- New country album releases this week:
- That Nashville Sound’s Ken Morton reviewed the Donna Ulisse album, singling out “Shady Glen” and “Hand Me Down Home” as songs of particular note.
- Trace Adkins’ next album, Proud to Be Here, is due August 2. The iTunes edition will feature four bonus tracks, including a Sherrie Austin/Jeff Bates cowrite done as a duet with Blake Shelton.
- An expanded 10th anniversary edition of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack will become available on August 16. The added disc features artists who appeared on the original album (John Hartford, Norman Blake, the Fairfield Four, the Cox Family and the Peasall Sisters) plus some who did not, including a version of “In the Jailhouse Now” by late songwriter Harley Allen. Most of the recordings come from the same sessions as the original soundtrack.
- Farce the Music’s artwork for the new Shania Twain single made me laugh out loud.
- Matt Mason, who I enjoyed on the Chris Young season of Nashville Star several years ago, emerged as the winner of CMT’s Next Superstar, meaning he’ll get a record deal with Warner’s Elektra imprint and an opening slot on this fall’s CMT on Tour. Let’s see what he can do.
- The Tennessean‘s Cindy Watts has kept quite busy of late, writing a feature on the new Randy Travis duets set and interviewing Taylor Swift, Blake Shelton, and Miranda Lambert. All worth reading. Here’s an excerpt from Miranda on recording her next project(s):
Four records — especially after Revolution, which was a career defining album for me — and we do it like old school. We holed up and made a whole album. We don’t do it here and there. And then Saturday the Pistol Annies came in, so I had to completely switch gears, but it’s really good because it shows so many different sides of myself that I didn’t know were there. The Pistol Annies is very housewife and raw and real country and my stuff is my stuff, I have everything from old country to rock ‘n’ roll. I’m excited. I think the new Miranda record, it’s different, but I think that’s what I have to do. I have to reinvent myself to keep it going.
- Speaking of which, the debut single from the Pistol Annies is available for purchase at their website.
- Also from The Tennessean, a lovely feature on Chris Young by Peter Cooper.
- MusicRow has preliminary statistics on the 40th annual CMA Fest (Fan Fair), including daily attendance of 65,000 and the fact that “30,000 downloads of the CMA app for Android and iPhone took place during the festival, a 566% increase over 2010.” Country fans are becoming a pretty technologically savvy lot.
- Writing for the Nashville Scene, Geoffrey Himes considers the staying power and Country Music Hall of Fame prospects of several of this year’s CMA Fest headliners, pointing to Paisley and Jackson as the only absolute shoo-ins for induction:
Alan Jackson and Brad Paisley, who both perform Thursday at LP Field, have already done everything they need to do for induction — they could be hit by a bus tomorrow and they’d still get in. If you were to create a computer model of the perfect Hall of Fame candidate, it would probably look like either of these guys: They’re great singers, solid songwriters, consistent chart-toppers over a long time, genuinely popular figures on Music Row and critical favorites for the occasional left-field fling (“Murder on Music Row,” “Mercury Blues,” “Whiskey Lullaby” and “Welcome to the Future”). At this point, these guys would have to sign up with al-Qaeda to stay out of the Hall of Fame.
- Continuing his Country Heritage series at My Kind of Country, Paul W. Dennis covers Leonard Slye… who you probably know by another name. Happy trails, friends.
- Joe at the Guitars, Cadillacs blog says Ronnie Dunn’s solo album, although lacking the traditional instrumentation some might prefer, has at its core “some of the very best country narratives of 2011.”
- Kenny Rogers is reportedly building an evil army of impersonators so that he can one day “lead them into battle against the rest of society that chooses not to grow white beards.” Always hot on the Evil Kenny beat, Death to Kenny Rogers has all the details:
According to rumors, if intoxicating North America into a stupor with delicious roasted chicken doesn’t work, PLAN B involves amassing an army of Kenny Rogerses to storm the White House to gain control of the nuclear bomb. Which, as anyone who’s read his biography knows, is the one true reason Kenny got into show business.
- Here, have some Pistol Annies: