Dierks Bentley/Miranda Lambert

Yes, today's young country can also sometimes rock without it sounding silly and forced, and few acts in that realm do it with as much punch and polish as these two. Dierks Bentley leans far enough outside the Nashville tried-and-true to eschew a cowboy-hat topper and play an electric six-string onstage, but he still proverbially drinks at the local honky-tonk when it comes to content. His stage routines may sometimes come with a wee smattering of shredded Nashville processed cheese on top, but his music also has enough beef to raise a rockin' ruckus. East Texas local-gal-made-very-good Lambert mixes girl power muscle with the heart of a championship filly in her preternaturally wise and smart songwriting, and even if she only placed third in the first season of Nashville Star, after only one album she's already well on her way to being a future Lone Star legend.
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Rob Patterson

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