Christopher Shayne’s New EP Will Appeal Widely To Southern, Country Rock Fans

Courtesy: Carry On Music

Independent rocker Christopher Shayne is helping southern rock fans start off the new year on a good note.  The up-and-coming singer-songwriter is giving the noted audiences reason to be happy as 2021 opens with his new forthcoming EP Ten High.  Scheduled for release Friday through Carry On Music, the seven-song record offers audiences something to like in its musical arrangements.  They will be discussed shortly.  The lyrical content that accompanies the EP’s musical arrangement offers its own appeal for listeners, too.  It will be discussed a little later.  The sequencing of the noted content rounds out the record’s most important elements, bringing everything together, completing the EP’s presentation.  Each item noted here is important in its own way to the whole of Ten High.  All things considered, they make Christopher Shayne’s new EP a record that guarantees its appeal to its target audiences.

Christopher Shayne’s forthcoming EP Ten High is a presentation that is certain to appeal to Shayne’s specifically targeted audiences from start to end of its 24-inute run time.  That is proven in part through the record’s featured musical arrangements.  The arrangements in question all present a distinct southern rock approach and sound.  While each arrangement displays the same kind of approach and sound, the arrangements in whole do at least give audiences something unique from one song to the next.  Case in point is a comparison between maybe ‘Any Given Sunday’ to the album’s title track.  ’10 High’ gives audiences plenty of the noted southern rock sensibility at points throughout the song.  At the same time, the verses in this song present a clear AC/DC style influence.  The contrast of those two styles gives audiences something interesting in itself.  Meanwhile ‘Any Given Sunday’ presents more of a southern/country rock style approach.  Shayne’s own unique composition adds subtle influences from the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd and maybe Josh Turner.  Again, the influence is so subtle, but it is noticeable through a close listen.  When that whole is compared to the whole of the EP’s title track, it leads to more appreciation for the record’s musical arrangement. 

On another level, ‘Jus Get Drunk,’ which closes out the EP immediately lends itself to comparison to work that Zakk Wylde has composed with his side project Pride & Glory in terms of its acoustic approach and distinct southern rock sound.  Shayne’s vocal delivery style is even right up there with that of Wylde and other powerhouse vocalists.  By comparison, ‘Give A Damn’ is arguably the EP’s most intense arrangement.  It is yet another full-on composition, but there is so much fire and vim in this work.  It is comparable to works from virtually any southern rock outfit out there today.  The subtle addition of the banjo in the song’s opening bars adds its own unique touch to the whole of the song, too.  When one examines this song in comparison not only to ‘Just Get Drunk,’ but also to the rest of the EP’s arrangements, its power becomes even more evident.  What’s more, when all of the songs are considered together, the whole of that content makes for reason in itself for southern rock fans to take in this record.  That foundation is strengthened even more through the EP’s lyrical content.

The lyrical content that is presented in Ten High is just as accessible for listeners as the EP’s musical content.  The record’s opener and closer are both pretty clear in their content.  They center on drinking.  What is interesting to note is that where ‘Pour The Bottle’ presents a man who is having no regrets about just drinking his troubles away and tells the bartender, “I ain’t finished yet/Pour the bottle/I won’t have any regrets.  He even goes on in the song’s second verse to sing about drowning himself “in alcohol.”  So again, this is someone who is just giving that proverbial middle finger to the world, including obviously a woman that has wronged him.  ‘Jut Get Drunk,’ by comparison is the opposite end of that emotion.  This song is that person sitting at the bar, having gotten drunk, he talks about not feeling the same without some whisky and that he’d “rather just get drunk/’Cause I need a little time/To sort what’s in my mind/Just one more and I’ll be fine.”  So again, here are two songs that lyrically tell their own story.  The contrast in those two sides will ensure listeners’ engagement in itself. 

On another hand, ‘Getaway Babe’ changes directions but keeps listeners engaged with its lyrical content.  This song’s lyrical theme is that familiar topic of a man who is crazy for a woman.  He tells her to “come get gone with me” in the song’s chorus, while adding plenty of praise in the verses.  That familiarity and the song’s catchy musical arrangement pair to make the song in whole yet another standout addition to Ten High.  When it is considered along with the equally engaging story presented in ‘Just Get Drunk’ and ‘Pour The Bottle’ and the rest of the EP’s lyrical content, the whole of that content makes for plenty for audiences to enjoy lyrically, too.  The appeal that the EP’s lyrical content provides audiences is just one more part of what makes the EP stand out.  The sequencing of the content puts its own ouch to the record.  The sequencing of the record’s musical and lyrical content puts the finishing touch to its presentation.

The sequencing of Ten High’s overall content brings everything together in this record, to complete the EP’s presentation.  As has already been noted, the EP’s opener and closer certainly seem to work hand in hand even if not intentionally.  That book-ending, generated through the sequencing is sure to present its own appeal.  Along the way, the sequencing changes things up, going from the seeming celebratory title track to the equally familiar topic of a man who is crazy for a woman in ‘Getaway Baby’ to the slightly introspective ‘Any Given Sunday’ and ‘Burn Me Down.’  The rather rowdy ‘Give A Damn’ changes things up even more before the EP closes out in the almost rueful ‘Just Get Drunk.’  The whole of the noted lyrical content ensures in itself shows that plenty of thought was put into the sequencing of this side of the EP.  Just as much thought was put into the sequencing of the EP in regards to its arrangements and their energies.

What more can be said of the sequencing of the EP in regards to its musical arrangements and their energy than it ensures the energy stays high.  The only time when the EP really pulls back is in its closer.  Other than that moment, ‘Burn Me Down’ is the only other point that presents any pull back in the record’s energy.  That pull back is noted in the song’s opening bars.  It only lasts that short time, too.  From those opening bars, things waste little time picking back up.  Overall, the sequencing of Ten High in regards to its energy ensures that aspect keeps listeners remain engaged just as much as that of the lyrical content.  It barely lets up at least until the EP’s finale.  To that end, it will keep listeners fully engaged and entertained.  Keeping this in mind, when this final touch is put to the EP, it brings everything together and completes the record’s presentation.  The result of that completion is that the record will appeal strongly to Christopher Shayne’s target audiences.

Christopher Shayne’s forthcoming EP Ten High is a record of which southern rock and country rock fans will think highly.  That is due in part to its musical arrangements.  The arrangement in question boast some very clear southern and country rock vibes while also making sure the arrangements do not just copycat one another.  There are subtle changes in each song that show a wide range of influences.  That alone helps the EP’s appeal.  The lyrical content that accompanies the EP’s musical arrangements adds its own touch to the EP’s presentation.  That is because the topics presented in the lyrical themes are accessible.  They are familiar topics for any listeners.  The sequencing of that musical and lyrical content brings everything together, completing its presentation.  Each item noted here does its own important part to make Christopher Shayne’s new EP appealing.  All things considered, the EP proves a work that will appeal equally to any southern and country rock fan.  Ten High is scheduled for release Friday through Carry On Music.  More information on the EP is available along with all of Christopher Shayne’s latest news at

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Josh Turner’s New Covers Record Proves Pure Country Music Is Still Alive And Well

Courtesy: MCA Nashville

Much has been said over the years about the fate of real country music.  As with rock music, there are many who would like to say that real country music is dead.  However, artists, such as Jamey Johnson, Chris Stapleton, Hank III, and Shooter Jennings have proven that it is very much alive and well.  They are not the only artists who have proven this true.  Josh Turner has done his own share to prove that real country music is alive and well throughout his career.  His latest album Country State of Mind, which was released in June through MCA Nashville, is no exception to that rule.  The 12-song covers compilation takes listeners through so much music history with its featured songs.  They will be discussed shortly.  The arrangements featured in the songs do their own part to make the record so appealing to country music purists.  They will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of the record.  All things considered, they make the compilation proof that real country music is still alive and well and that there are those who are working to make sure it stays alive.  They make the album a wonderful tribute to the roots of country music.

Josh Turner’s new covers compilation Country State of Mind is a presentation that is certain to impress any country music purist.  That is proven in part through its featured songs.  The songs in question take listeners back to country music’s earliest days and even up to the 90s, which was really the end of the golden age of country music.  The oldest of the songs featured in the recording is the Hank Williams hit song ‘Alone and Forsaken.’  The song was not officially recorded until the early 1950s, but its roots go all the way back to a radio performance in the late 1940s, and it is pure country.  It is a prime example of what made and makes Hank Williams still one of the greatest country music artists of all time. Going through history some more, the record also goes back to the 1950s with a cover of Johnny Cash’s 1959 song ‘The Caretaker,’ which itself is more of a deep cut from Cash, into the 70s, with Kris Kristofferson joining Turner for his cover of Kristofferson’s 1973 song ‘Why Me’ and even into the 90s, with a cover of Jim Lauderdale’s ‘You Don’t Deem To Miss Me’ (1997).  The song was made popular by Patty Loveless.  There are even a pair of dips into the 80s with Turner’s take on Randy Travis’ hit song ‘Forever and Ever, Amen’ (1987) — Travis joined Turner for the performance in this record – his take on the 1986 Hank Williams, Jr./Roger Alan Wade song ‘Country State of Mind.’ Putting it simply, the compilation is essentially a musical history lesson of sorts about pure country music.  Regardless of familiarity with the featured songs, it is a lesson that every listener will enjoy.  Those listeners who are less familiar with the history of country music will use this record as a strong introduction to the genre’s roots while those who are more seasoned will welcome the trip back in time just as much as those who are new to the genre.  This is just one aspect of the record that makes it so appealing.  The arrangements featured in the songs add their own value to the record.

The arrangements featured in Josh Turner’s recently released covers compilation are important to note because they show Turner’s respect for the songs that he covered here.  Case in point is his take on ‘The Caretaker.’  As Turner sings the song’s lyrics, he does something significant with his trademark baritone and makes it sound just like that of Johnny Cash.  The shortness in the notes that he sings and the simple use of the vocals and guitar makes the song sound just like Cash’s original.  The only difference between the two renditions (other than the fact that Turner replaces Cash’s name with his own in this version) is that Turner’s rendition does not have the subtle backing choral element that Cash used in his song.  That’s not a detriment, either.  It just gives Turner’s version its own identity that still pays full tribute to Cash’s original. 

Turner’s cover of ‘Forever and Ever, Amen’ is another example of the importance of the album’s arrangements.  Turner’s take on the timeless tune stays true to its source material for the most part.  At the same time, he adds a subtle extra with the use of the bluegrass influence throughout the song at various points.  The fiddle and mandolin that are audible in Turner’s take are not so much there in Travis’ original.  There is a little bit more of a twang to the guitars in Turner’s take, too.  Listening through both versions, one could actually argue that Turner’s cover is one of those songs that actually improves on the original.

Turner’s cover of Hank Williams Jr.’s ‘Country State of Mind’ is a near mirror image to Williams’ original, right down to the twang in Turner’s voice as he sings.  He and Chris Janson collectively do so much to make this rendition a full tribute to the legacy not only of the song, but of Hank Jr. right down to the famous yodel at the song’s end.  It is a full-on display of pure country music at its finest that the aforementioned listeners will appreciate and just one more example of the importance of the musical arrangements featured throughout Country State of Mind.  Together with the rest of the album’s arrangements, the whole of the record’s musical content doe even more to show why Turner’s fans and country music purists alike will enjoy the compilation.  Together with the songs themselves, the two elements collectively create a strong foundation for the compilation.  Resting atop that foundation is the record’s sequencing.

The sequencing of Country State of Mind is interesting in its own right.  That is because it never stays too happy or sad for too long throughout the record’s 41-minute run time.  It starts out on a relatively upbeat note in ‘I’m No Stranger to the Rain’ and continues in that fashion in the record’s second song, ‘I’ve Got It Made.’  From there, the record’s energy pulls back momentarily in Turner’s cover of ‘Why Me’ before picking back up again in the record’s title track.  His cover of ‘I Can Tell By The Way You Dance’ keeps the record’s energy up a little bit longer before surrendering again in ‘Alone and Forsaken.’  From this point on, the subtle ups and downs in the album’s energies is stable right to its subdued finale, that noted cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘The Caretaker.’  Looking back through the record’s arrangements, their energies clearly show a certain amount of time and thought was put into the record’s sequencing.  The result is that it never stays one way or another for too long.  This ensures in its own way, that listeners will remain engaged and entertained through this aspect just as much as through the compilation’s content.  All three elements combined make the record a compilation that while yes, it is a bunch of covers, is a record that proves without question that pure country is still alive and well.  What’s more, that Turner made the choice to take on these classic pure country tunes shows that there are those who want to keep it alive once more.

Real, pure, country music is not dead.  There is a generation of artists out there today that is doing its part to ensure this is known, despite so many critics wanting people to believe otherwise.  Josh Turner’s recently released covers compilation Country State of Mind is just the latest proof that pure country is alive.  The record’s songs serve as a musical history lesson and musical tribute to the roots of pure country all in one.  The arrangements featured within those songs add their own appeal to the compilation.  That is because they stay largely true to their source material while adding a subtle extra to each song, giving each even more enjoyment.  The sequencing of the songs and their arrangements puts the finishing touch to the record’s presentation, ensuring once and for all, listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this record as has been pointed out here.  All things considered, they make the record a presentation that proves pure country music is alive and well and that there are those out there who are working to keep it alive.  Country State of Mind is available now.

More information on Country State of Mind is available along with all of Josh Turner’s latest news at:




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Veterans, Newcomers Among Those In Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Country/Bluegrass/Folk/Americana Albums

Courtesy: Mercury Nashville

Country music, bluegrass, folk, and Americana fans have had a lot to be happy bout in 2020.  That is because the genres, which are so closely related to one another, have seen a lot of enjoyable new albums released.  Bluegrass fans saw Steep Canyon Rangers release its new album Arm in Arm.  The country music world saw Chris Stapleton’s new album Starting Over, which is some of his best work to date in his still young career.  Steve Earle and his fellow musicians The Dukes released a new album that audiences can easily put into the Americana category while the folk world while Delta Rae’s new album The Light can just as easily be added to the folk/neo-folk category just as much as the Americana category.  All three albums are featured in this year’s Phil’s Picks 2020 Top 10 New Country/Bluegrass/Folk/Americana Albums list along with lots of others, including Chatham County Line’s new album Strange Fascination and the recently released independent band Royal Horses’ new album A Modern Man’s Way To Improve.  That album crosses the border of country, bluegrass and Americana. 

As with each year’s past lists, this year features the year’s Top 10 best new albums from the noted genres along with five additional honorable mentions for a total of 15 albums.  Without any further ado, here is PHIL’S PICKS 2020 TOP 10 NEW COUNTRY/BLUEGRASS/FOLK/AMERICANA ALBUMS.


  1. Chris Stapleton – Starting Over
  2. The Okee Dokee Brothers – Songs For Singin
  3. Josh Turner – Country State of Mind
  4. Delta Rae – The Light
  5. Reckless Kelly – American Girls/American Jackpot
  6. Steve Earle & The Dukes – The Ghosts of West Virginia
  7. Chatham County Line – Strange Fascination
  8. Jack The Radio – Creatures
  9. Royal Horses – A Modern Man’s Way To Improve
  10. Steep Canyon Rangers – Arm in Arm
  11. Brothers Osborne – Skeletons
  12. Bruce Springsteen – Letter To You
  13. Jason Isbell & The 400 Unit – Reunions
  14. Mile Twelve – Roll The Tapes All Night Long
  15. Special Consensus – Chicago Barn Dance

Next up from Phil’s Picks is 2020’s Top 10 New Rap & Hip-Hop Albums.  Stay tuned for that. 

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Stapleton’s Room is The Envy Of All On Phil’s Picks 2017 Top 10 New Country/Bluegrass/Americana/Folk Albums List

Courtesy: Mercury Nashville

Country music, Americana, Bluegrass and Folk are some of the most closely related sounds out there today.  They are so closely related that it is easier to find acts from the noted genres on one radio station oftentimes than bands in the worlds of rock and metal.  It seems that there are much more finely defined lines in those two worlds even with their similarities.  Considering that the noted genres tend to be so close to one another, it is easier to group them all together in one list for the purpose of the year’s best new albums.  That having been noted, this critic’s list of the year’s top new albums from those realms is spread widely across each one.  Topping this year’s list of the best new country/bluegrass/Americana/Folk albums is Chris Stapleton’s latest offering, From A RoomVolume 2.  From start to finish, this record takes listeners back to the good old days of country while also touching on southern rock and even some blues.  That’s just the musical aspect of his latest album.  The lyrical content works expertly with each arrangement.  If you are a country, blues and southern rock fan but haven’t yet picked up this record, get it.  Period.  Also on this year’s list are new releases from North Carolina-based outfit Mipso, David Messier, Zakk Brown Band and others.  It runs the gamut.

As with every other list, this list features the year’s Top 10 new albums plus five additional honorable mention titles for a total of 15 albums.  Without any further ado, here for your consideration is the Phil’s Picks 2017 Top 10 New Country/Bluegrass/Americana/Folk Albums.


  1. Chris Stapleton — From A RoomVol.  2
  2. Andrew Carter — Andrew Carter
  3. Josh Turrner — Deep South
  4. Brad Paisley — Love and War
  5. David Messier — Waiting For Eldridge
  6. Hank, Pattie & The Current — Hold Your Head Up High
  7. The Infamous Stringdusters — Laws of Gravity
  8. Mipso — Coming Down The Mountain
  9. Mike Mangione & The Kin — But I’ve Seen The Stars
  10. Outlaws & Moonshine — The Devil In The Moonshine
  11. Buzz Cason — Passion
  12. Luke Combs — This One’s For You
  13. Darius Rucker — When Was The Last Time
  14. Zac Brown Band — Welcome Home
  15. Toby Keith — The Bus Songs

While the list above is this critic’s own list of the year’s top new records from the country/bluegrass/Americana/Folk realm.  There were certainly more albums than what’s listed here that deserve at least one listen including Lady Antebellum’s latest album Heartbreak, Luke Bryan’s What Makes You Country, Rascal Flatts’ This Is Us and so many others.  Keeping that in mind, there is plenty out there for fans of every noted genre within that universe.

Next up from Phil’s Picks are lots more lists to try to get to before the year lets out.  Lots to do and not enough time, so we’re going to step things up from here.  There are new Children’s albums, rock records, hard rock/metal, live recordings, and the DVD realm.  So there will likely be multiple lists from this point forward.  Stay tuned!