There are plenty of marquee males marching into this listening session.
You’d be a fool to ignore the new sounds being made by Eric Church, Chris Young, Billy Yates, The Kentucky Headhunters or Billy Burnette. All of them are guaranteed to brighten your day.
But the fairer sex comes up with this week’s column’s honors. I have raved before about Joy Williams and her partner John Paul White in The Civil Wars. Listen to this duo and be enchanted.
Among all the stars on tap today, only one is a bona fide country queen. That would be Connie Smith, who has the Disc of the Day.
There is a singer-songwriter up in the Cumberland River town of Ashland City, TN who was utterly unknown to me until today. She sings in a throaty, husky alto that is gripping. As a songwriter, she is equally gritty on ballads (”Should I Run”), boppers (”Love a Good Love Song”) and story songs (”Daddy Went to Prison”). Her name is DeeAnn Dominy, our DisCovery Award winner whom some Music Row star maker needs to sign up pronto.
DEEANN DOMINY/I Still Believe
Writer: DeeAnn Dominy; Producer: DeeAnn Dominy & Jack Harris; Publisher: DeeAnn Dominy, ASCAP; Dizzee (track) (www.DeeAnnDominy.com)
—This Ashland City gal has a six-song sampler called Based on a True Story. This simply produced track showcases her husky vocal style and an extraordinary gift for truthful, down-to-earth lyrics. Talent scouts take note: There’s a whiff of stardom here.
Writer: Chris Young/Luke Laird; Producer: James Stroud; Publisher: Runnin’ Behind/EMI April/Universal Careers/High Powered Machine, ASCAP/BMI; RCA (track)
—Chris switches gears to a groove tune. As always, he sings with brilliant, burnished luster, even when the lyric is a romantic trifle like this one.
BILLY YATES/Just Be You
Writer: Billy Yates; Producer: Billy Yates; Publisher: Graysongs, BMI; M.O.D. (track) (www.billyyates.com)
—The title tune to Billy’s latest is a lilting, light hearted ode to straightforward honesty and simplicity. The gist of it is, don’t sell yourself out, don’t worry about making it big, have a good time and be whoever you are. Highly personable and wonderfully engaging. I dare you not to tap your foot and smile.
BILLY BURNETTE/Rock N Roll With It
Writer: Billy Burnette; Producer: Billy Burnette; Publisher: Rock N Roll With It/Bi-Lo-Tex, BMI; Rock N Roll With It (track) (www.billyburnette.net)
—Burnette returns with a dynamite set of self-penned tunes, including some with such stellar collaborators as Gary Nicholson and Shawn Camp. The title number is a delightful, neo-rockabilly romp with some terrific guitar picking and a slap-back beat that just doesn’t quit. Jitterbug yourself into a frenzy.
THE CIVIL WARS/Poison & Wine
Writer: none listed; Producer: Charlie Peacock; Publisher: none listed; Sensibility (track)
—This Nashville male-female duo (John Paul White and former CCM disc maker Joy Williams) has a CD titled Barton Hollow that is a fabulously mesmerizing audio experience. This haunting, throbbing track has been featured on the soundtrack of TV’s Grey’s Anatomy and is now the subject of the team’s new video. Call it country, pop, Americana, folk or whatever you like, but this entire album is essential listening. Buy it at once.
ERIC CHURCH/Drink in My Hand
Writer: Eric Church/Michael Heeney/Luke Laird; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Sinnertina/Sony-ATV Acuff-Rose/Universal Careers/High Powered Machine, BMI; EMI Nashville (track)
—This rumbles out of the chute like a muscular, stompin’ bull on a rampage. The cleverly penned lyric drawls of howling party times. Play it and make every day a weekend vacation. If you don’t already own every note of music this man has made (most definitely including the brand-new Chief), you are out of your cotton-pickin’ mind.
RICK KRAUSS/If I Could Do It Over
Writer: Rick Krauss; Producer: Rick Krauss; Publisher: Rick Krauss, BMI; Relkay (track)
—Not to be confused with Nashville’s Alison or Viktor, this guy is a Maryland troubadour with an 18-song presentation called The Edge of Heaven. This is labeled as the “single,” but like the rest of the tracks, it screams “demo.”
CONNIE SMITH/Long Line of Heartaches
Writer: Marty Stuart/Connie Smith; Producer: Marty Stuart; Publisher: Marty Stuart/Connie Smith/Bug, BMI; Sugar Hill (track)
—Connie’s first new album in 13 years dropped yesterday. On its title tune, this peerless stylist cries from the heart while Gary Carter’s emotional steel guitar echoes every note. I remain hopelessly in love with this woman and her stunning voice.
THE KENTUCKY HEADHUNTERS/Dixie Lullaby
Writer: The Kentucky Headhunters; Producer: The Kentucky Headhunters, Wayd Battle & Richie Owens; Publisher: Them Young Boys/Mr. Eric/B. Headed/Bug, ASCAP/BMI; Red Dirt (track) (www.thekentuckyheadhunters.com)
—The reunited Headhunters kick off their comeback album with this Southern-fried garage rocker, sporting plenty of grinding guitar and vocal attitude. Welcome back, boys. You have been sorely missed.
SHAWN CAMP/Jesus, My Old Dog and Me
Writer: Shawn Camp/Will Nance/Steve Dean; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Ann Wilson/Bridge Building/Dino’s Song Shop/Shawn Camp/Sony-ATV, BMI; Cloud 10 (track) (www.dogcountrysongs.com)
—Dog Country is a CD compiling songs written about man’s best friend. Participating tunesmiths include Jason Wyatt, Mandy York (”Bebe’s Riding Shotgun”), Ron Wallace (whose song features the timeless line, “I wish that I was half the man that my dog thinks I am”), Steve Oliver, Rusty Van Sickle (who contributes two songs), Mark Nesler and Melissa Duval. Shawn has the sweetly sad ballad set closer. A portion of the album’s proceeds benefits Happy Tales Humane in Franklin, TN.
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