Country music fans have a lot of important decisions to make today. Like which country albums to purchase.
Of course, the big news is Carrie Underwood releasing her sophomore album, Carnival Ride. I only heard the clips of the songs on itunes, but I was impressed with what I heard. Underwood carries the same energy from her debut album, and she even adds her own spin to Randy Travis' classic "I Told You So." They never toured together, but they did perform a show together in July 2006 in the California Gold Country. It may have been the last time I'll get to see Underwood open for another artist.
Although it's almost certain that Underwood's album will enjoy widespread success, I hope it doesn't undermine the success of other releases, among them Rissi Palmer's debut, Dwight Yoakam's tribute album to the late Buck Owens and Shooter Jennings' album "The Wolf."
I attended a party for Rissi Palmer in Nashville just prior to the CMA Music Festival, and it's clear that she's a talented performer who mixes traditional and contemporary country sounds perfectly. I look forward to hearing her entire album later today.
I like most of Yoakam's work, but I wish the first single off the album, "Close Up The Honky-Tonks", was more fast-paced. I heard another version of the song in which it was uptempo.
For some reason and I don't know why, I can't dig Shooter Jennings. But I do like his version of "Walk of Life", a pop song by the Dire Straits. I'd always figured the song would go over well as a country cover ever since I heard Brad Paisley cover it during a May 2006 concert.
The one disappointment, just from listening to song clips, was Gary Allan. Allan had always struck me as a hard-country singer outside the establishment. If the clips are any indication, he's losing his edge and embracing more of a pop-sound.