(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that's happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)
I just got off the phone with Kellie Pickler, who talked about how good it feels to have Rolling Stone magazine put her album 100 Proof at the top of their list of the best country albums of 2012. "It feels good because I feel accepted for being myself. That album is me, so for someone like Rolling Stone to embrace the project just makes me feel like I'm accepted, as well," she said. "I'm not holding back. So this honor reinforces that I made the right decisions and that I picked the right songs. It's an honest album. And that might be what they heard -- the honesty in the music." Pickler said she still listens to Tammy Wynette, Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Kitty Wells on vinyl and that 100 Proof allowed her to showcase that sound that made her fall in love with country music in the first place. But it wasn't all sunshine and lollipops when she was making it. "This album was not made easily. It took a long time to make. And I fought hard to make a traditional-sounding album. Now, I'm glad I fought for the songs I wanted to be on there. It was worth the work and the wait." I think so, and obviously so does Rolling Stone. They say that it may be the best traditionalist album of the year and that "Pickler wraps her big, lustrous voice around old-fashioned honky-tonk, rollicking road stories and big ballads, all produced with a perfect balance of throwback twang and contemporary sheen." Yeah. What they said.