Tuesday, September 24, 2013

New Tunes Tuesday - Chris Young

Chris Young is known for his deep bass vocals and traditional credentials with an updated sound. His fourth studio album "A.M" holds true to that. You may have heard his first single "Aw Naw" on the radio which follows right along with the current trend in country music - party anthem, high energy, and screaming guitars. But if you're not into that scene, there are plenty of other impressive ballads to make you melt.

"Hold You To It" is exactly one of those songs. "Girl you wear the hell out of that dress / And I can hardly catch my breath / when I see you look this way / And I've been sitting here all night long / Waiting on your favorite song / and it's finally starting to play." This song was an instant favorite of mine.

Another instant favorite was "Text Me Texas." If you liked "Gettin' You Home" (you know, the black dress song...), you are going to absolutely love this one. The mandolin carries you through this lovely song as you wait desperately for the object of your affection to contact you. It's a modern heartbreak song and very clever.

Another fun tune is "We're Gonna Find It Tonight." It's definitely more rock than country, but it finds a nice spot on the album. Whatever gets your girl fired up, they're on a mission to find it. Love it.

In Spotify, you can star your favorite tunes so that you can easily find them again. After one listen, I put a star next to "Forgiveness." His voice, the lyrics, and the stripped down arrangement is perfect. "It ain't hiding in no bottle on a shelf / Or lying in the bed of someone else / I can't feel it on some Sunday morning pew / And one sleepless night it dawned on me / The piece I need so desperately / is buried in the one place I can't get to / Girl, it's gotta come from you." I've been on both sides of this song, so that may be why it appeals to me so much. In the midst of so many modernized country songs, this one is just really refreshing.

This is one of the best country albums to come out this year, in my opinion. The ballads are definitely the highlight, but it's great that he gives us a taste of something different too. I highly recommend that you give it a listen....

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Every Day Is A Gift

Each day we are given is a gift.

I was reminded of that this morning when I saw the sun bursting through the clouds. Lately I've been focusing too much on the stress, the not so fun, and the hectic parts of my life. But if we focus on what's wrong with our lives, we'll miss all the beauty and the wonder that life has to offer.

We have so many blessings given to us each day... friends, family, and people who lift us up on a daily basis. We have the birds singing, flowers blooming, leaves turning, or a beautiful sunrise or sunset. We have the moon, the stars, and the ocean's wave. There is beauty all around us! Yet in the midst of it all, we get distracted and we forget. We forget the magic we felt when we first saw a firefly on the 4th of July, or the value of a moment spent to brighten someone else's day. It only takes a moment.

We are allotted a finite amount of time to enjoy all the wonders on this earth. Don't misuse your time. Don't waste one precious moment. Value the time you are given.

Every day is a gift, but it's up to YOU how you unwrap the present.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

New Tunes Tuesday - Keith Urban

Keith Urban has always walked close to the line of country, pop, and rock, and because of that (and his mad guitar skills) he has always appealed to me. His first single "Little Bit Of Everything" from Fuse seems very fitting because that's exactly what you'll hear throughout the album.

He pushes his creativity and artistic talent like never before. He brought in eight producers to shake up his sound, but fans should not fear. There are plenty of guitar rifts and banjo sounds that are uniquely his. The first track "Somewhere In My Car" reassures you right away. The first thing you hear is a banjo and a "mmm-mmm" from Keith. It's the closest song to an Urban traditional song that you'll find, but it has some tweaks too - heavier guitars (some of which have a wah-wah) and a staccato chorus.

Cars are a recurring theme as he sings about falling in love in the backseat of a "Cop Car." You wouldn't think that lyrics like "You were stealing my heart. I fell in love in the back of a cop car" would work, but they do. "Red Camaro" completes the car song trifecta about a hot girl in a hot car. "You got them cowgirl boots on / That summer dress blowin' / Girl, there ain't nothin' bout you that / Don't get to me and you know it." With a strong sturdy beat, it's sure to be a summer hit.

My favorite songs are the two duets. "We Were Us" with Miranda Lambert starts with her on the intro verse, and then their voices blend magically on the chorus. They have some of the best lyrics on this song about a small-town lover who's now gone. "Shotgun sunset / A cool mint kiss / Backseat promise / Breaking it / Floorboard feeling / County lines / God, I miss when you were mine."  He also pairs with Eric Church on "Raise 'Em Up." It's an anthem-type song that lists off things that can be raised up in good times: a lighter at a rock concert, sails on a boat, hands in a various situations, umbrellas in the rain, little babies, the stars and stripes, tear filled eyes, and even your voice. Both songs are perfect collaborations.

Another great track is "Shame" which lists all of the mistakes he's made and people he's hurt in his life. “Promises I made and bills I never paid / Another missed birthday / Shame on me, shame on me / Bridges that I burned and lovers that I hurt / Lessons never learned /Shame on me shame on me.” I think his vocals sound the best on this song. The last song I'll mention is "Good Thing" because it is so different. It has this thumping beat throughout, cool rock guitar rifts, and doesn't sound country at all... but I still love it. It's addictive and worth mentioning. Check it out.

There's been a lot of criticism lately on the current sound of country music.... too much production and not enough old school twang. I personally like the stretches and risks that country artists are taking these days, and Fuse is a great example of how it can work.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

How will you remember?

This morning I displayed our American flag in front of our home. Today is Patriot Day. A day of remembrance for our country for the 2,977 killed on September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Old Glory is ragged looking, isn't she? She's certainly not a perfect flag. She's faded from the sunlight. There are a few holes and tears in the fabric, and the pole is very dirty. As I took my photo I thought "we need a new flag." Should I really display this tired looking thing?

Yes. Because I had a few other thoughts...

Our country is far from perfect. It's full of holes and tears, and parts of her are quite dirty.

Our leaders are far from perfect. They are only human after all. Their judgement is sometimes full of holes and rips the country in two at times. We fight and disagree. And it makes me tired.

But we rise every morning and face the day. We stand proud and let our colors shine. And tomorrow we'll do it all again. I was reminded of these lyrics from That Ragged Old Flag...

"So we raise her up every morning and we bring her down slow every night.
We don't let her touch the ground, and we fold her up right.
On second thought I *do* like to brag
Cause I'm mighty proud of That Ragged Old Flag"

I'm still proud to be an American, but I'm feeling more and more like my Old Glory looks.

God bless the USA.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

New Tunes Tuesday - Alabama and Friends

The band Alabama and I go way back. I remember seeing them as a child at the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia, MO with my family. That might have been my very first live concert. I've always been a big fan of their music. But not only that, their songs are synonymous with my childhood. When I hear "Oh play me some mountain music..." I'm transported back in time as a lot of fans of country music are. Their songs are family sing-a-long songs for me and are held in the highest regard.

When I learned there was a tribute album released commemorating 40 years of music together, I knew I would listen with a critical ear. I have the original songs in my head and that standard has been set. I was very interested to see how the covers would compare.

Fortunately, the album has an all-star cast with Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Rascal Flatts, Kenny Chesney, Eli Young Band, Trisha Yearwood, Toby Keith, and Florida Georgia Line. Alabama appears on several of the tracks providing back-up harmonies.

The song choices are exceptional. Jason Aldean's version of "Tennessee River" starts the album off, which was Alabama's first number one single. Kenny Chesney is perfection on "Lady Down On Love." And "Love In The First Degree" might as well have been written for Luke Bryan. But my favorite on the album is "I'm In A Hurry (And Don't Know Why)" with Florida Georgia Line. I'm in love with this band and love how they made this song their own. Though I love the original, I may like this one even more.

The album also has two brand new tracks for Alabama including "That's How I Was Raised" and "All American." It's currently sitting in the number two spot on the country charts, so fans are certainly loving it. And I must say, so am I. As far as tribute albums go, this one is a keeper.

Have you listened to it yet? What do you think?

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Made By Me

Today's photo a day prompt is "made by me." Perfect opportunity for another shameless plug for my Blurb book of Mizzou photos. And today just happens to be my 15 year anniversary of working at Mizzou (halfway to retirement!)

You can view the whole book right here. If you love it (or know someone who would love it), you can purchase it on blurb.com.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A Lesson On Being Alone

For some, that's a very scary word.


But there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. As an introvert, I much prefer being alone.

OK, I know what you're thinking, so lets clear up some misconceptions about being an introvert right now. No, I'm not shy. I'm really quite talkative, but social gatherings exhaust me. I do like to be around people, but I am not a fan of small talk. It takes me a while to formulate an answer to your question and that can be perceived as snobby. I'm not snobby. I'm just reflecting. And I love to talk in front of large groups of people. Public speaking is probably the most enjoyable part of my job, and I've been told I do it well.

I just prefer to be alone. Despite all of the social biases, spending some time alone can be enjoyable and good for you. Here are some lessons from an introvert on why a little forced solitude can be a good thing.

1. Removing all distractions for a while can boost your creativity. Being alone with your thoughts is sometimes necessary for artistic expression. I write my blog alone. I draw alone. I come up with creative ideas when I'm alone. I also love to go on photography walks by myself. I can see the world better when I'm alone.

2. It allows you to recharge. The outside stresses of work and home life are gone. You can breathe and just be.

3. Taking a little "me" time allows you assess your life and the direction of your life. You're allowing yourself to evaluate YOU and make any changes that might be necessary. When was the last time you gave your life a performance review?

4. Hiking, shopping, or even seeing a movie by yourself can be enjoyable. You can do what YOU want to do without adhering to anyone else's schedules, preferences, or expectations.

5. Tackling your fear of being alone can boost your self-esteem. Get back in touch with yourself and remember all of the reasons why you are AWESOME!

Do you enjoy spending time alone? What do you like to do most often by yourself?

"I love being alone. I never found the companion that was so companionable as solitude."
-Henry David Thoreau


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...