DISClaimer (3/13/09)

It’s veterans’ day.

No, not the holiday, silly. It’s a day when we have new music from some of country music’s vets. Aaron Tippin, Ricochet and Ronnie Milsap are all dropping by with new sounds. And the magnificent Mr. Milsap wins a Disc of the Day award.

Neil Carswell is a veteran, too. He previously fronted the Southern rock band Copperhead. Now he’s a solo artist with his second consecutive winning single. Keep an ear out for him, as well as Michael Scott. He is also getting his second consecutive rave review in this column.

Our DisCovery Award winner leans more toward the Americana side of the spectrum. But Diana Jones is such a strong writer that some of country’s stars should start checking out her catalog. Actually, this is Diana’s second appearance, too. But her last CD was three long years ago, and this new one is, for now, being marketed from the U.K.

DIANA JONES/Better Times Will Come
Writer: Diana Jones; Producer: Diana Jones; Publisher: Yarjones, ASCAP; Proper (track) (www.dianajonesmusic.com)
—The title tune to this singer-songwriter’s current collection is rippling acoustic tune of hope sung in a throaty, resonant alto. Guests on the CD include the esteemed Nanci Griffith and Mary Gauthier. Another standout track is “Henry Russell’s Last Words,” based on the true story of a doomed miner writing on a paper sack with a piece of coal in 1927. You can also find it on Joan Baez’s excellent, Steve-Earle-produced album The Day After Tomorrow.

JO DEE MESSINA/Shine
Writer: Clay Cumbie/Megan James; Producer: James Stroud; Publisher: Curb Congregation/Big Red Toe/Big Loud Bucks/Warner-Tamerlane/ Songwriters of Platinum Pen, SESAC/BMI; Curb
—The production frames her upbeat vocal nicely. But the faux-inspirational, chin-up, positive-think song does nothing for me.

CHRIS LOID/Back Road Home
Writer: none listed; Producer: Chris Loid; Publisher: none listed; Chris Loid Entertainment (track)
—The title track to this fellow’s CD shows off his vocal range. But even though it’s a song about murder, there is something curiously colorless about his singing.

RICOCHET/Feel Like Fallin’
Writer: Shane Teeters/Luke Bryan; Producer: Robert Wright; Publisher: Murrah Music/Shane Teeters/Universal/Z, BMI; M (www.ricochetonline.com)
—This band’s harmony singing has always been thrilling. They really turn it on in the joyous-sounding choruses here. The bridge is cool, too.

AARON TIPPIN/East Bound And Down
Writer: Jerry Reed/Dick Feller; Producer: Aaron Tippin & Tim Grogan; Publisher: Songs of Universal, BMI; Nippit (track) (www.aarontippin.com)
—Aaron’s new trucker-themed CD In Overdrive kicks off with this spirited remake of the Burt Reynolds 1977 Smokey and the Bandit movie tune. It bops right along, very much in the same vein as the Jerry Reed original, so some might find it a little “dated” sounding.

RICHARD JAYMES/Dollar And A Dream
Writer: Richard Jaymes; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Southern Pop, BMI; Shotgun/CO5 (CDX)
—This was one of the many newcomers making their debuts at last week’s Country Radio Seminar. His singing is rather bland, and is swamped by the amped-up instrumental track at times.

TIMOTHY CRAIG/Got Good Friends
Writer: Timothy Craig/Billy Falcon/Rose Falcon; Producer: Tom Harding & Timothy Craig; Publisher: Timothy Craig/Pretty Blue Songs/JuniorIsaGirl, ASCAP/BMI; Ball & Chain (CDX) (www.timothycraig.com)
—The song is sturdy, but his vocal is so shallow that he practically speaks the lyric.

NEIL CARSWELL/Bright Lights
Writer: Neil Carswell; Producer: Stu Campbell & Neil Carswell; Publisher: Lake James/GHP, ASCAP; Aspirion (CDX)
—The buzzing guitar sound is cool, and this man sings with plenty of grit and fire. This is the second time we’ve encountered this distinctive stylist, and I’m even more impressed than I was the first time around.

RONNIE MILSAP/Stand By Me
Writer: Ben E. King/Mike Stoller/Jerry Leiber; Producer: Rob Galbraith & Ronnie Milsap; Publisher: Mike & Jerry/Jerry Leiber/Silver Seahorse, BMI/ASCAP; Star Song (CDX) (615-371-6581)
—The funky, soulful track puts some slinky rhythm into what is usually performed as a gospel-soaked ballad. In any setting, it’s a fabulous evergreen song, and Ronnie pours passion all over it. The man remains a titanic talent.

MICHAEL SCOTT/Bring It On
Writer: Arnie Roman/Mark Mormon; Producer: Ricky Cobble & Michael Scott; Publisher: Roman Empire/Fintage/Rev’d Up/Songs of Windswept Pacific, ASCAP/BMI; Rocky Comfort (CDX) (www.michaelscott.com)
—This guy sings with hearty confidence and immense warmth. And judging by the superb dynamics in the track, he truly knows his way around a recording studio. To top it all off, the song is a doozy. This is Scott’s second rave in this column, so I thought I’d check out his website. It turns out that this is the title tune to his debut CD for Tracy Lawrence’s label. Definitely send more.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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