DISClaimer Single Reviews (8/3/11)

It’s nice to know that country hasn’t forgotten its sense of humor.

Reckless Kelly’s “Good Luck & True Love” made me smile because of its cleverness. Sam Roark found me grinning from ear to ear with her merry “Check Out Girl.” Buddy Jewell had me openly chuckling from his performance of “Jesus, Elvis & Me.” And, trust me, you have GOT to listen to “No Beer Here” by Amy Ames. It is a complete hoot.

There was no contest for the DisCovery Award. Our winner is clearly Casey James. He might come from American Idol, but this Texan is more than a karaoke singer. He can actually play the guitar.

Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott Jones of the duo Steel Magnolia recently became engaged to be married. Let me be the first with a congratulations gift, a Disc of the Day prize.

BILL GENTRY/This Letter
Writer: Arlos Smith/Rick Giles/Walker Hayes; Producer: Chad Carlson; Publisher: Jeff, Jack and the Mule/Plaid Cactus/1808/Purple Cape/Breaking New Ground/On a Walk/Sony-ATV Tree, SESAC/BMI; Tenacity (www.billgentrynatioin.com)
—The track is gorgeous, full of echoey bass, sighing steel, deftly twanged guitar and swooping fiddle. The producer seems to have fallen in love with it, too, for it sometimes threatens to overwhelm the clearly enunciated tenor vocal. The song’s too-predictable lyric is a case of romantic mistaken identity. The track fades with the same lovely instrumental work that introduces it. Worth some spins.

STEEL MAGNOLIA/Bulletproof
Writer: Lori McKenna/Chris Tompkins; Producer: Dann Huff; Publisher: Melanie Howard/Big Loud Songs, ASCAP; Big Machine (track)
—These newly engaged kids sing their faces off on this snarky rocker about surviving a bitter breakup. Meghan, in particular, is white-hot vocally here. Splendidly listenable.

MICHAEL MANDELLA/Simple Things
Writer: Eddie Cunningham/Jeffrey Steele; Producer: Michael Mandella; Publisher: none listed; MMM (track) (www.michaelmandellamusic.com)
—This slab of California beefcake (he’s posing shirtless on the CD cover) has titled his album American Outlaw. But its debut single is an attempt at down-the-center country balladry. I say, “attempt” because all the echo chamber in the world can’t hide those vocal pitch disasters. We’re talking painful, people.

CASEY JAMES/Let’s Don’t Call It A Night
Writer: Casey James/Brice Long/Terry McBride; Producer: Chris Lindsey; Publisher: EMI Foray/Songs of Send Me the Checks/Orbison/Turn Me On/BMG Chrysalis, SESAC/BMI; 19/BNA
—Another day, another American Idol alumnus. This one finished third on the show in 2010. His single is a nicely bluesy outing with a slow-burn, come-on lyric. Promising.

RECKLESS KELLY/Good Luck & True Love
Writer: Willy Braun; Producer: David Abeyta, Cody Braun & Willie Braun; Publisher: C&P Fah-Q, BMI; No Big Deal (track) (www.recklesskelly.com)
—I’ve always liked these guys. Their latest Austin outing is the album title tune that bops along with a personable vocal drawl, jingle-jangle guitars and cool “answering” harmony voices. In addition to great music, this project has spectacular graphics. Buy it.

BUDDY JEWELL/Jesus, Elvis & Me
Writer: Chris Stapleton/Tim James; Producer: Michael Bush & Buddy Jewell; Publisher: EMI April/Harry Fox/New Sea Gayle/Play Fairchild, ASCAP; Diamond Dust (CDX)
—Highly entertaining. The neo-rockabilly track gallops along while the lyric rattles off witty Elvis and holy-roller one liners. One favorite: “She loves to hear the preachin’ at a Southern revival/She takes a custom-made, blue-suede King James Bible.” Another: “She was singing ‘Rock of Ages’ first line third verse/It was all that I could do to keep from fallin’ in love/When she followed ‘Hallelujah’ with ‘thankyouverymuch.’”

AMY AMES/No Beer Here
Writer: Amy Ames/Eddie Hedges; Producer: Eddie Hedges; Publisher: Amy Ames/Eddie Hedges, BMI; Grand Channel (CDX) (www.amyames.com)
—This toe tapper has zippy fiddling, dandy banjo plunking and hilarious backup men practically burping their lines. The whole thing is so goofy and zany that it doesn’t even matter that she can just barely sing. Must be heard to be believed.

JOANNA MOSCA & RICHIE McDONALD/Where Does Good Love Go
Writer: Tania Hancheroff/Jimmy Ritchey/Billy Lawson; Producer: Bryan White; Publisher: Universal/Z Tunes/Fox Ridge/Artone, BMI/ASCAP; Dolce Diva (CDX) (917-701-5914)
—Richie leads things off with his hearty tenor. Her pert delivery takes over for a couple of lines before he begins harmonizing expertly. The mid-tempo tune is quite nicely penned. Another plus: it’s as country as grits.

NICK VERZOSA/She Only Loves Me When I’m Leavin’
Writer: Nick Verzosa/Matt Harlan; Producer: Walt Wilkins; Publisher: Tiyaga/Ghost Moon, BMI; Indie Extreme (www.nickverzosa.com)
—Send this to remedial melody camp. Uptempo dullsville.

SAM ROARK/Check Out Girl
Writer: Ron Davies/Ron Kimbro/Michael Witty; Producer: Joe Sun; Publisher: Meeshides/Cheap Cigar/Sleepover Boy, ASCAP; KAT (www.samroark.com)
—Samantha sings the sprightly, smiling tale of the grocery check-out gal who steals the cash from the register, hits the road with a touring band and then ditches the guys by taking off in their bus. I like the little breaks in her voice, the dobro-laced production and the rollicking tempo. Delightfully different.

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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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