Richie Fields, Sunny Sweeney and Kim Parent are all back, singing as superbly as ever. Newcomers Dianna Paul and Sherry Lynn prove that they are ready to run with the big dogs. From the folkier side of things are delightful discs by Ellis Paul and TV star Robert David Hall.
Our Disc of the Day comes from the good people at Broken Bow. It is “Real” by James Wesley. And hand a DisCovery Award to Dianna Paul. Both of these singles, by the way, are fine pieces of country songwriting. And that always goes a long way with this listener.
Writer: Dave Robbins/Tim Gates/Trey Robbins; Producer: J. Gary Smith; Publisher: Songwriters of Platinum Pen/Tim Bert/Songs of Platinum Pen/Slickhead/Jo Trey, BMI/ASCAP; Joint Journey (CDX) (410-442-4629)
—Dramatic sounding. The descending chords, chiming guitars and stately tempo set up a resonant, throaty baritone who can really deliver the goods. Everything I have heard by this man has been top notch. Surely one of you big labels could use a talent like this.
SUNNY SWEENEY/From a Table Away
Writer: Sunny Sweeney/Bob DiPiero/Karyn Rochelle; Producer: Brett Beavers; Publisher: Big Machine/Super 98/International Dog/Big Yellow Dog/Words & Music/Clarity Tree/Sony-ATV/Love Monkey, BMI; Republic Nashville (CDX) ()
—I remain a fan. She is confidently country, and the steel-guitar soaked midtempo song is loaded with hooks and harmonies.
Writer: Neal Coty/Jimmy Melton; Producer: Dan Frizsell & Rodney Clawson; Publisher: Bug/Songs of Universal/Write Em Rite, BMI; BBR (CDX) (615-244-8800)
—Any song that begins with, “500 channels and there ain’t much on tonight” is fine with me. The gist of it is the comparison between his own experience and what he sees on “reality” TV. The struggle to survive, losing a job, foreclosure, death and flooding are what is “Real.” Superbly written and strongly sung.
KACEY JONES/It’s Gonna Take One Helluva Man
Writer: Kacey Jones/Benita Hill/Becky Hobbs; Producer: Kacey Jones; Publisher: Mamalama/Gooby/Becca’s Mecca, ASCAP/BMI; IGO (CDX) (www.kaceyjones.com)
—Cute and clever, as usual. “It’s gonna take one helluva man to be better than no man at all.”
ELLIS PAUL & KRISTIAN BUSH/Annalee
Writer: Ellis Paul; Producer: Thad Beaty & Jason Collum; Publisher: none listed, SESAC; Black Wolf (CDX) ()
—This folkie, formerly on Rounder, has a bunch of Boston Music Awards on his shelf. Accompanied by Sugarland’s Kristian Bush, he embarks on a more soaring, pop-country sound with this tuneful outing. The track builds in excitement throughout as Paul’s voice soars with power and intensity on succeeding high choruses.
DARRYL WORLEY/Keep the Change
Writer: Darryl Worley/Phil O’Donnell/Jim “Moose” Brown; Producer: Jim “Moose” Brown & Kevin “Swine” Grantt; Publisher: House of Sea Gayle/Antlered One/Pickwick Landing/Big Loud Bucks/Imokalee/Daphil, ASCAP/BMI; Stroudavarious ()
—“I work half the year for me the other half for Uncle Sam.” No you don’t. The federal tax rate is lower than it has been since 1950. “America’s in trouble/If they don’t wise up and stop busting out the blocks that were laid as a foundation.” What, exactly, does that even mean? “Our nation could wind up in a pile of rubble” he asserts, without offering anything to back that statement up. In other words, stupidity set to music.
SHERRY LYNN/What a Day to Shake a Heartache
Writer: Sandy Ramos/Ronnie Kimball/Kalii Palmer; Producer: Ted Hewitt; Publisher: Lawyer’s Wife/Kimbro, BMI/ASCAP; Stealheart (www.sherrylynnmusic.com)
—The track has a nice, rolling, rumbling quality to it. Her sprightly vocal rides atop the churning rhythm with aplomb. Listenable.
ROBERT DAVID HALL/Things They Don’t Teach You in School
Writer: Robert David Hall; Producer: Chris Wall; Publisher: Chenango, BMI; RDH (track) (www.robertdavidhallmusic.com)
—The title tune to this fellow’s new CD is an acoustic-based gem with plenty of rippling guitar work, harmonica, brushed drums and upright bass. His plain-spoken vocal is just right for the lyric that praises the virtue of street smarts over book learnin.’ Hall portrayed coroner “Dr. Robbins” on the original CSI TV series. He has also had recurring roles on L.A. Law, The Practice and other shows and is active on radio and in voice-over work. In addition to this tune, check out his versions of producer Chris Wall’s “I Feel Like Hank Williams Tonight” and of the country goldies “Sittin’ on Top of the World” and “Just Because.”
DIANNA PAUL/Maker’s Mark
Writer: Dianna Paul/John Paule/Daniel Steigerwald; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Willow Pond, BMI; Seacoast (www.diannapaul.com)
—It is a ballad. It starts out really slowly. But things perk up when she gets to the chorus hook. Drinking won’t ease your pain. “When it all goes dark/Look to your Maker’s mark.” Nicely written and sung with trembling emotion.
KIM PARENT/Don’t Tell a Soul
Writer: Getzov/Erlich; Producer: Harry Stinson; Publisher: none listed; KP (track) (www.kimparent.com)
—Drenched in sultry, sensuous, bluesy atmosphere. This is the title tune to Kim’s second collection, and it is a sound to get completely lost in. For a funkier groove, check out her equally sexy and swampy performance of “Puttin’ on the Dog.” Right now, she’s out backing Brooks & Dunn on their farewell tour. But you might also know Kim Parent as one of the vocalists on CMT’s The Singing Bee television series. She sings jingles for Wendy’s and has appeared on records by Faith Hill, Jo Dee Messina, Phil Vassar, Reba, Aaron Tippin, Tim McGraw, Josh Turner and many others. The lady has the goods.
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