DISClaimer Single Reviews (8/10/11)

With temperatures hovering near 100 muggy degrees, day after day, we have definitely reached the Dog Days of Summer in Tune Town.

In weather like this, who the heck feels like making the effort to find new music?

I do. I always do, especially when folks are playing at the top of their games.

This week, those folks include Reba, Jeff Bates and, especially, Danny Gokey. As for Miranda Lambert, she is completely in another league. As excellent as she has been so many times before, she outdoes herself with “Baggage Claim.” Give that Texas Tornado a Disc of the Day.

Newcomer Andy Gibson is off to a flying start. I don’t know when I have heard a debut single as terrific as his “Wanna Make You Love Me.” Welcome to the party, pal. You definitely have what it takes. Here’s a DisCovery Award to wish you well and send you on your way.

RELUCTANT SAINTS/Right Behind You
Writer: B.C. Wilson; Producer: Reluctant Saints & Jonathan Beckner; Publisher: none listed; Inio (track) (www.reluctantsaints.com)
—These roots rockers are receiving airplay on Atlanta’s biggest country station with this choppy, blue-eyed-soul bopper. The playing is cool, and the song is solid. What is lacking is a charismatic lead vocal.

REBA /Somebody’s Chelsea
Writer: Reba/Liz Hengber/Will Robinson; Producer: Dann Huff; Publisher: Zavitson/Red Sox Fan/Sony-ATV Cross Keys/Texoma Ten/Detect An Intruder/Big Loud Bucks, ASCAP/BMI; Starstruck/Valory (track)
—Lovely. A woman yearns to be part of a never-ending love story in this aching, heart-in-throat ballad.

COLTON JAMES/Date With Dixie
Writer: Colton James/Greg Crowe; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed, BMI; Ride ‘N’ High
—Trashy sounding. The too-busy rhythm track is irritating. His vocal tries to hard. The crowd whistling and shouting is overload. The lyric shamelessly name-checks “Free Bird,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “Keep Your Hands to Yourself,” “The South’s Gonna Do It Again,” “Whiskey River,” “Dixieland Delight” and other Southern staples.

MIRANDA LAMBERT/Baggage Claim
Writer: Miranda Lambert/Natalie Hemby/Luke Laird; Producer: Frank Liddell, Chuck Ainley & Glenn Worf; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Pink Dog/Tiltawhirl/Universal-Careers/High Powered Machine, BMI; Columbia
—She’s wise to his “business trip” and is giving him his walking papers. The crunchy track is beyond cool with its chugging acoustic guitar, organ solo and slapped drumming. And it goes without saying that her vocal is busting with piping-hot personality. Play it again. And again.

TYLER DEAN/That Smile
Writer: Doug Johnson; Producer: Doug Johnson; Publisher: Mike Curb/Sweet Radical, BMI; Curb (CDX)
—Young sounding. The track is as breezy as his soft, romantic vocal.

DANNY GOKEY/Second Hand Heart
Writer: Cary Barlowe/Josh Kear/Shane Stevens; Producer: Mark Bright; Publisher: none listed, SESAC/ASCAP/BMI; 19/RCA (CDX)
—I love this guy’s voice. Here, he’s throaty and slightly raspy on the verses, then brightly mighty and skyward soaring on the choruses of this mid-tempo heart song. An absolutely stirring single.

JEFF BATES/He Wasn’t Like Us
Writer: Jeff Bates/Ben Hayslip/Brandon Kinney; Producer: Mickey Jack Cones & Kenny Beard; Publisher: Warner-Tamerlane/How ‘Bout That Skyline/Kinney Empire/WB/Melissa’s Money/Get a Load of This, BMI/ASCAP; Black River (CDX)
—Jeff returns with a terrific message song about bullying. The ballad follows the progress of a picked-on “slow” kid who grows up to be Jesus. This man’s gripping, deeply soulful voice is particularly potent here.

ANDY GIBSON/Wanna Make You Love Me
Writer: Jim Collins/Bobby Pinson; Producer: James Stroud; Publisher: Music of Cal IV/Music of Stage Three/Bobby’s Song and Salvage/BMG Chrysalis, BMI; R & J (CDX)
—Now here’s a toe tapper with a relentless, heartbeat rhythm. The production is totally in the pocket, the song craftsmanship is superb and, best of all, the singer’s delivery completely owns it with heartfelt tenor honesty. Who is this guy? Why isn’t this on a major label?

SUSAN HERNDON/Land Of The Living
Writer: Herndon; Producer: Lloyd Maines, Bob Livingston & Susan Herndon; Publisher: Okie Turtle, ASCAP; SH (track) (www.susanherndon.com)
—The groove has bopping panache. Her songwriting is characterized by simple charms. She won’t take home any vocal blue ribbons, but still has a sweetly innocent style.

FOLK FAMILY REVIVAL/Come Get Me
Writer: Mason Lankford/Barrett Lankford; Producer: Jeffrey Armstreet; Publisher: Magnolia Red/Poodawalamus, ASCAP; Magnolia Red (track) (www.folkfamilyrevival.com)
—This country rocker takes hold and never lets go. The hallmarks of the band are take-no-prisoners drumming, twanging guitar work and a drawling, conversational lead vocalist with chesty, out-of-breath phrasing. Rootsy and winning.

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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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