Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Nashville: On the Record: Media Mondays (1)

The first point I would like to make, totally unrelated to the review itself, is that Media Mondays will usually be posted on Mondays, but during the entire month of May, I have blog tours on Mondays. Go figure! Normally, I will be posting these on Wednesday, and it looks like this may be true for June as well because I have more blog tours on Mondays.

The second point I would like to bring up, is that your very first Media Mondays is special because this is a review of both the television special as well as the CD which was recorded straight from the special.

The second and a half point I would like to bring up is that it has taken me five months to finally have an 'official' book review format, and I will be acting like a fish out of water with television and music until I find my bearings. 

Where do I even begin with Nashville: On the Record? 

There is a reason I have been a faithful #Nashie since Season 1; Episode 1. The first reason? It is a freaking incredible show with freaking incredible country music. Besides the nonstop drama, intrigue, and the occasional scandal, the icing on the cake is the truly phenomenal music. Now, if your'e thinking, "Country music? Why the heck would I want to listen to that?" I am here to tell you that Nashville's music, while 80% of the time, country, has at least one song for everybody. I could go on and on about how it's shot in Nashville, the cast is awesome, and the twists and turns are better than the Silver Bullet at Knotts Berry Farm, but I will now transition into my full freak out mode when I found out there would be an hour TV special for the show.

I already watch the show devotedly, add the songs to my Spotify playlist the second their uploaded, and watch that On the Record clips constantly. This special was a dream come true for a #Nashie like myself. One would expect that this kind of thing would stink because the actors obviously lip sync on the actual show and one would think that it is all autotune. I am here to tell you, and will even go "Yellin from the Rooftops" (if you catch my drift).... One would be wrong! The actors of Nashville can sing, and when I say that, I mean really SING. 

Another part of the live television special even better than it already is was the fact that we got the story behind the song, and the songwriters themselves sang with the artists on stage. I absolutely adored hearing how the song -that I have had on repeat so much, my mom is probably sick of it- came to be. I learned how the run through of "If I Didn't Know Better" with Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen was the first time the two ever met. I learned that Hayden Panettiere had never sang live before that night. And I also learned how songs can be perceived different, such as "Black Roses" which was written for a romantic relationship between two people, and then evolved to Scarlett and her mother.

*Quick plug, the entire 45 minute special is currently free on iTunes, so you should really get it because of how beautiful it is*

Rating: 9.5/10Artists: The Cast of the ABC Drama NashvilleGenre: Country
Release Date: April 22, 2014
Track Count: 10
Format: Digital Album
Source: Spotify

Track Listing

1. It's On Tonight: Charles Esten ~ Deacon Claybourne. Chris Carmack ~ Will Lexington. Will Chase ~ Luke Wheeler

2. If I Didn't Know Better: Clare Bowen ~ Scarlett O'Connor. Sam Palladio ~ Gunnar Scott

3. I Ain't Leavin Without Your Love: Chaley Rose ~ Zoey Dalton. Jonathan Jackson ~ Avery Barkley. Sam Palladio ~ Gunnar Scott. Striking Matches

4. Nothing In This World Will Ever Break My Heart Again: Hayden Panettiere ~ Juliette Barnes. Kate York. Sarah Buxton

5. This Town: Charles Esten ~ Deacon Claybourne. Clare Bowen ~ Scarlett O'Connor. Andrew Rollins. Cory Mayo.  Jaida Dreyer 

6. Don't Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet: Hayden Panettiere ~ Juliette Barnes. Caitlyn Smith. Trent Dabbs

7. Black Roses: Clare Bowen ~ Scarlett O'Connor. Lucy Shwartz

8. A Life That's Good: Ensemble Cast

9. Tell Me: Aubrey Peeples ~ Layla Grant. Andrew Rollins. Cory Mayo.  Jaida Dreyer. Jody Stevens 

10. Believing: Charles Esten ~ Deacon Claybourne. Kate York

I only had two issues with this album that have nothing to do with the singing itself. The first was that the last two songs, 'Tell Me" and "Believing" weren't on the 45 minute television special, at the end, the ominous voice at the end said more content was on the website, but I haven't headed over there yet. I just really wished that I had gotten to see two of by favorite songs live. Anyway, my second issue is that Connie Britton (Rayna James) and the Stella Sisters (Daphne & Maddie) weren't on the special because those two girls -ages 10 and 14- have truly astounding voices, and I have seen them sing live on YouTube and they were so good. My mom even thought they were in their 20s because of the maturity in their voices. There also could have been some really good songs featured like "This Time", "Wrong Song", and "The Best Songs Come From Broken Hearts" if Connie Britton had been there.

Besides all of that, I absolutely love this entire album. There were some songs that I had gotten used to recorded, but others were breathtaking. In fact, I didn't have a single problem or song I didn't like on the entire album. 

*I will be trying out this format for reviews of albums, but it will definitely change in the near future*

It's On Tonight 6/10: I personally never loved this song in the first place when I saw it on the show just because it sounded too much like the generic 'guy' country sound that has been taking over the airwaves and quality country music. It has also been one of the show's biggest hits because it's a good ole country song that brings people to their feet with generic 'guy' country lyrics about beer and girls, similar to Luke Bryan. Nevertheless, the unlikely trio -Charles, Chris, and Will- sang it almost impeccably and I wouldn't have known it was live if there wasn't the audience's wild applause. 

If I Didn't Know Better 8/10: One of the points brought up when the supervisor of the recording (I really need to learn terms) said he didn't even know if he could hear as high as Sam was supposed to sing. That was the one downside of the song because it is almost impossible to sing well live, and although Sam did the best he could, it was still borderline screechy. Clare's australian accent which gave the song its ethereal qualities also comes through a little in the song which worked really well on the recorded version, but not so much live.

I Ain't Leavin Without Your Love 8/10: This song has never been offered before as a single on iTunes, and therefore it hasn't been on Spotify either, this means I haven't had a real chance to dig my teeth into it and state an opinion. What I will say is that I never really liked the idea of the other trio as a band -Avery, Gunnar, and Zoey- for reasons having nothing to do with their voices, but their relationships in the show. I have to say that being exposed for the second time made me like this song a lot more.   

Nothing In This World Will Ever Break My Heart Again 8.5/10: Hayden did a really good job with this (really long, too much chorus) song, especially since it was her first time ever singing live. It also sounded remarkably like the recorded version.

This Town 9/10: Hands down, this is already one of my favorite songs on the show clearly because of Clare's phenomenal voice harmonized with Charles's. The lyrics are also so beautiful and meaningful for the particular scenes it spanned on the show, and the chemistry of those moments crossed over to the stage.

Don't Put Dirt On My Grave Just Yet 6.5/10: This is a hard song to sing. Any song that has such a rock influence, long, and powerful notes is hard to sing. Hayden did as good of a job as she could have, but at times she seemed a little out of breath and almost like she was getting over a cold at certain points. Her voices also fluctuated in parts that I didn't particularly enjoy, mainly because I think it was unlike the recorded version. My last point is that the balance between backup singers and her wasn't very well executed because it felt like they were there to help her sing rather than help the song sound better, and have their voices mesh with the singer. This is a problem I hear a lot with live versions of songs, but it just proves that singing live is real and raw.

Black Roses 10/10: How could anyone in their sane minds not love this song? I showed it to one of my friends (Let her hear it? What is the proper verb?) and she thought it was very depressing, but I still think it is one of the most gorgeous sounds my ears have ever heard. The narrative behind it is fantastic, and what Clare does at the end of the song that's not in the album is really sweet. She brings Lucy to the front of the stage, and gives her credit for everything.

A Life That's Good 10/10: This song feels like the definition of country music, especially with the entire cast joining together. The two songwriters, Charles, and Aubrey start us off, and by the end of it, the feeling of camaraderie is exuding off of people. It was a perfect finale for the show because of it's wholesome message about being appreciative for the things you have.

Tell Me 9/10: Aubrey is an amazing live singer. That's all that needs to be said.

Believing 9/10: Kate York, who sings with Charles Esten is actually the songwriter for this and it was so interesting to hear how they performed the song, because of the more mature vocals. Obviously, a 14 year old and a 30 something (sorry, Kate if that is totally off) year old are going to sound different, but I personally love both versions so much and am just thankful they included the song.

Conclusion: The cast of Nashville are phenomenal singers both live and in the recording studio, and the show has something for everyone, regardless of if you are a country fan or not. Each song has its very own narrative and story that the cast members execute and interpret beautifully.

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