DISClaimer Single Reviews (8/31/11)

Talk about eclectic.

This stack of platters contains everything from Johnny Rivers doing acoustic pop on a soul oldie to Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s new group swinging through a jazzbo Bob Wills standard. There’s a disc of reggae performances of country songs, as well as a stunning country-rock set by Richie Owens & The Farm Bureau.

It will come as no surprise to anybody that Lady Antebellum has the Disc of the Day. “We Owned the Night” will own your ears.

It might come as more of a shock to find that hit country writer Dave Berg has a dazzling, unclassifiable and brilliantly produced pop platter up his sleeve. Give that man a DisCovery Award.

PAUL NUNN/Bein’ Strong
Writer: Albert Maylen; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed, BMI; PN (www.paulnunnband.com)
—This cleanly produced country ballad is an audio pleasure. He sings in a pure heartache tenor, and the band knows exactly when to fill in notes and when to shut up. Which is the mark of true country artistry.

LADY ANTEBELLUM/We Owned The Night
Writer: Dave Haywood/Charles Kelley/Dallas Davidson; Producer: Paul Worley & Lady Antebellum; Publisher: Warner Tamerlane/DWHaywood/Radiobulletspublishing/EMI Blackwood/String Stretcher, BMI; Capitol Nashville (MP3)
—The tingling mandolin notes give way to Charles’s robo cool voice and then to a firestorm of thudding percussion, vocal harmony, rocking guitar and a shout-to-the-heavens melody. Those little yelps of joy don’t hurt, either. In a word, Awesome.

JEFF DAYTON/Never Been Better
Writer: Dayton; Producer: Jeff Dayton; Publisher: Jeff Dayton, BMI; Little House (track) (www.jeffdaytonmusic.com)
—Getting older doesn’t have to be a downer. His old man “might’ve been stronger, faster, younger,” but he’s “never been better.” What a cool attitude, and the rocking track backs it up all the way.

BILLY RAY CYRUS/Nineteen
Writer: Gary Nicholson/Jeffrey Steele/Tom Hambridge; Producer: Buddy Cannon; Publisher: Sony-ATV Cross Keys/Gary Nicholson/Jeffrey Steele/Bug/Songs of Windswept Pacific/Tom Hambridge, ASCAP/BMI; Buena Vista (track)
—The number 19 is on the high school football star’s jersey. It’s also the age when he dies at war as a hero. Stirring stuff. Billy Ray’s entire I’m American CD is loaded with well written tunes in this vein. Worth your while.

DAVE BERG/Believed In
Writer: Dave Berg; Producer: Dave Berg & John Hurley; Publisher: Cal IV/Stupid Boy, ASCAP; DB (track) (www.daveberg.com)
—Top Music Row tunesmith Berg has a new, 14-song showcase titled Not Quite So Alone. It doesn’t contain any of the many hits he has written for others. Instead, it is full of solo-written (gasp!) gems like this pop-ish, rhythmic set opener. The production dazzles and his dry, earnest, folkie vocals are quite engaging. Seek this one out—it is a really refreshing audio change of pace.

LUKE BRYAN/I Don’t Want This Night To End
Writer: Luke Bryan/Dallas Davidson/Rhett Akins/Ben Hayslip; Producer: Jeff Stevens; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Peanut Mill/EMI Blackwood/String Stretcher/Rhettneck/WB/Melissa’s Money/Get a Load of This, BMI/ASCAP; Capitol Nashville (track)
—The monotonic verses don’t do much for me, but the soaring choruses sure do take off.

RICHIE OWENS & THE FARM BUREAU/Rye Whiskey
Writer: none listed; Producer: Bil VornDick & Richie Owens; Publisher: Indian Gap, ASCAP; Red Dirt (track) (www.richieowensandthefarmbureau.com)
—Veteran Nashvillians will recall Richie as a valued fixture of our music community of long standing. He’s Dolly Parton’s cousin and has played in her band. He’s also worked with a wide variety of others, including Leon Russell, The Georgia Satellites, Vince Gill, Steve Forbert, Jason & The Scorchers, The Kentucky Headhunters and The Bangles. His new band, The Farm Bureau, tears this folk standard to shreds and reconstructs it as a churning, frothing Americana rocker. By the way, the rest of Richie and his band’s CD is absolutely and equally superb.

ROMAIN VIRGO & LARRY GATLIN/California
Writer: Larry Gatlin; Producer: Cristy Barber, John Rich, Dean Fraser, Charlie Pennachio, Chris Chin & Raymond Barber; Publisher: MCA/Sony-ATV Tree/Parker Lou, no performance rights listed; Elektra (track)
—Reggae’s Gone Country is a new, various-artists collection that revisits country classics (”King of the Road,” “Wolverton Mountain,” “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” “The Gambler,” “Flowers on the Wall,” etc.) as reggae tracks. The only one of the songs’ originators to show up for the revamp is Gatlin, and dang if he doesn’t pull it off. Way to go. For another ear-opener, check out Tarrus Riley’s rhythm-happy take on “The Chair.”

JOHNNY RIVERS/I’ve Got To Use My Imagination
Writer: Barry Goldberg/Gerry Goffin; Producer: Johnny Rivers; Publisher: Screen Gems EMI, BMI; Soul City
—Johnny Rivers’s recent visit to Music City included a well-received guest spot on the Grand Ole Opry. His take on this Gladys Knight & The Pips classic strips it down to a swampy, acoustic-based lament. He remains a pre-eminent blue-eyed soul man.

THE WRONGLERS/Time Changes Everything
Writer: Tommy Duncan; Producer: Eric Drew Feldman & Jimmie Dale Gilmore; Publisher: Red River Songs, no performance rights listed; Neanderthal (track) (www.thewronglers.com)
—The four words that follow “The Wronglers” on the jacket are “featuring Jimmie Dale Gilmore.” And that’s about all you need to know. The album title tells you the rest, Heirloom Music. The songs are string-band chestnuts performed by this sterling ensemble with the ethereal voice of Gilmore in the lead. Originators include Bill Monroe, The Carter Family, The Delmore Brothers, Charlie Poole, Flatt & Scruggs, Johnny Bond, Doc Watson and, as is the case here, Bob Wills & The Texas Playboys. Old-time music lovers or those charmed by the O Brother sounds, step right up.

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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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