DISClaimer Single Reviews (8/4/10)

Gwyneth Paltrow as Kelly Canter in "Country Strong"

Can I get a witness for Lloyd Maines?

The steel-guitar wonder is behind two of the finest country performances in this stack of platters. And in the case of James Hand, I mean Country with a capital “C.” As for Max Stalling, his Maines-produced outing wins him a DisCovery Award.

As fond as I was of those two efforts, the day truly belongs to the ladies—Laura Bell Bundy, Missouri Mile, Gretchen Wilson and our Disc of the Day winner, Gwyneth Paltrow.

MAX STALLING/Long Way To Get
Writer: Bob Schneider; Producer: Lloyd Maines; Publisher: Shockorama, BMI; Blind Nello (track) (www.maxstalling.com)
—This clear-voiced tenor’s Home to You CD kicks off with this breezy, fiddle-and-steel laced traveling tune. He has a somewhat folkie quality that mixes well with the airy, acoustic country accompaniment. All around, a very pleasant listening experience.

GWYNETH PALTROW/Country Strong
Writer: Jennifer Hanson/Tony Martin/Mark Nesler; Producer: Byron Gallimore; Publisher: Sony-ATV/Chaylynn/Music of Stage Three/Nashvistaville/Music of EverCountry/Evergreen, BMI; RCA
—We knew she could sing because she did so well with Huey Lewis on “Cruisin’” in that movie Duets. This centerpiece of her upcoming country-music movie is a great, big slab of melody that gives her plenty of room to strut and soar. Chorus harmonies by Vince Gill and Patty Griffin, plus some terrific, juicy guitar solos, make this really take off for the skies. One terrific little record.

POOR J. BROWN/Family Tree
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; PJB (www.poorjbrown.com)
—“It’s always shady around my family tree.” Let’s see: Mama shot a guy. Uncle manages a stripper. Cousin kissed the quarterback and got tossed off the football team. Grandpa died with his boots on, but not his pants. Brother got caught with reefer. Sister has six children, and she’s only 23. Ya gotta love this.

LAURA BELL BUNDY/Drop On By
Writer: Brice Long/Ronnie Rogers; Producer: Nathan Chapman; Publisher: EMI Foray/Send Me the Checks/Peermusic III/Seven Five Three One, SESAC/BMI; Mercury (track)
—Her CD is divided into “Achin’” and “Shakin’” songs. “Giddy On Up” was from the latter group. This sweet, sad, groovin,’ soulful ballad follow-up showcases her abilities delivering the former. Sultry and satisfying.

MISSOURI MILE/That’s What I Do
Writer: Sheena Persons/Sheila Rochelle/Byron Hill; Producer: Byron Hill; Publisher: Quinnford/Byron Hill/Little Memphis, ASCAP/BMI; BHP (Track) (www.missourimile.com)
—The title tune to this sister duo’s debut EP is a gentle, brightly sparkling little ditty with a delightfully delicate tone. Sunny, simple and ear-catchingly charming.

TRAILER CHOIR/Shakin’  That Tailgate
Writer: Butter/Brady Seals; Producer: Toby Keith & Mark Wright; Publisher: Cold Beer Country/Gypsy Outfit/Big Loud Bucks, BMI/ASCAP; Show Dog Universal
—This raucous trio is at its beer-swilling best on this summertime party rocker. Crank it up.

WINK KEZIAH/Sometimes You Win
Writer: Wink Keziah; Producer: Mark Stuart & Wink Keziah; Publisher: none listed; Great South (track) (www.winkkeziah.com)
—Wink’s new Hard Times CD leads off with this raggedy honky-tonker. He won’t win any blue ribbons with his voice, but there is an undeniable authenticity in his drawling sound.

GRETCHEN WILSON/I Got Your Country Right Here
Writer: Jeffrey Steele/Tom Hambridge; Producer: Gretchen Wilson & Blake Chancey; Publisher: none listed, BMI/ASCAP; Redneck (track) (www.redneckrecords.com)
—The title tune of Gretchen’s current CD gives shout-outs to Charlie Daniels, The Allman Brothers Band, Waylon Jennings, Bocephus, Z.Z. Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd while the steady beat throbs and electric guitars sizzle. What are you waiting for? Get up and dance.

JAMES HAND/Just A Heart
Writer: James Hand; Producer: Ray Benson & Lloyd Maines; Publisher: Slim Hand/Happy Valley, BMI; Rounder (track)
—James Hand is the Real Deal, a singer-songwriter who is proudly old school. This honky-tonk moaner would not be out of place on a Faron Young album of 1962. The vocalist’s teardrop delivery is beautifully framed by a classic production drenched in steel guitar. This is my kind of country. The new CD is titled Shadow on the Ground. Buy it.

ADAM BRAND/Ready For Love
Writer: busbee/Travis Meadows/Bobby Terry; Producer: Richard Landis; Publisher: BMG Platinum/Songs of Universal/Terry and Town/BMG Gold, BMI/ASCAP; Arista
—Australia’s four-time country Male Vocalist of the Year makes his U.S. debut with this ultra rhythmic, sexy come-on that’s loaded with pulsing bass and twanging guitar. So catchy that it’s practically addictive.

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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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