It’s awfully hard to argue with the power of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and the voices of the Fisk Jubilee Singers. Especially when they’re backing Billy Dean on a patriotic anthem. Maybe there’s inspiration and hope in the air or something. Whatever the cause, I fell for “Wave On, Old Glory.” It’s the Disc of the Day.
Wouldn’t you have loved to have been a fly on the wall when Mel Tillis Jr., Tammy Rogers of The SteelDrivers and Dierks Bentley sat down to write together? Especially when they came up with something as cool as “Behind These Walls.” It earns Kentucky native Clay Underwood a DisCovery Award.
DEREK SHOLL/But It Was
Writer: Joe Doyle/Tim Johnson; Producer: Tim Johnson; Publisher: Big Hits of Amylase/Songs of Spud/Warner Tamerlane/Warner Chappell/$1 Songs America/The Bigger They Are, SESAC; CO5 Nashville (615-469-1756)
—Pleasant and engaging, thanks largely to the well-crafted lyric. His voice is somewhat colorless.
RASCAL FLATTS/Here Comes Goodbye
Writer: Clint Lagerberg/Chris Sligh; Producer: Dann Huff & Rascal Flatts; Publisher: Big Loud Songs/Big Songs of Extreme/Big Loud Bucks/Bridge Building, ASCAP/BMI; Lyric Street
—Dramatic and highly melodic. Gary’s ultra-high tenor vocal performance is stunning.
RIVER COUNTY/We’re All Here
Writer: Curt Ryle/Jon Stone; Producer: Terry Wendt; Publisher: none listed; SYC (www.rivercountymusic.com)
—Raucous and redneck, this good time sounds like it was recorded “live.” In any case, there’s not a heckuva lot of separation—everything’s bleeding into everything else.
JOHN RICH/Shuttin’ Detroit Down
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Warner Bros. (www.johnrich.com)
—John decries wealthy executives being bailed out by Washington while the “little man” continues to suffer. “While they’re living it up on Wall Street…in the real world they’re shuttin’ Detroit down.” It’s got a good beat, and you can dance to it.
CLAY UNDERWOOD/Behind These Walls
Writer: Dierks Bentley/Tammy Rogers/Lonnie Melvin Tillis Jr.; Producer: Jimmy & Jennifer Layne & Clay Underwood; Publisher: Songs of Universal/Tunes of the Village, BMI; PCL (CDX) (www.clayunderwoodmusic.com)
—On a beautiful day, he’s shut himself in, aching and miserable. Loneliness has seldom sounded better. The production churns and burns around a passionate vocal performance of a powerful melody. Get a load of those songwriter credits.
BILLY DEAN, THE NASHVILLE SYMPHONY & THE FISK JUBILEE SINGERS/Wave On, Old Glory, Wave On
Writer: Wood Newton/Jim Weatherly; Producer: Larry Beaird, Brian White; Publisher: Rope a Note/Bright Leaf, BMI/ASCAP; Hutton (CDX)
—Billy starts with simple piano accompaniment. As the sturdy song proceeds, strings begin to shimmer and soar. The finale has the whole shebang, brass, woodwinds, percussion and glorious chorus voices. Stirring, patriotic and completely thrilling. An anthem for a new era.
ALEX WOODARD & SARA WATKINS/Reno
Writer: Alex Woodard; Producer: Alex Woodard; Publisher: Woodshack, ASCAP; Woodshack (CDX) (www.alexwoodard.com)
—Watkins is the talented fiddler-singer of Nickel Creek fame. Woodard sings with a nasal rasp, so I was skeptical about whether their voices would blend well. Surprisingly, they do. And the song’s kinda cool, too.
RANDY HOUSER/Boots On
Writer: Randy Houser/Brandon Kinney; Producer: Mark Wright & Cliff Audretch III; Publisher: Songs of Windswept Pacific/How Bout That Skyline/Kinney Empire/ICG, BMI; Universal South (track)
—The “Anything Goes” man is back, this time with a slab of rockin’ country. I can almost hear them stompin’ on that dance floor now.
BLAKE SHELTON/I’ll Just Hold On
Writer: Ben Hayslip/Troy Olsen/Bryan Simpson; Producer: Scott Hendricks; Publisher: WB/Melissa’s Money/Get a Load of This/Encore Entertainment/Mr. Noise/Hillbilly Poetry/Rio Nuevo, ASCAP/BMI; Warner Bros. (track)
—He’s head over heels infatuated in this swirly, mid-tempo, groove-saturated production. As usual, Blake totally nails the vocal.
TONY “HOBO” PARKS/Take It All
Writer: Edward D. Sanford; Producer: Steve Iceberg; Publisher: Tony Hobo Parks, BMI; Plantation (CDX)
—The echo chamber only amplifies his pitch problems.
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