September 21, 2020


By Kristi Kates | July 1, 2017

A Thousand Horses – Bridges – BMLG
Blending country with Black Crowes-style Southern rock is A Thousand Horse’s forte, especially when it gets the chance to charge full speed ahead on tracks like “Blaze of Somethin,’” which will surely be heard through the open windows of most every pickup truck in America this summer. A hankering for the good ol’ days is another ATH specialty, as best evidenced on this set by “Weekends in a Small Town,” with its Happy Days-reminiscent lyrics. This album is a treat for fans as, along with the new songs, it includes a shortlist of live tracks recorded in London and Nashville. ** ½

Seth Ennis – Mabelle – Arista Nashville
New to the Nashville scene is singer-songwriter Ennis, born in Georgia and now a Tennessee transplant with plenty of ambition. Ennis co-wrote all of the tunes on this set with some of Nashville’s prime studio songwriters; the tracklisting is a careful shortlist of country-soul singles. “Woke Up in Nashville” goes back to the story of his arrival (Mabelle, the album, is named after the Nashville building the singer lived in when he first relocated), while “Think and Drive” is a more reflective number about a relationship, and “Play It Cool” amps up Ennis’ soulful side. He’s stepping carefully as he steps out, and the curation of his own work so far is serving him well. ***

Lady Antebellum – Heart Break – Capitol Nashville
After a short break for some personal time, the Antebellum trio (Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood) headed to Florida to write their sixth album, later moving to California for the recording process, and those new surroundings show through in the music. The summery temperatures seem to have imbued the set with a breezier feel. Whether it’s the Motown-soul-meets-Nashville “Think About You,” the bubbly “Teenage Heart,” or the album’s first single, the horn-bedazzled “You Look Good,” the underlying melodies always hint at sunnier days ahead. *** 

Luke Combs – This One’s For You – River House
Combs is a definite contrast as a country artist. On one hand, a lot of what he’s doing on this debut set isn’t so great — namely a long list of stereotypes that are so pushy they risk alienating anyone not already in that particular club (think: truck engines roaring, hooks with no purpose, beer-can-tab sound effects, and Bon Jovi guitar solos). On the other, Combs has some good vocal ability, hints of songwriting ability (as evidenced by the tune “I Got Away With You”), and insiders say he’s a genuinely nice guy. But buried under this landslide of yesterday’s cliches, it’s going to be a while before anyone gets to see the bulk of his talent. *


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