Wildflower (Album Review) – Lauren Alaina

Lauren Alaina’s greatest challenge with her debut album was to deliver something that represented both her young age, appealing to listeners her age, and to which older listeners could also relate.

With the release of her first album, Wildflower, she does just that. Showcasing her young, vibrant personality, she doesn’t shy away from discussing complex themes. Her approach to the love theme is not just fairytales and princes à la Taylor Swift, the soulfulness of her voice adds depth to all her songs.

The album opens up with a highly catchy uptempo and Lauren’s second single “Georgia Peaches,” her ode to her home state’s girls. “Well, our shorts a little shorter,” she sings, “’cause the sun’s a little hotter, sippin’ lemonade while we’re playing in the water. Ain’t nothing sweeter than us Georgia peaches.”

She proceeds with the midtempo “Growing Out Her Wings,” where she sings playfully about growing up in the shade of overprotective parents, without being overly critical about it. In fact, she doesn’t criticize. She sings how they got “her whole life on lockdown, doing time behind her bedroom door… dreaming ’bout the girl she’s gonna be, growing her wings.”

The third song is “Tupelo,” a well written remembrance to a summer road trip with a loved one, all the way down to Tupelo. While Lauren needs a few years to nail the sultriness of the chorus, she will definitely get there. And “Tupelo” remains a very enjoyable song.

The album then proceeds to a a very inspirational ballad called “The Middle” about making the best of the time you have. It is the album’s first track where Lauren Alaina’s emotions shine as she tries to convey the message she’s beginning to learn herself. And she does convey the message at hand, which makes the overall feat even more impressive. “The day you’re born is a start,” she sings, “your last breath is a question mark. The story of your life is in the in between.”

Like My Mother Does” is the album’s first single, released soon after the American Idol finale and it is about a girl being thankful to her mother. It is a highly emotional song that is bound to get anyone smiling, with their mother’s face flashing before their eyes. “When I love, I give it all I’ve got like my mother does. When I’m scared, I bow my head and pray like my mother does. When I’m weak and unpretty, I know I’m beautiful and strong because I see myself like my mother does.”

The album’s title is based on the song “She’s a Wildflower,” an uptempo about a girl that did not fit in, dreading going on with her life because of the taunting, not knowing that “she’s a wildflower, just waitin’ on the winds of change to blow.”

On the uptempo “I’m Not One Of Them,” Lauren Alaina is telling the boy she wants to date that many girls “might fall for what you got but I’m not one of them.”

And then comes one of the album’s true highlights and a song that will leave you mesmerized: “The Locket.” “Back in ’41, you met a brown-eyed boy, who called you pretty,” she sings. “He’d walk every day, couple miles out of his way to hold your hand and keep you company… he gave you his picture in a locket that you wore around your neck. Left it right beside your heart so you would not forget the way it felt when he held your hand.” The song then proceeds, two years later, and the boy left for war, swearing he’d marry the girl and as she cried while he rode away, she clutched the picture in her locket so she wouldn’t forget how he kissed her, how he spent time with her. 60 years later, the girl is struggling to remember. She’s a grandmother now, her granddaughter by her side writing down her memories of the man she spent 60 years with and who left her two month prior. “And it breaks my heart to see you struggle to remember. I’ve been writing your memories down and I stopped by today to read a couple pages. Grandma, you sure look pretty. And you smiled that smile, the one I haven’t seen in a quite a while. And you said to me I want you to keep his picture in the locket that I wore around my neck, the one I left beside my heart so I wouldn’t forget…”

Following up “The Locket” is the album’s second highlight, the Carrie Underwood co-written midtempo: Eighteen Inches,” about a young couple who elopes to California. “Eighteen Inches” delivers the album’s strongest hook in the form of the chorus: “Cause when you’re young and in love, you might do some things that don’t seem all that smart. Cause there ain’t no greater distance than the eighteen inches from your head to your heart.” The song features Carrie Underwood’s preferred narrative style of having three parts to the story in three different verses. And while the song wouldn’t have worked for Carrie’s albums, it sure works for Lauren. She doesn’t romanticize their decision. She doesn’t judge them either, which is surely helped by the lyrics. But Lauren’s delivery helps as well. It is Lauren’s youthful innocence that colors this song.

“Eighteen Inches” is followed up by the uptempo “One of the Boys” where Lauren Alaina lays our her preference: “he ain’t too pretty, he ain’t too sweet. A little rough around the edges, cute and country just like me. One of those t-shirt, blue jean wearin’, riverside Saturday night and Sunday mornin’ church kinda goin’ boys.”

“Funny Thing About Love” is a song co-written by Lauren Alaina. Co-writer Luke Laird and Brett James said how she came to them and wanted to write a song about how complicated love can be for her age: “you used to want me but I didn’t want you. Now I want you but you don’t want me. Why can’t our two hearts just make up their minds and want the same thing at the same time.” What’s interesting about this song is Lauren Alaina’s candid approach to the topic at hand. At one point, she sings: “we were best friends until I kissed you. You know you liked it and I did too. As soon as you admit you’re crazy about me, I’m off and running…” While the first verse is the weakest part of the song, Lauren’s conviction while singing it is enough to deliver this song.

And the album concludes with “Dirt Road Prayer,” a prayer to a girl’s family members: her mother, father, brother, grandfather… There’s an element of vulnerability to this that makes it a highlight. It’s a reach out to those family members to feel close again. It’s a reach out to God so He protect them.

Wildflower” is a very strong album. Debut or no debut. Many country artists, regardless of age, would readily give an arm or a leg to have the caliber of songwriters and artists that worked on Lauren Alaina’s album. Her talent shines through on each track and gives the listener – regardless of age – a highly joyful experience that will fluctuate between getting you emotional to making you smile. The album is safely country-pop. It has a healthy dose of both. Those who watched American Idol will recognize Lauren Alaina’s personality on the album. Those who have not will hear a strong young lady, who knows what she wants and who knows exactly where she wants her career to go. Her songs are rooted in reality. They revolve around friend, family, heartache.

If this is an indication of how Lauren Alaina’s career will unfold, I think country music listeners are in for a treat.

Baggage Claim (Single Review) – Miranda Lambert

Baggage Claim - Single Cover - Miranda Lambert

Miranda Lambert is the current it-female country singer. So naturally, her newest single and upcoming album are both some of the most awaited country music releases this year. Set for a late August release, Baggage Claim, the debut single off Lambert’s upcoming album Four The Record, was rush-released to country radio after leaking.

My approach to Lambert’s music is one where enthusiasm and apprehension are mixed. I haven’t been a fan of all her releases but I’ve come to appreciate them. Her single The House That Built Me remains, to me at least, one of those timeless songs that make you happy about your life when you listen to them. The House That Built Me is also the single that made Lambert who she is today – two time ACM Female Vocalist winner and Entertainer of the Year nominee at the CMAs, regardless of how deserving she is of that.

So it is from that base – and it is such a high base – that you’d expect her to approach the lead single off Four The Record. What did she do? She went the opposite – and totally expected – lead single route.

What is the song about? Yes, you guessed it: guy bashing.

If people had worried her marrying Blake Shelton would soften her up, Baggage Claim is here to prove them all wrong – somewhat. “I have been dragging around your sensitive ego, making sure that your bags arrive on time for the dog and pony show,” she opens up the song after a guitar riff that remains throughout the song.

Baggage Claim is a song, which as the title implies, is about Miranda Lambert’s significant other being moved out of her life and home. And she doesn’t leave anything to the imagination as she angrily sings the chorus: “At the baggage claim, you got a lot of luggage in your name. When you hit the ground, check the lost and found cause it ain’t my problem now. I can’t carry it on, I’ve got a lot of troubles all my own. It’s all over the yard, in the trunk of the car,  I’m packin’ it in so come and get it.”

But it is in the second chorus that the song delivers its highlight – and its only one at that. Lambert is known for her lyrics craftsmanship. And while the baggage metaphor is not degrading to the song, it’s not exactly instant-hit material either. However, there’s one sentence in the whole song that’s lyrically highly intelligent: “If it ain’t obvious what has set me off today, behind every woman scorend is a man who made her that way…” and then Lambert continues explaining about what the man did on his business trip.

Repeat chorus, insert useless bridge, repeat chorus… and that’s your whole song.

The problem with Baggage Claim is that, even for Lambert, it feels quite overdone – both thematically and musically. She’s had many other singles dealing with the same topic and they’ve all been better songs than this. While her vocal delivery is quite on point, as is expected from someone of her caliber, the material she’s dealing with is quite weak – especially for a lead single.

The whole song feels like a paint-by-number guy-done-me-wrong Desperate Housewives-inspired song. It feels like the writers came up with the baggage metaphor and thought long and hard about how to make a radio-friendly song that might break Miranda Lambert’s poor streak with lead singles, instead of delivering a great song that would have definitely gotten airplay on radio, with all the hype Lambert has been getting lately.

You see, the reason why the great Dead Flowers, Miranda’s lead single off her critically acclaimed album Revolution, did not manage to become a radio hit is mostly because of its dark theme as well as Lambert’s weak radio performance at the time. She changed course with White Liar, Revolution‘s second single, which gave Lambert her first chart-topping single (or top 2 on Billboard). But at the end of the day, the song that made Lambert is The House That Built Me. And with that song, Lambert took a risky decision to release a not very radio friendly song, but a deep song with meaning. And it worked for her – as evident by The House That Built Me almost winning every award it got nominated for and spending four weeks atop the country charts.

That’s the route she should have taken. Baggage Claim is not a bad song in itself. After several listens, it catches on. But it’s representing a follow up to a highly critically acclaimed album. Hopefully the rest of Four The Record is better than this.

Listen to Baggage Claim here.

Remind Me (Music Video) – Brad Paisley & Carrie Underwood

The awaited video of country music’s most anticipated single of the year so far has just been released.

Set in a desert around sunset, it features Brad Paisley with his guitar and Carrie Underwood with her legs. Yes, the legs are even more important than the guitar. Why? Well, they say pictures speak louder than words. How about three?


And for emphasis:

If you’re still with me, let us proceed.

The treatment of the Remind Me video is different from what anyone expected. Sure, our expectations were high but the more reasonable person of us would have seen coming something along the lines of the result. There was no way Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley would act out the song to the letter.

I mean, if you thought that the whole video would be Carrie and Brad kissing each other endlessly, then you would be delusional. No offense that is.

The end result was the next best thing that could happen without acting out the song: represent the anguish of two lovers who need to be reminded of each other’s love with Carrie and Brad walking towards each other in the desert sunset.

The idea couldn’t be simpler. The slow walk represents the longing, the desert represents the dryness of the relationship. And when they meet, they address each other with sparks in their eyes to be reminded of that love.

However, you can clearly see that Carrie expresses more passion than Brad in their portrayal of the characters. I don’t want to be over analytical, but I think that’s the role they were meant to play and not a lack of acting or dedication. Why? Because I believe that it is more natural for women in situations like this exhibit more passion while men have more restraint.

I can’t say I’m let down but I can see why many fans thought the video would be much more exhuberant. However, let me say this. If any man has a wife/girlfriend with Carrie Underwood’s legs and they need to be reminded to love her, it’s time to go to therapy.

Check out my review of Remind Me. And the lyrics.

Watch the Remind Me video:

Blake Shelton’s Anti-Gay Tweet. Overreaction Much?

For those who don’t know him, Blake Shelton is currently one of the top male country stars. He’s a judge on the new US TV Show “The Voice” and he’s currently engaged to country star Miranda Lambert.

Blake Shelton is also very candid on his twitter timeline. He tweets whatever he pleases and doesn’t care about the repercussions. In other words, he tweeted PETA about his love for hunting.

However, it looks like one of his latest tweets has sparked some controversy, by getting it labeled as an anti-gay tweet and gay rights group asking for an apology. What was the tweet? here it is:

A little research led me to the original Shania Twain lyrics: “Any man of mine better walk the line/better show me a teasin’, squeezin’, pleasin’ kind of time.”

The gay rights group said that this reflected “poor judgement” on Shelton’s part and said his tweet is “unacceptable”.

As a result, Blake tweeted the following apology:

Now honestly, I don’t think there’s anything anti-gay in Blake Shelton’s tweets. You could say they’re anti-harassment tweets. And I think the gay rights group need to get a grip. I’m sure they wouldn’t allow any man to have his “behind” grabbed without him wanting to.

Overall, gay rights groups need to tone it down on the oversensitivity.

Just A Kiss – Lady Antebellum

Lady Antebellum just unveiled their new single, Just A Kiss and almost like their mega smash Need You Now, I was smiling halfway when I first heard it. It will be huge.

These are the lyrics:

Lying here with you so close to me
It’s hard to fight these feelings
When it feels so hard to breathe
Caught up in this moment
Caught up in your smile

I never open up to anyone
So hard to hold back
When I’m holding you in my arms

We don’t need to rush this
Let’s just take it slow

Chorus
Just a kiss on your lips in the moonlight
Just a touch of the fire burning so bright
I don’t want to mess this thing up
I don’t want to push too far
Just a shot in the dark that you just might
be the one I’ve been waiting for my whole life
So baby I’m alright with just a kiss goodnight

I know that if we give this a little time
it’ll only bring us closer to the love we wanna find
It’s never felt so real
No it’s never felt so right

Chorus
Just a kiss on your lips in the moonlight
Just a touch of the fire burning so bright
I don’t want to mess this thing up
I don’t want to push too far
Just a shot in the dark that you just might
be the one I’ve been waiting for my whole life
So baby I’m alright with just a kiss goodnight

No I don’t want to say goodnight
I know it’s time to leave but you’ll be in my dreams
Tonight
Tonight
Tonight

Chorus
Just a kiss on your lips in the moonlight
Just a touch of the fire burning so brigh
I don’t want to mess this thing up
I don’t want to push too far
Just a shot in the dark that you just might
be the one I’ve been waiting for my whole life
So baby I’m alright with just a kiss goodnight

Let’s do this right with just a kiss goodnight
With a kiss goodnight
A kiss goodnight

The harmonies by Hilllary Scott and Charles Kelley are absolutely stunning. You can draw comparisons to Need You Now melody-wise and that is not necessarily a bad thing. Need You Now won grammys for song and record of the year, which is only indicative of the substantial quality of that song. Some of you might have gotten tired of overplaying it but it’s simply a brilliant song. Just A Kiss isn’t any less, albeit it’s thematically much different from Need You Now. While the latter was a cry of romantic and even sexual urgency, Just A Kiss is a song in which the narrator wants to take things slower and deeper. However, Just A Kiss is as infectious as Need You Now.. It’s subtle, it’s fragile – just as a growing love starts… with that first kiss that you are usually reluctant to take.

You can feel the reluctance in the way Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley deliver the lyrics… there’s a sense of longing in the way they utter the lyrics that adds a whole level of credibility to “Just A Kiss“.

Overall, this will be huge on country radio. It is also a potential crossover smash waiting to happen. It is a brilliant country song that excels at being the lead single off Lady Antebellum’s upcoming album.

You can listen to it here or on youtube:

If you like this post, then “like” us on Facebook.

Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley Duet: His New Single?

Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley are best buddies in the country music scene.

She was his opening act while promoting her debut album “Some Hearts” and they ended up recording a duet “Oh Love”, an awesome song that was never released. A huge missed opportunity, may I add.

Now, it looks like they have recorded another duet together. And I believe it will be the upcoming single of Brad Paisley’s upcoming album “This Is Country Music”.

First, Carrie’s latest single, Mama’s Song has peaked about a month ago at #2 and it has been rumored that she will not be releasing anymore singles from Play On. The rumor was questioned at first, but the longer we go without a single on the radio, the lesser the chance of continuing the Play On era.

Second, if no Carrie single is released from now till August or September, assuming a predicted November release date for her fourth album, it will be the longest period that Carrie has gone through without an active single on the radio. Far too long if you ask me.

Third, Brad Paisley’s current single “This is Country Music” is racing up the country charts and looks poised to peak at #1 in the coming two or three weeks. It currently sits at #3 on the charts, with a remarkably fast 13-week run, one of the fastest Brad Paisley singles to do so.

Fourth, Brad Paisley’s album is to be released late May, which means that if the current single peaks around early March, it would leave a two month period of no single on the radio to promote his album. A second single being issued is a certainty.

Fifth, Brad Paisley will be competing with Lady Gaga on his first week of release and while he will not beat her, releasing a second single that sparks wide interest among country listeners is sure to provide him with high sales numbers.

Sixth, with the huge success duets and group singles are seeing on country radio (Need You Now, Don’t You Wanna Stay, If I Die Young), it looks like the trend of having more than one singer on a track is paying off. Now get together the genre’s leading vocalists and put them on the same track and you have the recipe for a smash hit on country radio, one that will sustain Carrie through the wait for her fourth album and one that will provide Brad with the needed buzz for his album release.

Also, another thing to note is that with Carrie not having any single on the radio, she will not be able to sing anything at the ACMs and I doubt Brad would want to sing “This Is Country Music” there after debuting it at the CMAs and after it would undoubtedly have peaked.

So it looks like Carrie’s team has prepared a bombshell for us with an awesome single that will undoubtedly take the Country Music scene by storm. One can only hope the song is as awesome as we all think it will be.

Miranda Lambert: Country’s New Queen? Nope.

I was intrigued by an article I saw posted on Twitter about how Miranda Lambert might be the current queen of Country Music. I wouldn’t normally feel the need to reply to such articles but the writer specifically took a jab at Carrie Underwood by saying the following:

She’s not taking a Louisville Slugger to anyone’s car, à la Carrie Underwood.

There is nothing personally I don’t like about some healthy competition in Country Music, especially among the female artists. After all, queen or no queen, they are all underdogs in this overwhelmingly patriarchal industry.

However, I felt that I need to point out somethings to the writer of the article, concerning Carrie Underwood. I will make point them out succinctly.

- Both Carrie Underwood and Miranda Lambert have started from reality TV-shows. The difference between them is that Lambert’s show is especially designed for country artists: it takes less to be noticed. Carrie’s show is broader, granted, but it makes it especially difficult for a female singer to be noticed. Carrie won her show, Lambert did not.

- The alluded Carrie Underwood track, “Before He Cheats,” is not her only hit. It might be her biggest hit overall, but she has 13 other hits under her belt, 12 of which have gone to #1. Lambert has 2 #1s.

- Unlike Lambert who followed up her biggest hit “The House That Built Me” with a song that was even referenced in the article as one pertaining to Lambert’s beauty, “Only Prettier”, which barely made the top 10, Carrie Underwood followed up “Before He Cheats” with a song that spent 3 weeks at #1: “Wasted.”

- The writer made a big deal of how Miranda Lambert’s debut album spawned a hit and was certified Platinum. Need I mention what Carrie Underwood’s debut album managed? 7x Platinum and 4 #1 singles, is it?

- Carrie won Best New Artist at the Grammys, Lambert did not.

- Carrie has brought legions of new fans to the country music genre, I don’t believe Lambert has had that effect – or at least as broadly.

- Carrie has won Entertain Of The Year twice. No other female has ever done that. And Lambert doesn’t look close to doing so. The writer boasts about her selling out an arena for her tour. Well, Carrie sold out hundreds of those arenas for her Play On tour. Millions of fans attended. I don’t need to cite sources for this, right?

- Revolution might have been the more critically acclaimed album but does the certification of “queen” involve a bunch of critics or the fans? Play On (2x platinum) has outsold Revolution (1x platinum).

- Miranda Lambert has won the CMA and ACM Female Vocalist Of The Year this past year. But let’s not forget who won those awards three times so far.

- The writer mentions how Lambert shows “no signs of stopping.” Does Underwood show any signs of stopping? She is busy writing her fourth album right now.

It’s nice when country artists start to get recognized, especially after struggling. And I personally have nothing against Miranda Lambert. I really appreciate her music. But no one came out and declared Carrie Underwood the new country queen when she won her first CMA Female Vocalist or when her album was having record breaking sales or when she won her first Entertainer Of The Year. She was always viewed as the country girl from Oklahoma who got lucky on that outsider show called American Idol. But what really makes a true country queen is the love fans have for her. And we, the fans, have shown our dedication for Carrie over and over again. I’ve taken time to write this, haven’t I?

The awards might have stopped pouring in. But they will come. Just wait… I have faith that Carrie will deliver a breath-taking fourth album. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again. Carrie Underwood is vastly taken for granted in the Country Music scene. And she just doesn’t seem to care. She seems unfazed, continues to smile and give out her best. And for that, she is a true queen.