DISClaimer (reviews) 5/12/10

Everybody wins this week.

There are no stinkers here. In fact, there are so many cool performances that I’m tossing out the weekly honors left and right.

The female Disc of the Day belongs to Jewel. Wait until you hear what producer Nathan Chapman has surrounded her lovely song with.

Our male Disc of the Day comes from the always reliable Darren Kozelsky. If my memory serves me correctly, I have liked just about everything he has put out. And this time, he has found himself a sturdy winner of a song.

The group Disc of the Day is by Court Yard Hounds. Everything you have read and/or heard about this project is true. In addition to “The Coast,” check out “See You in the Spring,” which is a collaboration with Jakob Dylan. While you’re at it, pick up a copy of Jakob’s new Women + Country collection. Produced by T Bone Burnett, it will knock your socks off.

Let’s see, that leaves us with this week’s DisCovery Award. And goes to a dandy outfit, a California-based group called Truth & Salvage Co. The album isn’t due until May 25, but if this single is any indication, it is going to be just great.

Writer: Thea Wescott; Producer: Bruce Watkins; Publisher: Timberland Ridge, BMI; Timberland Ridge (track) (www.timberlandridge.com)
—Dobro, mandolin and fiddle dominate the lilting track. Her delivery is fairly straightforward, so the thing doesn’t really take off until the celestial harmonies by Dale Ann Bradley and Steve Gully kick in. Incidentally, those dobro notes come courtesy of Rob Ickes, the fiddler is Stuart Duncan, and the mandolin is Adam Steffey’s. Need more star power? How about Bryan Sutton on guitar and banjos by Ron Block and Scott Vestal?

Writer: Jewel/Liz Rose; Producer: Nathan Chapman; Publisher: none listed; Valory
—She’s her usual breathy and sweetly folkie self, vocally. The real magic here is in shimmering production. It caresses every note of this pretty melody with washes of strings, shuddering percussion and chiming keyboards. In a word, gorgeous.

Writer: none listed; Producer: Chris Robinson; Publisher: none listed; Megaforce
—Count me in! Produced by Chris Robinson of The Black Crowes, this has a nicely crunchy quality. The six-man band has a twin-guitar attack and rousing group harmonies. The song is quite infectious. Catch them at Bonnaroo (June 11) or on tour with the marvelous Avett Brothers or at 3rd & Lindsley (June 3).

Writer: Emily Robison; Producer: Emily Robison, Martie Maguire & Jim Scott; Publisher: FUFF/Words & Music, BMI; Columbia (track) (www.courtyardhounds.com)
—This is the side project by Dixie Chick sisters Emily and Martie. Little sis Emily really has come into her own as a writer. This hand-clapper celebrates the Texas gulf coast. It is completely sunny and irresistible. Let these ladies take you on a little trip to heaven.

AUSTINS BRIDGE/Mercy Never Leaves
Writer: Barry Weeks/Joel Lindsey; Producer: Jay DeMarcus; Publisher: Back in the Saddle/Danny Orton/Universal, ASCAP; Daywind (track)
—I loved this act’s last CD. Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts produced this one with a bit more pop bite and edge. Formerly a trio, Austins Bridge is now a duo, but its sound remains just as big here and on the rest of the Times Like These CD.

BRUCE ROBISON/Heartache To Houston
Writer: Bruce Robison/Miles Zuniga/Gary Massey; Producer: Miles Zuniga; Publisher: Tiltawhirl/Bruce Robison/Zunitunes, BMI/ASCAP; BR (972-800-0004)
—I have made no secret of my admiration for this Texas tunesmith. His catalog already includes “Angry All the Time,” “Desperately,” “Wrapped” and “Traveling Soldier,” all of which he originated. Add this loping, wistful gem to his hit list. His soft, dry delivery is supported by jaunty-jangling guitar work, sighing organ and a chugging rhythm track.

MERLE HAGGARD/Pretty When It’s New
Writer: Merle Haggard; Producer: Merle Haggard & Lou Bradley; Publisher: Merle Haggard, BMI; Vanguard/Hag
—I raved about Hag’s new I Am What I Am collection a couple of weeks ago. Now Vanguard has issued this gently swinging number as a single. It sways like a hammock in summertime.

Writer: Marty Roe/Jimmy Olander/Matthew West; Producer: Mike Clute & Jimmy Olander; Publisher: Roe Hoe/Taxicaster/Word/Songs for Life, BMI/ASCAP; Word (CDX)
—This seriously rocks. Crank it up, and let it rip. Marty remains a terrifically involving singer, and Jimmy’s guitar work is genius. If there’s any justice, this will be massive.

Writer: Mary Chapin Carpenter; Producer: Mary Chapin Carpenter & Matt Rollings; Publisher: Why Walk, ASCAP; Rounder (CDX) (617-218-4413)
—It is very much a return to her classic sound. The lyric of rebuilding a relationship is set to a rolling melody embellished by a steady tempo and some juicy electric guitar lines.

DARREN KOZELSKY/Somebody Find Me A Preacher
Writer: Shane Minor/Wendell Mobley; Producer: J.R. Rodriguez & Phil O’Donnell; Publisher: EMI Blackwood/Shane Minor/Warner Tamerlane, BMI; Spinville (CDX)
—There is something instantly likable about this man’s singing. He always sounds like he really means it, and this time is no exception. He swoons over the sight of her and is ready to say those vows right here and now, with her in cut-off jeans and him in his old t-shirt. Kudos to the writers for such a fine job, to the producers for creating such a cool track and, of course, to Darren, who sells it. Big time.


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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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