Willie Nelson Is First Place This Year With “Last Man Standing”

Courtesy: Sony Legacy

Country music is big business nowadays.  One need only look at shows like The Voice and America’s Got Talent to see that.  Also, look at the ratings for the Country Music awards shows that air on television every year, as well as the overall record sales and the glut of country music stations airing the past, present and future of the genre nationwide.

Keeping in mind the popularity (and ongoing success) of said genre, it is only fitting for the genre to get its own list of the year’s top new albums.  Phil’s Picks has compiled its own list of those albums, and it — like the noted radio stations — features a who’s who of country music’s past, present and future.

Topping this year’s list is Willie Nelson’s new album Last Man Standing.  The “Red-Headed Stranger” is in fine form in this latest offering, contemplating mortality, friends lost along life’s long road and some other, deeper topics.  Musically speaking, Last Man Standing is just good, old-fashioned country; everything that country music purists enjoy.

Second on this year’s list is fellow country musician John Prine and his new album The Tree of Forgiveness.  The soul in his lyrical themes and his performance make this song so powerful.  It is an album that every country music purist needs to hear.

Taking the third spot in this year’s list is Shooter Jennings, Waylon’s boy.  Shooter is everything that audiences have come to expect from him over the course of his career.  Yet again, listeners get more growth both musically and lyrically from the outlaw country musician that continues to place Jennings in his very own place separate from his contemporaries.  Again, this is another must for those who want to avoid all of the pop country that currently pollutes the country music scene today.

Moving on, the rest of this year’s list features some unexpected names and some more familiar names mixed in for good measure.  As always, the list features 15 total names and titles.  The top 10 are the best, and the next five are honorable mention titles.

Without any further ado, here is the Phil’s PIcks 2018 top 10 New Country Music Albums list.

PHIL’S PICKS 2018 TOP 10 NEW COUNTRY MUSIC ALBUMS

  1. Willie Nelson — Last Man Standing
  2. John Prine — The Tree of Forgiveness
  3. Shooter Jennings — Shooter
  4. Old Crow Medicine Show — Volunteer
  5. Jason Charles Miller — In The Wasteland
  6. David Michael George — 1,000 Yard Stare
  7. Eric Church — Desperate Man
  8. Pistol Annies — Interstate Gospel
  9. Kenny Chesney — Songs for the Saints
  10. Brothers Osborne — Port Saint Joe
  11. DeVotchka — This Night Falls Forever
  12. Dierks Bentley — The Mountain
  13. Devin Dawson — Dark Horse
  14. Patricia Vonne — Top of the Mountain
  15. Sugarland — Bigger

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Gloriana’s New LP Is Worth A Thousand Words And More

Courtesy: Emblem Records

The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words is often tossed around for a variety of reasons.  If a picture is worth a thousand words, then country trio Gloriana’s new sophomore effort, A Thousand Miles Left Behind is worth a thousand words itself and then some.  So why don’t we track this and see if we can put up a thousand words for A Thousand Miles…?

A Thousand Miles Left Behind is an album that puts Gloriana a thousand miles ahead of so many other country acts today without losing any of its country or bluegrass roots from its last album.  Fans that may be new to the band can liken it to fellow country acts such as: Nickel Creek, Sugarland, and Rascal Flatts just to name a few.  Lyrically, the album’s content is nothing new.  It centers on the topics of love gained and lost.  But it’s the manner in which the songs examine these topics that make the songs so interesting.  The album’s opener, ‘Gold Rush’ would seem, thanks to its musical backing, that it’s about love gained.  It’s that happy sounding.  But a closer look at the lyrical content shows otherwise.  The band sings here, “A thousand miles left behind/The bridges crossed and the mountains climbed/The only thought that crossed my mind/Was winning you back and making you mine/So goodbye city of angels/I left my angel back at home.”  That verse alone gives something of a Proclaimers vibe.  The band’s song, ‘I’m Gonna Be 500 Miles’ has a similar vibe, lyrically.  And ‘Gold Rush’ is just as enjoyable as the aforementioned song.  Here’s a song about someone who has given up someone special, but only wants to be back with said person.  It would have been so easy to take the standard old school country track, and done an oh-woe-is-me style piece.  Instead, the band took the higher road and made something that is both catchy and hopeful.  Kudos to the band for that.  It makes for a solid opening to the album.  Fans get something somewhat similar later in the album when the band starts into ‘Carolina Rose.’

The band keeps the enjoyment level high after ‘Gold Rush’ with the equally fun, ‘Sunset Lovin’.’  The music in this piece is just as catchy and is bound to make it a fan favorite, too.  The song’s lyrics take it that extra level, too.  The band sings of a couple just sitting in a parking lot together, making out harmlessly to the radio as the sun sets in the distance.  If that’s not a throwback to old school romance, it’s anyone’s guess what is.  The band writes here, “Hey, oh/You and me and the radio/Kissing along to our favorite song/Hey, oh/I ain’t never gonna let you go/All we need is all we got/Sunset lovin’ in the parking lot.”  Again this isn’t something that fans of any musical genre hear all that much in today’s era of music.  So yet again, the band is to be highly commended for this.  It’s an entirely harmless song that in its own way, could be compared to something from Zac Brown Band.

‘Gold Rush’ and ‘Sunset Lovin’’ are both hit songs from what is without a shadow of a doubt a solid sophomore effort from Gloriana.  But of the album’s eleven tracks, there’s at least one that stands out more than others as a surprise.  That song is ‘(Kissed You) Good Night.’  From the opening musical strains and verse, listeners are led to believe it’s a song of lost love.  But the surprise is that it is in fact not that.  The band writes of a couple who almost misses a chance at love, but makes love begin at the last moment.  The band writes in the song’s chorus, “I turned off the car/Ran through the yard/Back to your front door/Before I could knock/You turned the lock/And met me on the front porch.”  The band goes on, picking things up even more, “And I kissed you/Good Night/And now that I’ve kissed you/It’s a good night, good night/baby/good night.”  There’s something special about the way in which the band wrote both the lyrics and the music to this song.  It all comes together to create a wholly vivid picture in the listener’s mind.  Some listeners could even potentially see this song playing out like a scene from a movie in their minds as they listen to the song.  That the song would start off like a standard piece about lost love, only to surprise listeners makes it that much more of a hit.  It’s obvious the band has a way with both music and words especially here.

On the exact opposite end, but equally surprising in its enjoyment is the song, ‘Go On…Miss Me.’  Again, instead of taking the classic old school oh-woe-is-me road, the band takes a funnier, more modern road.  Rachel Reinhert sings in this song about a guy who had done her wrong.  But rather than sulk about it, she sings, “Whoa, no way/You’ll ever trick me/You’ll never pull me in to fall for you again/’Cause your cheating heart/Will never win/So go on…Miss me.”  This shows a strong, empowered woman both lyrically and musically, who won’t let one bad experience hold her down.  One more time, kudos to Gloriana as a whole for taking the high road here.  Even better in this song is a moment when Reinhert sings about the man in question living in his parents’ basement.  There’s a little guitar lick that seems to be the musical equivalent of her thumbing her nose at the guy.  It’s just a small moment.  But it’s sure to bring laughs from listeners.

‘(Kissed You) Good Night’ and ‘Go On…Miss Me’ are just a couple more example of what makes Gloriana such a stand out group, as are the previously mentioned pieces here.  But the reality is that the album in its entirety is a solid work that successfully continues to bridge the ever shrinking gap between pop music and country music.  It’s one that is loaded with more than its share of fan favorites.  And speaking of fan favorites, fans can enjoy the music anywhere as the album is available in stores and online now.  Or they can experience the band’s sound in person, too.  Gloriana will be performing at Mount Olive College next Friday, October 12th in Mount Olive North Carolina as part of the college’s annual Fall Festival.  Fans can get a full run down of the band’s tour dates online and all the latest news from the band now at http://www.facebook.com/gloriana and http://gloriana.com.

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Gloriana, Casey James coming to Mount Olive College this Fall

MOUNT OLIVE, N.C.–Award winning country group Gloriana and American Idol finalist Casey James will perform at Mount Olive College this Fall.  The performance is part of the college’s annual Fall Fest Concert.  It is open to the public.  The acts will perform at Mount Olive College’s Kornegay Arena on Friday, October 12th at 7pm.

Casey James made it to the top three on American Idol’s ninth season before going on to stardom.  He has opened for Sugarland on the band’s Incredible Machine tour, and has also performed on the American Idols Live 2010 tour.  His self-titled debut record was released earlier this year and hit number two on the Billboard Country Album chart.  The second single from the album, ‘Crying on a Suitcase’ is playing at radio stations nationwide.

Gloriana is making its own waves across country radio.  Its debut 2009 single, ‘Wild at Heart’, made its way into the Top 15 on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.  Its new single, ‘(Kissed You) Good Night’ currently sits at number seven on the Billboard Country Singles chart.  The band also has the honor of receiving the ’09 “Breakthrough Artist of The Year” and 2010 ACM Awards “Top new Vocal Group” award.  The band is set to release its sophomore album, ‘A Thousand Miles Left Behind’ on July 31st. 

Tickets to the concert will go on sale August 1st.  General admission price is $20.  Tickets can be purchased in advance online at http://www.moc.edu/fallfest.  To get more information on the concert, contact Justin Roe in the Student Development department at 919-658-7897 or via e-mail at jroe@moc.edu.