The Weekly Release Report: July 17, 2015

See our quick-hit thoughts on new releases ranging from Alan Jackson to Jason Isbell; from Moonshine Bandits to Ronnie Dunn and more!

There are a handful of notable albums released this week, including new projects from Alan Jackson, Lee Brice, Moonshine Bandits, Jason Isbell and singles from Luke Bryan, Ronnie Dunn and more.

Moonshine Bandits - Blacked Out (Back Road/Average Joes)
This album kicks off with the catchy radio track “Dead Man’s Hand,” a song which instantly showcases Moonshine Bandits’ growth as a national musical act of note. They blend rap, rock, country music and blues into a blender and it comes out as an identifiable sound that is uniquely the band’s. Standouts include “She’s Crazy,” “I Earned It,” “Top Off The Tank,” “Blacked Out” and “Step,” a track which features Sarah Ross. The Lacs and Durwood Black are also featured guests with the closer “Outback (Extended Remix)” adding Moccasin Creek, Redneck Souljers, Bubba Sparxx, Demun Jones, D Thrash and Lenny Cooper to the track.

Jason Isbell - Something More Than Free (Southeastern Records)
Another standout rootsy effort from an artist who has found his music making waves in the mainstream (Zac Brown Band covered “Dress Blues”) and there’s a mixture of everything that makes up the thing we call life. There’s definitely an authentic lyrical sensibility to Something More Than Free and the album (produced by Dave Cobb) showcases an artist who knows how to tell compelling stories. Standouts include “Children of Children,” “If It Takes A Lifetime,” “Speed Trap Town,” “Flagship” and “To A Band I Love.”

McKenna Faith - Seal It With A Kiss [EP] (Treble Entertainment)
Country/Pop a la Cassadee Pope and Kelsea Ballerini rules the day on this young artist’s latest EP (which has six songs that are all less than 3 minutes long). “Obvious” could compete with mainstream country charts with only faint B3s, twangy telecasters and flourishes of steel guitar reminding us this a country artist. By far the best part of the EP is McKenna Faith’s strong voice, a voice that suggests that a bigger label may come along with an opportunity to make her a breakout star.

Alan Jackson - Angels and Alcohol (ACR/EMI Nashville)
The country Icon returns with his 20th album Angels and Alcohol. The radio stations may have abandoned the country traditionalist but he’s still in fine form on this record, which starts off with a father imparting his wisdom to his child who is ready to flee their small town life for the big city. Fans might fall in love with the song for its fiddle and steel guitars as much as anything. There are shuffles (“You Never Know”) tear-soaked ballads (the title track) and introspective songs (“Flaws”) along with beautiful songs about the world and it’s natural wonder (“When God Paints”). There are echo of all of Alan’s past albums and hits here and that means it’s everything we could want out of an album from the superstar.

Bobby Wills - Crazy Enough [EP] (Willing Nashville)
The Canadian country star showcases why he’s now making waves in Nashville’s community with this five track EP. “Never Didn’t Love You” sounds like a smash radio hit while “Crazy Enough” is a standout rocker that recalls the best hits from Montgomery Gentry, Jason Aldean and Big & Rich while “Still Something There” and “So Much For Taking It Slow” are powerful, emotive tempo-filled ballads. Finally, “With You” showcases a traditional-leaning balladeer that is simply a gorgeous song about eternal love.

Ash Breeze - The Road’s Not Easy (Mountain Fever Records)
This youthful bluegrass quartet showcases a talent throughout the 10 tracks on this, their second album in as many years. “Flowers” is a beautiful waltz while “Where The Last Are Always First” is also a beautifully-performed ballad while they showcase their talents as musicians on the playful “Pins & Needles.” It’s interesting to hear this young band perform (not unlike the Snyder Family or Flatt Lonesome) and how they’re in Bluegrass while mainstream still isn’t all that fond on youthful stars, despite Taylor Swift’s own success at a similar age.

Lee Brice - Mixtape: ’Til Summer’s Gone [EP] (Curb Records)
The singer of popular songs like “Drinkin’ Class” and “I Don’t Dance” gives fans a fun summer EP of songs that didn’t make albums but are still something he’s wanted to get out for fans. The EP originally was a fan club exclusive until demand from fans not in Nashville at CMA fest wanted to get copies of the Mixtape EP. There’s a blend of rockin songs (a remix of “Girls In Bikinis” featuring Bubba Sparxxx and “Long Slow Burn”) while “Mixtape” has a similar theme to the JB and the Moonshine band song of the same name. “Stealing Innocence” is a song that could’ve been on a regular album and has interesting lyrics and an interesting melody. Fans looking for some new music from Brice as he’s between albums will certainly find something to enjoy here.

New singles released to digital stores and streaming this week"

Andy Grammer & Eli Young Band - “Honey, I’m Good” (S-Curve/Valory Music Co.)
This newly-recorded version of the popular radio hit from Andy Grammer adds the Eli Young Band to the song and they do a nice job creating a song that fits well within country than people probably wanted to ever admit. It could be a massive crossover.

David Nail - “Night’s On Fire” (MCA Nashville)
The brand-new single from David Nail just hit iTunes and streaming stores today and showcases the singer’s powerful voice in a R&B-tinged track that should have him rising up the charts on a fast clip. It may slightly be different for longtime fans to hear David sing such a track but it suits him well.

Ronnie Dunn - “Ain’t No Trucks In Texas” (NASH Icon Recors)
The band new single from the voice of Brooks & Dunn sounds as great as ever. This one could be a hit if radio wants to play his music. After all, it’s the most radio-friendly song he’s released in a couple of years.

Theory Of A Dead Man - “Blow (Americana Version)” (RoadRunner Records)
The band which were one of the original proteges of FGL’s mentor/producer Joey Moi have issued a single which features some country sounds here but it’s still a rock band performing a rock song with a rootsier sound and I doubt country or Americana radio will play this one.