Category Archives: Reviews

Discovering Classic Country: William Michael Morgan

I was sitting at home the other night, scrolling through the recent releases on iTunes as I tend to do sometimes. I’m not sure whether it’s the fact that I’m in this class or just the fact that country music has been growing on me lately, but I decided to check out what was popular in Country instead of Rap/Hip-Hop like I usually do. Then I stumbled upon William Michael Morgan‘s self-titled “William Michael Morgan – EP”.

William-Michael-Morgan-EPEven just from the album cover, I could tell this was going to be a good old traditional country album. Clean-shaven, cowboy hat on, grainy block letters and a coffee-colored button down. It seems like the only stereotypes missing were a guitar and maybe some sort of alcoholic beverage peeking out somewhere. Either way, this image had me primed for some true country listening.  And that’s exactly what I got.

I was surprised to discover just how nice his voice and music was! His lyrics are thoughtful and his tunes are definitely catchy. If you haven’t heard any of his music yet, I’d recommend what I thought was his catchiest song – “Beer Drinker”.

I love this song! He says, “Let’s give it up for the guys on the clock / who work all week and twist one off / thank a beer drinker.” It’s a catchy song encouraging us to thank all the behind the scenes people in life who make sure we can “flip a switch without a hitch” and who fix things, like keeping “our hot tubs hot and our AC’s cool.” This song sounds about as country as it gets with the acoustic guitar, occasional guitar riffs, piano in the back, steel guitar, and the twang in his voice.

While that song’s great, another one of my favorites off of his EP would definitely have to be his hit “I Met a Girl.” This song is really nice: more uptempo guitar really gets your head bobbin’ to the music. Steel guitar is a little more prominent and helps set the romantic mood in this song. The chorus is as catchy as it gets, but it’s the bridge that comes in about 2 minutes into the song that really caught my ear.

He sings “when you turned around / my whole world got turned upside down / and the only thing that I could say was – hey.” I admit, that first part of the line would be tough without  being in some sort of alternate universe, but the simplicity of him being so enamored with her that all he could say was “hey” was both touching and truly relatable. This song made me think about the first time I met my now fiancé, and so those lyrics really resonated with me. And he’s got some real clever lyrics in this song too – “she don’t need umbrellas in the summer rain / she could catch the eye of a hurricane/ in blue jeans and pearls.”

You can’t just take my word for it though – check out his music and let me know what you think. Maybe I’m just behind and everybody already knows about this guy, but if you haven’t heard of him yet, do yourself a favor and take a listen to the other 4 songs on his EP as well. He talks about romance and cheating, about working hard and drinking beer, about blue jeans and vinyl – it’s got all the elements of a classic country album put together with pleasant vocals and a great, catchy sound. And who knows, if you like him enough, you can catch him live performing in nearby Salado, Texas on April 23rd!


Filed under Blog Post 4, Reviews


My mom often sends me the names of songs she hears on the radio in the car that she really likes or ones that remind her of certain times. Just a few weeks ago, she sent a text that said, “Listen to ‘Humble and Kind,’ I just love it and hope that you and your brother will always live your life this way.”

At that point I hadn’t yet heard the song, so I quickly pulled it up on Spotify. Listening to it just one time reminded me of several things: first, that Tim McGraw will always be one of my favorite artists, and second, that country artists still choose to sing deep, heartfelt songs like this one. It seems like most songs on the country charts these days are about driving trucks, drinking beer, and making love, but Tim McGraw released a breath of fresh air to that mix and I am so thankful for that.

Not even a week after my mom texted me about the song, Tim McGraw presented “Humble and Kind” at the Academy of Country Music Awards on April 3rd. Little Big Town presented McGraw with a preview of the performance, “this timeless message of humility and kindness connects with all of us…” His performance was absolutely stunning, his voice deeply sincere and he touched the hearts of every person in the audience and those watching at home like myself. He started the song off sitting on a bar stool, singing intimately to the crowd.

tim-mcgraw-acm-awards-performance Singing with a grin that reached ear to ear, he watched around a hundred individuals of all different walks of life come down the aisle to join him on the stage. He jumped off stage and grabbed one of their hands, walking to the stage with them. He proceeded to sing to the individuals that had just joined him on stage, and they represented a real life version of the breathtaking music video that he created with the help of Oprah. He didn’t just sing the song at the awards show; he lived and breathed it, delivering the song as a life lesson to all.

After such a breath taking performance, I felt deeply touched by the song and the message it delivers, to always remember where your past and no matter what your success is, always stay humble and kind. I did a simple Google search a few days later and saw that “Humble and Kind” had gone viral and is not only an inspiration to me, but is such an inspiration to so many others that an entire #StayHumbleAndKind movement exists, inspired by Tim McGraw’s song. The movement can be joined online simply by sharing your random acts of kindness using the hashtag in hopes of creating a network of giving. How incredible is that?! That’s not all though, Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind” inspired a book to be released with the same title and will include lyrics from the song as well as comments from Tim McGraw and songwriter Lori McKenna.

When I started thinking about how many people this song hits home too, I knew I wanted to write about it. I found several interviews online that explain Tim McGraw’s emotional connection to the song and why it means so much to him. During an interview with Billboard, he explained that he has been holding on to the song written by Lori McKenna for several years and just couldn’t find the right time to cut it. Lori wrote the song as a message for her own children and he loved the song so much that he was so afraid to mess it up for both Lori and himself.

1439903983_484340666_tim-mcgraw-gracie-mcgraw-zoomHe decided to cut it after taking his oldest daughter, Gracie, to college and said that it was the perfect time to record it. He revealed that he was so emotional when recording it that “I would get through two or three lines, and then I’d fall apart.” He was so emotionally connected to the song because it reminded him so much of his daughter and the things he always wanted her to remember when going through life.

In my opinion, “Humble and Kind” is one of the best country songs that has been released and made the top charts in a while. Compared to other songs that are popular right now, when I hear “Humble and Kind” I actually feel emotionally connected and really take away life lessons from the lyrics, which is such a nice change. I hope those that haven’t already heard this song take the time to listen and reflect on the lyrics just like I have done.


Filed under Blog Post 4, Classic Country, Country Pop, Music Videos, Nashville Sound, Reviews, Tim McGraw

Watch Out, Chart-Toppers

steve moakler picIn December of 2015, Huffington Post published an article by Brittany Hodak titled “Top 20 Country Artists to Watch in 2016.” I’ll admit, although I am a lover of all things music, I don’t typically look into up-and-coming country artists. But, much to my surprise, I came across an artist I have been familiar with for a few years: Steve Moakler. I didn’t think that Steve qualified as Country, but since listening to his new stuff have come to realize that Country is definitely the mold into which he is casting himself. How did he get to #3 on Hodak’s list? Let me unpack it for ya.

Steve Moakler was born in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Interesting, huh? Yankee-boy turned Country. In 2006, he picked up and moved to the Promised Land—Nashville, Tennessee—to pursue opportunity. And, just like thousands of others of his kind, he didn’t strike gold right away. Sweet Steve worked odd jobs while writing music in order to make his dream a reality. His expectations, like most Nashville-bound artists, were high and left him disappointed countless times.

When he had time, he played show after show to get his name out to a building fan-base and awaiting record-labels. “Thousands of songs later,” (according to his website) Steve released his first album by way of a Kickstarter funding campaign, under Free the Birds Records.

He’s come a long way. Steve has 115,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and his most recent album, Suitcase, produced by Creative Nation Records, has yet to release more than the single, “Suitcase,” which has already shot to number 187 on the iTunes Country charts. His record Watching Time Run rose to #1 on the Singer/Songwriter chart and was in the top 50 in overall charts. In addition, Steve’s music has been sung by notable artists such as Dierks Bentley, Jake Owen, Ben Rector, Matt Wertz, and Kellie Pickler, among others. Pretty impressive for a dude who produced his first album from a freaking KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN. It just goes to show how powerful his hipster-country fan-base truly is and makes me believe in the future of good music.

Not only is he a talented singer/songwriter, but he’s hilarious. Steve showcases his dry sense of humor on his Twitter and in his adorable friendship with Ben Rector. He’s also ridiculously photogenic—just check out his Instagram (@stevemoakler).

So what makes him different than any other charming, angelic-voiced country-singer? I would say what brought him to #3 on Hodak’s list of country artists to watch in 2016 is initiative. He completely financed his first album with funds from a donation website. Who are we to limit this guy?! I think Hodak sees his potential because of his willingness to make moves and humility to let other artists sing his music. Keep on doin’ you, Steve. It’s working.

Still not convinced? Watch this.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Reviews

Sam Hunt’s “Take Your Time”: A Music Video Review

sam-hunt-instagramDebuting his first full-length studio album Montevallo in late 2014, Sam Hunt is fairly new to the country music scene. Upon first listening, I found him to be fairly similar to the rest of the up and coming bro-country singers; he didn’t appear to have an incredibly distinct sound or look (though I can’t deny that he’s completely gorgeous), and his lyrics seemed to discuss nothing more than beautiful women. This was also my first impression of his song “Take Your Time” (2015)—I thought it was simply about trying to pick up a girl in a bar. However, after watching the music video for this song, I now have a deeper understanding of the song itself and a heightened respect for Sam Hunt as an artist.

The “Take Your Time” video is a completely unexpected presentation of the song as it tackles the difficult and raw topic of domestic violence. The video starts off happily by showing a woman, her husband/boyfriend, and their baby shopping together and enjoying kisses on the forehead. However, the story quickly turns dark as the man’s alcoholic tendencies and anger issues are exposed. Sam, watching these events unfold as a bystander, tries to find the best way to intervene. At the end of the video, he finally fights the man off while the woman and her baby escape in a beaten up pickup truck.

Sam’s lyrics “I don’t wanna steal your freedom / I don’t wanna change your mind / I don’t have to make you love me / I just wanna take your time” discusses his hesitancy in intervening in what appears to be an unsafe and troubling relationship. Sam is put in a difficult position as he struggles to find the courage to trust his instincts and take action. He isn’t trying to get the girl to fall for him, but instead is truly concerned about her well-being and wants her to “take [the] time” to get help.

I am completely impressed with Sam’s use of this video to promote social change and make a statement about something so real and under-discussed. Bringing issues to light is one of the first steps in creating change, and this song is the perfect example of how musicians possess the power to fight for causes that they care about. I’m excited to see where the rest of Sam’s career takes him, and am hopeful that he will continue to use his talent and passion to make a difference—ultimately encouraging others to follow in his footsteps.


Filed under Blog Post 2, Bro Country, Music Videos, Reviews, Song Analysis

Katie’s Country Music Reflection

For my project the four things that I focused on was going to Billy Bob’s and attending a concert, going to Nutty Brown and attending a concert, taking a picture at the Willie Nelson statue, and then watching some of the American Country Music Awards. It was great getting to explore some of the most iconic country music places in Texas, while being able to keep up with country music on a more national level. Through this project I was able to explore new places, listen to great music, learn about country music history, and watch artists make history.

Billy Bob’s and the whole Fort Worth experience

Nutty Brown is a local Austin treasure. On top of it being a famous venue, I also got to see one of Texas Country’s most famous bands. At Nutty Brown, I got to see the Josh Abbott Band perform. This was probably one of the most fun concerts I have been too. The venue creates this wonderful atmosphere that just makes you want to dance. It is an out door venue where people can stand close to the stage or sit back and relax at some picnic tables. In addition to the venue, the band was fantastic. They played all of my favorite songs and they put on an amazing live show. Another iconic Texas place that I went to was Billy Bob’s. This was quite the experience for me. Not being from Texas I had not clue that dance halls like Billy Bob’s existed. The place was huge and had everything, even containing a bull-riding arena. The performer that night was Sara Evans. She was fantastic and the place was packed for her. I wrote about my experience going to Billy Bob’s for one of my blog posts. In addition, one of my favorite things about going to both these concerts was being able to see a band that embodies Texas Country while the other one has made her success in Nashville. I was able to experience two country concerts through this project that have two totally different backgrounds. Moving on, I went and took a picture with the Willie Nelson Statue. I never realized how famous this statue was until this class. I went this past weekend to take a picture and had to wait in a line, granted it wasn’t a long line, but still there were other people wanting to get their picture with Willie. It is very neat to see how the Austin community honors Willie, with not only the statue but also naming a street after him and building the new Willie Nelson exhibit in football stadium. Since I stayed mostly local doing this project I decided to watch the ACMs. I had already written a blog post about the major performances that would be happening so I wanted to watch the show to see how those turned out. My favorite part of award shows is watching the performances anyways so it was a win win for me. According the article written by Billboard the two worst performances of the night were the cross genre duets. This is surprising and funny because this was the main focus of my blog article due to the amount of hype that was being created for these performances. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed this project because I don’t believe I would have actually experienced these things, which would have been a shame.


Filed under Austin, Awards, Class work, Country Symbols, Dancing, Live Music, Movies and TV, Music Videos, Reflection, Reviews, Storify, Texas, USA