May 2017


Review: Chris Stapleton “From A Room”: Volume 1


What is Country music? It’s a question often asked by fans, by critics, industry people and even by artists. Throughout the history of the genre there have been artists who have been criticised for being either too country or not country enough, but that’s what happens when a genre is made up of sub genres and lots of musical styles but at the core it is about story telling. Which brings me to the next two words. Chris Stapleton.

Back in December 2014, Justin Timberlake tweeted “REAL music fans already know. So, mainstream: @ChrisStapleton

Remember that name…”

Fast forward to May 2015 Stapleton released his debut solo project “Traveller”, after that Stapleton went on to win Album of the Year at both the CMA and ACM awards, Best Country Album at the Grammy’s as well as numerous other awards including Male Vocalist of the Year. The rest, you could say is history.

“From A Room: Volume 1”, the highly anticipated follow up to “Traveller” was released in May, as the first of a two-part project that was recorded at Nashville’s RCA Studio A. Once again produced by Dave Cobb and Stapleton, this nine-track album is just enough to wet the taste buds but will certainly leave you wanting Volume 2 sharpish.

As soon as “Broken Halos” begins that gravelly tone Stapleton has become known for shines, with harmonies from his equally talented wife Morgane. It’s a good introduction to the album and was recorded the day a childhood friend of Stapleton’s passed away from pancreatic cancer, making it that much more emotional to listen to.

I defy anyone to listen to “Second One to Know” and not get the urge to tap your foot, it’s one of the rare up tempo tracks and feels like it was made to be performed for live audiences, particularly with the brilliant guitar solo that concludes the song.

“Up to No Good Livin” tell the story of a guy who hasn’t had the greatest track record previously, but has changed his ways and is frustrated that despite his best efforts his other half doesn’t trust him because of past actions and behaviours. Accompanied by Morgane on vocals, it’s classic Stapleton and I’d just like to put out in the universe that we need a Morgane Stapleton album pronto!

Back in 2008, the incomparable Lee Ann Womack released her “Call Me Crazy” album and featured a track called “Either Way”, which was written by and had harmonies by non-other than Chris Stapleton. It was my favourite track from that album so when I heard Stapleton was releasing his own version, I’ll admit I was very excited and not at all disappointed when I heard it. It paints the picture of a couple who have given up completely on their relationship and rather than making the break, they go through the motions of being together and faking this picture-perfect existence because it’s what the couple are used to. Stapleton’s version of “Either Way” will rip your heart out, and I would like to think come next award season it will be nominated.

“Death Row” starts with a funky instrumental introduction that I can’t help but think of a scene in “The Pink Panther” until the vocals kick in. The song itself is very bluesy and mellow, and while not one of my favourites overall, I feel it is strategically placed as the last track of the album to leave listeners wanting more.

Chris Stapleton makes the kind of music that will make you feel something, whether it’s happiness or sadness you will feel and that to me is the epitome of Country music. For me it reminds me of the music my Grandad would have played in his car on a Sunday throughout my childhood but what is great about Stapleton’s sound is while it could’ve been popular in any decade, it still feels modern and relevant.

If you were at C2C in 2016 you will have experienced the musical genius that is Chris Stapleton, I have never and probably never will hear a reaction like that of a packed O2 arena cheer for an artist and boo when they realised his set was over and they wanted more. So, dear C2C I beg of you please have Stapleton back as a headliner. We need more!

Track Listing:

  1. Broken Halos
  2. Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning
  3. Second One To Know
  4. Up To No Good Livin’
  5. Either Way
  6. I Was Wrong
  7. Without Your Love
  8. Them Stems
  9. Death Row

If you haven’t already, make sure you buy “From A Room: Volume 1” here.


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Review: Kelsea Ballerini Live in London


Kelsea Ballerini has been making waves on the country scene since her debut single “Love Me Like You Mean It” was released back in 2014, followed by her album “The First Time” the following year. I think it’s safe to say that during that time, Kelsea has defied all the odds against her and has skyrocketed to become one of the faces of the genre right now. As the first female artist to have three singles from her debut album go to number one since Wynonna Judd, with a fourth currently in her sights it was only a matter of time before the Knoxville, Tennessee native made her presence known on our shores with a UK show and what a presence it was.

If you were lucky enough to get a ticket to the sold-out show at Under the Bridge in London, I’m sure you will agree it was a very special evening.

Singer-songwriter Catherine McGrath was the opening act and I’ll be completely honest I hadn’t heard her music so was going in completely ignorant but by the end of her set I wanted more. She was a very pleasant surprise to me, it may have been the first time seeing her live but hopefully that won’t be the last! What I loved about Catherine was her interaction with the audience between songs, it can be quite difficult to be an opening act knowing that you’re not necessarily the reason people are there but she grabbed the audience’s attention and rather than trying to force anything or for interaction feeling awkward, she was personable and hilarious without trying to be which made her even more endearing.

The UK scene is booming with talent right now and I really think Catherine McGrath could become one of the front runners, she’s an excellent storyteller and has a sweet toned voice to match. If you don’t have her EP One, make sure you check it out.

Having toured with some of the biggest stars and having a successful solo tour in the states, it was refreshing to see that despite that a smaller London venue still managed to move Kelsea Ballerini. This was evident throughout the show, she looked ecstatic to be there and frequently told the audience that she was freaking out and couldn’t believe they knew the words to unreleased music – something a UK audience has become known for.

Kicking off the show with her current and last single from her debut album, “Yeah Boy” was a
fun way to start with the crowd singing along word for word from the get go.

A highlight of the show was hearing new material from Kelsea’s upcoming album in the form of “Roses” and “High School”. “Roses” is a different musical direction for Kelsea, it wouldn’t sound out of place on a Taylor Swift record and gives a good indication of what we could potentially expect from album number two, which excites me. I’m sure it’ll bring up the ever present debate of is this country music, but lyrically it tells a story and is cleverly written and that is what should be at the forefront.

Hearing the crowd echo “Peter Pan” was one of the best moments of the night, it’s a fan favourite and with good reason and if it wasn’t an already standing venue would have garnered a standing ovation I’m sure.

“Xo”, Kelsea’s official UK single was an awesome moment where for a short space of time it felt like a soft rock show. I mean, when Kelsea Ballerini tells the crowd to jump it would be rude not to and they happily complied, making the standing venue look like a mosh pit temporarily while Kelsea played drums in a slightly dramatic, theatrical way.


After leaving the stage, the crowd shouted for more and they were in luck. Kelsea came back out, only this time into the crowd with a mic and guitar to perform the title track of her debut album, “The First Time”. It’s one of my personal favourites from the album and to see it be performed in such a small, intimate setting was brilliant.

Of course there was no other way to end the night than with the song that made fans fall in love with her in the first place and that was “Love Me Like You Mean It”. I’m not sure who loved who more, but there was definitely a love fest going on between Kelsea and the London crowd. The atmosphere throughout the entire show was incredible.

It’s always special to see an artist play their first UK gig, whether they’re a smaller artist or someone who is a big name. Those shows are always the ones that go down on your list of favourite gig memories and seeing an artist look humbled by a crowd in another country knowing their music is what I love most about music and this gig reminded me of that.

If you didn’t get to see Kelsea on this trip, fear not because luckily for us she will be back in the UK this October where she’ll be opening for Lady Antebellum on their “You Look Good World Tour”. So if you haven’t already got tickets for that, make sure you do by purchasing tickets here.

You can also download “The First Time” from iTunes, and we cannot wait to hear album number two!

Thank you to Jamie-Lee Bassingthwaighthe for allowing us to use his gig photos.

Set List:

  • Yeah Boy
  • Looking at Stars
  • Square Pegs
  • Dibs
  • Stilettos
  • Roses
  • High School
  • Sirens
  • We Were Like/Girl Crush/Blue Ain’t Your Color/I Hate Love Songs
  • Peter Pan
  • Xo
  • First Time
  • Love Me Like You Mean It

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News: CMT Music Awards 2017 – Nominations Revealed


It barely feels like five minutes since it was June of 2016 but it’s that time of year again where fans and artists are gearing up for what is said to be the ultimate week for country music fans, CMA Fest and with that comes the CMT Awards. This year hosted by Nashville star Charles Esten and with a venue change due to the success of the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup, it will definitely be a fun filled event.

Today, the nominees were announced by Brett Eldredge and they are as follows;

Video of the Year

  • “Forever Country” – Artists of Then, Now & Forever
  • “Today” – Brad Paisley
  • “Wanna Be That Song” – Brett Eldredge
  • “Church Bells” – Carrie Underwood
  • “Middle of a Memory” – Cole Swindell
  • “Different for Girls” – Dierks Bentley & Elle King
  • “H.O.L.Y” – Florida Georgia Line
  • “Dirt on My Boots” – Jon Pardi
  • “Blue Ain’t Your Color” – Keith Urban
  • “Peter Pan” – Kelsea Ballerini
  • “Better Man” – Little Big Town
  • “Huntin’, Fishin’, and Lovin’ Every Day” – Luke Bryan
  • “Vice” – Miranda Lambert
  • “Star of the Show” – Thomas Rhett

Male Video of The Year

  • “Came Here to Forget” – Blake Shelton
  • “Record Year” – Eric Church
  • “Lights Come On” – Jason Aldean
  • “Blue Ain’t Your Colour” – Keith Urban
  • “Huntin’, Fishin’ and Lovin’ Every Day” – Luke Bryan
  • “Star of the Show” – Thomas Rhrett

Female Video of the Year

  • “Church Bells” – Carrie Underwood
  • “Peter Pan” – Kelsea Ballerini
  • “Road Less Traveled” – Lauren Alaina
  • “80’s Mercedes” – Maren Morris
  • “Vice” – Miranda Lambert
  • “Back to God” – Reba McEntire

Duo of the Year

  • “Lovin’ Lately” – Big & Rich Feat. Tim McGraw
  • “21 Summer” – Brothers Osborne
  • “How Not To” – Dan & Shay
  • “H.O.L.Y” – Florida Georgia Line
  • “I Know Somebody” – LoCash

Group Video of the Year

  • “Saltwater Gospel” – Eli Young Band
  • “You Look Good” – Lady Antebellum
  • “Better Man” – Little Big Town
  • “Drinkin’ Problem” – Midland
  • “Song for Another Time” – Old Dominion

 Breakthrough Artist Video of the Year

  • “In Case You Didn’t Know” – Brett Young
  • “Dirt on My Boots” – Jon Pardi
  • “Used to Love You Sober” – Kane Brown
  • “Road Less Traveled” – Lauren Alaina
  • “Hurricane” – Luke Combs
  • “Love Triangle” – Raelynn

Collaborative Video of the Year

  • “Forever Country” – Artists of Then, Now & Forever
  • “Sober Saturday Night” – Chris Young Feat. Vince Gill
  • “Different for Girls” – Dierks Bentley Feat. Elle King
  • “May We All” – Florida Georgia Line Feat. Tim McGraw
  • “The Fighter” – Keith Urban Feat. Carrie Underwood
  • “Setting the World on Fire” – Kenny Chesney With Pink

CMT Performance of the Year

  • “Hicktown” – Jason Aldean (From CMT Concert of the Summer)
  • “Want to Want Me” – Jason Derulo and Luke Bryan (From CMT Crossroads)
  • “Pink Houses” – John Mellencamp and Darius Rucker (From CMT Crossroads)
  • “80’s Mercedes” – Alicia Keys and Maren Morris (From CMT Crossroads)
  • “You’re Still the One/Any Man of Mine/Man I Feel Like a Woman” – Meghan Trainor, Jill Scott and Kelsea Ballerini (From CMT Artists of the Year)
  • “Close” – Nick Jonas and Thomas Rhett (From CMT Crossroads)

CMT Social Superstar

  • Brett Eldredge
  • Jake Owen
  • Keith Urban
  • Kelsea Ballerini
  • Lauren Alaina
  • Thomas Rhett

To vote for your 2017 CMT Social Superstar use the hashtag #CMTawards with the artist’s tag, #VoteBrett #VoteJake, #VoteKeith, #VoteKelsea, #VoteLauren, #VoteThomas. You can vote 10 times per valid Twitter or Instagram account up until June 6th, then up to 50 votes on June 7th. To vote for any other category, go to

Make sure you watch this years CMT Awards live from Nashville, June 7th and check out our Twitter account @CCountryUK where we will be live tweeting.

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