DISClaimer Single Reviews (1/19/11)

Let’s do a little Grammy gazing, shall we?

For starters, let’s look beyond the stunning and well-deserved six nominations for Lady Antebellum. What Nashville act has the second most? Surprise! It’s the quintuple nominated outing by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. Which, by the way, wins our Disc of the Day.

I’d also like to give a shout-out to Darrell Scott, who not only has a Country Instrumental nomination, but is also a crucial component of Band of Joy, the twice nominated CD by Robert Plant.

Casting our eyes further down the 109 (!) category list, we find our town’s denizens scattered everywhere. As I predicted, Kings of Leon and Paramore are well represented in the pop/rock fields. Leon Russell picks up a nod for his collaboration with Elton John.

Over in Pop Instrumental, you’ll find our own Larry Carlton. Legendary Johnny Mathis came to Music City to make his nominated CD. BeBe & CeCe Winans picked up a pair of nominations in the gospel categories. So hooray for that. You’ll find The John Hartford String Band as a contender in the Traditional Folk race. Bela Fleck is a nominee in exotic Category 75 (Best Contemporary World Music Album).

Our own Doug Seroff has a liner-notes nomination for a Fisk Jubilee set. And Colin Escott is back with another Best Historical nomination for a Hank Williams package, co-produced by Jett Williams and Mike Jason and engineered by Joe Palmaccio.

The country categories contain, as usual, a few head scratchers. No to Kenny
Chesney, but yes to David Nail? No to Reba, but yes to Gretchen Wilson? But it is nice to see Dailey & Vincent sneaking in for a Group nomination.

Here are a few other Nashville notables “in the hunt.”

GUY CLARK/Hemingway’s Whiskey
Writer: Guy Clark/Joe Leathers/Ray Stephenson; Producer: Guy Clark, Verlon Thompson & Chris Latham; Publisher: EMI April/Curb/Ghermkyle, BMI/ASCAP; Dualtone (track)
—Let’s face it: This guy is proudly and steadfastly “folk” in all the best senses of the term. So it’s no wonder that his Somedays the Song Writes You album is up for a Best Contemporary Folk Grammy. And just to prove (again) that a great song knows no genre, this insightful, gentle, metaphoric, evocative track emerged from it to become the title tune of Kenny Chesney’s new blockbuster.

SAM BUSH/Circles Around Me
Writer: Jeff Black/Sam Bush; Producer: Sam Bush; Publisher: Lotos Nile/Samanda Lynn/Bug, BMI; Sugar Hill (www.sambush.com)
—If you don’t absolutely love Sam Bush, pack your bags and get out of town. This mandolin master, songwriting wunderkind, singer and personality-plus fellow is up for Best Bluegrass Album, Category 65. Its trilling, trippy title tune is just one of 14 reasons to love this music-packed set. Co-writer Jeff Black, by the way, is also responsible for the album’s standout track, “Gold Heart Locket.”

THE INFAMOUS STRINGDUSTERS/Magic #9
Writer: Jesse Cobb/Chris Pandolfi; Producer: The Infamous Stringdusters & Gary Paczosa; Publisher: Cobbstrumental/Deep Home, ASCAP; Sugar Hill (track) (www.thestringdusters.com)
—Where would the Country Instrumental Category be without bluegrass bands? Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, Vince Gill, Steve Wariner, Frankie Ballard, the Dixie Chicks, Diamond Rio and the rest of country’s hot pickers need to get on the job. As it is, “Magic #9” by The Infamous Stringdusters is a mandolin, banjo, fiddle, guitar and dobro plucked tune that is a worthy, lilting, breezy and merry sounding nominee.

STEVEN CURTIS CHAPMAN/Beauty Will Rise
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Sparrow
—This singer-songwriter is a Nashville treasure. You’ll find him in Grammy Category 53: Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album. Its title tune is a rocking, magnificently uplifting, aching-yet-hopeful ode. Rising from personal and spiritual pain, he sings of the endurance of our souls like no one else. I remain an awestruck fan.

TY HERNDON/The Rest Of My Life
Writer: Matthew S. Garringer/Ty Herndon; Producer: Ty Herndon & Wayne Haun; Publisher: Sunset Gallery/Journey On, no performance rights listed; Funl (track)
—Former country chart topper Herndon bounces back with a Grammy nomination in gospel Category 54 for his Journey On album. It kicks off with this densely scored pop pounder, complete with a quasi-choral backing. Rousing.

RICKY SKAGGS/Return To Sender
Writer: Gordon Kennedy; Producer: Ricky Skaggs & Gordon Kennedy; Publisher: Glennjoy, ASCAP; Skaggs Family (track)
—If you put on Ricky’s Mosaic collection expecting to hear a bluegrass record, you are in for a shock. Co-produced by Gordon Kennedy, it is a collage of pop sounds, united by spiritual lyrics. The whole CD has a nomination in Category 53: Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album. This gorgeously melodic, Celtic-flavored, string-embellished thumper is up for Best Gospel Song. It is a beautiful sounding mini-masterpiece. Ricky’s third nomination is in the Traditional Folk list (Category 68), for his Songs My Dad Loved album.

NASHVILLE SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA/Metropolis Symphony
Writer: Michael Daugherty; Producer: Blanton Alspaugh; Publisher: Peermusic Classical, BMI; Naxos
—This is a brilliant performance of a challenging composition. Daugherty’s work often demands that all instruments play at the top of their registers and incorporates such sounds as whistles, siren, brake drum, chimes and whip cracks. The fifth movement, “Red Cape Tango,” is the most melodic, dramatic and extended of the symphony. It’s not exactly dinner music, but this is the classical record to beat.

DARRELL SCOTT/Willow Creek
Writer: Darrell Scott; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Full Light

—Darrell has often been celebrated as the Nashville tunesmith of “It’s a Great Day to Be Alive,” “Born to Fly,” “Longtime Gone,” “Heartbreak Town,” “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” and more. He has also been lauded for a series of seven great solo CDs. It’s about time someone noticed that he is also a first-call Music Row instrumentalist. This charming, jaunty ditty appears on his A Crooked Road CD and has a nomination in Category 40: Best Country Instrumental. From an indie-label album, no less. Mazel tov.

CHERRYHOLMES/Tattoo Of A Smudge
Writer: B.J. Cherryholmes/Molly Cherryholmes; Producer: Ben Isaacs, Jere Cherryholmes & B.J. Cherryholmes; Publisher: Hey, Knucklehead, ASCAP; Skaggs Family (track) (www.cherryholmes.com)
—This fiddle-and-mandolin dominated rapid romp landed Cherryholmes in the Best Country Instrumental category. Which makes this a strange time for the family band to be announcing that it’s calling it quits this spring.

THE STEELDRIVERS/Where Rainbows Never Die
Writer: Chris Stapleton/Mike Henderson; Producer: Luke Wooten & The SteelDrivers; Publisher: none listed; Rounder (track)
—The SteelDrivers are also in a time of transition. Lead singer Chris Stapleton left the band after recording the current Reckless CD. That’s him singing on this atmospheric meditation on aging. It’s such a terrific song and performance that it did my heart good to see it competing against the major-label biggies in Category 38: Best Country Group. Yes, Lady A will win. But this is still such a class nomination.

MARTY STUART & CONNIE SMITH/I Run To You
Writer: Marty Stuart/Connie Smith; Producer: Marty Stuart; Publisher: Marty Stuart/Connie Smith/Bug, BMI; Sugar Hill (track) (www.martystuart.net)
—Marty is up for two Grammy Awards. “Hummingbyrd” is in the running for Country Instrumental. And this steel-soaked duet with his gold-standard vocalist bride is competing in the Country Collaboration race. Is that cool or what? Both nominees can be found on his current Ghost Train album.

ROBERT PLANT/Silver Rider
Writer: Zachary Micheletti/Mimi Parker/George Sparhawk; Producer: Robert Plant & Buddy Miller; Publisher: 1238/Spinney/Domino, BMI/PRS; Rounder (track)
—Plant’s Nashville-recorded Band of Joy CD features an all-star cast of Nashvillians, including Buddy Miller, Darrell Scott, Bekka Bramlett and Byron House. It is justifiably a nominee in Category 64: Americana Album. And this track pops up competing in the Best Rock Vocal, Category 15. His spectral reading of the echoey throbber—shadowed by the hushed, haunted harmony of Patty Griffin—is simply mesmerizing.

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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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