This week, we have new music by honcho Toby Keith, as well as from Billy Currington and Lee Brice, both of whom are coming off career highs. It appears that Capitol/EMI rules the roost, label-wise, since it is presenting fine new tunes from both Troy Olsen and newcomer Walker Hayes.
Guess who has a lock on the DisCovery Award? That’s right, polish one for the man with the most personable single of the day, Walker Hayes. You’re going to love the pants offa “Pants.”
There are a five ballads in this stack of platters. One of them was so lovely it earned its singer a Disc of the Day. That would be Billy Currington.
JASON STURGEON/Rollin’ On
Writer: Jason Sturgeon/Dane Clark; Producer: Dane Clark & Jason Sturgeon; Publisher: none listed; Toolpusher (track)
—The mid-tempo song is wistful and easy-going. He sings quite well, ranging from a conversational baritone in the verses to a strong upper register in the choruses.
Writer: Fred Eaglesmith; Producer: Fred Eaglesmith; Publisher: Sweetwater/Bluewater, SOCAN/SESAC; Lonesome Day (Canada) (track)
—I have long admired this singer-songwriter. His ragged vocal rasp is loaded with personality. On this lead-off track and single from his current Cha Cha Cha CD, the instrumental bed has a faintly Latin groove. As usual, the song craftsmanship is top notch. I could have done without the chirping backup chicks, however.
TOBY KEITH/Bullets in the Gun
Writer: Toby Keith/Rivers Rutherford; Producer: Toby Keith; Publisher: Tokeco Tunes/Universal/Memphianna, BMI/ASCAP; Show Dog Universal
—Toby winds up in the wrong bar, with the wrong woman. With the track roaring around him, he spins a tale of robbery, murder and escape into Mexico with a finale filled with firing federales. Exciting.
STEVE RICHARD/Eighty Acre Church
Writer: none listed; Producer: Phil O’Donnell; Publisher: none listed; Force MP (track) (www.steverichardmusic.com)
—The material is strong, but he doesn’t have the vocal firepower to dominate the production.
BILLY CURRINGTON/Let Me Down Easy
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Mercury Nashville
—Dreamy and languidly romantic. The steel and organ passages are particularly pretty, as is the mid-song guitar solo.
KEVIN WELCH/A Patch of Blue Sky
Writer: Kevin Welch/Claudia Scott; Producer: Keley Warren; Publisher: MonkeyHead/Lovely Monster, SESAC; Music Road (track) (www.kevinwelch.com)
—The title tune to Kevin’s current collection is a stately ballad where he yearns for better times. As usual, he delivers it with plenty of soul. This longtime Nashvillian split for Austin several years ago, but he obviously took all of his record-making talents with him.
LEE BRICE/Beautiful Every Time
Writer: Lee Brice/Rob Hatch/Lance Miller; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Mike Curb/Sweet Hysteria/Magic Mustang/Songs of StyleSonic/Melvin’s Pistol/Melvin’s Bullets, BMI/SESAC; Curb (CDX)
—This beefy power ballad boasts an absolutely killer chorus. Brice’s big, bruising voice wrings every drop of emotion out of it. Nice work.
TROY OLSEN/Good Hands
Writer: Troy Olsen/Marv Green; Producer: Troy Olsen; Publisher: Hillbilly Poetry/Riio Nuevo/Warner-Tamerlane/Made For This Music/The Good The Bad The Ugly, BMI; EMI (CDX)
—I have liked everything this guy has released so far. This rolling number has crystal-clear sound and a vocal that’s perfectly set in the mix. I totally dig the enthusiastic shouts, too. The lyric is a dandy, mixing in references to Willie’s guitar, Geronimo’s rifle and Billy Graham’s Bible. Essential listening.
WALKER HAYES /Pants
Writer: Walker Hayes; Producer: Marshall Altman; Publisher: Breaking New Ground/On a Walk/Sony-ATV, BMI; Capitol Nashville (CDX)
—Cool, groovy, crunchy and packed with pluck. The gist of this bopper is that, “She can wear the pants as long as I can take ‘em off her.” He’s full of little vocal tricks like woo-hoos, spoken asides and falsetto swoops. Completely charming.
DANIEL SMITH/Until I Close My Eyes for Good
Writer: Daniel Smith; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Daniel Smith, no performance rights listed; DLS (615-385-4943)
—This lushly orchestrated love ballad wallows shamelessly in cliches, but manages to be engaging in an over-the-top kind of way.
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