Review: Lady Antebellum – Need You Now

April 11, 2010

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Lady Antebellum has exploded in popularity in the last year. Today, I review the album Need you Now.

Cheris Song  
Need You Now I recently heard this referred to as “The Booty Call Song”.  That’s probably not the most elegant way to describe it. but also not entirely wrong.
Our Kind of Love I love the very beginning of this song, and overall, it’s a pretty good song about a special love.  At this point in the album, you really begin to take notice of the strong instrumental aspects of this album.
American Honey Far and away the best song on the album.  Quite often, I’ll listen to this song of “growing up slow, like American honey” a half dozen times in a row.
 Hello World Like Our Kind of Love, I also enjoy the very beginning of this song.  Hello World slows things down a bit and talks about what’s really important in life.  The choice to put this back to back with American Honey results in a rather interest audio contrast – which I enjoy.
Perfect Day The tone of the music becomes upbeat again, taking us through a day which will surely be remembered as one of the “good old days”.
Love This Pain Ah, love can be so painful at times … but it’s the best sort of pain, isn’t it?  A nice toe-tapping beat.
When You Got a Good Thing This song is another slower song, describing a wonderful love between two people – “you gotta know when you’ve got a good thing.”
Stars Tonight Once again, the song has a very strong instrumental introduction.  Stars Tonight takes us inside the experience of being a musician on the stage in front of an adoring crowd.  I’ll give this song the nod as the second best song on the album and award five Cheris.
If I Knew Then A tale of regret at missing the opportunity for love – messing up the chance at true love in a number of different ways.
Something ‘Bout a Woman There’s just something about a woman that makes the singer feel wonderful – even the seemingly insignificant parts of her.
Ready to Love Again The album ends on a slower note.  An album filled with quite a few upbeat love songs finishes up with a song of a woman deciding to finally move on and take the risk of falling in love again.
Album grade: This is a stunningly strong album, top to bottom.  I personally think that American Honey is off the charts in terms of quality, and there really isn’t a weak song in the mix.  Not only are the songs well written and well sung, but they also feature very strong instrumentals.  I have no problems awarding a perfect five Cheri rating.  Lady Antebellum consists of Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood, and Hillary Scott.

Lady Antebellum
Need You Now

Review: Love and Theft – World Wide Open

September 5, 2009

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I mentioned the new group Love and Theft in the Country Corral on August 22.  I finally received my copy of the CD this week!  I sat down and gave it a listen.  Here is what I think of the songs on the disc. I’m more of a lyrics person, so the strength of lyrics has a lot of weight on the ratings.

Cheris Song  
World Wide Open Not a bad song, per se, but probably not the best song to put in the #1 track of a debut album.  Theme of the song is which road to travel down (which life choice to make).
Runaway I absolutely LOVE this song.  I haven’t been able to get it out of my head for weeks.  From a lyrics perspective, I’m a sucker for the “get out of town and make a new life for myself”.  The harmonies and instrumental strength really make the song stand out.  My scale only goes up to 5, but I wanted to give this song at least a 6.
Dancing in Circles The songs asks why people can’t get along, when we are all born brothers and sisters (in Christ).
It’s Up to You The narrator is warning a second person that their destructive actions are likely to cause broken friendships in near future.
You To Miss This is a story of love lost.  It doesn’t seem to have the instrumental strength of some of the other songs.
Can’t Go Back Another song with strong instrumental aspects and harmonies.
Don’t Wake Me A tale of newfound love – don’t wake me from the dream.
Freedom The first half of the song is considerably better than the second half (which is still pretty good).  Is freedom a good thing or a bad thing?
Slow Down In contrast to the songs which have the narrator racing off into new directions (Runaway and World Wide Open), this song begs to slow things down a bit.
Me Without You A solid song with the theme of “you complete me”
Drowning The songs has the theme of “I’m drowning without you”.  I really like some of the harmonies – they pushing the song’s rating up by a full Cheri.
Album grade: This album has a number of 2 Cheri and 3 Cheri songs.  However, I really like the top end songs (particularly Runaway) and the fact that this is a debut album make me a bit of an easier grader and allows me to award 4 Cheris.  I see a lot of upside potential for this group.  Perhaps their next album will be achieve a coveted 5 Cheri rating.

Love and Theft is made up of Brian Bandas, Eric Gunderson, and Stephen Barker Liles.

Love and Theft
World Wide Open

A Salty Piece of Land

August 29, 2009

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I bought this book off a discount table for $4. I had my doubts that Jimmy Buffett could write a decent novel, so I pushed it to the side. Months later, I stumbled across the abridged audio book for $1 and took the plunge. Now that I owned the work in two different formats and had invested a grand total of $5, I really had to make an effort to read (or listen) to it. So I popped the first tape into the player, and off we went!

I quickly realized that I was a fool to doubt Buffett. After all, Buffet tells great stories in his songs, most of which he writes himself. Is this really much different than writing a novel?

Having said this, the book doesn’t quite fit the mold of a traditional novel. You could easily chop the book into several novellas that would stand on their own with minimal ties to the other parts.

The central character is Tully Mars. Tully began his journey in Montana before he was forced to flee from the injustice of bogus criminal charges. At points in the book, he ends up in Alabama, Florida, Mexico, Cuba, and Belize (come on, go grab a map and find it). The core theme of the book is Tully’s effort to help centegenarian Cleopatra Highbourne find a rare fresnel lens for the lighthouse on Cayo Loco. Caya Loco is the “Salty Piece of Land” referred to in the title.

During the course of the book, we are treated to rather length flashbacks of recent (and not so recent) events in Tully’s life. Tully really would like to settle down, but the bounty hunters that his former employer sent after him make it difficult to stay in one spot very long. Tully eventually ends up as a fishing guide at a fishing lodge in Mexico, where he does manage a bit of a respite before being forced to move on once again, this time to the lighthouse on Cayo Loco, where he works to restore the lighthouse to its former glory, while also coordinating an effort to find the rare fresnel lens.

While Tully is the narrator of the book, many other characters have significant roles. The aptly named musician Willie Singer tells his own adventures to Tully in the long letters he sends. Willie is attempting to circumnavigate the globe in an old sea plane, while also attempting to locate a fresnel lens for Tully and Cleopatra. Singer is welcomed in some interesting ways on his stops – including being welcomed as the second coming of a mythical US Navy pilot who had crash landed at the same place decades ago.

Then, of course, there is Cleopatra Highbourne, the 101 year old caption of the schooner Lucretia. While Cleopatra is completely consumed by her goal of restoring the Cayo Loco lighthouse to its former glory – complete with the elusive fresnel lens – so that it can serve as her final resting place, she also regales Tully with the story of her life. Even at her advanced age, Cleopatra spends much of her time sailing on the Lucretia. She is no figurehead captain, but is the unquestioned authority on board the schooner.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. If you like lighthouses, fishing, airplanes, or simply enjoy a good tale, you might enjoy this book. My only regret is that I listened to the abridged edition – now I’ll have to read the unabridged version in order to avoid missing any good parts.

A Salty Piece of Land (book)

Country Corral

August 22, 2009

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Taylor Swift

When Taylor Swift first burst onto the country music scene as a 16 year old in 2006 she appeared, at first glance, to be nothing more than the latest in a string of young girls trying to make a name for themselves in country music, following the path of LeeAnn Rimes and Jessica Andrews. Her first song, Tim McGraw, peaked at #6 on the country charts. I can still remember an early radio interview when she explained that the song referred to a fascination with the Tim McGraw song, rather than Mr. McGraw himself (so that Tim wouldn’t see her as a stalker).

Taylor’s self-titled debut album has sold three million copies, and had five singles crack the country top 10, including #1 hits Our Song (my personal favorite from the album) and Picture to Burn.

Taylor’s second album, Fearless, hit shelves in November 2008 and became the first million selling album of 2009. Three singles have been released from that album – Love Story, White Horse, and You Belong to Me. Of those three singles, my favorite is probably White Horse – the only one of the three that hasn’t hit #1 on the country chart (it peaked at #2).

The cool thing about Taylor is that she is not just a singer. She is also a writer. She won a national poetry contest in fourth grade, and writes many of her own songs. She also seems to be a very fun loving person, and shares interesting details about her life and career through her Facebook page (as opposed to some stars who just use it to tell people when their new perfume is hitting store shelves).

Taylor has been in the media a lot, so it’s difficult to imagine that too many people are unaware of her – but if you’re one of the people who have been hiding under a rock, grab one of her albums and give it a listen. Guys – now that she broke up with the Jonas brother, she’s single again!


Sometimes a song gets lodged in your brain and you just can’t get it out. Lately, the song that keeps running through my head is Runaway by the new group Love and Theft. I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but the group actually has a tie to Taylor Swift – as an opening act for her Fearless tour. In additional, group member Stephen Barker Liles is the subject of Swift’s song, Hey Stephen. Love and Theft’s debut album, World Wide Open, will be released on August 26.

Brooks & Dunn

Sometimes, it’s just time to hang it up. Country duo Brooks & Dunn are calling it quits. After nearly twenty incredibly successful years together, they have announced the end of their career – at least as a group. They will release the album #1s and Then Some on September 8th and will tour one last time in 2010. It’s been a good ride, guys – thanks for all the memories.

Taylor Swift
Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift

Love and Theft
World Wide Open

Brooks & Dunn
#1s and Then Some