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Kellie Pickler
Jason Merritt, Getty Images
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Kellie Pickler, ‘Someone Somewhere Tonight’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

Kellie Pickler delivers an inspired performance with a new single called 'Someone Somewhere Tonight.' The song -- originally recorded by Kenny Rogers -- is a soaring ballad that touches a range of emotions. Few will find nothing relatable on the singer's first release from an upcoming album.

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Trace-Akdins
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Album Spotlight: Trace Adkins, ‘Love Will …’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

The idea behind Trace Adkins' new album 'Love Will ...' makes so much sense you almost wonder why he hadn't done it sooner. This collection of love songs is as obvious as the tagless T-shirt, yet for years we went without both.

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Lauren Alaina
Mercury Nashville
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Lauren Alaina, ‘Barefoot and Buckwild’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

Meet the new Lauren Alaina. With just a few weeks of her senior year of high school remaining, the singer introduces a grown-up new look, grown-up style and grown-up attitude with her latest single, 'Barefoot and Buckwild.' It's especially difficult to find songs that fit when you're short on life experience, so the one-time 'American Idol' runner-up wrote her own ...

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Lady Antebellum
Capitol Nashville
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Album Spotlight: Lady Antebellum, ‘Golden’ – ToC Critic’s Pick

The best moments on Lady Antebellum's fourth album 'Golden' find Charles Kelley or Hillary Scott singing solo, with minimal help from the other on harmonies. There is no shortage of songs that act as features for the two talented vocalists. The evolution of the trio finds them becoming a dual threat super power instead of a two-headed pop-rock-country group.

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Pistol-Annies
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Pistol Annies, ‘Annie Up’ – Album Review

Strong production keeps 'Annie Up' -- the new album from Pistol Annies -- from being something their debut effort certainly was not: boring. The women thrive among thick, bluesy guitars that moan and wail throughout the 12 cuts. It's a throwback sound that fits the trio as well as the daring outfits they've become known for wearing.

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Jana Kramer
Rick Diamond, Getty Images
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Jana Kramer, ‘I Hope It Rains’ – Song Review

'I Hope It Rains' makes three heartbreaks in three singles for Jana Kramer. The new track from her self-titled debut album is more fun than the bittersweet 'Why Ya Wanna' and catchier than her Top 30 hit 'Whiskey.' The singer finds that sweet spot between revenge and psycho and works the vocals into a potential hit.

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Thomas Rhett
Valory Music Co.
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Thomas Rhett, ‘It Goes Like This’ – Song Review

'It Goes Like This' is the safest of the three singles Thomas Rhett has released, but he sacrifices nothing in sharp songwriting in his effort to land a hit on country radio. The charismatic songwriter is a natural storyteller, and his lyrics bounce to life with each verse and chorus. 

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Kenny-Chesney
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Kenny Chesney, ‘Life on a Rock’ – Album Review

Kenny Chesney's 'Life on a Rock' album is as revealing of a record as 'Be as You Are' -- more so in some ways. The songwriting isn't as sharp as the 2005 project (the most closely comparable to 'Life on a Rock' in style and substance), but the experiences are as mixed and honest.

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Iron Man 3 review
Marvel
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‘Iron Man 3′ Review

From the earliest days of his appearances in Marvel Comics' 'Tales of Suspense,' Tony Stark has always been modeled after aviator/inventor/industrialist Howard Hughes. With 'Iron Man 3,' Stark assumes a new dimension of Hughes' persona: that of the paranoid shut-in who, in his later years, became notorious for roaming his private floor of the Desert Inn Hotel in Las Vegas, freaking out about invisible germs and collecting jars of his own urine. 'Iron Man 3's' Tony Stark, played once again by the inimitable Robert Downey Jr.isn't quite that bad, but he's getting there.

After the events chronicled in 'The Avengers,' where Manhattan was nearly leveled by invading aliens and Tony himself was almost killed, he's become obsessed with upgrading his armor -- leaping all the way from the Mark VII to the Mark 42 in a matter of months. When anyone mentions New York or aliens, Tony gets panic attacks. There's a reason Daredevil, not Iron Man, is the Marvel hero known as "The Man Without Fear." Poor Tony is terrified.

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Granger Smith
Granger Smith
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Granger Smith, ‘Dirt Road Driveway’ – Album Review

If you look back over Granger Smith's early album covers, you'll find that he presented himself as a hat act. Sonically he's come a long way since those efforts, with his latest album 'Dirt Road Driveway' falling squarely in the singer-songwriter sub-genre of country music. It's an album that would sound best at a coffee house, not a honky tonk. 

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Willie Nelson
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Willie Nelson, ‘Let’s Face the Music and Dance’ – Album Review

'Let's Face the Music and Dance' is a great place for a young country music fan to meet Willie Nelson. It won't be his most famous, and it won't create any hit singles. This wonderfully consistent effort proves what longtime fans of the legend already know: At 79 years old (80 on April 30), Nelson is still as important and skilled a vocalist as there is in country music. 

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Chris Cagle
YouTube
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Chris Cagle, ‘Dance Baby Dance’ – ToC Critic’s Pick [Listen]

'Dance Baby Dance' is one of the finest songs of Chris Cagle's career -- perhaps his best ballad. A few fathers (and maybe a couple of mothers) will be wiping away tears before the end of the first verse. He hits that sweet spot between familiar and hokey. 

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