Devin Dawson Dark Horse

First Impression: Devin Dawson ‘Dark Horse’

Devin Dawson Dark Horse

 

Continuing the trend of great music being released in the new year, Devin Dawson‘s debut full-length album Dark Horse is finally here.  The soulful crooner grew up near the famed Folsom Prison in Calfornia, yes the same one that Johnny Cash performed at in the 1950’s.  Dawson is proud of his California roots, and the steps he took to get to where he is today in the music industry. Including spending time in a heavy metal band and growing up listening to R&B music as well as country music.

 

His highly anticipated album, Dark Horse is a culmination of years working towards releasing music to the world.  The lead single, “All On Me” has garnered over 43 million streams on Spotify, introducing his new blend of music to country music fans who are looking for something different.

Highlights on the LP include the title track, which unapologetically describes Dawson himself, his outlook on life and his career. (“Anyone who ain’t afraid to stray off course / My heart bleeds for country music, where the honest outlaw truth is / no I ain’t no white knight, I’m a little more dark horse.”)  

 

 

Dawson spins lyrics into images with “War Paint” a tale of revenge on a cheating man. (“She ain’t crazy but she’s gonna make him pay / you can see it on her face, black mascara moulin rouge, blood red lipstick high heeled shoes / it’s her turn to do him wrong, that ain’t makeup that she got on, its war paint / go on girl  make that man feel your pain”) The record ends with “Prison” which a rocking mid-tempo closer, paralleling a love story to unavoidable confinement.

Late in 2017, Dawson performed in an intimate setting at New York City’s Rockwood Music Hall, introducing members of the music industry to these new songs.  Check out a full recap of the evening here.  Listen to the full album below.

 

 

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Anderson East Cover

First Impression: Anderson East ‘Encore’

Anderson East

Country music is always transitioning and changing and the fluidity of it all allows genres to mesh and to come together to create something magical.  That is exactly what you will find on Anderson East‘s second full-length LP, titled Encore, available everywhere today.

Dripping with soul, tenderness and plenty of angsty horns, each song combines rock, blues, country, jazz, and Americana so you soon forget which genre box he should be in and start appreciating the rising star’s undeniable talent.

Encore features insanely talented co-writers such as country megastar Chris Stapleton (“King For A Day,” “If You Keep Leaving Me”), pop sensation Ed Sheeran, and Snow Patrol’s Johnny McDaid (“All On My Mind”)  The first single off of the project, “All On My Mind” has garnered over two million streams on Spotify.

East knows when to wail and knows when to quietly express his sentiment, giving the entire album and irrefutable cohesiveness.  Encore also features two covers, including Willie Nelson’s “Somebody Pick Up My Pieces” and Ted Hawkins’  “Sorry You’re Sick”. East adds his own spin on each of the songs, making them sound brand new.

East was on the road with Stapleton’s “All American Road Show” tour, building his fan base and introducing his signature sound to the Stapelton fans.  Listen to the full album below and be sure to follow along on Facebook, Instagram,  and Twitter.

 

 

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Walker McGuire

First Impression: Walker McGuire Self-Titled EP

Walker McGuire

Jordan Walker and Johnny McGuire make up the duo Walker McGuire and released their debut EP today.  The five-song collection released via Wheelhouse Records is a culmination of the band’s honest cowriting and pop country vibes.

The self-titled EP showcases their incredible harmonies, while each song is relatable and allows for modern country fans to fall in love with their lyrics. Those harmonies are particularly prominent on “Til Tomorrow” which has racked up over 23 million streams on Spotify since released early in 2017.

The second track on the EP “Lost” was co-written with Sugarland’s, Kristian Bush and impacts country radio next week.

The duo is making stops across the country in 2018.  For tour dates click here.

Check out the full EP below and be sure to be following Walker McGuire on Facebook, Twitter,  and Instagram.

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Luke Bryan NYC Album Release

Luke Bryan ‘What Makes You Country’ NYC Album Release Week

Luke Bryan Getty Images

(Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Pandora)

Luke Bryan is no stranger to success when releasing music, whether the track makes you move your body or moves your soul, his singles climb the charts and he sells out arenas.  His last album, Kill the Lights was the first in history to have six singles reach No. 1 on the Country Billboard charts and his “Huntin’, Fishin’ And  Lovin’ Every Day” tour has packed arenas all over the country this past year. His newest album, What Makes You Country, which is available everywhere today brings Bryan back to his roots.  Blending his own unique brand of country music which combines pop-country with traditional lyrics.  For his 6th studio album, Bryan gave fans more of what he knows they love, songs that will translate well in his live shows as well as radio-friendly hits.

Luke Bryan Pandora

(Photo by Theo Wargo/Getty Images for Pandora)

To celebrate the release of the album, Bryan took NYC by storm this past week.  First up, New York Country Swag headed to The Altman Building to catch Pandora’s Up Close With Luke Bryan presented by FedEx Wednesday night. The line of fans wrapped around the long city block, hoping that they would make the first come-first serve cut into the venue.  Once inside, fans were treated to free Luke Bryan t-shirts, a photo booth backdrop and a close spot in front of the stage. Although this was an album release party, fans were excited to hear plenty of Bryan’s hits from his ten-year career including, “That’s My Kind of Night”, “Play It Again” “Fast” and of course closing with a high octane version of “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)”.

Luke Bryan Stage 17

(Photo by New York CountrySwag.com)

Thursday, Bryan stopped by NASH FM 94.7’s Stage 17 studio to perform more singles off his forthcoming album including “Hooked On It” and the title track.  The performance and interview, curated by Mike Allan, assistant program director for NASH FM 94.7 was broadcasted live across the country.  DJs Katie Neal and Jesse Addy chatted with Bryan about writing the new songs and asked him to describe what he thinks “Makes You Country?” “An overall way that you view life, the way that you approach life with humility and honor and compassion and faith and belief.” the singer explained.  A small group of audience members and winners from NASH FM were treated to stripped down, acoustic versions of the songs and the intimate setting was the perfect place for Bryan to be his goofy self, joking about his shirt being too tight and popping a button off. He ended his visit by taking pictures with his biggest fans.

Although all 15 tracks work well together to create a cohesive country record, a few highlights on the album include “Land of a Million Songs” a true testament to the struggles that Nashville songwriters go through to create your favorite music.  Another stand out is “Sunrise, Sunburn, Sunset” which was written by Ryan Hurd, Chase McGill and Zach Crowell.  Hurd took to Instagram hours before the album was released to express his gratitude to everyone involved, especially for his fiance Maren Morris, for who he says the song was written about.

The final track on the record, “Win Life” was written by husband and wife songwriters Nicolle Gaylon and Rodney Clawson along with Ross Copperman.  It fits right into Bryan’s wheelhouse, as a dad, a country superstar, and a husband just trying to do his best with the time he is given.

Luke Bryan GMA

(Photo by New York CountrySwag.com)

For Bryan’s biggest appearance during his album release week in NYC, he took the stage at the brand new Opry City Stage in the heart of Times Square for his live performance on Good Morning America.  Joined by Robin Roberts and GMA’s leading meteorologist, Ginger Zee, Bryan performed his latest single “Light It Up”,  as well as another track off What Makes You Country, “Most People are Good” and other hits for the select few in the studio audience.  Finally, Bryan’s fans across the country were able to hear some of the songs live and head to their favorite outlet to purchase the full album.

Grab What Makes You Country on iTunes and head to our Instagram for more from the album release week.

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DBradbery Cover

NYCS First Impression: Danielle Bradbery ‘I Don’t Believe We’ve Met’

Danielle Bradbery NYCS

From first listen, Danielle Bradbery’s latest album is a remarkable testament to the artist who is finally choosing her own path. “I didn’t know myself as a person back then,” Bradbery says of her teenage years. “I didn’t know my sound yet. Now I want to talk about real things. I want to be honest.” the singer says of evolving after her stint on the singing competition The Voice.  As a 16-year-old, Bradbery took the reality competition by storm with her strong vocal ability and sweet nature.  Now, 21, she understands the importance of being honest with yourself and making the music that you feel represents you.

At her album release party in NYC on Wednesday night, Bradbery explained to us before taking the stage  “This album is a huge growing up process, for this album, 16 to now 21 is a huge gap that you have to figure out and that is exactly what I did.”

The Texas native co-wrote 7 of the 10 tracks on I Don’t Believe We’ve Met, making each lyric personal to her story. The most intimate song, “Human Diary” is an intimate look at a breakup and all of the things you lose, feeling exposed and raw.  The lead single “Sway” is a perfect groove, introducing the new sound from The Voice alum.

“What Are We Doing” could easily find itself on any pop music chart sitting next to Justin Beiber, highlighting the back and forth of a modern-day relationship. Bradbery’s vocal chops bring new life to the simplest lyric including the female empowering, “Worth It”, her favorite on the album.  Fans of all ages can relate to the message Bradbery is singing about.  Sonically, the project fits in perfectly with the pop-country vibes that have catapulted young female artists to the country charts including Lauren Alaina and Carly Pearce. Be on the look out for more great things from this emerging country artist and grab I Don’t Believe We’ve Met on iTunes.

 

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NYCS First Impression: Tim McGraw & Faith Hill ‘The Rest of Our Life’

Faith Hill Tim McGraw

It has been a long time coming but it is finally here, a full album of duets between country royalty Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. Their marriage, 21 years and three beautiful daughters is a testament to love and that is expressed in The Rest of Our Life.  

Each song on the project allows the power couple to shine separately as well as together embracing heartbreak, respect and a lifelong love story. The record is dripping with romance which is only heightened by the duos epic harmonies especially on the title track,  “The Bed We Made”, and “Cowboy Lullaby”.

The first single “Speak to a Girl” which happens to be extremely relevant in current times is about respecting women the way that women and girls should expect to be treated.  The record showcases different phases in a relationship, especially highlighting a more mature, marriage which is a missing niche in country radio today.  Each of the songs lends well to the duos live Soul2Soul show where Hill takes the lead and is supported by her husband and vice versa.

McGraw and Hill extended their Soul2Soul tour throughout 2018 and they return to NYC on June 14th.  For tickets and more info check out soul2soultour.com/tour and grab The Rest of Our Life on iTunes.

 

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NYCS First Impression: Chase Rice ‘Lambs & Lions’

Chase Rice

Chase Rice released his third studio album today, Lambs & Lions, on Broken Bow Records.  After three years, Rice is excited to finally release a full-length album filled with music he is proud of, for his fans. “I was fed up with trying, whether that was trying to be something I’m not, trying to make music that people said I should make or trying to make music I felt people wanted to hear. Instead, I decided I’m going to make music that needed to hear,” He says in a recent press release.  Co-writing 7 of the songs, Rice has put his personal stamp on the LP.

The 10-track Lambs & Lions is a culmination of a maturing artist, creating music with a new label who supports his vision.  “Saved Me” and “Eyes on You”  are standouts, giving an ode to love, faith and small towns.  The first single, released earlier this year “Three Chords & the Truth” is currently sitting in the top 40 on the Country Airplay charts.

“I see you blinking through your blue eyes / How a song can turn back time / You can almost feel the sand on your feet / From the passenger seat / Singing “Anything But Mine”  / And don’t you know we were raised on the radio”

Rodney Clawson and Jamie Moore, writers on “Amen”, spin a beautiful image and testament to faith.  A gospel choir backs Rice’s delicate delivery, filling even the non-believer with conviction.  To close out the album Rice does an impressive, modern day cover of Chris LaDoux’s classic “This Cowboy’s Hat” which even features Chris’ son Ned. The Carolina native does have one party song on the record, “Jack Daniels Showed Up”, a high energy drinkin’ song that will be a great tune for his live set.  Grab Lambs & Lions on iTunes and grab tickets to his show at Terminal 5 on January 18th here.

 

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Lee Brice Album

NYCS First Impression: Lee Brice Releases Self-Titled Album

Lee Brice Album

Lee Brice released his fourth studio album on Friday, a self-titled project which he says is his most personal album yet.  The 38-year-old and father of three wrote 11 of the 15 tracks on the project, recounting his family, his friends and his gratitude for the life he is living. Whether it’s “Boy” which is an ode to being the father of two young men or “The Best Part Of Me” which closes out the record and is dedicated to his baby girl, both showcase the love a father has for his children, a reality Brice is currently living.

The album features plenty of songs that will lend well to Brice’s live show including “American Nights”, “I Don’t Smoke”, “The Locals” and “Little Things”.  Brice has a way of engaging fans with his powerful voice, commanding stage presence, and anthemic songs to sing-along with.  While listening, you can see fans holding up a beer or waving an American flag in a packed venue.

A definite stand-out is “Songs in the Kitchen” a nostalgia-filled tune set to a background harmonica groove.

“All my dreams came true, my songs took me far away / now I’m singing em every night in these bright lights upon this stage /  if you catch me close my eyes, every now and then, to tell you the truth / I’m probably just missin’ songs in the kitchen / songs in the car, songs from the heart.”

Each song on the record reflects a different sentiment but all are relatable and will touch your heart.  Brice’s delivery of the songs make the lyrics impactful and he continues to impress with his determination to deliver full, well-rounded albums to his fans.  Grab the album on iTunes here and check out his remaining  2017 tour dates here.

 

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NYCS First Impression: Kelsea Ballerini Releases ‘Unapologetically’

Kelsea Ballerini

After her debut album soared and the first three songs she released hit the top of the charts, one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year is Kelsea Ballerini’s follow-up record, Unapologetically. With what seems like a bit of a whirlwind career in such a short time, Ballerini has written her music alongside some of the industry’s best songwriters for years, perfecting her craft and building her fan base.

The sophomore project features a deeper look into who Ballerini is, her persona and will have fans of “Yeah Boy” and “Love Me Like You Mean It” loving her new spin on her pop-country princess-vibes.  It feels like this record has evolved with Ballerini herself, going from liking boys to loving them, leaving childish things behind and growing up to be a strong adult in the music business.  Releasing The First Time when she was merely 21 years old, those next few years of your life are crucial to shaping who you will be and what your career looks like.  For Ballerini, writing about her life and what she is going through comes naturally. “It starts with loss, and it goes into life, and then it goes into love; it’s the story of my life over the last few years,” she says of the record.

The album truly follows in that order, if you listen straight through it tells like a good novel, starting with breakups, finding yourself again and then eventually opening up to a new love.

Kicking off the album, “Graveyard” and “Miss Me More” are a refreshing look at a break-up song, deciding to choose yourself over a relationship that isn’t working. It’s a strong outlook to give the young girls who fill out Ballerini’s fan base. “High School” and “In Between” are definite highlights on Unapologetically,  the lyrics are honest, raw and illustrate how best to navigate growing up.   The latter takes a close look at those years between childhood and adulthood where life can be confusing, something that a ton of her fans will identify with.

Sometimes I’m my mother’s daughter, sometimes I’m her friend / sometimes I play grown up and sometimes I play pretend / Sometimes I’m a princess dressed all ribbons and all curls and sometimes I just want to scream I’m not a little girl /  Dumb enough to think I know it all, smart enough to know I don’t / Young enough to think I’ll live forever, old enough to know I won’t / In the in between”

Other stand-outs are the first single off the project, “Legends” which is the last track on the album and “I Hate Love Songs”, a real look at the sappy songs dedicated to love, she flips the concept on its head. Ballerini gets real about hearts skipping a beat and the cliche’ of Cupid and honeymoon phase. “I hate love songs, yeah I really do, I hate love songs, but I love you”. With her pending nuptials quickly approaching the twist on the classic romantic song.

Ballerini stays true to her self, to her story and true to the career that she has shaped thus far with Unapologetically by releasing a cohesive, well-rounded album.  Instead of a few hit singles, the album as a whole is a great listen from the first track to the last. Grab Unapologetically on iTunes here. 

 

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Blake Shelton Texoma Shore

NYCS First Impression: Blake Shelton’s ‘Texoma Shore’

Blake Shelton Texoma Shore

Blake Shelton has released his 11th studio album Texoma Shore today, the culmination of his 10 previous albums, bringing him back to his roots and to the traditional country genre.  The title is derived from Lake Texoma on the border of Texas and his home state of Oklahoma. The project was recorded right near the lake, making the title relevant for many reasons.

Texoma Shore is light and playful featuring happy songs that imitate where he is in his life.  His undeniable twang allows for the traditional country sound throughout the project.  Majority of the tracks highlight affection, for instance, the first 7 songs all reflect on romance and being lucky in love (“Money”, “Beside You Babe”, “Why Me”). His current single and the first off of Texoma Shore, “I’ll Name the Dogs” is reminiscent of his number one single “Honeybee”.  “When you listen to the record, it will go from something traditional to something that will make your head spin, back to something even more traditional,” says Shelton in a recent press release. “That’s just what you can expect from one of my albums.”

A stand-out on the record, “The Wave” features strong imagery and can be the perfect wedding song for 2018.

“I was a boat trapped in a bottle, dying for water, you were the ocean  / I was a compass that couldn’t find heaven, I didn’t know how bad I was broken / I was a castaway with no land /  I drew a broken heart in the sand and you were the wave that washed it all away”

Plenty of Nashville’s greatest songwriters are featured on the album including Ben Hayslip (“I’ll Name the Dogs”, “I Lived It”) Ashley Gorley (“Why Me”) and Rhett Akins (“When the Wine Wears Off”).  Shelton only co-wrote one song on the record, (“Turnin’ Me On”) with Josh Osborne and Jessi Alexander, which features a subtle reference to his current girlfriend, pop-star Gwen Stefani’s Revlon partnership, and her bold red lips.

“Knows how to set me on fire, she’s always holdin’ the match / And when my body’s beside hers, there ain’t no turnin’ back / She’s Revlon red in the blackest night, lighting up the room in the world just like she’s turnin’ me on.” 

Along with his album release week, Shelton announced on Monday his latest tour which will kick off in March.  The Country Music Freaks Tour  is hitting cities across the US and he is bringing Trace Adkins, Brett Eldredge, and Carly Pearce along for the ride.

 

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