DISClaimer Single Reviews (9/22/10)

What is past is present.

This week, The Judds and Ken Mellons are returning with records that reinvent their respective sounds. Loretta Lynn, Sheryl Crow & Miranda Lambert revisit a country classic and earn a Disc of the Day honor in the bargain.

The retro sound of The Secret Sisters wins them a DisCovery Award.

Wait a minute. There’s something ultra contemporary here, too. I’m afraid that “Coal Miner’s Daughter” is going to have to share that Disc of the Day prize with the magical sound of “Hello World” by Lady Antebellum.

TAYLOR MADE/Quiet Kind Of Crazy
Writer: Dan Bailey; Producer: Dale Morris & Dan Mitchell; Publisher: Morris Music Group International, BMI; LGR (615-824-5370)
—This broken-hearted, piano-based ballad is well sung and well produced, but never fires off any real sparks.

GARY ALLAN/Kiss Me When I’m Down
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; MCA Nashville
—She’s leaving, abandoning various artifacts in her wake, just so he’ll have to call her to come back and retrieve them. As usual, his delivery is gripping. But I don’t know that those strings are needed in the background.

JODY JENKINS/Boy’s Night Out
Writer: Bart Butler/Shane Minor; Producer: Bart Butler, Jody Jenkins & Bobby Jenkins; Publisher: Bill Butler, BMI; Zone 7 (210-498-7908)
—An attempted redneck bopper that can’t seem to make up its mind exactly what tempo it is in.

CRAIG MORGAN/Still a Little Chicken Left On That Bone
Writer: Skip Black/Ken Johnson/Brian Dean Maher; Producer: Phil O’Connell & Craig Morgan; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Southside Independent/Reactive Combustion/Tunes of Bigger Picture, BMI/SESAC/ASCAP; BNA
—The boy can sure ‘nuff sing. On this romper, he’s crowing about sticking to your guns and never yelling “uncle” until it is really and truly over. Sizzling and spicy.

LADY ANTEBELLUM/Hello World
Writer: Tom Douglas/Tony Lane/David Lee; Producer: Paul Worley & Lady Antebellum; Publisher: Sony-ATV/Tomdouglasmusic/Ed and Lucille/Universal-Careers, ASCAP/BMI; Capitol Nashville (track)
—The fourth single from the stellar Need You Now CD is a showcase for the extraordinarily evocative voice of Charles Kelley. It is a ballad that floats on a lovely sonic bed of strings and heartbeat bass. A lyric for family men everywhere and a sound to swoon over.

THE SECRET SISTERS/I’ve Got A Feeling
Writer: none listed; Producer: Dave Cobb; Publisher: none listed; Beladroit (track) (www.secretsisterband.com)
—Beladroit is T Bone Burnett’s new UMG-distributed label. So it should come as no surprise that this duo has a charmingly rootsy, retro sound. The lively ditty comes on like a simple, innocent, ‘50s senior-prom tune.

KEN MELLONS/Tennessee Ridge Runner
Writer: Ken Mellons/Larry Alderman/Chris Myers; Producer: Ken Mellons & Joe Caverlee; Publisher: none listed; Jukebox Junkie (track) (www.kenmellons.net)
—Like Joe Diffie, Patty Loveless and Marty Raybon before him, Ken is taking a left turn from country to bluegrass. The “Jukebox Junkie” man drawls his way through this toe tapper while banjo, Dobro, mandolin and fiddle notes scamper all around him. Highly listenable.

THE JUDDS/I Will Stand By You
Writer: Robert Ellis Orrall/Angelo Petraglia/Steve Lee Olsen; Producer: Don Potter; Publisher: Ten Ten/Orrall Fixation/Slanky Dank/Bug/Songs of Windswept Pacific/Roots Three/Purple Cape, ASCAP/BMI; Curb
—I expected a return to this team’s folkie/acoustic past. Instead, this finale Judds single is a solid, pumping rocker with loads of “bottom” in its sound. A refreshing change of pace and an unmistakably hooky, hit song.

CHRISTY SUTHERLAND/Diggin’ Ditches
Writer: Rich Alves/John Colgin/Christy Sutherland; Producer: Bubba Smith; Publisher: Big Hitmakers/Rainy Graham/Dunwoody/Mattmoosic/Gaither, ASCAP/BMI; New Day (track) (www.christysutherland.net)
—This former Giant and Epic artist has reinvented herself as an award-winning Christian-country stylist. This bluesy outing shows she has lost nothing as a supremely confident singer. Groove soaked.

LORETTA LYNN, SHERYL CROW & MIRANDA LAMBERT/Coal Miner’s Daughter
Writer: Loretta Lynn; Producer: Patsy Lynn Russell & John Carter Cash; Publisher: Sure-Fire, BMI; Columbia
—Loretta kicks off this remake of her signature song with pierced-arrow precision. We should all sound so good at 75. She has retained an astoundingly flawless tone. In fact, it’s all that  Sheryl and Miranda can do to keep up. Each takes turns on the lyric, then all three harmonize and send the thing straight to hillbilly heaven.

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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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