Everybody is playing at the top of their game, especially the ridiculously talented Steve Wariner, Gene Watson and Darius Rucker. Programmers are going to hate this next sentence. All 10 of these platters deserve airplay.
Polish off a DisCovery Award for Chris Heers. He is a native and resident of Las Vegas who plays clubs there. But he wisely came to Music City to record his Western Stars CD and its “Dirt Rich” single.
Billy Currington’s “People Are Crazy” is deservedly a nominee as CMA Single, Song and Video of the Year. Especially Song. So I was leery about a follow-up with a junky title like “That’s How Country Boys Roll.” But, surprise, it is groove soaked and highly listenable. It is also the Disc of the Day.
Writer: Adam Seaunier/Keesy Timmer/Ryan Jones; Producer: Rex Paul Schnelle; Publisher: none listed, BMI; American Roots (track) (www.tellurideband.com)
—Delightfully propulsive, undeniably sunny and brightly romantic. Lead singer Adam Craig brings plenty of power to the table.
KACEY JONES/I Can Always Get Skinny But You’ll Never Be Tall
Writer: Kacey Jones/Jesse Goldberg/Bill Flowerree; Producer: Kacey Jones; Publisher: Mamalama/Lindcrest/Flying Buddha, ASCAP/BMI; IGO (track) (www.kaceyjones.com)
—Kacey’s CD is titled Donald Trump’s Hair. It is full of comedy songs, which we can always use more of. “How dare you call me pudgy, you stubby little runt?” goes one line in this rib tickler. Another? “There is no Viagra for the inches you lack.” The goofy-guy backup vocals are a nice touch, too, particularly when chanting “Ding Dong, Ding Dong.”
GENE WATSON & RHONDA VINCENT/Staying Together
Writer: Jerry Salley Jr./Monty Holmes; Producer: Dirk Johnson; Publisher: EMI/Country Gentleman, ASCAP/SESAC; Shanachie (track) (www.genewatsonmusic.com)
—It’s a weeper about a couple who stay together although the spark is long gone. Gene and Rhonda harmonize sublimely. The mournful, moaning steel and honky-tonk piano underline every heartache. The track is drawn from A Taste of the Truth, which stars one of our greatest country vocalists alongside stellar guests such as Alison Krauss, Trace Adkins, Aubrey Haynie, Sonny Garrish and John Wesley Ryles, as well as Rhonda. The set’s superb songs come from the likes of Hank Cochran, Shawn Camp, Jim Rushing, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Tim Mensey, Keith Stegall, Harley Allen and Curly Putman. If you love real country music, buy this record.
STEVE WARINER/Chet’s Guitar
Writer: Steve Wariner/Rick Carnes; Producer: Steve Wariner; Publisher: Steve Wariner/Songs of Peer, BMI/ASCAP; Selectone (track) (www.stevewariner.com)
—My Tribute to Chet Atkins is Steve’s album of mostly instrumentals written in imitation of and as a salute to Mr. Guitar. This bopper has plenty of Chet-style picking, but it also has a charming lyric about, “the touch and the tone and the twang of Chet’s guitar.” There’s also a line about “every lick that I stole from Chet,” which Steve swears is the truth.
CHRIS HEERS/Dirt Rich
Writer: Chris Heers; Producer: Steve Tveit, Pat McGrath & Chris Heers; Publisher: SaddleFarm, ASCAP; SaddleFarm (www.chrisheers.com)
—He’s a farmer who is thankful for what little he has. “Dirt Rich” is such a clever concept it’s amazing that nobody has written this before.
DARIUS RUCKER/History In The Making
Writer: Darius Rucker/Frank Rogers/Clay Mills; Producer: Frank Rogers; Publisher: Cadaja/New Sea Gayle/EMI April/MXC/Still Working for the Man/ICG, ASCAP; Capitol Nashville (CDX)
—His prettiest melody yet, and perhaps his most romantic lyric. As usual, Frank’s production touches and mix choices are perfect—I love the way the acoustic guitars and steel slide in and out.
RANDY HOUSER/My Kind Of Country
Writer: Randy Houser/Dallas Davidson; Producer: Mark Wright/Cliff Audretch III; Publisher: Songs of Windswept Pacific/Big Borassa/Words & Music, BMI; Universal South (CDX)
—It’s redneck wailer with a stomping beat and low, growled verses that lead to shrieked-up-high choruses. There’s no question about this guy’s vocal talent, but this is extremely in-your-face.
BILLY CURRINGTON/That’s How Country Boys Roll
Writer: Billy Currington/Brad Jones/Dallas Davidson; Producer: Carson Chamberlain & Billy Currington; Publisher: Universal/Off My Rocker/EMI Blackwood/String Stretcher/Brad Jones/Words & Music, ASCAP/BMI; Mercury (CDX)
—It has a similar theme to the Randy Houser single (Dallas Davidson is a writer on both). But this has a much slinkier, rump-shaking groove. And Billy’s vocal rides atop the low thumping percussion with considerable finesse. Both performers are following up major hits (”Boots On” and “People Are Crazy,” respectively). Billy wins this round.
THE PARKS/The Party’s Right Here
Writer: Johnny Park/David Lee; Producer: Johnny Park & Clint Park; Publisher: Halftime/Universal-Careers, ASCAP/BMI; Carolwood (CDX)
—This rocks furiously. Lyrics are spit out in double time and the sidemen, especially the lead guitarist, kick up plenty of dust. In short, it lives up to its title.
BILLY JOE ROYAL/Hard Rock To Roll
Writer: Charlie Craig/Moe Lytle; Producer: Nelson Larkin & Charlie Craig; Publisher: Power Play, BMI; Gusto (CDX) (615-889-8000)
—A homeless man, a war-widowed mom and the crucified Jesus all have “a hard rock to roll.” Billy Joe’s emotional reading of the well-written song and the crisp, gently lulling production earn bonus points.
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