If you’re looking for a gorgeous ballad, George Strait is your man. In the mood for a joyous rocker? Give a listen to Sara Evans. For a jolt of vocal passion, check out Jamie O’Neal. Do you wish to bask in heavenly harmonies? I hereby direct your attention to the Eli Young Band. And if you seek a good ol’ meat-and-potatoes outlaw country tune, Montgomery Gentry has just the thing.
As you all know, Teddy Gentry was a soulful sideman for years in Alabama. In Phase II of his career, he is emerging as a potent producer on Music Row. He has found a guy named Brad Long who sings like a bird and wins this week’s DisCovery Award.
CHRIS HANNERS/It’s My Life
Writer: Mark Schlemmer; Producer: Randy Jack Wiggins; Publisher: Nashville Sound, SOCAN/BMI; Little House (615-885-8100)
-The song is cute. The track sparkles. His vocal is strictly ordinary.
SARA EVANS/Feels Just Like A Love Song
Writer: Sara Evans/Nathan Chapman/Chris Lindsey/Aimee Mayo; Producer: Nathan Chapman & Sara Evans; Publisher: Universal-Careers/Gingerdog/Sony ATV Tree/Pain in the Art/Moonscar/Little Blue Typewriter/BPJ, BMI; RCA
-It’s ridiculously sunny, positive and upbeat. It’s also irresistible.
HOYT HUGHES/Ain’t My Day To Save The World
Writer: Steve Williams/Thom Sheperd/Liz Hengber; Producer: Eric Paul; Publisher: Black in the Saddle/Mets Fan/Green Hills/Travelers Ridge/Pier Two/Twang Thang, ASCAP; Whirlwind/Lofton Creek (www.hoythughes.com)
-The song is solid, and his performance is fine. I found the too-prominent female backup vocals somewhat off-putting, however.
JAMIE O’NEAL/Soldier Comin’ Home
Writer: Jamie O’Neal/Roxie Dean/Patricia Ann Murphy; Producer: Rodney Good; Publisher: Jere Song/Sugar Dumplin/Front to Black/Songs of Seven/Pakimo, ASCAP/SESAC; 1720 Entertainment
-It’s a power waltz that she pours vocal passion into like molten gold. “When was the last time you looked at me like you were a soldier coming home?” she asks of a lover who’s gone stale. It’s quite a performance. Lend her your ears.
Writer: Keni Thomas; Producer: none listed; Publisher: West Moraine/Gunslinger, ASCAP; RBM/Tenacity (www.kenithomas.com)
-The screaming guitars threaten to overwhelm his vocal throughout the performance, and at one point they completely take over the song. All in all, this seriously rocks.
ELI YOUNG BAND/Radio Waves
Writer: Blu Sanders/Mike Eli; Producer: Mike Wrucke; Publisher: none listed; Universal South/Republic
-This snatched my heart and ran off with it. The harmony vocals have so much sincerity and honesty that it’s impossible not to get involved. And when they started weaving in and out of each other in layered tracks at the finale, I was a goner.
JASON JONES/Unlikely Angel
Writer: Corey Lee Barker/Constance Mottle Richard/Anita Cox; Producer: Brett Beavers/Kimo Forrest; Publisher: Corey Lee/Myohana/A C Songbird, BMI; Warner Bros.
-Pop country with a big wooshing guitar solo in the middle and falsetto vocals on the choruses. Pleasingly different.
BRAD LONG/Long Lost Smile
Writer: none listed; Producer: Teddy Gentry; Publisher: none listed; Blackwater (www.bradlong.net)
-She’s splitting and finding her bliss again. The moody track is a sonic depth charge. Even more impressive is the powerhouse singing. This South Carolina native nails every note and holds some of them with truly impressive breath control. Get on board: He’s going places.
GEORGE STRAIT/Living For The Night
Writer: George Strait/Bubba Strait/Dean Dillon; Producer: Tony Brown & George Strait; Publisher: George Strait/Bubba Strait/Sony ATV/Unwound, BMI; MCA Nashville (CDX)
-Strait with strings! This lustrous ballad is cushioned in an exquisite arrangement that draws out every sad, wistful, broken-hearted note. George’s perfectly shaded, blue-tinted vocal does the rest of the work. You’ll get lost in its beauty. I sure did.
MONTGOMERY GENTRY/Long Line Of Losers
Writer: Kevin Fowler/Kim Tribble; Producer: Blake Chancey; Publisher: none listed; Columbia (CDX)
-It’s been a big week for these boys. They were inducted into the Opry on Tuesday, and today they have one of the strongest singles of their career to date. Just be thankful your family isn’t as no-account as the one in this song is-daddy took a bullet for stealing cars, grandpa ran moonshine and went to jail, grandma got drunk and left the kids behind, mom got caught in a motel with the preacher. No wonder, “I was born with a shot glass in my hand…I’m always a suspect/My bloodline made me who I am.” Eddie’s wicked laugh at the end is simply perfect.
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