Maddie & Tae Set Dates For Headlining Tourist In This Town Tour
Country duo Maddie & Tae will embark on a headlining concert run this spring, announcing the dates and cities for their Tourist In This Town Tour. Kicking off April 15 in Baltimore, Maryland, the trek marks Maddie Marlow and Tae Dye’s first headlining tour in five years and follows a whirlwind 2019 spent in support of Carrie Underwood’s lengthy Cry Pretty 360 Tour. The duo’s eight-city run will give them a chance to present new material bound for an upcoming full album release, and they’ll be joined by newcomers Avenue Beat.“Feels so surreal to be going out on a headlining tour, especially with our new record,” said Dye in the Tour’s official announcement. “These songs are our raw unfiltered stories, and we can’t wait to tell them live.”
“We’ve waited five years to go back out on a headlining tour. We are so excited to see our beautiful fans singing all of this new music,” added Marlow.
Tickets for Maddie & Tae’s Tourist In This Town Tour go on sale Friday (January 17) at 10 a.m. local time, and the “Die From a Broken Heart” duo will also hit the road with Lady Antebellum this summer on the Ocean 2020 Tour.
Rascal Flatts to Say Farewell With 2020 Life Is a Highway Tour
Greatest feeling ever is being told our music has been the soundtrack to their lives
After 20 years of country stardom, Rascal Flatts will ride off into the sunset this year, announcing their Rascal Flatts Farewell: Life Is a Highway Tour. Marking the end of a transformative era in the format, the hit-making trio revealed their surprise decision on CBS This Morning Tuesday (June 7), saying it was time for one last “thank you” to their fans. “I know, it hurts us, too,” said frontman Gary LeVox as he broke the news.
“When we started out 20 years ago, we could not imagine all of the people, places, and gifts we would encounter,” LeVox (49) followed up in a statement and said this,
“The greatest feeling ever is being told that our music has been the soundtrack to their lives.” LeVox
What greater gift can an artist receive than to be told ‘I got married to “Bless The Broken Road,”’ or ‘We played “My Wish” at my graduation.’ That ‘“What Hurts The Most” is the song that made me love country music for the first time,’ or ‘“I’m Movin’ On” helped me get sober’ or even that ‘“Changed” made me call my family again after not talking to them for years.’ That’s why we create music and the reason we can’t wait to celebrate this incredible 20-year journey all year, with our fans who we love dearly. I don’t know what God has in store for the future, but I am excited to see what He has planned!”
“We’re really looking forward to getting to spend this entire year loving on our fans, and thanking them for allowing us to have the most amazing career over the last 20 years,” added the band’s, Jay DeMarcus. “While it is, of course, bittersweet, it is so important to us to celebrate what our music has meant to their lives, as well as what the fans have meant to us.
There is no sadness here, just new chapters, new journeys, and new beginnings. Rascal Flatts’ music will live on forever, because of our fans, and this year is all about them!”
“Dreams do come true … and we are three walking examples of this truth,” guitarist Joe Don Rooney said.
“I’m most proud of the fact that we’ve pursued our dreams together and with courage, hard work, and dedication we’ve been able to cultivate our dreams into reality; it’s simply incredible! There’s no doubt we have been blessed way beyond belief and we can’t wait to spend the rest of 2020 expressing our love and appreciation to all of our devoted fans, music industry friends and our families for believing in us and playing a major role in our path to here, said Joe.
“I personally can’t wait to shine a light on my brothers Jay and Gary this year, and make another mountain of new memories with them.” Joe Don Rooney
The group — which holds the title of the most-awarded country act of the last decade — began their journey in 2000, mixing solid country themes and musicianship with the crossover pop of the Y2K boy-band era. They went on to score 17 No.1 singles, and in 2006 was the best-selling musical act on the planet (of all genres).
Kicking off on June 11 in Indianapolis, the trio’s farewell tour will visit 25 cities across the U.S., wrapping with an emotional show in West Palm Beach, Florida, October 17. Tickets will be available first as part of the Live Nation Country Megaticket, with more information coming soon.
Do you have one of these albums playing all winter long?
From decking the halls and decorating festive cookies to waking up and opening presents on Christmas morning, music is the soundtrack of the holidays. For Country fans, there’s no shortage of albums celebrating the season. From the genre’s biggest names to its newest stars, the story of Christmas is woven into the fabric of Country music.
Whether you’ve been naughty or nice, there’s sure to be a record or two that will strike your fancy. So pour some cocoa, sit by the fire and drop the needle on these 12 iconic Country Christmas albums…
On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…a holiday album from Kenny and Dolly! A year after recording their iconic Bee Gees duet, “Islands In The Stream,” Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton reunited for a seasonal offering that quickly became a classic. In support of the project, on December 2, 1984, CBS even aired a television special called Kenny & Dolly: A Christmas To Remember. The album has since been certified Double Platinum and was re-released in 1997 with a slightly different track listing, making room for a version of Dolly’s beloved “Hard Candy Christmas.” While Kenny and Dolly each released Christmas albums respectively, Once Upon A Christmas goes down in holiday history as an essential addition to every music collection thanks to the magic that only happens when these two Country legends collaborate.
Vince Gill has released multiple Christmas albums, but 1993’s Let There Be Peace On Earth—his first seasonal effort—is by far his best. His soft acoustic arrangements of traditional holiday fare like “Do You Hear What I Hear?” “What Child Is This?” and “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” are as warm and tender as the singer himself. The album’s four originals are now considered classics, including the title track, which features a version with his daughter, Jenny; and “It Won’t Be The Same This Year,” penned in honor of his brother, who tragically passed away following a car accident. Gill and his wife, Amy Grant, have since become synonymous with Christmas; and their annual holiday residency at the historic Ryman Auditorium reminds us why.
Lorrie Morgan headed across the pond for her celebrated late-’90s Christmas album. Merry Christmas From London was given the royal treatment with an orchestral and vocal assist from the New World Philharmonic and Choir. The “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength” singer keeps it classic for a holiday outing that also features vocalists who put the ‘C’ in Christmas. Tammy Wynette joins Morgan on a medley of favorites titled “A Christmas Festival.” Meanwhile, Andy Williams’ familiar voice makes an appearance on “Little Snow Girl,” and Johnny Mathis joins Morgan on “Blue Snowfall.” As for Morgan, she puts her stamp on Christmas with the whimsical and rarely recorded “Toyland” and the festive Rodgers & Hammerstein classic “My Favorite Things.”
Martina McBride had already become Country music’s sweetheart when she released her fifth album and first Christmas record in 1998. And just like that, with White Christmas, she also became the voice we never knew we needed to usher in the holiday season year after year. Although the multi-Platinum selling effort has been re-released and repackaged several times over, the original with the closeup of McBride in winter white, is the only one to listen to. With 10 traditional selections that rarely veer from the original arrangements, McBride effortlessly lends her powerful voice to songs we already know and love, making White Christmas utter perfection. Although she served up a second volume of holiday hits with 2018’s It’s The Holiday Season, a throwback to the big band era, White Christmas remains her quintessential seasonal release.
SHeDAISY might be MIA today, but the trio of sisters left a lasting imprint on Country music from 1999-2006. When the girls bowed Brand New Year, they seemingly headlined every Christmas special in the year 2000. From the serious to the sassy, the album is a grab bag filled with everything from a Tiffany’s engagement ring to a white elephant gift. “Deck The Halls” gets a makeover in three-part harmony, while album closer “How Can I Keep From Singing” finds the ladies in a reverent, hymn-like moment. But it’s songs like the cheeky “Santa’s Got A Brand New Bag,” the clever “Tinsel Town” and the quirky “Twist of the Magi” (featuring Rascal Flatts) that puts an unconventional, imaginative spin on an otherwise serious holiday.
With a short blond bob and a stunning strapless pink gown accented in gold, Faith Hill smiles on the cover of her sole Christmas album, Joy To The World. And oh what joy she brings to 11 incredible versions of both sacred and secular carols. Faithful to the old renditions, Hill lends her strong, confident voice to holly, jolly favorites like “Little Drummer Boy,” “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” “O Holy Night” and more. The game changer comes at the conclusion with the collection’s lone original, “A Baby Changes Everything.” An instant classic, the song changed our perspective on the Christmas story. Noticeably absent is the soaring track, “Where Are You Christmas?” which Hill recorded for How The Grinch Stole Christmas movie in 2000.
Charles Kelley, Dave Haywood and Hillary Scott add their signature vocal blend to a dozen Christmas selections that feel tailor-made for their voices as they ring in December with On This Winter’s Night. Lady Antebellum joins classic R&B artists like The Temptations, Gladys Knight & The Pips and Patti LaBelle in recording Donny Hathaway’s soulful “This Christmas.” Moreover, the award-winning trio slows Mariah Carey’s iconic “All I Want For Christmas Is You” down to a ballad and lends some Country twang to a cover of Elvis’ “Blue Christmas.” Lady A even writes their own nostalgic classic with the title track and adds a worshipful bridge for a standout moment on “Silent Night (Lord of My Life).”
Michael W. Smith gets by with a little help from his friends on 2014’s The Spirit of Christmas, which finds the Christian music legend collaborating with Country’s finest. Little Big Town lends their lush four-part harmony to an angelic version of “Silent Night.” Jennifer Nettles duets with Smith on the triumphant “Christmas Day,” and Bono even makes a cameo on a reading titled “The Darkest Midnight.” Smith also sprinkles in some personal moments with a feature from his granddaughter, Audrey, and an appearance by his longtime friend and tour mate Amy Grant. But it’s the Smith-penned “All Is Well,” featuring a flawless performance by Carrie Underwood, that stands above the rest. With an unmatched vocal range, Underwood silences the room as her soaring pipes promise peace on earth and good will toward men.
Chris Young’s warm baritone welcomes listeners home for the holidays on It Must Be Christmas. Like the timeless sound he’s become known for, Young perfects his mix of both traditional and modern cuts across 10 tracks that celebrate chestnuts roasting over an open fire, cold winter nights and sacred moments of reflection. He also gets some high-profile assists from artists like his Country predecessor Brad Paisley on “The First Noel” and even ’90s R&B sensation Boyz II Men. However, it’s his duet with Alan Jackson on “There’s a New Kid In Town” that transforms this Christmas offering from a one-time release to a yearly tradition.
Kacey Musgraves’ inaugural holiday LP is everything you’d expect from one of Country music’s most progressive acts. Slightly irreverent, completely unorthodox and perfectly nostalgic, A Very Kacey Christmas finds Spacey Kacey adding her own tinsel to the tree. With unique collaborations from Leon Bridges, The Quebe Sisters and Willie Nelson, Musgraves proves she’s the life of every holiday party. Her light, fragile vocal dances across selections seemingly made for the Texas darling, like “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” and the original “Christmas Makes Me Cry.” With a dash of vintage charm, a hint of Latin flair and a quirky western vibe, her debut Christmas effort is everything we love about Musgraves wrapped up in a pink rhinestone-studded bow—“very Kacey” indeed.
Soulful Country crooner Brett Eldredge pays tribute to his lifelong hero Frank Sinatra on his brightly lit Christmas record, Glow. With a classic big band vibe full of effortless swagger, Eldredge delivers a heaven-sent collection that crowns him the king of Christmas. Like a Gatsby-inspired soundtrack plucked straight from the Golden Era, it’s easy to imagine Eldredge as a sixth member of the Rat Pack. His duet with pop princess Meghan Trainor on “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” and the original title track, though modern, still maintain a retro vibe. His annual Christmas shows have become something of a tradition, so much so that he’s bringing Glow to life on stage in 10 cities this December.
Who would have guessed that Garth and Trisha’s first duets album would come in the form of a holiday record? The two Country icons gifted fans this 11-track Christmas collection back in 2016. This Amazon-exclusive finds the couple exchanging vocals on a mix of classics and originals. They poke fun at tradition with “Ugly Christmas Sweater” and wax poetic with “Merry Christmas Means I Love You.” In a nod to Dolly, Trisha takes the lead on “Hard Candy Christmas” before joining her husband on their version of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” The power couple end on a note of gratitude with help from James Taylor on “What I’m Thankful For (The Thanksgiving Song).” Here’s hoping we’ll unwrap a second duets album from Brooks and Yearwood under our tree in the future.
Our Five Favorite Moments From Tracy Lawrence’s Mission: Possible Concert
Justin Moore and Clay Walker among the acts – with Randy Travis in attendance
Tracy Lawrence was full of Thanksgiving cheer as he celebrated his 14th annual Mission: Possible Turkey Fry & Concert, Tuesday, Nov. 26. It’s a long but certainly fulfilling day for the singer, beginning with his early morning turkey fry at the Nashville Rescue Mission to help feed hundreds of homeless citizens. Later in the evening, Lawrence headed to Nashville hot spot the Wildhorse Saloon to host an all-star concert with his friends Justin Moore, Clay Walker, the duo Halfway to Hazard and ace songwriter Rhett Akins. Proceeds from the day-long event benefit the Nashville Rescue Mission, which works with the homeless in Nashville.
As Lawrence made his opening remarks to begin the concert, he told the sold-out crowd that, “It’s probably the most exhausting day of the year” for him. But all the work is worthwhile. The Turkey Fry, which began in 2006, serves more than 7,000 plates of food to the homeless men and women in Nashville for their Thanksgiving meal. A few years ago, Lawrence added the concert to the day’s activities. “That brought it to another level,” Lawrence noted.
Lawrence and his musical friends gave the fans that next-level experience. He changed the format this year to an all-acoustic show with the performers seated on stools, similar to a typical “writers night” in Music City. But even without amps and pumped-up volume, the stars provided plenty of electrifying moments. Here’s our 5 favorites.
During one of the round-robin segments, Clay Walker reprised his smash hit, “If I Could Make a Living.” After his performance, he provided this little nugget. “That song was number one 25 years ago today,” Walker announced. And that was the literal truth. A quick check of the Billboard country chart history showed that the single indeed hit the top on Nov. 26, 1994, 25 years to the day. Walker also reminded the folks that “If I Could Make a Living” was co-written by Alan Jackson, who actually passed on it as a single. In the true spirit of Thanksgiving, Walker expressed his gratitude for Jackson’s decision.
2. Justin Moore Takes Us Back
Justin Moore, rocking a stylish and nicely-trimmed beard, looked back on the time he moved from his native Arkansas to Nashville in the early 2000s. It took a few years, but he finally landed a record deal. In 2009, Moore scored his first No. 1 hit, “Small Town USA,” which he sang for the audience. Could that really have been ten years ago? Moore also praised Lawrence for organizing the event. “What you’ve done with this is really inspiring,” Moore said, “You certainly deserve a round of applause.” Incidentally, Arkansas buddies Moore and Lawrence will be touring together in 2020.
As folks gathered into their seats, one arrival stirred up a considerable buzz. Randy Travis and his wife Mary took their seats at a front row table, with Travis, still feeling the effects of a stroke, seated in a wheelchair. It was a treat to see the Country Music Hall of Famer bobbing his head to the music and mouthing the lyrics to the various songs from each artist. During an intermission, several fans came up to Travis to offer their best wishes and ask for cell phone photos. The couple obliged with smiles and grace. “Music is so good for him,” Mary told Sounds Like Nashville. Obviously, the night showcased the therapeutic power that music can exact.
4. Passionate Performances
Halfway to Hazard, the duo of Chad Warrix and David Tolliver, cut it loose with a fiery performance of their tune, “Gettin’ Lucky.” Rhett Akins did a bit of time traveling as he played his first major hit, “That Ain’t My Truck,” which reached the No. 3 spot in 1995. Akins’ rousing rendition reminded us that the single could be a smash in the present-day landscape.
Tracy Lawrence kept things moving as the evening’s amiable host. He and Walker engaged in some colorful recollections about touring together, with Lawrence reveling in a particular tale about raiding a corn field in the middle of the night while Walker slept innocently in his tour bus bunk. A nice moment occurred when Glenn Cranfield, President/CEO of the Nashville Rescue Mission, took the stage to thank Lawrence for his ongoing efforts to help the homeless. On the song front, Lawrence performed his popular “Time Marches On” and later summed up the evening’s theme with “Find Out Who Your
Carly Pearce And Lee Brice In ‘I Hope You’re Happy Now’ Video
This Powerful New Video Will Stop You In Your Tracks
Carly Pearce and Lee Brice capture romantic torment from two different angles in the powerful video for their new duet, “I Hope You’re Happy Now.”Directed by Sam Siske and filmed as a split screen narrative, it finds a used-to-be couple experiencing their now-separate lives in totally different ways. One has moved on with a new love and a new life, while the other struggles to let go. It was all inspired by what Pearce went through with a former flame — and how even though she wished her ex the best, it just wasn’t meant to be.
“The first time I watched this music video I cried — it is as real and honest as the ‘Every Little Thing’ video was for me,” Pearce says in a statement. “This song is so personal and I wanted the visual to truly reflect that part of my story. I feel like this song is the closing piece to this chapter in my life, so the ending is bittersweet, but it leaves things on a positive note. If I were to run into this person today, my hope is that things would play out exactly how the video ends.”
“So excited to be a part of this with Carly… Singing with her is natural!” Brice adds. “This one was so fun to shoot!”
Co-written with Luke Combs, Jonathan Singleton and Randy Montana (and produced by the late busbee), “I Hope You’re Happy Now” is the first track revealed from Pearce’s self-titled sophomore album, which is set for release on Valentine’s Day (February 14). Speaking with reporters when the track was first revealed, Pearce admitted the song seems like an odd fit for her life right now — she and singer Michael Ray just got married, after all — but says the song’s regretful theme is something most people can relate to, from one side or the other.
“It’s an interesting time to be putting out a heartbreak ballad,” she said at the time, “but I’ve tried to answer that and I think the best way is we all have yearbook photos. You can go back and look at those and tap into so many memories, and to me that’s how I relate to my songs. They’re like my yearbook photos of the evolution of who I am.”
Pearce performed during CMA Awards alongside Kelsea Ballerini, Lindsay Ell, Runaway June, Maddie & Tae, Ashley McBryde and Little Big Town, celebrating country’s female artists with the hit, “Girl Crush.” She’s currently on tour with dates scheduled all the way into next summer.
Clare Dunn ‘Steps Into Christmas’ With New Holiday Single
This funky cover is sure to get anyone in the holiday spirit!
Christmas came early for Clare Dunn fans when she dropped new single “Step Into Christmas” on Friday (11/8). The holiday tune was originally written and performed by legendary performer Elton John, becoming an international hit in the 1970s. While John’s version of the song blends elements of pop and soft rock, Dunn’s is a groovy piece that incorporates rock, soul and a little bit of country twang. The country songstress produced the track herself and recorded it in just a single weekend with one-pass vocals.
“I remember when we were kids, waking early, exchanging gifts with my sister and parents, then us all bundling up and going out and taking care of cattle,” the Colorado native shared about her early Christmas experiences. “By the time we came back in, we were all frozen, trying to shake off the cold, scraping snow off our boots and jeans and waiting for the ice to melt out of clumps of our hair while we packed up all the food into pickups and got ready to make the 50-mile drive down a dirt road to my grandparents’ house in Oklahoma.” For Dunn, the holiday season has always been about spending time with loved ones.
“Our biggest tradition is just being together, whether it was in Colorado, Oklahoma or even in Nashville sometimes now,” she said. “Being together is what our holidays are all about.” The debut of “Step Into Christmas” follows the release of three songs plus an R&B-inspired remix of “My Love.” Dunn will tour through the beginning of Thanksgiving week, making stops in Iowa, Virginia and Wisconsin.
Miranda Lambert & Friends Cover ‘Fooled Around & Fell In Love’
“The girls on the Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Tour can sing their asses off”
Miranda Lambert is marking the start of her Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Tour with a special new throwback collaboration, covering the smooth-rocking “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” with her supporting acts. Featuring Maren Morris, Elle King, Ashley McBryde, Tenille Townes, and Caylee Hammack, the the feel-good hit gets a lush vocal update — complete with the uplifting feel of a newfound romance which made the original so satisfying. Written by Elvin Bishop (and sung by Mickey Thomas), “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” was released as a single in 1976, and Lambert and company re-record the track live with an in-studio video capturing their easy-going process. Her all-female cast will hit the road starting tonight (September 13) in Uncasville, Connecticut.
“The girls on the Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Tour can sing their asses off,” Lambert explains. “There’s something crazy about seeing these artists with a new fire in their eyes. It reignites your own flame. I’m so excited to watch them every night on tour.”
The Roadside Bars and Pink Guitars Tour features 26 dates and runs through November 23 in Greensboro, North Carolina. Morris, King, McBryde, Townes and Hammack will all be features as opening acts on select dates. Meanwhile, Lambert’s upcoming album Wildcard is due November 1, featuring the new single “It All Comes Out in the Wash.”
Ronnie Dunn Cover George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning”
Ronnie Dunn will release a new country/rock cover album, Re-Dunn, in January 2020
The 24-track album features popular tunes originally recorded by Bob Seger, Tom Petty, Van Morrison, Hank Williams, Eric Clapton, George Strait, Tom T. Hall, Eddy Arnold and more. Ronnie released two tracks on Sept. 6: “Amarillo by Morning,” which was originally recorded by Terry Stafford in 1973 and made famous by George Strait in 1983, and “Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress),” which The Hollies recorded in 1972. Ronnie will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame with Brooks & Dunn cohort Kix Brooks in October.
Listen to “Amarillo by Morning” and “Long Cool Woman (in a Black Dress)” below.
Re-Dunn Track List
1.“Amarillo by Morning” — (originally recorded by Terry Stafford)
2. “Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)” — (originally recorded by The Hollies)
3. “That’s How I Got to Memphis” — (originally recorded by Tom T. Hall)
4. “It Never Rains In Southern California” — (originally recorded by Albert Hammond)
5. “How Long” — (originally recorded by Paul Carrack)
6. “Drinkin’ Thing” — (originally recorded by Gary Stewart)
7. “Together Again” — (originally recorded by Buck Owens)
8. “Peaceful Easy Feeling” — (originally recorded by the Eagles)
9. “Against The Wind” — (originally recorded by Bob Seger)
10. “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” — (originally recorded by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes)
11. “I Won’t Back Down” — (originally recorded by Tom Petty)
12. “Cowboy Rides Away” — (originally recorded by George Strait)
13. “Showdown” — (originally recorded by Electric Light Orchestra)
14. “Wonderful Tonight” — (originally recorded by Eric Clapton)
15. “Ashes By Now” — (originally recorded by Rodney Crowell)
16. “That’s The Way Love Goes” — (originally recorded by Johnny Rodriguez)
17. “I’m Not In Love” — (originally recorded by 10cc)
18. “Brown Eyed Girl” — (originally recorded by Van Morrison)
19. “You Don’t Know Me” — (originally recorded by Eddy Arnold)
20. “Ridin’ My Thumb To Mexico” — (originally recorded by Johnny Rodriguez)
21. “A Showman’s Life” — (originally recorded by Jesse Winchester)
22. “Good Time Charlie’s Got The Blues” — (originally recorded by Danny O’Keefe)
23. “Amie” — (originally recorded by Pure Prairie League)
24. “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You)” — (originally recorded by Hank Williams)
Miranda Lambert Gets Down And Dirty For ‘It All Comes Out In The Wash’ Video
Her new video is full of mud bogs and 4x4s
Miranda Lambert gets down and dirty in the new video for her latest single, “It All Comes Out in the Wash,” going off road for some 4×4 fun. Filled with jacked up trucks and mud pits, the clip finds Lambert embracing life’s grimy side. It was directed by Trey Fanjoy and puts the superstar behind the wheel for a sloppy afternoon of full-throttle bogging, but like her song says, it’s nothing a little soap and water can’t fix.
“‘Cause it’ll all come out, all come out in the wash / It’ll all come out, all come out in the wash / Every little stain, every little heartbreak, no matter how messy it got / You take the sin and the men and you throw ‘em all in / And you put that sucker on spin,” goes the feel good chorus.
“It All Comes Out in the Wash” was written by the superstar with Hillary Lindsey, Lori McKenna, Liz Rose, and marks the first single her upcoming album, Wildcard, due out November 1. Lambert has also released her “Way Too Pretty for Prison” collaboration with Maren Morris, and she was nominated for CMA Female Vocalist of the Year earlier this week.
10-song collection is an expertly crafted statement from a singular country music voice
Country legend Tanya Tucker, it seems we must take that oft-used morsel a step further to say we didn’t know what we had until she was out of the limelight and thankfully returned. Whether or not Tucker’s flawless new record, While I’m Livin’, is some sort of “comeback album” or not isn’t the point. The point is that 16 years after her last record of new material, the 60-year old, Seminole, TX born outlaw hero with dozens of Top 10 hit singles to her credit wanted to be heard again. Produced by Shooter Jennings and arguably one of the hottest names in the country and Americana world these days, Brandi Carlile, this 10-song collection is a powerful, expertly crafted statement from a singular country music voice.
Though Tucker herself only had a hand in writing one of the tracks, her instantly recognizable, emotive, dusty rasp claims every song as her own. And, frankly, that applies to the well-known cover choices, including “The House That Built Me,” made famous by Miranda Lambert a decade ago. As aching and quietly powerful as Lambert’s version is, the weight of someone with Tucker’s hard-earned perspective looking back through the halls of her childhood home is impossible to shed easily.
Primarily consisting of acoustic-based instrumentation, While I’m Livin’ fits more easily into a folksy Americana realm than the more straight-forward honky-tonk country of Tucker’s award-collecting, platinum-selling days of the ‘70s, ’80s and ‘90s. Even when the tempos and textures alternate, the record as a whole feels cohesive and confident. Soulful gospel touches accentuate the impressively soft vocals in “Wheels of Laredo,” while “Mustang Ridge” is a jaunty, roots tune featuring an unapologetic Tucker singing “Now a women’s life ain’t just a list of the word things she has done. Sometimes the past is hard to outrun.”
The effervescent, bouncy “I Don’t Owe You Anything” is a Country ’n Western middle-finger to an ex that’s surely going to miss her far more than the other way around. The very next song, the folk-inflected “The Day My Heart Goes Still” seamlessly flips the script, conveying the sweetest feelings she has for her father. If anyone can switch the salty and the sweet better than Tucker does here, we’ve yet to hear it.
In a genius bit of song sequencing, the album’s final song is not only the star of the show, but it’s the kind of song that makes such a long wait for new music so very well worthwhile. The only song with Tucker as a co-writer, “Bring My Flowers Now” is a brave, vulnerable look at mortality and the way we all too often fail to show love and appreciation for those around us until it’s far too late. On top of a mournful, stark piano, Tucker sings “I won’t need your love when I’m gone, don’t spend your time, tears and money on my old breathless body.” The profundity of such a bare-bones directive is given even more urgency when she sings later that “days are long, but the years are lightning.”
There’s no telling when or if we’ll hear another Tanya Tucker record, and that’s fine. While I’m Living is triumphant proof that the best artists speak only when they have something to say and that we should appreciate our living legends while, indeed, they are living.