“After years of being nothing, they’re all looking right at you.”
That’s what it says in our Music Row anthem, “16th Avenue.” And that’s exactly what is happening to Blake Shelton right now. All at once, everything is going this man’s way. Male Vocalist award. Superstar wife. National TV stardom. Hit after hit. He deserves them all. As well as a Disc of the Day award for “God Gave Me You.”
Our DisCovery Award goes to a Canadian singer-songwriter who has a completely captivating album called Little Red Boots. If you buy one platter from today’s stack of sounds, by all means make it hers. Remember this name: Lindi Ortega.
BADHORSE/It’s All Good
Writer: Adam Grant/Robert E. Walden II/Charlie Gilbert; Producer: Larry Blackmon & Badhorse; Publisher: none listed; Global Maximus (www.badhorsemusic.com)
—More cowbell! The first thing you hear is the snap of a beer tab, then the stomping and romping begins. And, yes, the steady rhythm is punctuated by a cowbell. These guys sound like a built-in party.
MARTINA McBRIDE/I’m Gonna Love You Through It
Writer: Ben Hayslip/Sonya Isaacs/Jimmy Yeary; Producer: Martina McBride & Byron Gallimore; Publisher: WB/Melissa’s Money/Get a Load of This/Nashvistaville/Sonya Isaacs/Black to Black, ASCAP/BMI; Universal Republic
—A wife and mother faces cancer with a strong and steady husband by her side. This kind of ballad performance is what made this lady a star. Heart tugging, to say the least.
DAVID WOOD/Ride The Wild West
Writer: Lore Orion/Robert E. Byrd; Producer: Ronnie Guilbeau, David Wood & Billy Graham; Publisher: Shy Ann/Finest, BMI; Dew Note (track) (www.davidwoodcountry.com)
—Monotonic. I’ve heard more complicated nursery rhymes.
BLAKE SHELTON/God Gave Me You
Writer: Dave Barnes; Producer: Scott Hendricks; Publisher: No Gang/Razor & Tie, ASCAP; Warner Bros.
—I worshipped writer Dave Barnes’s version of this when I reviewed it last year. Blake sure knows a dynamite song when he hears it, too. Producer Hendricks surrounds his emotional reading with chiming guitars, sighing steel and thumping percussion. A shining, glittering gem of a disc.
Writer: Lindi Ortega; Producer: Ron Lopata; Publisher: ShadowBox, SOCAN; Last Gang (Canada)(track) (www.lindiortega.ca)
—Enchanting. She has one of those sweet/tart vocal instruments that manages to sound both fragile and tough within the same song. This starts out softly, but builds into a smart shuffle with terrific, suppressed, undertow energy. This gal is definitely worth your attention.
ASHTON SHEPHERD/Where Country Grows
Writer: Ashton Shepherd/Bobby Pinson; Producer: Buddy Cannon; Publisher: EMI BlackwoodGin Road/Music of Stage Three/Bobby’s Song and Salvage/BMG, BMI; MCA Nashville (track)
—The title tune to Ashton’s sophomore CD is a soaring statement of purpose. Her voice on this is a resonant, ringing, victory bell of authenticity. I am hopelessly in love with this artist.
DANE ESTOK/Semiautomatic Kind Of Love
Writer: Dane Estok; Producer: The Zods; Publisher: Sounds from Space, ASCAP; DaneEstok (track) (www.daneestok.com)
—This Nashvillian is described as “pop-country.” I’d say he leans strongly toward the “pop” end of that spectrum. Whatever the genre, this twirling and utterly engaging wisp of romance was featured on TV’s Keeping Up the Kardashians soundtrack. Somebody at the E! network definitely has ears.
RONNIE MILSAP/If You Don’t Want Me To
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Bigger Picture (track)
—This bouncy ditty evidently accompanies a dance called The Freeze. The retro, repetitive ‘80s keyboard riff is bound to jog a few memories and tap a few toes, at any rate. Jaunty and smiley, despite the somewhat downbeat lyric.
CHRISTIAN KANE/Let Me Go
Writer: C. Beathard/T. Shapiro; Producer: Bob Ezrin & Jimmie Lee Sloas; Publisher: Sony-ATV Acuff-Rose/EMI Blackwood/Piano Wire, BMI; Bigger Picture (track) (www.christiankane.com)
—This Leverage TNT-TV star sings well, with admirable expressiveness and personality. So this sounds best when he’s allowed to shine through with a minimum of production adornment. Unfortunately, during many passages, the producers just can’t leave well enough alone. Still, it’s a highly melodic improvement over his overly rocked-up debut single.
DAN SIMONIS & THE WEST TEXAS MILLIONAIRES/Heart On Fire
Writer: Dan Simonis; Producer: Greg Schumacher; Publisher: Croaking Toad, BMI; 45 Caliber (track) (www.westtexasmillionaires.com)
—File this under “arty troubadour,” if there is such a category. Actually, make that “pitch-y, arty troubadour.”
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