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Scott, Owen, McKenna lead new sounds

Friday, July 29, 2016 – Hillary Scott released her first album apart from Lady Antebellum, and she goes a very different route. "Love Remains" is essentially a religious/spiritual album from Hillary Scott & The Scott Family, which consists of her sister, Rylee, and parents (Linda Davis, who enjoyed a hit or two back in the day, is her mom, while songwriter Lang Scott is her father). "They Will" is the first single from the project, which was produced by Ricky Skaggs. After the passing of her grandfather in 2011, Hillary Scott alongside her family, leaned on faith and music. The Scott family wanted to thank loved ones for their support and set out to record demos of family-favorite hymns. As the summer of 2015 wound down and Lady Antebellum went off the road, the family's plans for a five-song CD as a gift to family and friends, mushroomed into what is now Hillary Scott & The Scott Family's debut.

Jake Owen releases his fifth studio album, "American Love." The 11-song release includes "American Country Love Song" with Ronnie Dunn of Brooks & Dunn fame singing. Owen co-produced seven tracks with Shane McAnally and Ross Copperman and four with Lukas Bracewell. The release follows Owen's divorce.

Lori McKenna is beset known these days as a songwriter. Helping write a song like "Girl Crush" will do that for you, but the Massachusetts native also has a long history of releasing her own albums. "The Bird & The Rifle," her 10th, is out today and includes her version of "Humble & Kind," a hit for Tim McGraw. The 11-song disc was produced by Dave Cobb (Jason Isbell, Chris Stapleton).

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CD reviews

American Love CD review - American Love
Most everyone has made up their mind on bro-country music. Maybe you love the breezy images of the beach dippin' and sippin' lifestyle, or you write it off as empty headed and repetitive. Either way, Florida native Jake Owen was a torchbearer for the genre, and it's rewarded him well - four albums and five Number One singles (remember "Beachin"?). His career has been on a more-or-less upward arc, with higher-profile tours and bigger hits each time out. »»»
The Bird & The Rifle CD review - The Bird & The Rifle
Lori McKenna's back story is a country song brought to vivid yet unaffected life. Married with five children, the Massachusetts native began exploring her longstanding musical gifts - she wrote her first song at 13 - by playing for family and friends, who then forced her to attend a regional coffee house open mic. After two years of regular gigging with her poignant songs of everyday life and becoming a favorite among Boston folk fans, McKenna self-released her debut, "Paper Wings and »»»
Numbered Doors CD review - Numbered Doors
Singer-songwriter Lori McKenna has forged a career built on consistently strong if sadly under-appreciated albums. However while sales have not reach platinum status, some of the bigger names in music - Faith Hill, Tim McGraw and Little Big Town - have not let her talent go unnoticed. Now, McKenna's latest is an interesting concept with most of the material inspired by and written in motel rooms while on tour. McKenna says the lyrics aren't necessarily autobiographical, but stem from »»»
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: LSD tour provides a lot of highs – This was not your grandkids' country, that's for sure. Even the name of the tour - the LSD Tour - was a throwback (albeit far before the principals were making music). But make no mistake about it. With the ever cool country traditionalist Dwight Yoakam, the country with some rock and blues and rabble rousing of Steve Earle thrown in and the... »»»
Concert Review: Alvin, Gilmore fortunately get together – Dave Alvin and Jimmie Dale Gilmore had known each other for decades, but it wasn't until last year that they toured together in a guitar pull setting. What started as a small Texas tour mushroomed into points east and west and eventually the release earlier this month of their blues-based disc, "Downey to Lubbock." And now we have the... »»»
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Elsewhere in the news

Currently at the CST blogs

Tyminski goes dark Dan Tyminski (known simply as "Tyminski" on his 2017 release "Southern Gothic") has traditional music roots and unassailable bluegrass street cred especially given his membership in Alison Krauss' Union Station. He is also a powerful songwriter and has been writing songs for himself and others for years now.... »»»
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.... »»»
Hillman bides his time Legends don't come any more legendary than Chris Hillman. The roll call of bands that comprises Hillman's half century in music reads like a wing exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas, the Souther Hillman Furay Band, the Desert Rose Band,... »»»
Bigger CD review - Bigger
Sugarland is back with "Bigger," its first studio album in nearly a decade. And its arrival says more about branding, than anything else. Although his voice is heard often enough on this album to make his presence felt, it's still difficult to get away from seeing Kristian Bush in the Oates to Hall or Ridgeley to Michael role in this duo.  »»»
This One's For You Too CD review - This One's For You Too
Luke Combs has gotten a lot of life out of his album "This One's for You," which includes his breakthrough hit "Hurricane," as well as the popular single "When It Rains It Pours." This deluxe edition includes five new tracks, many of which are just as strong as the original 12.  »»»
Things Change CD review - Things Change
There may be no other CD title this year quite as apropos as this one. Things have indeed changed for American Aquarium since their previous studio album (2015's underrated "Wolves"). For one thing 80 per cent of the band quit, leaving only lead vocalist and songwriter BJ Barham. »»»
Dancing With The Beast CD review - Dancing With The Beast
Informed by the renewed strength of today's woman's movement, particularly in light of recent cultural social and political upheavals, Gretchen Peters' "Dancing With the Beast" finds her sharing stories about loss, struggle, upheaval, tragedy and turmoil in ways that resonate with a common bond, though told from a woman's perspective. »»»
Hard Times Are Relative CD review - Hard Times Are Relative
Jason Boland and The Stragglers serve up the ninth helping of their unapologetic, get it or not, country, in the past 20 years. This appears to almost be two EP's with the first mostly being a hard country dance cd and the second being a little more "out there" mix of fun and contemplative tunes, much less easy to categorize. »»»