With temperatures on Music Row soaring into the upper 90s this week, I’m taking every opportunity to stay here at my desk. Including penning today’s roundup of new country sounds.
Luke Bryan is always eager to please. And he certainly does that this week with his irresistible “Someone Else Calling You Baby.” It earns him our Disc of the Day award.
With “Georgia Clay,” Josh Kelley coasts to an easy win as the DisCovery Award winner. I can’t wait to hear the rest of his project. If you didn’t get the chance to see him, as well as Randy Montana, opening shows on the last Lady Antebellum tour, seek both of them out in other settings as soon as you can. You won’t be disappointed.
JASON STURGEON/Simple Life
Writer: Jason Sturgeon/Dane Clark; Producer: Dane Clark & Jason Sturgeon; Publisher: none listed; Toolpusher (track)
—His vocal is super expressive—I really like the resonance and individuality in his phrasing. The song could have easily fallen into a ditch of cliches, given its small-town theme we have heard so often before. But he treats the topic with imagination, and the weaving melody and clear production values are added pluses.
CLAY WALKER/Where Do I Go From You
Writer: Don Cook/Clint Daniels/Ryan Tyndell; Producer: Keith Stegall; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Katy’s Own/Sony-ATV Acuff-Rose, BMI; Curb (track)
—The follow-up to “She Won’t Be Lonely Long” has a rocking, swampy groove. He handles the lickety-split verbal pace with aplomb, even managing to sneak in the occasional improvised melodic lick. And although it is sung in his highest register, it never sounds forced. A winner.
JONALEE WHITE/Naked As Fools
Writer: Kay Harris/Molly Pauken/Jonalee White; Producer: James “Bubba” Hudson; Publisher: Harken/Smile Pretty, BMI/SESAC; Lick (track) (www.jonaleewhite.com)
—Softly jaunty. Pleasantly easy-going. Gently listenable.
LUKE BRYAN/Someone Else Calling You Baby
Writer: Luke Bryan/Jeff Stevens; Producer: Jeff Stevens; Publisher: Murrah/Bug/Katy Lou/Big Loud Bucks, BMI; Capitol Nashville (track)
—This one got my heart pumping before he ever uttered a note. The driving percussion and insistent guitar riff grabbed my ears at once. By the time he got to the hooks-a-plenty first chorus, I was bobbing my head and totally lost in this. The lyric might be a pang of heartbreak, but the record is a groovathon.
ROB BAIRD/Could Have Been My Baby
Writer: Rob Baird; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Tiltawhirl/Carnival, BMI; Carnival (track) (www.robbairdmusic.com)
—Squalling out on the open prairie. His strangled, semi-soulful vocal is buried too deep in the mix, and it takes forever to get to the chorus hook.
RANDY MONTANA/Tuesday’s Gone
Writer: Ronnie Van Zant/Allen Collins; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publisher: none listed; Hip-O/UMG (track)
—This is doubtless an emotional month for Randy Montana. On July 1, Joshua Ragsdale—his cowriter on his single “Ain’t Much Left of Loving You”—died following a protracted illness. On Friday, Randy stages his debut on the Grand Ole Opry. Yesterday, his standout track was part of the release of Sweet Home Alabama: The Country Music Tribute to Lynyrd Skynyrd. This Wal-Mart exclusive also features fellow Young Turks such as Randy Houser ( “Simple Man”), Shooter Jennings ( “Call Me the Breeze”), the Eli Young Band ( “Gimme Three Steps”), Eric Church, Uncle Kracker and Jamey Johnson. But Mr. Montana’s treatment of this oft-overlooked ballad is one of the set’s most majestic tracks.
DAN SHAFER/False Love
Writer: James L. Herman/Jerry Vandiver/George McClure; Producer: George McClure; Publisher: Trowbridge/North Fork, BMI/ASCAP; JIP (www.jiprecords.com)
—The track rolls right along, and the song is sturdy. But his pop-sounding vocal lacks country grit and believability.
JOSH KELLEY/Georgia Clay
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; MCA Nashville
—Josh is the brother of Lady A’s Charles Kelley. He formerly recorded in a pop/rock vein. But this soaring-yet-earthy, summer-romance tune places him squarely in the country mainstream. He held me on every word, and the dynamics in the production tickled my ears from start to finale. Play it again.
ANDY VELO/Hank it Up
Writer: Charlie Monk/Rick Huckaby; Producer: Ted Hewitt; Publisher: Carlie Monk/13th Avenue/Head Coach, BMI; LoozLip (CDX) (678-997-5692)
—“Hank,” in this case, refers more to Bocephus than to his honky-tonking daddy. Mr. Velo bellows this as a thumping rocker, not as the lovesick blues. Muscular, sweaty and assertive, to say the least.
THE BELLAMY BROTHERS/Jalapenos
Writer: David Bellamy; Producer: David Bellamy, Howard Bellamy & Randy Hebert; Publisher: Bellamy Brothers Music, ASCAP; Bellamy Bros. (CDX) (www.bellamybrothers.com)
—It says here that this is “banned by radio.” Gee could it be that, “burn your ass tomorrow” line? Or the one about the little blue pill making you “too erect” perhaps? Actually, this is a boatload of fun. And, as usual, soaked in hypnotic Bellamy rhythm.
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