, Fleck create "Echoes" Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn have powerhouse individual talents; each has followed an estimable career path to where they find themselves today: making complex, but spare, records, writing music together and touring with their son Juno. Their new release, "Echoes In The Valley" features mostly songs written by Fleck and Washburn, banjos, Washburn's strong vocals and very little else.... »»»
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From A Room: Volume 2 CD review - From A Room: Volume 2
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Down Home Sessions EP CD review - Down Home Sessions EP

Upon first glance at the track list of Cole Swindell's fourth installment of the "Down Home Sessions" series, one may get the impression that it is a covers EP. It features several chart toppers from other artists, including Luke Bryan's "Roller Coaster" and Thomas Rhett's "Get Me Some Of That." »»»

The Rest of Our Lives CD review - The Rest of Our Lives
The first full album from Tim McGraw and Faith Hill is an inspired effort, even though some of its songwriters may surprise you. The title cut, for instance, features pop ginger Ed Sheeran on its credits, while Meghan Trainor contributed to "Roll the Dice." »»»
Bloodshot Records' 13 Days of Xmas CD review - Bloodshot Records' 13 Days of Xmas
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Texoma Shore CD review - Texoma Shore
Blake Shelton's 11th studio album finds The Voice advisor in a contented, one might even say homey, frame of mind. The opening track and first single "I'll Name the Dogs" sets the tone. It's a rollicking ode to domesticity that manages to make household chore distribution ("You find the spot and I'll find the money / You be the pretty and I'll be the funny") both romantic and amusing.  »»»