DISClaimer (7/17/09)

JasonCrabb150Can I get a witness? Things were going along in a routine way during this listening session until I was stopped dead in my tracks and struck with profound awe. The record that did it was the churning, inspirational “Somebody Like Me” by Jason Crabb. Stop what you are doing right now to seek it out and listen. It just might change your life. Hands down, the Disc of the Day.

We also have a couple of major tear-jerkers with us today, and I’m always a sucker for those. “To Say Goodbye” by Joey & Rory, plus “Love Lives On” by Mallary Hope are both soaked with emotion. The latter earns a Georgia-born MCA newcomer a DisCovery Award.

Mallary Hope

Mallary Hope

JASON CRABB/Somebody Like Me
Writer: Neil Thrasher/Michael Boggs; Producer: Tommy Sims, Norro Wilson & Jason Crabb; Publisher: none listed; Spring Hill (track) (www.springhillmusic.com)
—He used to be the lead vocalist in The Crabb Family. Now he’s a solo. If you have ever heard him sing, you have never forgotten the experience, because this man is one of the greatest male voices of his generation. Searing, soulful and stunning, he can make the hairs on your arms tingle, raise goosebumps all over and compel you turn it up to “10.” The lyric will make you want to run out and do good works for everyone you meet. His performance of it will make you believe in the power of music all over again. Sing on, brother.

MALLARY HOPE/Love Lives On
Writer: Mallary Hope/Shane Stevens/Matthew West; Producer: Derek Bason; Publisher: My Good Girl Music/Major Bob Music; MCA Nashville
—It is a pretty gutsy move to kick of your country career with a ballad, but when it’s one this strong, it’s a risk worth taking. In the song, her husband has died, but she still has their daughter, and her love endures. It’s a remarkable performance that starts sweet, sad and small and builds to a fiery intensity. Strong stuff.

WILLIE STRADLIN/Chop Away
Writer: Izzy Stradlin/Rick Richards; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Willie Stradlin, BMI; Smith Music Group (www.williestradlinband.com)
—Co-writers Izzy and Rick are from Guns & Roses and The Georgia Satellites, respectively. But this is a surprisingly countryfied outing, highlighted by a rolling rhythm track, tasty harmonica work and a sincere tenor vocal.

JOEY & RORY/To Say Goodbye
Writer: Rory Feek/Joey Martin/Jamie Teachenor; Producer: Carl Jackson; Publisher: State One Songs America/A Sling and a Prayer/Rufus Guild/Sony ATV Tree/Songs for My Good Girl, ASCAP/BMI; Sugar Hill /Vanguard (track) (www.joeyandrory.com)
—Beautifully heartbreaking. If this doesn’t put a lump in your throat or a tear in your eye, you’re made of stone. Joey’s lead vocal is a shining gem. Carl Jackson’s production is poetry. Rory’s harmony work is flawless. The lyric of loss aches all over.

RACHEL WILLIAMS/You Let Me
Writer: R. Williams/S. Beck/K. Copeland; Producer: Kim Copeland & Rachel Williams; Publisher: none listed; Her (track) (www.rachelwilliamsonline.com)
—Righteously rocking, with a soaring, power-packed vocal performance. Eminently playable.

TOBY KEITH/American Ride
Writer: Joe West/Dave Pahanish; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Sony ATV Tree/Songs for My Good Girl/Totally Wrighteous/Big Loud Bucks, BMI; Show Dog Nashville
—Toby sings it with passion and fire, but the lyric makes no point whatsoever.

RICHIE ALLBRIGHT/11 Months And 29 Days
Writer: Johnny Paycheck/Billy Sherrill; Producer: Bill Green; Publisher: EMI Algee, BMI; Cactus (888-455-5504)
—Not to be confused with Waylon’s ex-drummer Richie Albright (with one “L”), this fellow is a Texas traditionalist. Alas, when you compare his version of this tune with Johnny Paycheck’s 1976 original, he comes up wa-a-a-a-y short.

DIERKS BENTLEY/I Wanna Make You Close Your Eyes
Writer: Brett Beavers/Dierks Bentley; Producer: Brett Beavers & Dierks Bentley; Publisher: Home with the Armadillo/Big White Tracks, BMI/ASCAP; Capitol Nashville (track)
—Dierks gets all warm and romantic on us. After a hard day at work, he wants to fall into her arms and see where things lead. Very sexy sounding.

JIMMY BOWEN & SANTA FE/Baby’s Single Down In San Antone
Writer: Wells/Kerr; Producer: Jimmy Bowen; Publisher: Bug, BMI; Santa Fe (www.jimmybowen.com)
—I know it’s not the producer with this same name, but is this the bluegrass guy with this same name? If so, he has gone country and lost his sense of pitch.

ANTHONY SMITH/Bringin’ Back The Sunshine
Writer: Anthony Smith/Jess Leary; Producer: Anthony Smith & James Stroud; Publisher: Krankit/Leary’s Irish Stew, BMI/ASCAP; Stroudavarious
—Formerly on Mercury, Anthony has always had a rock edge in his voice. He applies it effectively in this summer-sounding pop-country bopper.

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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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