The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio [Nov. 28]

Florida Georgia Line Roots

Each week we take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart and grade the top 30 songs. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive one of the following scores: +5, +4, +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the current top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. How do I determine the score for the song? The review grade it received on the site or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been reviewed yet, then I will make the call. The grade it has received or I would give it determines its Pulse score. The grading key: 10 [+5], 9 [+4], 8 [+3], 7 [+2], 6 [+1], 5 [0], 4 [-1], 3 [-2], 2 [-3], 1 [-4], 0 [-5].

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the current state of mainstream country music and determine if it’s improving or getting worse. Let’s take a look at this week’s top thirty…

  1. Florida Georgia Line (feat. Tim McGraw) – “May We All” +1 (Up 1)
  2. Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” -2 (Up 1)
  3. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (Up 2)
  4. Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (Up 2)
  5. Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” (Down 4)
  6. Keith Urban – “Blue Ain’t Your Color” -4 (Up 1)
  7. Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” -2 (Down 3)
  8. Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 (Up 1)
  9. Luke Bryan – “Move” -4 (Down 1)
  10. Carrie Underwood – “Dirty Laundry” 
  11. Blake Shelton – “A Guy With A Girl” -1 (Up 1)
  12. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (Down 1)
  13. Thomas Rhett – “Star of the Show” -3 
  14. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 
  15. Eric Church (feat. Rhiannon Giddens) – “Kill A Word” +4 [Best Song] 
  16. Dustin Lynch – “Seein’ Red” -5 
  17. Brad Paisley – “Today” +2
  18. Chris Young (feat. Vince Gill) – “Sober Saturday Night” +1 
  19. Chris Stapleton – “Parachute” +3 (Up 1)
  20. Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” -2 (Down 1)
  21. Little Big Town – “Better Man” +2 (Up 2)
  22. Michael Ray – “Douchey Pickup Song” -5 [Worst Song]
  23. High Valley – “Make You Mine” -2 (Down 2)
  24. Brantley Gilbert – “The Weekend” -5
  25. Jon Pardi – “Dirt on My Boots” +1
  26. Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (Up 1)
  27. Chris Janson – “Holdin’ Her” +4 (Up 1)
  28. Kelsea Ballerini – “Yeah Boy” -5 (Up 1)
  29. Josh Turner – “Hometown Girl” 0 (Up 1)
  30. Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” +1 (New to Top 30)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Radio: -30

The pulse drops one spot this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week:

  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” +2 (I’m surprised it held on for so long. But on the other hand this should have done much better. Country radio dropped the ball on this one)

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Trent Harmon – “There’s A Girl” – Up 3 from #33 to #30
  • Little Big Town – “Better Man” – Up 2 from #23 to #21
  • Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” – Up 2 from #5 to #3

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” – Out of the Top 30 & Done
  • Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” – Down 4 from #1 to #5
  • Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” – Down 3 from #4 to #7

Songs I See Going Recurrent & Leaving The Top 30 Soon:

  • Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” (Maybe. It could get the same treatment the song below has gotten and stick around)
  • Luke Bryan – “Move” (How is this is still here? FFS!)

On The Hot Seat:

  • Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” (Made small gains this week and is surrounded by fast-rising songs. Not good. This song is in a really bad spot and needs help quick if it wants to stick around. I don’t see it happening.)
  • Lauren Alaina – “Road Less Traveled” (Made better gains this week, but has same problem as “80s Mercedes.” It just isn’t in as bad of shape. Yet.)
  • Garth Brooks – “Baby, Let’s Lay Down and Dance” (Picked up more steam, but I’m still not convinced it has staying power. I’m guessing his team is doing all they can to get it to last until the freeze.)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Craig Campbell – “Outskirts of Heaven” (This actually has a nice path in front of it and I’m feeling optimistic)
  • Dierks Bentley – “Black”
  • RaeLynn – “Love Triangle” (Hmm….)
  • Miranda Lambert – “We Should Be Friends”

Special Note: Jerrod Niemann and Lee Brice’s “A Little More Love” is finally dead and dropped off the chart. It’s a Christmas miracle! Like a blind squirrel finds an acorn occasionally, country radio gets it right here.

Programming Note: There will be no Current Pulse of Texas Country Radio this week due to the fact there were zero changes in the chart positioning, as it appears there wasn’t any reporting for it Thanksgiving week.

 

As always be sure to weigh in on this week’s Pulse in the comments below. 

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Review – Trent Harmon’s “There’s A Girl”

trent-harmon-theres-a-girl

So it turns out Trent Harmon was the final winner of American Idol. Who knew? I stopped paying attention to that show once Simon Cowell left (even those final few seasons I was drifting off). Since I assume most others did the same, here’s a primer for those who don’t know Harmon. Originally he tried out on The Voice and was rejected. So with one music show rejection down, he turned to American Idol, where originally he auditioned and came off as an R&B/pop artist. Oh boy. As the show went on he started to perform some country and by country I mean a couple of Chris Stapleton songs. The rest of the songs he performed were soul, R&B and pop. The winning song he performed was called “Falling.” It was written by Keith Urban, Brett James and Dallas Davidson (ugh). Naturally Big Machine Records President and Idol adviser that season Scott Borchetta signs him to be a country artist because of course Borchetta would do this. It’s said that Harmon’s debut album will be country with indie-soul influences. When Borchetta was asked about it, he said it would be like the country album Justin Timberlake plans to make. Now I don’t know about you, but I see some red flags here. Based on these facts, it sounds like Harmon is just another pop artist cashing-in on country music.

Nevertheless I did my best to keep an open mind as I dug into Harmon’s debut label single, “There’s A Girl.” And after listening to it multiple times, it’s actually not terrible as I expected it to be. I was expecting heavy R&B and little to no country. Instead there’s actually some pedal steel guitar in the song. An actual pleasant surprise! Don’t get too excited though because there’s definitely some pop influence within the song too. But it’s not overbearing though and works for the most part. The light, up beat acoustics work well blended with the steel guitar. The song itself is about how guys are driven by girls and how they drive guys to do things they normally wouldn’t do like drive hundreds of miles to see them, clean up their vehicles and spend money they don’t have. On the surface you could look at this cynically, saying the song paints guys as being controlled by their dicks. But I really don’t see the song this way and the song doesn’t really indicate these intentions. It’s more a light-hearted look at the age old phrase of “love makes you do crazy things” and this is quite true. As far as first impressions of Harmon’s voice, it’s solid, yet unspectacular.

Overall Trent Harmon’s “There’s A Girl” isn’t half bad. You could do much worse for debut singles that’s for sure. Hell I think this song actually has some chance to stand out and be remembered by listeners. I wouldn’t call the song good either, but then again most debut singles usually aren’t because most play it on the safe side. You just hope for something decent and taking this song for what it is, that’s what you get with “There’s A Girl.”

Grade: 6/10

 

Recommend? – Sure it’s worth one listen, especially if you like pop country


Written by Trent Harmon, Jimmy Robbins and Laura Veltz

Country Perspective’s 2016 Female Artist of the Year Nominees

Throughout 2016 we saw many talented female country and Americana artists put out great music. Determining who will win Country Perspective’s 2016 Female Artist of the Year award will be no easy feat. The main guidelines for determining who should win are the following: the quality of music (album/singles) they’ve released in 2016, the impact they have made on the genre over the course of the year and the amount of growth they made as an individual artist.

I will ultimately determine which artist will win, but I also want to hear from you the readers who is deserving of the award. Your comments will be considered for determining who wins and you could possibly sway who should be the winner. It’s going to be especially important for this one, as this is by far the most competitive awards category this year. I had a very tough time just narrowing it down to seven artists. So be sure to sound off in the comments! One thing about the comments too: Just putting the artist’s name in the comments does nothing to sway me. It turned into a giant vote off in this category last year and I don’t want that again. Give actual, objective reasons for why you think a certain artist should win, not because they’re your favorite. So without further ado the nominees for Country Perspective’s 2016 Female Artist of Year (in alphabetical order):

Dori Freeman

Dori Freeman

Without a doubt Dori Freeman turned in one of the most surprisingly great debuts in country music this year. Her self-titled album was a great listen from start to finish and for many is one of the best of the year. I’ll reiterate what I said in my review:

This debut album from Freeman blew me away upon the very first listen. In fact I had to play it several times over because only hearing it once wasn’t enough. Freeman’s vocals are crisp, pure and undeniably Appalachian. She was born to sing and very few possess her talent. The songwriting is top-notch and I couldn’t pick out a flaw in the instrumentation and production choices. This album excels and thrives in every area.

Karen Jonas

karen-jonas-country-songs

This is the second time Karen Jonas has been nominated for Female Artist of the Year, after she was nominated and won the award in 2014, splitting it with Lee Ann Womack. Her debut album Oklahoma Lottery was one of my top five country/Americana albums of 2014 and had me thrilled to hear what she would release next. Well this year we got what was next, her sophomore album Country Songs and it did not disappoint. She once again returned with compelling songwriting, pure country production and some new wrinkles that helped the album shine too. I’m shocked more people still aren’t familiar with her music, as she’s one of the best in the genre today.

Kelsey Waldon

Kelsey Waldon I've Got A Way

Just like Jonas above, Waldon impressed many with her debut album and many eagerly anticipated her sophomore album. It lived up to expectations, as I’ve Got A Way has gotten near universal praise from country critics and fans. There’s plenty of twangy steel guitar and brutally honest songwriting from start to finish on the album and once again proves Waldon is another talent every country fan should be familiar with.

It’s an amazing album that is 110% country goodness. You simply have to hear it for yourself. This album has no bells or whistles about it. It doesn’t rely on trends and clichés in its songwriting. This is three chords and the truth right here. The instrumentation and production couldn’t be more well-arranged on each song and Waldon just belts it on each track. The songwriting is forthright, honest and cutting.

Lori McKenna

lori-mckenna-bird-and-the-rifle

Lori McKenna has been around the country music industry for quite some time, but this year many who weren’t familiar with her work are now quite well aware of her. She’s spent most of her career as a songwriter, helping pen hits for some of the biggest names in the genre. Last year she helped write Little Big Town’s polarizing smash hit “Girl Crush” and this year she solely wrote Tim McGraw’s #1 song “Humble and Kind,” which went on to win CMA Song of the Year. But you shouldn’t also overlook the fact that McKenna released a pretty stunning album of her own in The Bird & The Rifle. Featuring her own rendition of “Humble and Kind,” the album has compelling songs on love, heartbreak and life. After the year McKenna has had I don’t think anyone is going to be overlooking her anymore and they shouldn’t because she’s a phenomenal talent.

Lydia Loveless

lydia-loveless-real

Out of all the nominees, Lydia Loveless definitely released the most polarizing album. That’s probably because it’s such a strong contrast to her previous material. Yet her new album Real is arguably her best work yet. Up until this point Loveless has solidly occupied a spot in the alt-country area, but in this new album it’s mixed with glam pop and rock to create a infectious sound. But don’t let this more polished and upbeat sound fool you. The songwriting from Loveless on Real is still just as hard-hitting and deep as her previous material. While it’s fair to argue she’s not really country anymore, she always belong more in the Americana area anyway. She’s unpredictably honest and that makes for some damn fine music.

Margo Price

Margo Price Midwest Farmer's Daughter

Margo Price has been one of the most critically-buzzed country artists in 2016 hands-down. I frequent many different music forums and music critic areas and her name constantly comes up when not just discussing the best country albums of the year, but best albums period. While Midwest Farmer’s Daughter was her debut album, she’s certainly isn’t new and has been around country music for a while. It’s just now people are finally starting to take notice, as she performed on Saturday Night Live earlier this year, as well as performing in other high-profile spots. The old school, honest, honky tonk style of her music is easily appealing to music fans and she’s bound to get even bigger with the release of her next album (think Sturgill Simpson/Kacey Musgraves-like breakout). Regardless her debut album is one many will remember for a while.

Miranda Lambert

miranda-lambert-the-weight-of-these-wings

When I started this blog I knew one day Miranda Lambert would find her way onto my year-end award lists. If you asked me after her last album Platinum though, I would have been pretty skeptical her next release would be the one because I was not a fan of that album. But then Lambert went through a high-profile divorce and from all accounts has seem to go through an emotional hell the last couple of years. This emotion though would fuel her new album The Weight of These Wings and it resulted in some of the best music of her entire career. She recruited some of the best songwriters in country today to help and she did some fine writing herself too. It’s the most raw and emotional she’s ever produced and finally in my eyes she’s reaching her full potential after years of flirting with it. She’s reached a creative apex and has grown a lot with this album. In addition, while her new album wasn’t quite album of the year material, she did take a big part in Country Perspective’s 2016 Album of the Year contender Southern Family, performing one of the best songs on the album “Sweet By and By.”

Country Perspective’s 2016 Male Artist of the Year Nominees

Throughout 2016 we saw many talented male country and Americana artists put out great music. Determining who will win Country Perspective’s 2016 Male Artist of the Year award will be no easy feat. The main guidelines for determining who should win are the following: the quality of music (album/singles) they’ve released in 2016, the impact they have made on the genre over the course of the year and the amount of growth they made as an individual artist.

I will ultimately determine which artist will win, but I also want to hear from you the readers who is deserving of the award. Your comments will be considered for determining who wins and you could possibly sway who should be the winner. So be sure to sound off in the comments! Without further ado the nominees for Country Perspective’s 2016 Male Artist of Year (in alphabetical order):

BJ Barham

BJ Barham Rockingham

The lead singer of American Aquarium delivered gold as he stepped out from the band and released his first solo album. Rockingham is one of the best albums of the year, earning a nomination for Country Perspective’s 2016 Album of the Year Award. It’s an album I certainly feel deserves more recognition than it has received. Barham really proved with this album the type of artist he is, delivering the best material of his whole career and proving that country and Americana fans need to pay attention. He’s one of the best songwriters in country/Americana today and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Chris King

Chris King Animal

In 2014 the Texas-based Americana artist delivered a pretty good debut album in 1983. But this year he delivered a great album, the sophomore release Animal. You could hear in the music that Chris King took many steps forward in both songwriting and production of his music. It felt more like him, a breakthrough of his creativity and vision. Animal was a clear, stark contrast to 1983 and took a risk going in a new sonic direction, but it paid off in spades. King probably showed the most growth I’ve seen out of all the artists I’ve reviewed on the blog. What’s even more promising is this is only his sophomore release and the music from King could get even better.

Eric Church

Eric Church Mr. Misunderstood

Eric Church makes his return to the nomination list for a second straight year. He surprised everyone last year by releasing the stellar Mr. Misunderstood, an album that still holds up quite well after a year. I said in my nomination write-up last year that Church should be a leader in 2016 alongside Country Perspective’s eventual 2015 Male Artist of the Year winner Chris Stapleton. And this proved to be right. I just didn’t expect Church to overwhelmingly exceed my expectations. Church released this year two of the best singles you’ll hear on country radio, with the #1 hit “Record Year” and current single “Kill A Word.” The former was one of the biggest hits in country music this year and just as I predicted in my original review, I think will go on to be a career song for Church. The latter is one of the best songs I’ve heard all year and features one of the best artists in Americana today, Rhiannon Giddens. Church has also taken on a leadership role in the genre, becoming a real advocate for quality music and putting the music in the hands of the fans.

Sturgill Simpson

Sturgill Simpson A Sailor's Guide To Earth

Country Perspective’s 2014 Male Artist of the Year winner returns to try to win a second time. His third album and first on major label Atlantic Records, A Sailor’s Guide To Earth has gotten near unanimous praise from critics and fans. This was not an easy feat after delivering the classic Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, which set the standards for Sturgill quite high moving forward. In typical Simpson fashion he gave us an album nobody expected and still blew many away. It’s up for our 2016 Album of the Year award and went #1 on the country, folk, Americana and rock album charts. Simpson like Eric Church just mentioned above, also became an outspoken leader in the genre. The normally quiet Simpson spoke out against the industries treatment of older artists such as the late Merle Haggard and called out the politics of the genre. He’s also vowed to become the biggest artist in the genre, as a giant screw you to the industry and labels who told him he couldn’t succeed without them. So this probably won’t be the last time you see Simpson’s name here.

Tim McGraw

Tim McGraw Humble and Kind

This is probably the biggest surprise to you the readers, but Tim McGraw absolutely deserves to be nominated. Like Church he did not release a new album this year, but last year. Damn Country Music was a really good album and while it wasn’t amongst the year’s best in 2015, it was certainly full of good music. This year McGraw has released two great songs as singles to country radio, “Humble and Kind” and “How I’ll Always Be.” The former was one of the biggest hits in country music this year and went #1 on country radio and the hot country songs chart. Also like Church’s “Kill A Word,” “Humble and Kind” was the type of song that the world needed in 2016. It’s message is an important one that we could all use. Not to mention this song also helped give more exposure to the talented Lori McKenna, who wrote it herself. It’s the first song to be written solo by a woman writer to reach #1 on the country charts in years. While the new traditionalists of mainstream country are exciting, you can’t forget that McGraw has consistently put out some of the best music on radio in the last few years and one of the few you can count on to do so. 2016 has really put an exclamation point on this.

Country Perspective’s 2016 Album of the Year Nominees

Throughout 2016 Country Perspective had the privilege to review a lot of fine music. The world of country, Americana and folk certainly produced it’s fair share of great music throughout the year, reviving old sounds and sparking new ones every step of the way. There was certainly a fair share of innovation and creativity on display from a variety of artists. And now we get to look back the very best that was released. We first take a look at the very best albums of 2016, which will be nominated for Country Perspective’s top award, Album of the Year.

When deciding what album will win the 2016 Country Perspective Album of the Year Award, Country Perspective will take into consideration some key aspects: songwriting, instrumentation, production, accolades, impact on genre, consistent quality in the album and how memorable they are. I will ultimately decide which album will win Country Perspective’s top award. But I’m not the only one deciding. Country Perspective encourages feedback from you the readers! Your comments and suggestions will most certainly be considered when determine who wins not only this award, but all the year-end awards here at Country Perspective.

One more thing: In order for an album to be eligible for Album of the Year, it must have received a perfect 10/10 rating in its review. No other albums are considered. Only the best of the best get a shot. This year I did a much better job I feel in grading, especially for the 10/10 albums and only gave a couple of grades that I ultimately found to be too high. After much consideration I found four albums were ultimately worthy of their 10/10 grades and fit to be the nominations for Country Perspective’s 2016 Album of the Year. So without further ado, here are the nominees:

Dave-Cobb-Southern-Family

Various Artists/Dave Cobb – Southern Family

Coming into 2016 this was an album everybody in the independent/traditional community were licking their chops in anticipation to hear. How could you not be excited for a project headed by super producer Dave Cobb, which everything he touches seems to turn into gold? To top it off an all-star cast of artists from both the mainstream country and Americana realms would be recording the music. Well the hype was certainly met, as this turned out to be exactly what many anticipated it to be and that’s one of the year’s best albums. While this didn’t make the impact I was hoping it would make, everyone who has heard it in both critics and fans circles seem to be in near unanimous conclusion that it’s brilliant. It’s hard to pick highlights on this album because you could pretty much say this about every song. Cobb got 100% out of each artist on the project.

After listening to Southern Family, you come away with a better understand and feeling of southern culture and lifestyle. It’s very easy to point out the problems that existed in southern culture in the past and the stigma this caused for the south is something that will remain with the culture for years to come. But it’s important to remember the redeeming qualities of the southern culture: family, friends, love, spirituality, home. All of these things southerners should rightly be proud of and point to as their defining qualities that make them great. This album celebrates southern pride with dignity and genuineness that should make any southerner smile. Cobb bringing together all of these artists who clearly understand southern culture, from both mainstream and independent realms, is not only a unifying moment for southern people, but country music in general. That’s something we can all appreciate.

BJ Barham Rockingham

BJ Barham – Rockingham 

Small towns are a pretty common theme in country music. If you turn on country radio you’re bound to hear some upbeat song that glorifies small town living and makes rural living out to be the greatest thing in the world. But the truth is there are a lot of harsh realities about small town living you won’t hear about in those songs. Luckily for us there are artists like BJ Barham who come along and give us the sad truth behind small towns all across America. Barham has spent the majority of his career as the frontman of the popular independent country group American Aquarium. But this year he decided to step out alone and release his first solo album, a project titled Rockingham that he wrote after the terrorist attacks in Paris. The result is one of the best albums I’ve heard all year.

BJ Barham’s Rockingham will flat-out knock you on your ass. It’s depressing as hell and it’s full of raw emotion. Don’t take this as bad as it’s quite the opposite. It’s a beautifully dark album that paints a poignant tale of the failed American dream, lost hope, the hells of small town living and the trials and tribulations of everyday life. The songwriting is absolutely flawless and couldn’t be any deeper if it tried. While I didn’t spend a lot of time talking about the instrumentation on this album because the songwriting is so excellent, it also shines bright and does a good job of letting the lyrics do the heavy lifting. At eight songs long, this album is somehow the perfect length. It doesn’t let up and hits you in the gut every step of the way. I don’t think there will be another album released this year as morbid as Rockingham. But I don’t know if there’s an album better than it this year too.

Sturgill Simpson A Sailor's Guide To Earth

Sturgill Simpson – A Sailor’s Guide To Earth

Sturgill Simpson capture our inaugural Album of the Year award in 2014 with his sophomore album Metamodern Sounds in Country Music and now he’s back again going for his second win. Metamodern launched Simpson’s career into a whole new stratosphere, as he signed a major label deal with Atlantic Records and has quickly become a household name in country and popular critics’ circles. So in 2016 he was faced with the unenviable task of following up a near-universally praised album, while also releasing his first album under a major label. Of course in his own unique way, he delivered again.

A Sailor’s Guide To Earth has received just as much praise from critics as his sophomore album, despite some grumblings from fans hoping he would have been more traditional with his music. The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 chart and went on to be #1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart, Billboard Top Rock Albums chart and the Billboard Folk chart. He’s also continuing to sell out larger venues across the world and appears to not be slowing down in the slightest in terms of his popularity. Needless to say Simpson wins in terms of impact of the nominees, but this is only one facet of the award.

A Sailor’s Guide To Earth is another masterpiece from Simpson. If you’re looking for another copy of High Top Mountain or Metamodern Sounds in Country Music, don’t bother listening. If you’re a fan of music and you trust Simpson, strap in and listen to this album because you won’t be disappointed. You will however be surprised, as Simpson once again takes a different approach in the sound department. There are multiple outright country songs and every song has country elements in them. But there’s also Memphis soul and the Muscle Shoals sound that deeply influence the album. Not to mention there’s lots of string production and horns in many songs. Is it a country record? Well I can tell you Sturgill Simpson wrote, produced and performed an album of phenomenal music. I can say this is Simpson’s most cohesive and tight-knit album yet. Perhaps the best answer to this comes from the late great Merle Haggard: “Good. If it’s what they’re calling country, you don’t want to go near that shit.” And Simpson did exactly that. Simpson gave us something we never expected and yet exactly what we wanted and that’s art straight from the heart.

Chris King Animal

Chris King – Animal 

Chris King came onto a lot of people’s radars in 2013 with the release of his album 1983. It was definitely a country leaning album. But his follow-up takes a different. King went Americana with his new album Animal and the creative shift pays off in spades to deliver an enthralling album on heartbreak and life. You could call it a concept album, but then again aren’t all good albums concept albums? There’s still a country influence in the album, but there’s also rock, pop and other flourishes. King and Animal are undoubtedly the underdog of these four nominees, as the other nominees are an all-star cast of names, one of the biggest artists in country music and a popular independent artist with a fairly large following. But King absolutely belongs alongside them, as he proves with Animal he’s a name you should be familiarizing yourself with if you haven’t yet.

Chris King delivers a storytelling masterpiece with Animal. Looking at each song individually on this album, you have some pretty good songs. Put them all together and they all connect for one long, spectacular journey. It’s the journey of a man exploring love, discovery, overcoming mistakes, the unknown and ultimately what we’re all looking for in this crazy thing we call life. Most albums are just a collection of songs, not really all connecting with each other. Sure you’ll find a lot of albums with similar themes and tones throughout, but very rarely do you come across albums that connect from start to finish like Animal does. It should also be pointed out that production on this album is just as flawless as King’s songwriting. Producer John Ross Silva really nails the tone and sound on this album, as it properly reflects the changes in attitude of the main story told throughout. Everything on this album works together perfectly. Chris King shows us all what a true album sounds like. Animal is one of the best albums you’ll hear all year.

That’s your nominees for Country Perspective’s 2016 Album of the Year award. Be sure to voice who you believe should win in the comments below.