DISClaimer (9/11/09)

Gloriana-150It’s country collaboration day!

Ronnie Milsap is singing with Trace Adkins. Bruce Springsteen turns up as a guest on John Fogerty’s album. Billy Gibbons meets Brooks & Dunn in a roadhouse rumble. And in the most unlikely scenario of all, Hank Williams Jr. takes a ride in Appalachia with The Grascals.

And mostly the match-up listening is good.

NewRelics-150Among our other discs today are fine outings by Buddy Jewell, Phil Vassar and Miranda Lambert. And then there is that impossibly hooky new item from Gloriana, which wins the Disc of the Day prize. “How Far Do You Wanna Go?” All the way to Number One.

In the absence of any other contenders, West Virginia’s The New Relics take home a DisCovery Award by default. But I do think they still need a little polishing.

BROOKS & DUNN/Honky Tonk Stomp
Writer: Ronnie Dunn/Terry McBride/Bobby Pinson; Producer: Ronnie Dunn & Terry McBride; Publisher: none listed, BMI; Arista (track)
—The deep twang and a cameo vocal are provided by ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons. Alas, the song is otherwise pretty dull, a party-hearty attempt that falls flat while making plenty of noise.

BOMSHEL/19 And Crazy
Writer: Kelley Shepard/Kristy Osmunson/Mark Irwin/Josh Kear; Producer: Chuck Howard; Publisher: Getting Grown/KupKake/Osmunson/Oceans One/Year of the Dog/Big Yellow Dog/Darth Buddah, BMI/ASCAP; Curb
—Their bright voices are mixed too far down in the thumping production to be able to hear the clever lyric. The energy level, however, is terrific.

THE NEW RELICS/Beautiful
Writer: M. Arbogast/J. Swiger/B. Martin/J. Bidwell; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed, BMI; Blues Alley/Spinville (www.thenewrelics.com)
—Jaunty, sunny and young sounding. It is somewhat wordy and takes way too long to get to the hook: “What are you doing when you’re not being beautiful?”

PHIL VASSAR/Everywhere I Go
Writer: Phil Vassar/Jeffrey Steele; Producer: Phil Vassar; Publisher: Phylvester/Jeffrey Steele/BPJ, ASCAP/BMI; Universal South
—She is gone, and her memory is everywhere he turns. Phil turns on the passion in the nearly shouted choruses at the top of his range.

BUDDY JEWELL/Somebody Who Would Die For You
Writer: Mark Narmore/Adam Wheeler; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Care Taker/Noble Vision, BMI/ASCAP; O’Reilly International
—That homeless vet you rushed past is somebody who would die for you. So is the father whose feelings you hurt. You can see where this is going, can’t you? The religious conclusion may be obvious, but this is a singer who can wring every drop of meaning from every line. Extremely well done.

GLORIANA/How Far Do You Wanna Go
Writer: Matt Serletic/Jeffrey Steele/Danny Myrick; Producer: Matt Serletic; Publisher: Melusic/Primary Wave Emblem/Jeffrey Steele/Soulride/BPJ, ASCAP/BMI; Emblem/Warner Bros.
—I am crazy about this band. The harmony-soaked rocker is an open-road song if I’ve ever heard one. And this particular highway leads straight to stardom.

RONNIE MILSAP & TRACE ADKINS/My First Ride
Writer: Shannon Lawson/John Phillips; Producer: Rob Galbraith; Publisher: Muzik Mafia/Do Write, ASCAP; Bleve (www.blevemusic.com)
—This must have been a thrill for Trace, because he is a huge Ronnie Milsap fan. He even asked for Ronnie to induct him into the Opry cast. Both of them sing this frothing rocker with growling urgency.

MIRANDA LAMBERT/White Liar
Writer: Miranda Lambert/Natalie Hemby; Producer: Frank Liddell & Mike Wrucke; Publisher: none listed, BMI; Columbia Nashville (CDX)
—What a terrific country singer she is. I love every drawl and twang in this snarky vocal performance. The rolling song is superbly written and loaded with melodic hooks. Catchy to the max.

JOHN FOGERTY & BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN/When Will I Be Loved
Writer: Phil Everly; Producer: John Fogerty; Publisher: Sony-ATV Acuff-Rose, BMI; Verve Forecast (track) (615-251-0905)
—I have always said that John Fogerty was a country singer trapped in a rock band. And it goes without saying that Bruce has more blue-collar cred than half the country stars in this town. The two harmonize splendidly on this rollicking Everly Brothers twang fest. Do yourself a favor and buy John’s Blue Ridge Rangers Rides Again for one of the finest country-music listening experiences of the year. It even comes on vinyl.

HANK WILLIAMS JR. & THE GRASCALS/All The Roads
Writer: Hank Williams Jr.; Producer: Doug Johnson & Hank Williams Jr.; Publisher: Bocephus, BMI; Curb (CDX)
—Bocephus goes acoustic in this delightful mountaineer romp. The song is a hillbilly smile-a-minute. What a wonderfully fulfilling change of pace.

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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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