From a certain angle, Randy Houser's career tells the story of country music in the early years of the 21st century. Houser first made an impression as a Nashville songwriter in the mid-2000s, scoring a big hit when Trace Adkins recorded his "Honky Tonk Badonkadonk" in 2005, a success the Mississippi native parlayed into a recording contract in 2008. Over the next half-decade, he slowly climbed his way into the Country Top Ten, earning Country Airplay number ones with 2012's "How Country Feels" and 2013's "Runnin' Outta Moonlight," songs that felt right at home with that era's amiable bro-country even if they didn't quite adhere to the party-hearty aesthetic. As he eased into his middle age at the close of the 2010s, he whittled away the shinier aspects of his music, emphasizing the soul and hardcore country at its core -- an evolution ...
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