As regular readers know, I occasionally like to stray off the major-label path and devote a column entirely to indies. Just to survey the scene and see what’s going on.
Guess what? I haven’t been missing much. This stack of platters is pretty much a sea of mediocrity.
The few bright spots include Teea Goans, whose entire The Way I Remember It collection is easily the Disc of the Day.
Ms. Goans is a newcomer to this column. But for this week’s DisCovery Award, I decided to go with someone more obscure. Emil Bishaw, according to his website, is a 16-year-old living in El Paso, Texas. He clearly has something special going on in the vocal department. No wonder Music City’s Judy Rodman has taken him under her talented wing.
JEFF OLSON/Rhythm Of The Rail
Writer: Jeffrey Olson; Producer: Dick McVey; Publisher: Jeffrey Olson, ASCAP; D&T (CDX) (615-838-2141)
—Love the track, the tempo, the harmonica, the twang guitar, the fiddle and the slippery piano. His voice, however, is pitch-y at best.
Writer: Eddie Ray Russell/Randall K. Hicks; Producer: Ed Russell; Publisher: Alley Roads, BMI; Castle (CDX) (www.castlerecords.com)
—He bemoans the economy and blames politicians. But it’s a flat-footed vocal performance.
MIKE AIKEN/Love You Tonight
Writer: Mike Aiken; Producer: Mike Aiken & Amy Aiken; Publisher: Michael Aiken, ASCAP; Aspirion/Northwind (CDX) (www.mikeaikenmusic.com)
—His singing voice is so lightweight it practically floats away. Good thing the melody is as simple as a nursery rhyme.
CHRIS FILER/John Deere, John 3:16
Writer: Shane Minor/Brett Jones; Producer: Dennis Dearing; Publisher: Shane Minor/EMI Blackwood, BMI; Lofton Creek (CDX) (www.chrisfilermusic.com)
—His delivery and earnest and strong. The heartland-America song is sturdy and well written. The production is understated and clear. It probably won’t change your life, but it’s certainly worth a listen.
EMIL BISHAW/All I Ever Knew Of Love Was You
Writer: Gregory Steven Gonzalez; Producer: Judy Rodman; Publisher: Emil Maes Productions, BMI; Caper (CDX) (www.emilmusic.us)
—The slight feathery rasp in his tenor vocal is intriguing, and the bopping pop track is a winner, even though it occasionally threatens to swamp him. Highly listenable.
SMOKEY RIVER BOYS/All Pure Country
Writer: Robert Metzger; Producer: Robert Metzger; Publisher: Aim High/Universal, ASCAP; Platinum Plus (CDX) (www.smokeyriverboys.com)
—Definitely hillbilly. It made me smile with its innocence and simplicity. Corny country fun.
KELLY PARKES/Nothin’ Good Ever Happens After Midnight
Writer: Doug Bryson/David Dorn; Producer: Kim Copeland; Publisher: Cross Bayou/Big Loud Bucks/Songs South/David Dorn/Perleejo, ASCAP; Edge/Lofon Creek (CDX) (www.loftoncreekrecords.com)
—She’s a honky-tonk angel, looking for a good time. A little bluesy, a little rocking, a lot of wailing.
DAVID WOOD/Simple Things
Writer: Alan Laney/Bill C. Graham; Producer: Ronnie Guilbeau, David Wood & Bill Graham; Publisher: Soloal/Bill Graham, BMI; Dew Note (CDX) (www.davidwoodcountry.com)
—As you might expect from the title, the track is spare and uncomplicated. The lilting tone would be more enjoyable if his rather bland singing voice had something “country” in it.
ULRIKA OLUND/Sick And Tired
Writer: Ulrika Olund/Petrus Wessman; Producer: Petus Wessman & Ulrika Olund; Publisher: Sunday Morning, no performance rights listed; Sunday Morning
—Everything was bopping along splendidly as long as she stuck to the verses and their less-than-challenging melody. She was doing fine until she got to the first chorus. That’s when she went up into her wavering-pitch upper vocal range. Ouch!
TEEA GOANS & DAN TYMINSKI/Made For Loving You
Writer: Curly Putman/Sonny Throckmorton; Producer: Terry Choate; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Sony-ATV Cross Keys, BMI/ASCAP; Crosswind (track) (www.teeagoans.com)
—The songwriter credits on Teea’s new CD The Way I Remember It, read like a who’s-who of classic country tunesmiths—Hank Cochran, Red Lane, Bill Anderson, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and even Ernest Tubb are represented. She sings with direct, true phrasing throughout. And on this slow duet shuffle with Dan Tyminski she a piercing arrow of emotion above his perfect vocal harmony. Recommended.