Despite terrific new singles by guys like James Otto and Zona Jones, this week belongs to the fairer sex. Tanya Tucker is back with hillbilly oomph. Megan Mullins sparkles in her upbeat I’m-outta-here toe tapper. Wynonna heats up the joint with one of her most soul-drenched performances yet.
Martina McBride’s ultra powerful ballad vocal makes a great song even greater. One spin of “I Just Call You Mine” will make a believer out of you.
Somebody at Atlantic Records has good country ears. First The Zac Brown Band, and now a pert blonde thrush named Jesse Lee. Give the little lady a DisCovery Award.
MIRANDA LAMBERT/Dead Flowers
Writer: Miranda Lambert; Producer: Frank Liddell & Mike Wrucke; Publisher: none listed, BMI; Columbia (CDX)
—Shimmering, hypnotic, profound beauty. She has never sounded better or deeper. Wake up, radio: This woman CONNECTS with us.
MEGAN MULLINS/Long Past Gone
Writer: Megan Mullins/Marla Cannon Goodman; Producer: Buddy Cannon; Publisher: Mosaic/Sony ATV/Glitterfish/Buna Boy, BMI; Stoney Creek (CDX)
—This gifted gal plays multiple instruments, and she writes ‘em and sings ‘em like a perfectly seasoned pro. This is a crunchy, kiss-off bopper with plenty of attitude and rhythm that’s well worth spinning.
TANYA TUCKER/Love’s Gonna Live Here
Writer: Alvis E. Owens; Producer: Pete Anderson; Publisher: Sony ATV Tree, BMI; Saguaro Road (CDX) (www.saguaroroad.com)
—Tanya’s revival of this 1963 Buck Owens classic is spot-on, right down to the steel guitar fills. Delightful listening.
ZONA JONES/Bluer Than Blue
Writer: Randy Goodrum; Producer: James Stroud; Publisher: Let There Be Music/Springcreek, ASCAP; Rocky Comfort (www.zonajones.com)
—I have always loved this ballad, originated by Michael Johnson on the pop charts back in 1978. Zona’s immense warmth of tone and Stroud’s production bring it gently yet firmly into the country realm.
JAMES OTTO/Since You Brought It Up
Writer: James Otto/Dave Berg/Rivers Rutherford; Producer: Paul Worley; Publisher: Warner-Tamerlane/Eldorotto/Cal IV/Stupid Boy/Universal/Macirhyco, BMI/ASCAP; Warner Bros
—This rumbles into a steady groove from the very first notes. Soul man Otto provides the manly, sexy come-on. Somewhere, the spirit of Conway Twitty is smiling.
MARTINA McBRIDE/I Just Call You Mine
Writer: Joss Cates/Ty Lacy/Dennis Matkosky; Producer: Dann Huff & Martina McBride; Publisher: none listed, ASCAP; RCA (track)
—This power ballad sports plenty of production muscle, plus a lyric of deep romantic devotion. “Everyone calls you amazing/I just call you mine” is the pay-off, but the whole chorus is fabulous, not to mention the bridge. By the time she hit the finale, I had goosebumps all over.
WYNONNA/I Hear You Knocking
Writer: Dave Bartholomew/Pearl King; Producer: Brent Maher & Don Potter; Publisher: Unart Catalog, BMI; Curb (track)
—Wy is way too young to remember the 1955 Smiley Lewis R&B original. Maybe that’s why she turns it into a fiery, soul-sister manifesto with such ease and gusto. Righteously rocking.
STEVE AZAR/Moo La Moo
Writer: Steve Azar/A.J. Masters/Jim Femino; Producer: Steve Azar & Justin Niebank; Publisher: Riverzar/Cotton City/Jim Femino/Carol Vincent/La Luna Tunes/Weebie Writin’/Nice Shot, BMI/SESAC; Ride (www.steveazaralive.com)
—This funky hand clapper has the no-money blues. You might as well bop and smile in these belt-tightening times.
LUKE BRYAN/Do I
Writer: Luke Bryan/Charles Kelley/Dave Haywood; Producer: Jeff Stevens; Publisher: Planet Peanut/Murrah Music/Bug/Warner-Tamerlane/Radiobulletspublishing/DWHaywood, BMI; Capitol Nashville
—Formerly noted as a happy pup, Luke tries on a sad, losing-love ballad. He’s not as convincing as he is on the peppy stuff, but the song is strong enough that it really doesn’t matter.
JESSE LEE/It’s a Girl Thing
Writer: Jesse Lee/Rachel Proctor/Victoria Banks; Producer: Mark Bright; Publisher: Warner-Tamerlane/Jesse Lee/Circle C/Full Circle, BMI/ASCAP; Atlantic
—It’s a chugging rocker with plenty of truth about the differences between the sexes. Ms. Lee sings it with sass and smarts. However, I don’t think turning the radio up and singing along to a favorite song is exclusively “a girl thing.” So there.
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