DISClaimer Single Reviews (5/10/11)

You remember albums, don’t you?

They are collections of songs that ask you to experience several of a favorite performer’s thoughts of the moment. Mind you, there aren’t a whole lot of folks in Music City that you want to spend that much time with. But one of them most certainly is Emmylou Harris. So for album achievement, her Hard Bargain is a Disc of the Day.

Country music is, was and probably always will be centered on hit singles. With that in mind, hand a Disc of the Day to the fun, catchy “Take It Off” by the always listenable Joe Nichols.

I am happy to report that there are three brand-new faces in this stack of platters. One of them, Jason Jones, wins our DisCovery Award with “Ferris Wheel.”

RIDIN’ HIGH BAND/Go Crazy With My Heart
Writer: M. Jason Greene/Chris Cagle; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Anjelito/Do Write/Sony-ATV Tunes, BMI/ASCAP; Centennial Records of Texas (409-296-2953)
—There’s talent here: The lead vocalist has personality and the band plays well. My suggestion is that they hire someone to actually MIX the sound the next time they record.

Writer: Darius Rucker/Clay Mills; Producer: Frank Rogers; Publisher: Universal/Cadaja/MXC/Still Working for the Woman/EverGreen, ASCAP; Capitol Nashville (track)
—Very cool. In a sea of happy-happy ditties, Darius puts out a defeated, dejected heartache song that captures loss beautifully. The steel playing and his soaring voice on the choruses are particularly gripping.

SHAWNA RUSSELL/Get Right Or Get Left
Writer: Shawna Russell/Keith Russell/Tim Russell; Producer: Julian King, Clif Doyal & Tim Russell; Publisher: Blue Buckaroo, BMI; Way Out West
—She’s a wailer. And this take-a-hike-buddy attitude is perfect for her rocking vocal chops.

Writer: Zac Brown/Wyatt Durrette/Coy Bowles/Jeffrey Steele; Producer: Keith Stegall & Zac Brown; Publisher: Weimerhound/Lil’ Dub/Angelika/Poppsolotamus/Jeffrey Steele/BPJ, BMI; Atlantic (track)
—As breezy as a ride on Buffett’s boat. It takes you straight to that wave-washed beach in your mind. In other words, pretty darn irresistible.

DEBORAH ALLEN/Anything Other Than Love
Writer: Deborah Allen/Gary Burr; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Delta Rock (615-476-4086)
—She’s singing as soulfully as ever. The song and production are straightforward and sturdy.

Writer: Natalie Hemby/Angela Lauer; Producer: Jeff Coplan; Publisher: Tiltawhirl/Carnival/Bluewater/Sophie Park/Kobalt, BMI/ASCAP; BNA
—It somehow manages to be both acoustic/rootsy and pop/crunchy simultaneously. The banjo licks, percussion thump and feathery femme harmonies are all ear catching. I’m in.

JASON JONES/Ferris Wheel
Writer: Kyle Jacobs/Josh Kelley/Rachel Thibodeau; Producer: Brett Beavers; Publisher: Curb/Jacobsong/Fortune Favors the Bold/Kohaw/Dudeski/Bicycle/Little Champion/Dream Rock, ASCAP; Warner Bros.
—The delicate instrumental track practically twinkles. His boyish tenor vocal matches the innocent-romance lyric perfectly. Dizzy and captivating.

Writer: Dallas Davidson/Ashley Gorley/Kelley Lovelace; Producer: Buddy Cannon; Publisher: EMI Blackwood/String Stretcher/Songs of Southside Independent/External Combustion/Out of the Taperoom/EMI April/Didn’t Have to Be, BMI/ASCAP; Show Dog Unversal
—It’s not exactly life changing as a song. But this man’s superb voice can make even the trivial sound important. And the whole lovable thumping country thang is absolutely the Sound of Summer. I remain an enormous fan.

EMMYLOU HARRIS/Six White Cadillacs
Writer: Emmylou Harris/Will Jennings; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publisher: Poodlebone/Almo/Will Jennings/Irving, ASCAP; Nonesuch (track)
—Hypnotic. Electric guitars stutter and shuffle while percussion patters steadily behind her hushed, ghostly vocal delivery of a funeral lyric. This is the tune she chose to perform on Letterman to introduce her new Hard Bargain CD. But it could just as easily have been any of its other dozen shining gems. Jay Joyce’s minimalist sonic approach keeps you hanging on every line of this largely self-penned collection. Check out her moving odes to Gram Parsons (”The Road”) and the recently deceased Kate McGarrigle (”Darlin’ Kate”).

PHIL VASSAR/Let’s Get Together
Writer: Phil Vassar/Tony Mullins; Producer: Phil Vassar & Ross Copperman; Publisher: Phylvester/TMullins, ASCAP; Rodeowave
—Hey, everybody. There’s a party at Phil’s house, and we’re all invited.


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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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