DISClaimer Single Reviews (2/23/11)

Music City is Boys Town today.

The ladies are evidently taking the week off, since every platter here on the reviewing desk comes from a solo male. Let the testosterone festival begin.

Your top choices for airplay come from David Nail, Keith Bryant, Steve Azar, Walker Hayes, Kip Moore and Toby Keith. I know nothing whatsoever about Kip Moore, except that he is an exceptional singer with a sensationally well written song. Give him the DisCovery Award.

The Disc of the Day was a contest among Steve Azar, David Nail and Toby Keith. For melodic inventiveness and for daring to do something different, Toby Keith is my man of the hour.

JON WOLFE/Let a Country Boy Love You
Writer: Jon Wolfe/Britton Cameron; Producer: Lex Lipsitz & Jon Wolfe; Publisher: Fool Hearted/Big Music Machine/Golden Gears/Super 98, SESAC/BMI; Fool Hearted (track) (www.jonwolfecountry.com)
—There already is a George Strait. Find your own style.

TOBY KEITH/Somewhere Else
Writer: Toby Keith/Bobby Pinson; Producer: Toby Keith; Publisher: Tokeco Tunes/Music of Stage Three/Bobby’s Song & Salvage, BMI; Show Dog Universal
—This has a very cool, tongue-tripping groove and unexpectedly jazzy chord changes. He fires the lyric at you, but holds back just a wee bit of bluesy drawl. A terrific, addictive change of pace.

ALLEN KARL/That’s All Behind Me Now
Writer: Larry Alderman; Producer: Tom Manche; Publisher: Aldersong, ASCAP; Century II (track)
—The title tune to this artist’s latest CD is taken at a glacial pace, without the global warming.

STEVE AZAR/Hard Road
Writer: Steve Azar/James House; Producer: Steve Azar & Justin Niebank; Publisher: Webbie Writin’/Nice Shot/Kobalt/Jamshare/Friday Records/Evergreen, BMI; Ride (track) (www.steveazar.com)
—The sound is marvelously crisp as this shambles its way into your heart. It’s a traveling-the-highway song with just the right touch of blue-collar angst. Play and believe.

THE PEAR RATZ/Ozona
Writer: Joe Talbert; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; KSB (www.pearratz.com)
—The vocal is mired in sonic muck to thick you can hardly hear it. Incompetence preserved forever on plastic.

DAVID NAIL/Let It Rain
Writer: David Nail/Jonathan Singleton; Producer: Chuck Ainley & Frank Liddell; Publisher: Scrambler/Carnival/BMG Gold Songs/Glassbean and We Jam Writers Group, ASCAP; MCA Nashville (CDX)
—This man’s winning streak continues. His heart is shredded to pieces in this midtempo meditation, and it shows in every vocal inflection.

KEITH BRYANT/The Note
Writer: George Teren/Tom Hambridge; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Songs of Elevation/Teren It Down, BMI; Jordash (www.jordashrecords.com)
—I have always liked this guy’s singing, and I’ve always been a sucker for story songs. His clear phrasing is just right for this tale of old lovers reconnecting in the wake of her father’s passing.

HAYES CARLL/KMAG YOYO
Writer: Hayes Carll/Scott Davis/John Evans; Producer: Brad Jones; Publisher: Highway 87/Bug/Scott Davis/Shakeabush, SESAC/BMI; Lost Highway
—This nightmare imagery of wartime Army drug experimentation is equal parts Jerry Lee Lewis and Bob Dylan, with a dash of Hendrix electric guitar tossed in for spice. It probably rocks too hard for country radio, but is mighty potent nonetheless.

WALKER HAYES/Why Wait for Summer
Writer: Walker Hayes/Fred Wilhelm; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Capitol Nashville (track)
—I loved everything about his debut single, “Pants.” This shiny, bright follow-up bops right along with its good-times message. Sunny, to say the least.

KIP MOORE/Mary Was the Marrying Kind
Writer: Kip Moore/Scott Stepakoff/Dan Couch; Producer: Brett James; Publisher: Music of Stage Three/Songs of Connan/Roll Though/BMG Rights Management/Sony-ATV/Songs From the Couch, BMI/ASCAP; MCA Nashville (CDX)
—He sings with terrific urgency, and the thumping production matches him lick for lick. As he goes through a laundry list of lovers, he realizes what an awful mistake he’s made in romance. The heartbeat rhythm section is perfection.

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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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