Can you believe it's mid-February already? Where has the time gone? And why has the Christmas-shopping-inflated balance on my credit card not evaporated, too? Yes. Well. Moving on.
Speaking of moving on, Gary Allan seems to have lightened up considerably on his new album, Set You Free. Judging by how fast both the album and the single "Every Storm (Runs Out of Rain)" shot to the top of their respective Billboard charts, the country world digs the new, slightly less morose Gary Allan a lot! Another tres fab release comes from Dale Watson, whose El Rancho Azul occupies a crazy amount of time in my Rhapsody mixer. Watson's brand of Bakersfield-inspired honky-tonk sure sounds good to these ears. It's the perfect soundtrack for drinking and two-stepping -- or merely thinking about drinking or two-stepping. Any excuse, right?
Elsewhere, husband and wife (and also singer and songwriter, respectively) Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison have created a masterpiece in Cheater's Game. The couple's songs (both covers and originals) are made sweeter, sadder and lots more fun by their perfectly suited intertwining harmonies. One of the nicest surprises of the year so far -- and hey, it's only February. (Cough.)
Oh, and: Kenny Loggins! Remember him? He of "Footloose," "Danger Zone" and a handful of other yacht rock hits? Well, he has teamed up with two Nashville singer-songwriters to form Blue Sky Riders. Their debut album came out a few weeks ago, and if you like the airiness of some of his Loggins & Messina soft-rock hits, you will like this gently countrified offering. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Click on the playlist above to hear tracks from these new releases.