Despite thinking that Patsy Cline recorded some of the greatest songs of the twentieth century, I must admit that I’ve never been much of a country music fan. Sure, I’ve been to a few concerts with friends and nearly fell asleep during one given by Mary Chapin Carpenter which seemed to suffer from not a wardrobe malfunction--Carpenter isn’t Janet Jackson after all-- but a speaker malfunction as one could’ve heard a pin drop. Likewise, I'll confess to loving some of the late 90’s albums by Shania Twain and Faith Hill but I could probably count the number of albums in the genre I own on a single hand.
And while this being said, it may seem at first like an odd decision to volunteer to critique something in the genre, I remain a completely open minded music lover who will listen to anything once and felt that my naiveté and ignorance would only benefit in offering readers an honest and unbiased take. Additionally, the fact that the country album I selected was released as the debut disc of Julianne Hough-- one of my very favorite professionals on ABC’s Emmy award nominated smash Dancing With the Stars (DWTS)-- made it all the more enticing to take a break from the admittedly melancholic and introspective genre of alt/indie and instead rock some denim jeans and GM vehicles for a few days. As DWTS’ youngest and most giftedly diverse choreographer and performer, Julianne Hough has led two of her partners to victory—Apolo Anton Ohno and Helio Castroneves—yet she admitted to First Magazine (9/1/08) that “country music has always been my number one priority.” While dancing and acting came first after she studied abroad in England winning national competitions in her early teens and playing a small role as a schoolgirl in the first Harry Potter film (developing an unrequited crush on Daniel Radcliffe in the process as she tells First), ultimately she left a burgeoning career overseas to return home to Utah. The decision, Hough reveals, came chiefly from her passion for music as she shared in her Mercury Nashville Records biography that if she had stayed in London, she wouldn’t have had the opportunity to sing. And while others were skeptical-- even bluntly telling her she wouldn’t make it as a musician-- she eventually perfected her skills at a Las Vegas performing arts school (First). And while one wouldn’t guess from the sunny smile and upbeat persona offered on ABC's hit show, Hough admits that although, “I was young… it was still scary to start over,” (First).