Merle Haggard, age 73, and Willie Nelson, who will be 77 next week, both released new albums on Tuesday. And both of them are showing the kiddies how to do country music correctly.
Willie’s collection is called, appropriately, Country Music. It is also appropriately the Disc of the Day.
Also worth your spins this week are new singles by The LoCash Cowboys and Chely Wright. Both are produced and performed with extra panache.
MARK WAYNE GLASMIRE/You Opened My Eyes
Writer: Mark Wayne Glasmire; Producer: John Albani & Mark Wayne Glasmire; Publisher: Traceway, ASCAP; Traceway (www.markwayneglasmire.com)
—He sings in a clear, strong, pleasing tenor, which suits the uplifting song nicely.
Writer: Chely Wright; Producer: Rodney Crowell; Publisher: Painted Red, BMI; Vanguard
—This moody, minor-key outing muses on the difficulty of learning to love anew. Her performance of it is marvelously nuanced. The deep-down rhythm track, gently strummed guitar work and whispery backing vocals all make the production a shimmering gem. A terrific listening experience.
AARON EINHOUSE/Catch A Glance
Writer: Aaron Einhouse; Producer: Walt Wilkins; Publisher: none listed, BMI; AE (www.aaroneinhouse.com)
—While sloshed on Jack Daniels, he has a roll in the hay with his best friend’s girl. They never speak of it again. But he knows she remembers it, because every now and then, “I catch a glance.” Hmmmm.
FAST RYDE/Top Down
Writer: James Harrison/Jody Stevens; Producer: Jeff Stevens, Jody Stevens & James Harrison; Publisher: OMG/Jody Stevens/Songs of One/Mailbox Dance, BMI/SESAC; Republic Nashvillle (www.fastryde.com)
—It’s fairly straightforward, a simple ditty about riding in the sunshine, singing along to a loud radio in a convertible. Harmless summertime fun.
LEAH SEAWRIGHT/Country Girl 101
Writer: Leah Seawright/Frank Green; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Ineylue/Frank Thomas Green, ASCAP; SkyTone (www.leahwright.com)
—She rocks with plenty of sass on this feisty list of lessons on how to treat a country girl right. Listen up, boys. Or she just might kick your tail.
LoCASH COWBOYS/Here Comes Summer
Writer: Jeffrey Steele/Shane Minor/Chris Lucas/Preston Brust; Producer: Jeffrey Steele; Publisher: Jeffrey Steele/BPJ/Sony-ATV Tree/Code Six Charles/Sony-ATV Cross Keys, BMI/ASCAP; Stroudavarious (www.locashcowboys.com)
—It is everything the title suggests, and then some. Relentlessly upbeat, impossible to ignore, eager to please, wildly engaging and completely winning.
KATIE ARMIGER/Leaving Home
Writer: Katie Armiger/Sarah Buxton/Blair Daly; Producer: Blair Daly; Publisher: Lily Road/Were Going to Maui/Internal Combustion/Southside Independent/Kickin Girls, BMI; Cold River (www.katiearmiger.com)
—She’s graduating and leaving home while the power chords crash around her vocal. Effective and emotional.
GARY P. NUNN/Taking Texas To The Country
Writer: Gary P. Nunn/Levi Mullen; Producer: Gary P. Nunn; Publisher: Nunn, BMI; Gaucamole/Campfire (track) (www.garypnunn.com)
—This is the rollicking title tune to this perennial Lone Star State favorite’s 15th studio album. He is still singing powerfully, and the lyric drops all the right names. For those of you not already fans, Nunn is the tunesmith behind “The Last Thing I Needed First Thing This Morning” (Willie Nelson), “Couldn’t Do Nothing Right” (Rosanne Cash) and “London Homesick Blues” (the Austin City Limits theme song often referred to as “Home with the Armadillo”).
MERLE HAGGARD/I Am What I Am
Writer: Merle Haggard; Producer: Merle Haggard & Lou Bradley; Publisher: Merle Haggard, BMI; Vanguard/Hag (track) (www.merlehaggard.com)
—His golden voice pours warmth all over this meditative ballad that serves as the title tune to a dandy CD that came out yesterday. It is almost entirely self composed, proving that he’s still got it as a song craftsman, as well as sounding as cool as ever. The original is still the greatest.
WILLIE NELSON/Man With The Blues
Writer: Willie Nelson; Producer: T Bone Burnett; Publisher: Glad/Pappy Daily, BMI; Rounder/
Shangri-La (track) (www.willienelson.com)
—Also dropping yesterday was the simply titled Country Music, the latest album by the Red Headed Stranger. Produced by noted alchemist Burnett, it finds our hero warbling classics by Ernest Tubb, the Louvin Brothers, Merle Travis, Al Dexter, Porter Wagoner and other greats. The one original is a reworking of his honky-tonking debut single, recorded for D Records in 1959. Like everything else on this collection, it is a spell binding performance. Buy this record.