There is no voice who can shatter mountains and make you weep in the same verse as Alison Krauss'. Between her solo work (including her exquisite covers album Windy City) and collaboration with Union Station, she has tremendously shifted the country landscape, as well as that of bluegrass, through the years. Her voice is unmistakable and her musicianship is equally as marvelous. Her debut album Too Late to Cry (on Rounder Records) arrived exactly 30 years ago this year. One Country takes a look back at her extensive songbook to curate her 10 finest moments.
10 Best Songs from Allison Krauss:
"Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us" (from 2007's Raising Sand with Robert Plant)
Drenched in a smoky cloud of southern gothic-bent instrumentation, this might be Krauss' most haunting vocal performance ever. A wall of OOOs and AHHs make it especially sinister. This is just one of many reasons the collaborative album won the GRAMMY for Album of the Year in 2008.
"All Alone Am I" (from 2017's Windy City)
Taking on a Brenda Lee can be a risky move for most, but Krauss doesn't shy away from tackling on the 1963 classic. It's sweet but brims with anguish. It's polished but cracks underneath the emotional heft. It's mighty but vulnerable.
"When You Say Nothing At All" (from 1994's Keith Whitley: A Tribute Album)
Probably her most well-known hit, this cover of Keith Whitley is timeless. Her vocal is so tender and nuanced, it can sweep you off your feet. While her rendition is a bit more mainstream in texture, her performance far exceeds those bounds.
"Whiskey Lullaby" (from Brad Paisley's 2003 album Mud on the Tires)
No one can possibly forget this sorrowful and devastating story of infidelity, redemption and pain. Paisley's deep baritone is a satisfying balance to Krauss' more ghostly skills here. If you don't truly weep after listening to this, you might need to see a doctor.
"Down to the River to Pray" (from the 2000 Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack)
Backed by only an angelic choir, there's no better Krauss than a practically a cappella Krauss. She weaves her voice between country's gospel roots and southern blues with ease, inviting you to, well, come down to the river to be baptized. Stunning moment, really.
"Stay" (from 1999's Forget About It)
Wrapped in a lovely nostalgic blanket, she meets up with an old flame and reflects on the passage of time and their formerly close-knit relationship. "Love has taken you far from my heart," she states. Later, "But you sail away far than a summer's day."
"Longest Highway" (from 1990's I've Got That Old Feeling)
Krauss' 1990 studio album was important for several reasons, most of all for its accomplished blend of bluegrass, country and pop. The closing track was one (of many) examples of her sharp-shooting talents. Her musicianship was already there, with her feathery but potent vocal coming into its own.
"Dusty Miller" (from 1987's Too Late to Cry)
Given her long-string of records which followed her impressive debut, Too Late to Cry often gets overlooked. But it made its mark on bluegrass and it was clear a trailblazer was just beginning to unfold. She was only 14 at the time, but she bested even the greats with her succinct and passionate playing and a voice which was wise beyond her years. "Dusty Miller" is an instrumental staple that has never lost its luster.
"Paper Airplane" (from 2011's Paper Airplane)
Coming off the massive success of Raising Sand, Krauss reunited with Union Station for a record spun around melancholy themes of struggle, turmoil and ultimately finding a resolve to soldier on. The title track opens the set with one of her most alluring and layered vocals.
"Daylight" (from 2001's New Favorite)
Less than a year after the huge blockbuster film O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Krauss keeps one foot planted in that same grainy, Americana thinking and the other in progressive pop, seeped in their signature guitar, fiddle, banjo plucking. The call and response of "Daylight" is one of the band's most interesting moments. There is a lovely juxtaposition of the arrangement's darkness and Krauss' light vocal.
Since they released their self-titled debut album in 2002, Little Big Town has continued to hit their stride time and time again. When you think they've earned their last big hit, they come back even stronger. From The Road to Here in 2005 to 2012's defining Tornado and their most recent record, 2017's The Breaker, the harmonious four-piece push boundaries but remain true to country's ethos. With such a massive hit in 2016 with "Better Man," the stage was set for an even more intriguing chapter. One Country takes a look back at their incredibly impressive catalog for their best songs of all time. There are hits, sure, but some of their best work is nestled as deep cuts.
10 Best Songs From Little Big Town:
"Beat Up Bible" (from 2017's The Breaker)
Kimberly Schlapman really can sell a ballad like no other. Focused on the importance of faith, and, most importantly, the Bible, she reflects on the passage of time, death and how to cope. It's one of the group's most visceral moments...ever. "All you gotta do is just believe...in this beat-up Bible," she whispers.
"Wounded" (from 2005's The Road to Here)
Before the band really began pushing the stylistic boundaries on later albums, their early work was bluegrass-inspired, with plenty of steel guitar and banjo. "I'm wounded, all tore up inside over you," the four-piece lament, juxtaposed against the high-powered plucking and jovial melody.
"Sober" (from 2012's Tornado)
Terrestrial radio can be rather disappointing. Case in point: this smoldering mid-tempo did not go No. 1. How and why is an utter mystery. The quartet compare love to the high of alcohol, and it's magical.
"Shut Up Train" (from 2010's The Reason Why)
As the title suggests, the song unravels the story of an overbearing locomotive disrupting her thoughts. In the aftermath of a breakup, Karen Fairchild wallows in her sorrow over one lone acoustic guitar, but she can't seem to get her feelings in order. "I don't need no more pain, so, shut up, train," she coos.
"Evangeline" (from 2007's A Place to Land)
The group details a harrowing story of verbal abuse, which, they warn, can be just as damaging as physical. They plead with a woman named Evangeline that "it ain't love" and that "he won't lay a finger on you / he won't wreck your pretty face / but hell tell you that your worthless, just to put you in your place." Probably one of their most underrated recordings.
"Tornado" (from 2012's Tornado)
With evident southern-gothic inspiration, particularly in the witchy music video, the song is heavy on the percussion and the metaphors. Fairchild compares herself to the unrelenting force of nature, that of a tornado and it's power to lift a house from its foundation and ability to "toss it in the air."
"Stay" (from 2005's The Road to Here)
The track was originally recorded for their 2002 self-titled debut, but they revisited it on their follow-up. They've stripped away the pop-country production for a earthier rendition. Schlapman once again takes the lead vocal, and they offer up some of their most satisfying harmonies ever.
"Little White Church" (from 2010's The Reason Why)
A strong woman gives her suitor an ultimatum: "you can't ride this gravy chain," "no more calling me baby," "no more lovin' like crazy" until we get married. From the swinging bluegrass-lean to the killer guitar solo, this remains one of LBT's best toe-tappers. "Momma warned me about your game," Fairchild later avows.
"Bones" (from 2005's The Road to Here)
From the swampy guitar playing to the feverish lead vocals, this mid-tempo rattles with the past--lurking in the shadows and "waiting til the sun to go down." Most of the song is sung in unison, with harmonies sprinkled throughout, but the charm lies in the mood they create.
"Silver and Gold" (from 2014's Pain Killer)
LBT's sixth studio album is, perhaps, their most musically-adventurous. They dabble in harder southern rock and adult contemporary pop than they had previously done. The bookend "Silver and Gold" is an atmospheric send-off; their gliding harmonies are among their finest here, creating a mood to encompass the entire journey--rather than having an explosive ending.
Despite a slew of big hits, Little Big Town has never forgotten their roots. "I'm proud of where I came from," they sing on their classic "Boondocks" track. Their delicious harmonies are unmistakably groundbreaking, harkening to the days of The Carter Family. They pour their hearts and their talents out on every song they record, so it's no wonder they've broken out in big ways the past 5 years. Through numerous studio albums, they've delighted fans with their understanding of the past and how to best serve country music in the long run. Their live shows are even more mesmerizing. Don't believe us?
10 Best Performances From Little Big Town:
"Boondocks" (2014 Grand Ole Opry Induction)
There's nothing quite as satisfying as this group's harmonies--and Jimi Westbrook's soulful and burning lead vocal. During their Oct. 2014 induction into the Grande Ole Opry, the quartet ripped into this standout from 2005's The Road to Here LP. It's familiar but they somehow make each and every performance a classic one.
"Independence Day" (2011 ACM "Girls Night Out")
Perhaps Martina McBride's defining hit, the band stripped down the sweeping production for a harrowing, emotional moment during the 2011 ACM event celebrating pivotal female artists. With Westbrook taking the lead here, the song takes on a whole new meaning. It'll send chills down your spine, that's for sure.
"Stay" (2008 at KASE Sprint Music Lounge)
LBT knows their way around a damn good ballad. Left to their own devices, they'll blow you away. Acoustic is when they shine the brightest, as they do here in this intimate setting. The song is featured on their 2002 eponymous debut, and later re-recorded for 2005's The Road to Here.
"Sober" (2013 concert stop in Knoxville, TN)
How this absolute chill-inducing song didn't become the biggest hit of 2013 is one of life's many mysteries. Kimberly Schlapman's vocal is feathery, ethereal and utterly magnetizing. We could have easily picked from hundreds of performances of this song, but there's something magical about this one.
"Fix You" (2011 Justice Through Music benefit concert)
Few can cover this Coldplay song and do it well. You don't have anything to worry about with LBT at the helm. The dress the longing and ache up with their bittersweet harmonies, backed by only two guitars. One of their most stunning moments.
"Your Side of the Bed" (2013 ACM Awards)
Even without acrobats twirling in the air, this performance would have been mighty on its own. But the elaborate staging added a sense of urgency and intimacy to the production. Westbrook and Karen Fairchild trade off lead vocals on the verses, with Schlapman and Philip Sweet support with unbelievable harmonies. One of the band's most criminally underrated songs. [Watch here]
"Girl Crush" (2015 Front & Center)
In all honesty, you'll be hard pressed to find an LBT performance that isn't good. So, narrowing down to just one "Girl Crush" performance was difficult, to say the least. But this moment also includes the Love Junkies (Liz Rose, Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna) as background singers and who take the lead on some lyrical highlights.
"Better Man" (2016 CMA Awards)
LBT is killing it the past few years. Coming off the massive success of "Girl Crush," they hit on all cylinders with this Taylor Swift-penned ballad about yearning a former lover could have been a better person. Fairchild is a marvel when she takes the lead, and this might be one of her finest onstage moments.
"Born This Way" (2011 on "Rosie")
LBT shows how easy it is to flip a boisterous Lady Gaga pop anthem into a honky tonk, bluegrass ditty. With a full band to support them, they go full-steam ahead on this groove-based reinvention about empowerment and living as yourself.
"The Reason Why" (2010 "Good Morning America")
Even getting up in the wee hours of the morning can't slow down the vocal train of LBT. Absolutely unstoppable.
The influence of Wanderlust is inherently subtle on the Little Big Town's eighth studio album. The Pharrell Williams-produced pop record drew upon tropical house, psychedelia and a dash of Justin Bieber schooling of Top 40. As soon as it dropped last summer, all promotion vanished-- the tragicness of such an immersive pop record falling by the wayside is among many of 2016's alarming miscalculations. But, The Breaker is just as sunny a modern country record as you could imagine; in many ways, it is a return to Little Big Town's granular roots, as they forge a dalliance with Red-era Taylor Swift on "Better Man" and throbbing '60s funk with the feel-good opener "Happy People." They comb moody atmospheres, too, as you'll find on the glossy "Lost in California" and "Don't Die Young, Don't Get Old," a new wave-influenced slow-jam.
With producer and long-time collaborator Jay Joyce (Eric Church) returning to the helm, the album is polished but lit with the band's inescapable harmonies and feverish understanding of determined melodies. "Night on Our Side," "Drivin' Around" and "Rollin'" are among their most high-escape recordings, steeped in heavy classic rock undertones and a redefinition of their uptempo template. They are rollicking and fun and youthful on much of the album's 12 tracks.
But then they toss in a 1-2 emotional punch later on the record--the moments are so undeniable, you can't help but stop in your tracks. "Beat Up Bible" is one of their most searing career songs, rich with Kimberly Schlapman's charming but raw lead vocal. Her delivery pours from her soul, as she reflects on the significance of her faith to get her through life's most troubling times, most of all: death. Then, Jimi Westbrook takes the lead on "When Someone Stops Loving You," a potent heartbreak song which touches on all the essential experiences: sorrow, pain, anger and release. "When someone stops loving you, it don't make the evening news," he wails. "It don't keep the sun from rising, the clock from winding, your heart from beating...even when you want it to..."
The Breaker is polished down but resembles a band coming to terms with what it means to be progressive but hold onto country's roots in 2017. Already making a bid for one of the year's best mainstream country records, it's poppy and breezy but not without a spiritual and quite affecting life line. It's a roller coaster, for sure, which zips through the sky at a blood-curdling rate and gives the listener little room to process it all.
Must-Listen Tracks: "Beat Up Bible," "When Someone Stops Loving You," "We Went to the Beach," "Happy People"
Grade: 4.7 out of 5
Believe it or not, it has been 12 years since Carrie Underwood took the "American Idol" crown. Through five studio albums and one greatest hits compilation, she has blazed her way from a shy girl from Checotah, Oklahoma to one of the biggest superstars on the planet. Last fall, she headlined the prestigious Madison Square Garden to a sold-out crowd, further cementing her place as one of country music's greatest assets. Her continued radio success is the exception, not the rule--out of 20 (plus) singles shipped to radio, they have all peaked within the Top 3 on either Mediabase or Billboard's Country Airplay scorecard. Her most enduring hits include "Jesus Take the Wheel," "Before He Cheats," "Cowboy Casanova," "Blown Away" and "Something in the Water," among others. But often times, her deep cuts are far riskier and musically-ambitious; just take a listen to 2015's Storyteller LP. On her fifth studio album, she explores Delta Blues, Patti Page-bent pop, alt-country and the signature sounds of her songbook.
10 Best Deep Cuts From Carrie Underwood:
10. "Do You Think About Me" (from 2012's Blown Away)
Underwood rarely sings a song as sweet. It's one of her most subdued vocals. She lets the plucky melody guide her, as she reflects on a past flame and if he thinks about her, too, and what could have been. Given her penchant for glory notes, this was a lovely change of pace on an otherwise dramatic record.
9. "Get Out of This Town" (from 2007's Carnival Ride)
Being wild and free is not problem for Underwood, who packs up her entire life and plans to run away into the dead of night. "Let's get out of this town tonight, nothing but dust in the shadows," she wails. "Gone by morning light. Somewhere we won't never get caught, never be found." It's that feeling of escapism that's universally felt; we've all wanted to get away from our lives, if even for a day.
8. "What Can I Say," featuring Sons of Sylvia (from 2009's Play On)
In the aftermath of a relationship, Underwood plays a call-and-response with Sons of Sylvia frontman Ashley Clark (who has since pursued a solo career). They both consider the pain they've caused each other, not pointing fingers but wishing it had ended differently. The production is soft rock with a hint of classic Underwood pop. This could have been such a huge hit at radio.
7. "Someday When I Stop Loving You" (from 2009's Play On)
The powerhouse can pretty much pull off any genre. But when she goes traditional, she truly shines. Touching upon such influences here as Alan Jackson, she pulls back the reigns for one of her most restrained recordings. From the howl of steel guitar and the pitter-patter of percussion, the song creates such a special moment.
6. "Starts with Goodbye" (from 2005's Some Hearts)
Coming off "Idol," Underwood had established a pretty diverse fan base, including plenty of pop fans. When listening to her debut album, there is a country half and a pop half. On many of the songs, she delights in production those pop fans would enjoy the most, even on the searing ballads. This cut frames her vocals in the best way possible, and the arrangement never seems cluttered.
5. "Relapse" (from 2015's Storyteller)
Underwood finds herself caving into her craving for a former lover. "Don't think I'm coming back, it's just a relapse," she attests. While her and her lover do have a storied past, she's not above getting a quick fix. The heavy pop production conjures up '80s influences, with pounding drums and very few country inflections (except for her inescapable twang, of course).
4. "I Know You Won't" (from 2007's Carnival Ride)
Lyrically, it's rather mundane and repetitive, but Underwood's otherworldly voice really sells it. For fans who adore her ability to hit the stratosphere, this song is one power note after another. The vocal acrobatics are a perfect fit for the song's sorrowful message.
3. "Like I'll Never Love You Again" (from 2015's Storyteller)
Tapping into the magical era of the Nashville Sound--ripping a page out of the Patsy Cline playbook--Underwood also tips her hat to Patti Page, who crossed over into country with "The Tennessee Waltz." It contains a hazy, magical feel and paints a rather vivid portrait of love. It's quite different than most of what Underwood has explored in her career, and she would be wise to push the envelope even further.
2. "Wine After Whiskey" (from 2012's Blown Away)
Featuring a smokey guitar line and noticeable stripped production, Underwood's gritty portrayal of heartache is magnetizing. It's one of the closest moments she's gotten to infusing alt-country influences into her work. There's a lonesomeness in the arrangement which serves as atmospheric pressure to the story. Again, how this did not see the light of day at radio is such a travesty.
1. "Choctaw County Affair" (from 2015's Storyteller)
Sometimes it feels like "The Twilight Zone" when such excellent work as this misses out on a radio release. It would certainly be a gamble, possibly jeopardizing her winning streak. Reportedly, Underwood's Storyteller is finished, ending with her latest No. 1 hit "Dirty Laundry." Written by Jason White (also the writer behind Tim McGraw's "Red Ragtop"), "Choctaw" is the best thing Underwood has ever recorded. Tragically, it only got one TV performance on "CMA Music Festival: Country's Night to Rock" last summer.
Martina McBride is one of the greatest voices in all of country music history. From the first note she sings in every song, her tone vibrates across the dashboard and into the eardrums; there's no mistaking her for anyone else. Throughout her impressive career, she has permeated the airwaves with empowering inspirational ballads and toe-tapping uptempo numbers--radio might have long abandoned her, but she continues proving her mettle. Her 2016 Reckless album saw the singer return to her storytelling roots with one of her finest collections in a number of years.
To celebrate her career, One Country takes a look back and curates her greatest performances of all time. Read on for our picks. Did your favorite moment make the cut?
10 Greatest Performances From Martina McBride:
"Independence Day" (1995 TNN/MCN Awards)
The song which never hit the Top 10 at country radio is McBride's most enduring classic. It's harrowing topic was controversial at the time and led the way for women to feel empowered to reclaim their lives.
"Where Would You Be" (2001 Radio Music Awards)
Yep. She can shatter mountains and bring you to your knees--this is easily within her top three performances of all-time. Excuse the muted audio.
"Whatever You Say" (1999 ACM Awards)
As the defining power-note belter of the '90s and early '00s, McBride shows the full color of her voice on this sweeping mid-tempo ballad. This performance should be enough to send chills down your spine.
"Anyway" (2007 CMT Music Awards)
McBride's sweet spot for inspirational gemstones reaches unbelievable new heights on this standout performance. Beginning with just a piano tinkling in the background, the singer digs her voice into one of the biggest hits of her career. When the band kicks in, she takes the entire crowd in the palm of her hand.
"A Broken Wing" ("CMA 40th Anniversary Celebration: Country Music's Biggest Homecoming," 1998)
When McBride was on her A-game, she hit it out of the park. This is a case of a talent singer shaking the earth to its core and sending up a heartfelt prayer to heaven's gate. Perhaps her greatest performance ever.
"Does He Love You?," Reba & Linda Davis Cover featuring Kelly Clarkson (2006 "CMT Giants")
What voice could possibly match the strength of McBride's? Kelly Clarkson, of course. The tender, forlorn ballad is an appropriate showcase of both singers abilities to dig into real human emotions and soar higher than the clouds. Stunning.
"I'm Gonna Love You Through It" (2011 "Late Night with David Letterman")
McBride's message songs helped define her as one of the best modern-day storytellers. This song about the ugly c(ancer) word reminded the country crowd exactly why she has such an enduring legacy. Stunning, really.
"I Never Promised You a Rose Garden," with Lynn Anderson (2005 Grand Ole Opry)
Not many people can match the sweetness of this Lynn Anderson standard, but McBride certainly exceeds expectations. What's even better? Turning the song into a duet!
"Stand By Your Man," Tammy Wynette cover (2003 "CMT 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music" concert)
Subject matter aside, McBride can tackle pretty much any song in the country pantheon, including classic Wynette. She builds the song with an appropriate amount of tenderness and bravado, reaching the climax power note with relish and ease.
"Concrete Angel" (2003 Grammy Awards)
One of the biggest stages on the planet became a platform for sending a powerful message. McBride's songbook is peppered with stories of abuse, but this one focuses on a young girl who is trapped by fate and ultimately pays the price. The sheer emotion in this performance is enough to crush any heart.
Honorable Mention: Some say, she's lost her voice, but evidence--like this sterling performance of "My Baby Loves Me" on her 2016 tour--begs to differ.
Genre-bender Sam Hunt took our time with his 2014 debut album, Montevallo, and we have not looked back. "Not country" labels aside, there's a reason Hunt has connected to so well to his fans-- he is as real as you might imagine and is unashamed of that fact. As he readies his long-awaited follow-up, sampled by the "Drinkin' Too Much" teaser track and the official "Body Like a Backroad" single release, One Country revisits his debut LP and his acoustic Between the Pines mixtape, which also includes songs he has written for other country superstars.
6 Best Songs From Sam Hunt (So Far):
"Take Your Time"
The single we couldn't get out of our heads just had to make this list. It's a perfect mix of the country boy swagger and the R&B-bent that peppers much of Hunt's work. Here, the song works to cement him as a bit progressive and daring in his field.
Recorded by Keith Urban, the song became a moderate hit for the Aussie, but it is Hunt's original version that is far more convincing. A romantic rendezvous on a backroad and getting arrested by the police? Doesn't seem like something Urban would ever done in his life--but Hunt? Totally believable.
There is something just plain cool and mysterious about this deep cut found on his acoustic mixtape. The melody is rugged, as if lifted from the wild, wild west. Undeniable.
From the wailing production in the intro to the acoustic-tilt to the verses, this stands as one of Hunt's best moments. The breakdown in the chorus is fast 'n furious and irresistibly provocative.
"Ex to See"
Gotta admit: the play on words--comparing a lover, who is more concerned with being seen by her ex than living in the moment, to the high of a psychoactive drug--is clever. And the way Hunt delivers the playful but brash lyric is charming and unapologetic.
A song Hunt co-wrote with two of Nashville's mightiest songwriters, Shane McAnally and Josh Osborne, sees one of Hunt's most compelling vocals. Kenny Chesney earned a hit single with it, but there's something more interesting when Hunt sings it. Underneath his typically-thick and poppy production on his debut album, there is a voice that is not heard or appreciated. But on his acoustic mixtape, he allows himself to prove his chops. Sure, he's not an Andrea Bocelli, but he can hold his own.
It took 5 years and some months, but Lauren Alaina's sophomore album is finally here.
During her time away from the spotlight, she focused on her craft and developed quite an impressive voice. Songs like "Same Day Different Bottle" and "Doin' Fine" prove she has something important and necessary to say, and she now knows how to use her talents to great effect.
The new record, aptly named Road Less Traveled, features heavy themes about alcoholism, pain and navigating the music business -- but the record doesn't skimp on the youthful glow suitable to her age.
10 Best Performances From Lauren Alaina:
1. "Candle in the Wind" // 2011 "American Idol"
During her run on the now-defunct singing competition, Alaina showed tremendous promise. This rendering of the Elton John classic stands as one of her most compelling and nuanced performances, leading to quite an impressive post-show career.
2. "Same Day Different Bottle" // 2013 "CMT Next Women of Country"
Alaina has always been a fine singer, but she finally has material to match her vocal talents. This autobiographical tune about her father's struggle with alcoholism is the kind of work that builds legacies. She first debuted the song way back in 2013 -- and we finally have an official recording on her new LP.
3. "Always on My Mind," // 2011, PBS's "Country Music: In Performance at the White House"
Traditional country music is Alaina's sweet spot. Joined by one of country's mainstays, the young singer pulled out all the stops for one of her sweetest vocals. Stunning, really.
4. "Doin' Fine" // 98.7 The Bull, 2016
In promotion of her second album, Alaina has been visiting and performing at a lot of radio stations. The first track on her new record is one of the singer's most impressive songs of her career. Drawing from her personal life, she wasn't afraid to get brutally honest.
"Daddy got sober. Momma got his best friend. I've cut down crying to every other weekend," she attests.
5. "Maybe It Was Memphis" // 2011 "American Idol"
Chosen by her idol and fellow show alum Carrie Underwood, this Tillis song fit Alaina like a glove. It was exuberant and youthful and had enough lyrical oomph for the budding singer.
6. "Walkaway Joe" // 2012 Concert
There's a clear Trisha Yearwood influence you can detect in the way Alaina has learned to craft a lyric, and her approach to phrasing. Both singers have similar textures to their voice, often thick like caramel but with a whole lot of power. This contemporary classic was made for Alaina.
7. "Road Less Traveled" // 2016 CMA Fest
Alaina's first-ever top 15 hit sounds best in an acoustic setting. The recording's production is a bit heavy-handed, but in its purest form, it packs a punch.
8. "Three" // The Listening Room, 2017
One of her album's deep cuts speaks to the struggle of balancing rising stardom (and wanting "three minutes on the radio") with her personal life. Backed with only a guitar, she allows the music to do the talking. And boy, does it.
9. "The Locket" // 2013 The Bing Lounge
Her Wildflower debut album did show the singer's potential on cuts such as this, a powerful story-song about a couple who is pulled into the fight of their life. She sings her heart out and the rawness in her voice is powerful.
10. "When You Say Nothing at All" // 2011 "American Idol" Summer Tour
Boy, oh boy. Can you name two other mainstream up-and-comers as good as these two? There's a reason they were Season's 10 top two, and this performance displays their knack for traditional-bent material. And they do it extremely well.
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