DISClaimer Single Reviews (3/1/11)

Welcome to Country Radio Seminar.

You registrants are going to be hearing a lot of great new music this week. Alas, very little of it was on my desk today. There are only a few real highlights.

One of them is Little Big Town. The group’s “The Reason Why” is hands-down the Disc of the Day

And I am always happy when I find a newcomer who shines brightly. Today, the DisCovery Award goes to singer-songwriter Caitlin Rose. She positively sparkles.

KEVIN DEAL/If You Hurt The Ones You Love
Writer: Kevin Deal; Producer: Lloyd Maines; Publisher: Piedrero, ASCAP; Blind Nello (track)
—Drenched in steel guitar, this is decidedly “old school” country music. His singing voice is a mite thin, but the song is so simple and straightforward that it really doesn’t matter.

THE JANEDEAR GIRLS/Shotgun Girl
Writer: Danielle Leverett/Deric Ruttan; Producer: John Rich; Publisher: Sony ATV/Danielle Leverett, ASCAP; Warner Bros.
—The sound is rather compressed, but there’s no denying the infectious drive of this open-road bopper. A winner.

CAITLIN ROSE/Own Side
Writer: Caitlin Rose; Producer: Mark Nevers, Skylar Wilson & Caitlin Rose; Publisher: none listed; Theory 8 (track) (www.thecaitlinrose.com)
—This singer-songwriter really turned heads with her debut EP a couple of years ago. Her first full-length CD is a minor masterpiece. This title tune trembles with yearning and loneliness. Her fragile-rose delivery is completely captivating.

LITTLE BIG TOWN/The Reason Why
Writer: Karen Fairchild/Wayne Kirkpatrick/Kimberly Schlapman/Phillip Sweet/Jimi Westbrook; Producer: Wayne Kirkpatrick & Little Big Town; Publisher: Warner Tamerlane/Tower One/Mad Mother/Manatt Phelps & Phillips, BMI; Capitol Nashville (track)
—The title track to this foursome’s current album is a chugging, relentless slab of sound. It goes without saying that the stacked vocal harmonies are delicious.

JULIE FORESTER/You Only Love Me When I’m Leavin’
Writer: Julie Forester/Mark Stephen Jones; Producer: Bill Warner; Publisher: Texoma Ten/Julie Forester/Harlan Howard, ASCAP/BMI; JF (track) (www.julieforester.com)
—Recorded live and analog—with no auto tuning—this has terrific presence and audio depth. Her soulful phrasing and the lumbering low guitars contrast beautifully. Music to get lost in.

CHARLEY PRIDE/Except For You
Writer: Ben Peters; Producer: Charley Pride; Publisher: Ben Peters/Songs for the Planet, BMI; Music City (track) (www.charleypride.com)
—Are you feeling the need for an ultra romantic love ballad? Step right up. Charley’s got the goods, complete with synth strings.

LUCINDA WILLIAMS/Buttercup
Writer: Lucinda Williams; Producer: Don Was, Eric Liljestrand & Thomas Overby; Publisher: Lucinda Williams, no performance rights listed; Lost Highway (track)
—Blessed, the latest CD by this supremely gifted writer-artist, kicks off with this drawling, bluesy, cautionary ode. He’s a no-account trying to get back in her good graces, and she’s having none of it. Loaded with Southern attitude and rocking sass.

SUSAN GIBSON/Tightrope
Writer: Susan Gibson; Producer: Gabe Rhodes & Susan Gibson; Publisher: Susing Gibsongs/Bug, BMI; FoxTheRecords (track) (www.susangibson.com)
—Susan was the writer behind the 1998 CMA Single of the Year, “Wide Open Spaces,” as performed by the Dixie Chicks. The title tune to her latest solo collection is a lilting little ditty full of lightly poetic imagery. The production surrounding her breathy soprano is minimal, acoustic guitar accompaniment with a tentative-sounding mandolin solo in the middle.

SCOTT GIBSON/Just Keep Drivin’
Writer: Scott Gibson; Producer: Mac McNabb; Publisher: none listed; MMX (track) (www.scottgibsonmusic.com)
—Recorded in Austin, this has a somewhat ragged, raw sound. His plain spoken delivery is adequate, but rather passionless.

BRADLEY MATTHEW/Common Man
Writer: Adrian David Payne; Producer: Les Butler; Publisher: Dreamer’s Road, BMI; CDX (track) (www.bradleymatthewonline.com)
—The track bops and swings. The lyric is a blue-collar dandy. Unfortunately, he can just barely sing.

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About the Author

Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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