At first, I was certain that Eric Church was going to coast off with yet another Disc of the Day award. Then I heard Danny Gokey hit that climactic tenor note at the finale of his stunning ballad and decided that, no, THIS was the performance du jour. Next, the Randy Rogers Band came galloping in with an uptempo tune and snatched the prize away from Danny.
Then, at the very end of the listening session, Steel Magnolia came up to the plate. To say that they knock “Just By Being You” out of the park vocally is a decided understatement. The duo claims the Disc of the Day prize over all the other worthy contenders.
Among the indies, Tommy Steele gets his second straight rave review. That leaves the DisCovery Award open for newcomer-to-the-column Keith Compton. Besides, he made me smile.
BLAINE GRAY/The Corner of Love and Life
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Aaron Ave. (www.blainegray.com)
—It says something when the steel guitarist attracts more attention than your voice.
JOHN RICH/Country Done Come to Town
Writer: John Rich/Vicky McGehee; Producer: John Rich; Publisher: J. Money/Do Write/Middle Child 2/Big Loud Bucks, ASCAP/BMI; Reprise
—The lyric might be “country,” but the rocking, bass-heavy track certainly isn’t.
TOMMY STEELE/Forever 17
Writer: Jeff Bates/Jack Williams; Producer: Donnie Smith; Publisher: Melrose/Southern Cow, BMI/ASCAP; TCR (CDX) (www.tommysteeleband.com)
—Very cool sounding. The trembling electric guitar, his heart-in-throat vocal and the lyric of enduring love all work splendidly here. Recommended listening.
VERONICA BALLESTRINI/Don’t Say
Writer: Veronica Ballestrini/Cliff Owens; Producer: Cliff Downs; Publisher: Acinorev/4MyGirls, BMI/ASCAP; Timbob (CDX) (www.veronicaballestrini.net)
—She is slightly pitch-y, but manages to stay on track enough to effectively deliver this crunchy-sounding kiss-off to a cheater.
ERIC CHURCH/Smoke a Little Smoke
Writer: Eric Church/Jeff Hyde/Driver Williams; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Sinnerlina/Mammaw’s Cornbread/Pine Box Poetry, BMI; Capitol Nashville (track)
—Thumping and groove soaked, it’s an ode to kicking back that kicks.
DANNY GOKEY/I Will Not Say Goodbye
Writer: Lari White/Chuck Cannon/Vicky McGehee; Producer: Mark Bright; Publisher: SWG/BPJ/Chuck Cannon/Middle Child 2/Big Loud Bucks, BMI/ASCAP; RCA/19 (track)
—I dig this guy. And his back story about the death of his wife in 2008 is perfectly captured in this soulful, soaring ballad. The man sings the fire out of it.
JULIE INGRAM/I Love You
Writer: Francis Wainwright; Producer: Jay Vernali & Julie Ingram; Publisher: INXS, ASCAP; LongShot (CDX)
—Her precise, perfectly enunciated diction gets in the way of my enjoying this as a “country” single. Make yourself sound more sloppy.
KEITH COMPTON/Inflatable Doll
Writer: Keith Compton; Producer: Walt Wilder; Publisher: Taloga/Leedy, BMI; CMM (CDX) (www.cmm-online.com)
—Ya gotta love this. Whenever he’s in the doghouse at home, he gets out his air pump and creates a companion who doesn’t talk back. Lotsa fun.
RANDY ROGERS BAND/Too Late for Goodbye
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; MCA Nashville
—As usual, he sings with enormous emotion and grit. The band’s rolling rhythm and hearty harmony vocals are right on the money, too. Give this outfit the big, fat hit it deserves.
STEEL MAGNOLIA/Just By Being You
Writer: Britton Cameron/Patricia Conroy; Producer: Dann Huff; Publisher: Big Music Machine/Golden Gears/Super 98/Patricia Conroy, BMI/SOCAN; Big Machine
—Meghan and Josh are on a roll. They’ve been nominated for ACM and CMT awards, gone on tour with Brad Paisley and scored a top-five hit with “Keep on Lovin’ You.” This follow-up single is a chesty power ballad with them practically shouting in harmony together. A thrilling listening experience. So nice I played it twice.
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