Part II of our look at the top ten country albums of 2006.
Perhaps the most difficult way to make a really superlativecommercial country
album is to play by all the rules, and just do it better than everyone else. The lift here comes from smart songwriting and fromPeck's voice
, a forceful instrument that getsmore powerful
the more gently she applies it. If Peck fails to become abig star
, it will be for extramusical reasons:She's far too sexy
—not "pretty" like Faith Hill, butsweet-merciful-Jesus-I'd-tap-that-without-a-warrant hot
—for country's predominantly older female demographic.
Worley was tagged as aToby Keith wannabe
after"Have You Forgotten?"
(a bold riposte to the ... uh, approximatelyzero Americans
who didn't wantOsama bin Laden obliterated
) rode the conflation ofSept. 11
and the Iraq war to the top of the chart inspring 2003
, just as the Dixie Chicks were gettingDixie Chicked
. "Forgotten" aside, Worley is actually a thoughtful singer-songwriter with a flair fornaked emotion
andan eye for detail
.Newly free of both his major-label deal and his marriage
, his latest is aholler of liberated glee
, the sound ofa man who can't wait to get into trouble
. Sealing the deal is"I Just Got Back from a War,"
about an American soldier's anger and confusion at not being greeted as a liberator. It's bleak and daring, and Keith wouldn't touch it with a10-foot flag.
Nashville tried, and failed, to get in on theteen-pop extravaganza
of a few years ago. Now that Britney is a divorcee with two kids, it finally succeeds with this16-year-old wunderkind
. Swift neither plays for cuteness, nor poses asjailbait
; she simply uses her native intelligence to express clearly to anyone who will listen her hopes for the future, hergrowing worldliness
and her dawning awareness thatboys may be more trouble than they're worth.
Thebig-voiced, calamari-hating Pickler
finished sixth on the latest season ofAmerican Idol
, which in Nashville narrowcasting terms is a dream marketing setup. Add the right collaborators (likesongwriter Aimee Mayo and producer Blake Chancey
), and you wind up with anunvarnished pop-country jewel
featuring asurprisingly confident headliner
who'snot as dumb as you think
brought sexy back to pop in 2006 (or at least announced that intention), but country apparently wasn't ready for the same. Everett's slyly insinuating singles"That's the Kind of Love I'm In"
(as in, things he wants to do to you, sweet thing) barely dented the charts, andhis album was quietly dumped into stores
. Everettlost his deal in a merger
and by July wasranting about "the dumbing down and homogenization of our culture" on his MySpace page
. You know what that means:A great screw-the-music-business album is brewing somewhere
.Good luck finding a rhyme for "homogenization
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," but I'm sure someone in Music City can swing it. -CHRIS NEAL
For Part I of this article, see yesterday's blog.
What do you think? Are these the top ten country music albums of 2006 or did we miss something? Tell us what you think - just leave a note in the comment section below. Thanks!