DISClaimer Reviews (5/5/09)

The stars are twinkling brightly this week.

Such A-listers as Trace Adkins, Montgomery Gentry, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban all have sparkling new singles. The first two are boasting new sonic splendor, courtesy of Michael Knox, who produced both. David Lee Murphy’s work with Kevin Fowler also deserves a shout-out.

Our Disc of the Day is unquestionably Keith Urban’s “I’m In.” The DisCovery Award goes to Kelly Kenning, who is a Texan and sounds it.

KELLY KENNING/Broken Bones
Writer: Tony Ramey/Si Hill/Joanna Smith; Producer: Kelly Kenning & David Chamberlain; Publisher: O Tex/Square One, BMI; Airastar/Davis (www.kellykenning.com)
—The rodeo cowboy gets his heart busted in this dandy story song that name-checks one western town after another. Well written.

KEITH URBAN/I’m In
Writer: Radney Foster/Georgia Middleman; Producer: Dann Huff & Keith Urban; Publisher: Universal-PolyGram/St, Julien/On My Mind, ASCAP; Capitol Nashville (track)
—The fifth single from Defying Gravity is an insanely catchy romp. More hooks than a tuna boat. If the song seems familiar, it’s because you remember it from Radney Foster’s 1998 CD See What You Want to See or his 2001 collection Are You Ready for the Big Show. The former also contained Radney’s version of “Raining on Sunday” which Mr. Urban has also memorably covered.

TENA RAE HELM/Nobody’s Watching
Writer: tena Rae Helm/Bobby Terry; Producer: Bobby Terry; Publisher: FireRae, BMI; Fire Rae (www.tenarae.com)
—Relentlessly perky. Unbearably bouncy. Painfully sweet.

CARRIE UNDERWOOD/Undo It
Writer: Carrie Unerwood/Kara DioGuardi/Marti Frederiksen/Luke Laird; Producer: Mark Bright; Publisher: Carrie-Okie/Sunshine Terrace/Bug/Half of My Publishing/Art in the Fodder/Arthouse/Universal-Careers/High Powered Machine, BMI; Arista
—You’d think that with four writers, one of them would have come up with a melody. Carrie sells this one with sheer attitude.

BILL RICE/Rockstar
Writer: none listed; Producer: Bill Rice & Roger Blevins Jr.; Publisher: none listed; Aaron Ave
—His voice is too lightweight for the material. The production overwhelms him.

TRACE ADKINS/This Ain’t No Love Song
Writer: Tony Lane/Marcel/David Lee; Producer: Michael Knox; Publisher: Sony-ATV Harmony/Universal/Chaggy Buss/Universal-Careers, ASCAP/BMI; Show Dog Universal
—Contrary to the title, it IS a love song. And Trace sings it splendidly. The production work on this slab of audio dynamite is mighty potent. I remain a fan.

CERRITO & LANE BRODY/South Of The Border
Writer: none listed; Producer: Eddie Bayers Jr., Felipe de la Rosa & Cerrito; Publisher: none listed; Checo
—Yes, it’s the 1939 Gene Autry standard. This arrangement dresses the tune up with Mexicali trumpets and castanets, plus a verse in Spanish.

MONTGOMERY GENTRY/While You’re Still Young
Writer: Jim Collins/Tony Martin/Wendell Mobley; Producer: Michael Knox; Publisher: none listed; Columbia
—Their voices have never sounded stronger. And this is the best written, best sounding  single they’ve put out in ages. A refreshing and welcome change of pace.

KEVIN FOWLER/Pound Sign
Writer: David Lee Murphy/Jim Collins/Tony Martin; Producer: David Lee Murphy; Publisher: Old Desperados/N2D/Carol Vincent/Songs of Elevation/Big Green Tractor/Sony-ATV, ASCAP/BMI; Lyric  Street
—“Today I feel like pound sign (#), question mark (?), star (*), exclamation point (!),” goes the chorus. It seems he partied too hard last night and now he has a mean hangover. Bopping and cute.

BOMSHEL/Just Fine
Writer: Kelley Shepard/Kristy Osmunson/Lee Brice; Producer: Chuck Howard; Publisher: Getting Grown/KupKake/Osmunson/Mike Curb/Sweet Hysteria, BMI; Curb
—The rhythm track is nervous sounding. They sing it with feisty energy, but is the so-so song worth the effort?

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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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