DISClaimer Single Reviews (10/20/10)

I always like a listening session with plenty of newcomers.

After all, the thrill of discovery is what every critic lives for. This week sees column debuts by Chet O’Keefe, Corinne Chapman, The Jeremy Miller Band, James Lann and Daniel Warren.

In the cases of Mr. O’Keefe and Ms. Chapman, I believe we’re in the presence of important new songwriting voices. Both of them are really classy tunesmiths.

If you want an example of a songwriting masterpiece, look no further than “I Wouldn’t Be a Man.” This 1987 Don Williams classic was previously revived by Billy Dean in 1996. Now it is the sublime new single by Josh Turner. It is also the Disc of the Day.

Of those newcomers cited above, I’m singling out James Lann for a DisCovery Award, simply because his record is the best produced of the lot. His website says that his new CD Honky Tonk Kung Fu is this authentic Texas cowboy’s second. But he’s new this week to DisClaimer.

Writer: Jeremy Miller/The Jeremy Miller Band; Producer: Keith Davis; Publisher: none listed, BMI; JMB (www.jeremymillerband.com)
—Somewhat amateur sounding, but not without its charms. The band has an enthusiastic, garage-country approach. The lead vocal is ever-so-slightly pitch-y, but remains endearing with its drawling little tenor rasp.

KENNY CHESNEY/Somewhere With You
Writer: J.T. Harding/Shane McAnally; Producer: Buddy Cannon & Kenny Chesney; Publisher: Adopted Songs/Crazy Water/Little Blue Egg/Kobalt, BMI/ASCAP; BNA
—The second single from Hemingway’s Whiskey has a lot to live up to, since “The Boys of Fall” was such a masterpiece. This time out, its an atmospheric mid-tempo outing with plenty of yearning in the vocal over a lost love. Swirling and dreamy.

Writer: Corinne Chapman/Gene Reynolds; Producer: Ken Coomer; Publisher: Lilchap, SESAC; CC (track) (www.corinnechapman.com)
—She’s produced by Ken Coomer, who’s noted for his work with Wilco and Uncle Tupelo. But before you slap this with an “Americana” label, give this track a listen. The guitars twang, and the tune is super catchy. “Let love spread like weeds,” she warbles. The song has been picked up by Crocs for its program to provide shoes for people in third-world countries and is also the theme song for a soccer club started by the homeless in Ft. Worth. It comes from Corinne’s six-song EP titled Dirty Pretty Things.

JOSH TURNER/I Wouldn’t Be A Man
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; MCA Nashville
—How perfect is this timing? Don Williams will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame on Sunday evening. And Josh’s new single this week is his glowingly warm and deeply lustrous remake of Don’s 1987 hit. You will absolutely swoon over this utterly gorgeous performance. MCA’s label copy is non existent, but just for the record, this song’s authors are both Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame members—Rory Bourke and Mike Reid.

Writer: Stephanie Urbina Jones/Mark Marchetti/Jack Williams; Producer: Stephanie Urbina Jones; Publisher: none listed, SESAC/BMI/ASCAP; Casa Del Rio (210-378-5897)
—I have always liked this Texas gal. On this upbeat twang-fest, she thanks God “for what I have and haven’t got.” Bopping and engaging. Get up and twirl around the dance floor.

Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; NAMM (track)
—This is the title tune to a CD that aims to raise funds “to put musical instruments into the hands of every child in America.” Ambitious? Sure, but worth the effort. Especially when the song is as uplifting, anthemic and catchy as this one. You’ll want to clap along in time.

JAMES LANN/Every Kiss Goodnight
Writer: James Lann/Gary Leach; Producer: Greg Hunt, Gary Leach & James Lann; Publisher: none listed; Ari-Tex (www.jameslann.com)
—Infectious. It has a rocking, nervous, full-bodied energy that propels it relentlessly forward. It takes awhile to get to the title, but the rush getting there is so cool that you don’t care. Beautifully produced. Listen and believe.

Writer: D. Warren; Producer: Al Hurschman & Daniel Warren; Publisher: Chaprielle, BMI; Chaprielle (www.danielwarrenband.com)
—The mostly acoustic production and his gentle vocal lilt give this a somewhat folkie quality. It’s such a peaceful, easy feeling that his rather word-y songwriting style glides by almost unnoticed.

MATT GARY/I’m Just Sayin’
Writer: Frank Myers/Gary B. Baker/Billy Montana; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Quarterback (www.mattgarymusic.com)
—If she were his, he’d treat her right. So he advises her to walk away from “that ball and chain” because, “love’s not supposed to make you hurt.” His tenor floats above a frothing, churning sonic stew that gives the whole thing an empowering vibe.

CHET O’KEEFE/Ring The Bell
Writer: Chet O’Keefe; Producer: Thomm Jutz & Pat McInerney; Publisher: O’Keefe Street, ASCAP; CO (track) (www.chetokeefe.com)
—He’s been in town only a couple of months, and his very first cut as a writer wins him a Song of the Year prize at the International Bluegrass Music Association’s award show. His own version of it kicks off his Game Bird CD. His voice has a comfy, lived-in quality, and the accompanying sighing steel and rolling rhythm give the track an easy-going lilt. His other tunes are equally refreshing, by the way. Try “Nashville Star,” for one. Or “Petting Zoo,” for another.


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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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