Our top tune this week might be from an unknown act to some of you kiddies.
Yes, there was country music before Carrie Underwood, Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift. Once upon a time, there was a very popular male duo. No, I’m not talking about Brooks & Dunn. This duo scored nine charted titles between 1987 and 1991. Some of them—“Crazy Over You,” “Sure Thing,” “What Do You Want From Me This Time” and “Fair Shake”—became top-10 smashes. They were billed by RCA as Foster & Lloyd. They quit recording together in 1992. Both have had solid solo careers (the former in country and the latter in pop) and have remained friends.
Well, Radney Foster and Bill Lloyd have now reunited in the recording studio. The result is a win as our Disc of the Day.
I have a splendid new artist to tell you about. The disc is billed as by Iodine, and it leads off with a song with that same title. The act’s main singer and songwriter is a woman named Susanne Mumpower. She totally won my heart. Under any billing, this is a DisCovery Award winner.
JULIE INGRAM/You the Man Babe
Writer: Ingram/Wainwright; Producer: Jay Vern & Julie Ingram; Publisher: Summit Partners/INXS, BMI/ASCAP; LongShot (track) (www.julieingram.com)
—The track rumbles along nicely. Her lead vocal is terminally white.
JASON ALDEAN/Dirt Road Anthem
Writer: Brantley Gilbert/Colt Ford; Producer: Michael Knox; Publisher: Warner-Tamerlane/Indiana Angel/Average Joes/Average ZJS, BMI; Broken Bow (track)
—The truck. The bonfire. The beer. The girls. The proud-to-be-country. The dirt road. You’ve heard it all before, a thousand times. I have to say, however, that his ultra Southern delivery makes even the cliches sound good. And this disc is the first time I have actually liked country rapping.
SHANE LAMB/Better Here
Writer: Shane Lamb; Producer: Casey Wood; Publisher: Sleepysheep, no performance rights listed; Rouge River (track) (www.shanelambmusic.com)
—The title tune to this fellow’s CD is a jaunty country-rocker that’s sung in a boyish tenor. Catchy and promising. He wrote all 10 of the album’s songs, solo.
REBA/When Love Gets A Hold Of You
Writer: Jessi Alexander/Gary Nicholson/Jon Randall; Producer: Dann Huff; Publisher: Vistaville/Hopeless Rose/Sony-ATV Cross Keys/Gary Nicholson/Reynsong/Whayasay, ASCAP/BMI; Valory/Starstruck
—Moody, cool, uptempo and minor key, this song is instantly memorable. The thumping, relentless rhythm track has a terrific sonic undertow. An instant “add.”
Writer: Allen/Chamberlain; Producer: Shawn Byrne; Publisher: none listed; Iodine (track) ([email protected])
—Lead singer Susanne Mumpower co-wrote most of the songs on the CD. But let the record show that she also has the exquisite taste to record this gem from the late and much lamented Harley Allen. Darkly atmospheric and utterly gripping, this is essential listening. I have a feeling I’m going to be returning to this record. Just because she’s married to Jamie Johnson of The Grascals, don’t expect the sound of bluegrass here. This woman’s voice whispers, aches, moans and flutters in all the right places. Check out her finesse in “A Woman Will” for instance.
BYRON HILL/Fool Hearted Memory
Writer: Byron Hill/Blake Mevis; Producer: Mike Poston & Byron Hill; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tunes/Make Believus, ASCAP; BHP (track) (www.byronhillmusic.com)
—Perennial Music Row hit writer Hill has a new CD called Radio Songs that is packed with smashes. The renditions are acoustic, simple and honest. This 1982 George Strait hit is just one example of this songwriter’s craftsmanship. It is also a reminder how many decades Byron’s career spans. These songs were originally popularized by everyone from stars past such as Ed Bruce (”Nights”) and Alabama (”Born Country”) up to today’s Joe Nichols (”Size Matters”) and Gary Allan (”Nothing on But the Radio”). Impressive, as well as highly listenable.
FOSTER & LLOYD/It’s Already Tomorrow
Writer: Radney Foster/Bill Lloyd; Producer: Foster & Lloyd; Publisher: none listed, ASCAP/BMI; Effin Ell (track) (www.fosterandlloyd,com)
—The title song of the reunited duo’s comeback CD is saturated with melody and tempo. Chiming guitars, driving energy and hearty vocals are served at this sonic banquet. Buy this.
SIERRA HULL/Easy Come, Easy Go
Writer: Kevin McClung; Producer: Barry Bales & Sierra Hull; Publisher: Mountain William, BMI; Rounder (track) (www.rounder.com)
—Daybreak is young Sierra’s second CD. The 19-year-old mandolinist has that progressive bluegrass instrumental backing and sweet soprano vocal sound that made Alison Krauss a star. The set’s kickoff single accepts heartbreak with resignation and memories. Mighty fine listening.
BUDDY MILLER/Why Baby Why
Writer: Darrell Edwards/George Jones; Producer: Buddy Miller; Publisher: Fort Knox/Bug/Trio, BMI; New West (track) (www.themajesticstrings.com)
—This prodigiously gifted singer, guitarist and songwriter has a new project called The Majestic Silver Strings. It’s a rootsy, guitar loaded, Americana outing of covers including “Cattle Call” “Dang Me” and “Freight Train” plus some obscurities, folk songs and originals. Buddy takes this George Jones classic at a shuffling, relaxed tempo with a casual, good-humored, living-room vibe. The sterling voices of Lee Ann Womack (”Return to Me,” “Meds”), Ann McCrary (”No Good Lover”), Shawn Colvin (”That’s the Way Love Goes”), Emmylou Harris (”Why I’m Walkin’”) and Patty Griffin (”I Want to Be with You Always”) make guest appearances.
GEORGE JONES/I Ain’t Ever Slowing Down
Writer: Al Anderson/Steve Bruton; Producer: Keith Stegall; Publisher: Stairway to Bittner’s/Bug/Songs of Windswept Pacific/Brutunes, BMI; Bandit (CDX) (615-242-1234)
—It’s the Possum with some Cajun spice. Sawing fiddle, slapped snare, barrelhouse piano, twang-fest guitar and a rollicking “party” atmosphere make this little bopper swing.
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