John Grady recently handed Ashley Monroe a box filled with copies of her new album, "Like a Rose." He'd rushed out of the building and caught her in the parking lot. The arrival of the CDs was a milestone moment for the country singer-songwriter and her manager, the culmination of nearly a decade of work together.
Ashley Monroe, "Like a Rose" (Warner Bros.)
With Carrie Underwood, Miranda Lambert and Taylor Swift atop the list, look no further than the CMT Music Awards nominations for proof that country music's new favorite color is blond.
After dropping out of the public eye for the better part of a decade, Train came chugging back into the mainstream with "Hey Soul Sister," a monster hit that pumped new life into the band's career. "California 37" is Train's first collection of new material since that unlikely comeback.
Gillian Welch battled a monster case of writer's block during the creation of "The Harrow and the Harvest," an album that took eight years to finish.
If I want my country more authentic, that's because that's what urban aesthetes like. Real hillbillies when they turn on the radio don't want Miranda Lambert pretending she's on "Prairie Home Companion." Real hillbillies want Miranda Lambert as she is on her new album, "Four the Record," complete with echoey production, throbby anthemic vocal tics - and those drums. The point isn't that urban aesthetes are the real custodians of country music, or that the genre's core demographic has stabbed country in the back. Rather, the point is that pinning down country "authenticity" is like nailing Granny's gravy to the wall.
Miranda Lambert may be the new queen of country music, but she doesn't mind sharing the throne.