DISClaimer Single Reviews (5/24/11)

It’s John Rich’s world, we just live in it.

On Sunday, he won this season’s Celebrity Apprentice championship. He’s a publisher on the No. 1 hit “Don’t You Wanna Stay.” He has two new Warner “Six Pak” albums, Rich Rocks! and For the Kids. And now he has two tunes in the same “DisClaimer” column, the St. Jude’s fund-raiser, “For the Kids,” plus his romping Big & Rich reunion with Big Kenny, “Fake ID.”

Nevertheless, it’s Ladies Day here at MusicRow. How can you deny a Disc of the Day award to Taylor Swift after “The Story of Us” zips through your ears?

And among our four newcomers—Glen Templeton, Whitney Mann, Jessica Ridley and David Adam Byrnes—there is no doubt about who is the strongest vocalist. Glen might have a mighty winning song, but Jessica Ridley has the performance, and therefore the DisCovery Award.

JOSH KELLEY/Gone Like That
Writer: Josh Kelley/Clint Lagerburg/Nicole Galyon; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; MCA Nashville (track)
—His pop/rock background shows in the vocally compressed mix and the overall dominance of production over lyric. A little more audio clarity would be welcome. That said, it’s a very cool, hooky song and a compelling, well-phrased performance.

JOHN RICH/For The Kids
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Warner Bros. (ERG)
—Little kids face grim medical conditions while their parents pray. The chorus is an overt plea for donations to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. But it’s still catchy as all get out.

Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Roadrunner (ERG)
—The most “country” outing yet for both of these artists. The simple tune and spare accompaniment, plus sincere and straightforward vocal performances make this a solid winner. Not to mention the sexy “hook-up” lyric.

Writer: Taylor Swift; Producer: Nathan Chapman & Taylor Swift; Publisher: Sony-Tree/Taylor Swift, BMI; Big Machine (track)
—Her Speak Now CD is a really special collection, full of delightful hooks and dandy textures. This frothy rocker is one of its high-energy pleasures. The sizzling, fizzy guitar work, relentless rhythm and her personality-packed vocal are all fabulously infectious. Love this.

SARA EVANS/My Heart Can’t Tell You No
Writer: Simon Climie/Dennis Morgan; Producer: Tony Brown; Publisher: Kobalt/Little Shop of Morgan Songs, ASCAP/BMI; RCA (track)
—Sara’s limp remake of this 1989 Rod Stewart pop smash adds little to the song. And let’s face it, there are very, very few—in any genre—that are as gripping a vocalist as he is.

Writer: John Rich/John Shanks; Producer: John Shanks & John Rich; Publisher: Reservoir/WB/Sony ATV, ASCAP; Warner Bros.
—Rousing and spirited, this has “good times” written all over it. The kid in his daddy’s Caddy is buying a fake ID in a back alley, and he’s in a rush. Extremely likable.

DAVID ADAM BYRNES/She Only Wanted Flowers
Writer: David Adam Byrnes/Jay Brunswick/Adam Fears; Producer: Rob Rappaport; Publisher: Canalco/Byrnes Country/Better Angels/Croton U/Faverett Tracks/LRB, ASCAP/BMI; Better Angels (track)
—She didn’t care about all of the material things he bought her, so now he’s lost her. He has a sturdy, if limited, country vocal range, but the ballad never really grabbed me.

Writer: Jay Knowles/Tom McHugh; Producer: Mark Lambert; Publisher: none listed; Capstone (615-686-8344)
—Glen has pleasing vocal confidence on this easy-going toe tapper. The track is mixed to perfectly showcase what a cleverly written song this is. Spin it.

Writer: Bob Carlisle/Dennis Patton; Producer: Michael Lee & Don Somerville; Publisher: Jacque’s Retirement Fund/McHouse/Fun Attic, SESAC; EMG/Fontana (track) (www.jessicaridley.com)
—This lilting pop-country confection has a wafting, breezily bopping production. Her rapid-fire vocal is bursting with optimism and sunny self-assurance. Highly promising and recommended.

Writer: Whitney Mann; Producer: Whitney Mann; Publisher: 100 Fake Kisses, SESAC; Mud Dauber (track) (www.whitneymannmusic.com)
—She wrote all the tunes on her seven-song outing titled The Western Sky and sings them in an appealing, down-home drawl. The backing is a jaunty, O Brother, string band that sounds as comfy as a living-room couch. Rootsy and charming.


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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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