Christina: Deconstructed Studio Sessions by Ryan Kinder
Released earlier this spring, Ryan Kinder who has been a favorite artist of mine for a few years now released his debut EP, “Deconstructed Studio Sessions”. The EP features five songs, an acoustic version of his current single “Tonight” opens the EP, slower than the radio version expressing even more emotion. If you are a fan of John Mayer you will absolutely appreciate Kinder’s guitar solos and his bluesy sound. A highlight on the EP is also the cover that Kinder added of Justin Bieber’s “Sorry”. You will catch yourself singing along not even realizing that it is the popular radio hit. Kinder completely transforms the song into a country jam. His voice, his style and his unique take on country music has made Deconstructed Studio Sessions a go-to for me ever since it was released.
Markus: “Boy Gets a Truck” by Keith Urban
So if I’m being honest, I haven’t gotten around to checking out Ripcord in its entirety, but I did listen to “Boy Gets a Truck,” due to all the hype, and boy am I glad I did. The melody shifts throughout, and is absolutely addicting, while the production, despite being fairly heavy on the pop-influence, is soft while having some grit to it. Urban absolutely soars on this, giving one of his most passionate performances to-date, and I dig the word connection aspect of the chorus. And the lyrics, despite coming off as a hook-up song on the surface, have some depth that can easily connect on a broad scale, and touch an emotional cord. I know that, based off snippets and other reviews, that Ripcord probably won’t be my favorite Keith Urban album (once I get around to listening to it), but I will say this: “Boy Gets a Truck” is pop-country at its best, and has a universal emotional core that makes this one of, if not his best recording to-date.
Lydia: “Sound of A Million Dreams” by David Nail
There are certain songs that we as fans just instantly connect with and for me, David Nail’s “The Sound of a Million Dreams” is at the top of a very short list. The title track off his album The Sound of a Million Dreams, released in 2011, was penned by Scooter Carusoe and Phil Vassar. When lyrics immediately connect you with a memory or feeling it’s something special (think Eric Church’s “Springsteen”) and this particular song stopped me in my tracks the first time I heard it. With a beautiful melody simply set to the sounds of piano keys, the lyrics roll off the page and transport you to a special time and place in your mind. Writers Carusoe and Vassar pay homage to some of our generations musical greats referencing Bob Seger, Merle Haggard and Bruce Springsteen. This along with David Nail’s vocals are the perfect combination successfully connecting music to memories. “The Sound of a Million Dreams” is storytelling at it’s best.
“So I labor for hours cause I know the power of a song when a song hits your right / Pouring my soul into stories of life, hoping someone will hear one tonight / Maybe my voice will cut through the noise and stir up old memory / And out of these piano keys / Comes the sound / The sound of a million dreams”
Annie: Wrong Side of the River by Rob Baird
Guys, this album. Born of a need for change and a ten hour drive to get there, Wrong Side of the River will ride supportively shotgun through shadowed times. It’s easily among my favorite releases this year – start with the title track for a bluesy offering and turn to “Run of Good Luck” for your new favorite introspective moment. There isn’t a bad track on the album so dig in.
Sam: Hard One to Turn Down by CJ Solar
If you tend to feel music to your very core like I do, the first notes, vocals, and lyrics you hear on an album or EP can make or break or desire to listen to the whole thing. This can often be discouraging, but occasionally, taking a chance on something you haven’t heard before leads to instant-chills at the groove of the intro guitar riff. CJ Solar’s EP Hard One to Turn Down is one that does just that. The release starts off incredibly strong with its impressive production and catchy instrumental choices. Then, Solar’s vocals break through to give listeners the perfect mix of smooth, gravelly, and soulful moments that amplify the emotions behind his lyrics—whether it’s a party anthem (“Tall Boy” / “Just Another Day in the Country” (feat. Jerrod Niemann)) or a heartfelt plea of more time to make things right (“Little More Time”), Solar makes his connection to each song apparent and relatable. Yes this is a rave review, but deservedly so; every song on the project stands out in its own way, and achieves the authenticity and professionalism you always hope for in a debut project.
Natalie: The Very Last Day by Parker Millsap
This kid. It might take you ten listens to deconstruct his lyrics, but the resulting epiphanies are so satisfying and his storytelling is so SMART that it’s all worth the brain power. Millsap’s sophomore effort (also important: he’s only 21) is a rootsy, bluesy, Americana-stamped project that proves his songwriting abilities a million times over. Favorite tracks include “Pining,” “Morning Blues,” and “Jealous Sun” – and if you’re in for the long haul, dig up “Truck Stop Gospel” and “Yosemite” from his 2014 debut.
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