See You Tonight ★★★☆☆
In 2011, Scotty McCreery was fresh off a win on American Idol and eager to ingratiate himself with the moms and daughters who presumably propelled him to victory. The result, as heard on Clear as Day, was a comically innocent vision of teenage courtship in America: "We shared a Coca-Cola," he sang, "Sittin' on a log."
Two years later, McCreery, now 20, is a bona-fide country star, which means freedom — or enough of it anyway to choose one constituency or the other. And on See You Tonight, he aims for the daughters in a big way, putting his sturdy baritone to work in songs that propose hooking up in an impressive variety of settings, from his truck (Get Gone With You), to the beach (Feelin' It) to "up on top of Kill Devil Hill" (Now).
In I Don't Wanna Be Your Friend, one of five tunes he co-wrote, McCreery even corrects some nice-guy mistakes from his past. The boy next door has definitely left the building.
Mikael Wood, Los Angeles Times
Showin' My Roots ★★★★☆
Donna Ulisse is primarily a bluegrass singer-songwriter. And she's produced several outstanding albums of her own material. But Showin' My Roots, primarily an album of cover songs, just might be her best album yet.
It's not just covers. It's covers of songs by artists who have inspired her through the years, and that makes it a concept album.
Ulisse and her husband, Rick Stanley, a cousin of Carter and Ralph Stanley, wrote the opening and closing songs, which serve as book-ends to the collection.
Take This Hammer, a traditional song sung as a duet with Sam Bush, is a song Ulisse sang as a 3-year-old at a family barbecue. The Loretta Lynn classic Somebody Somewhere (Don't Know What He's Missing Tonight) is a song she sang early in her career.
Other songs include a couple of Stanley Brothers songs — How Mountain Girls Can Love and If That's the Way You Feel; Rodney Crowell's One Way Rider; Dolly Parton's In the Good Old Days When Times Were Bad; Tammy Wynette's Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad; Hank Locklin's Send Me the Pillow You Dream On; I Hope You Have Learned, a Bill Monroe song co-written by Gene Butler, Ulisse's uncle; and the gospel classic Wait A Little Longer Please Jesus, a song her father used to sing.
Keith Lawrence, Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer