DISClaimer Single Reviews (9/7/11)

This edition of DisClaimer has exactly the right mixture of superstars, mid-levels and unknowns.

In the first column, we have Vince Gill, Jason Aldean and Zac Brown Band, the last-named of whom wins our Disc of the Day award.

Strong second-tier acts with winners in this stack of platters include Kevin Fowler, Lantana, Coldwater Jane and Ashley Gearing. All are worth your spins.

The three unknowns vying for this week’s DisCovery Award are Roy Solis, Jessica Caylyn and Tim Foust. I’m going with rumble-tonsiled Tim, whoever he is.

ROY SOLIS/Tailgate Party
Writer: Roy Solis/Johnny Garcia/Troy Powers; Producer: Johnny Garcia; Publisher: Avenue 1/Busy at Play/Mia’s Pub, BMI/ASCAP; RSM (www.roysolismusic.com)
—Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: It’s about parking the four-wheel drive pick-up out in the country with beer and friends and girls. The electric guitar work rocks righteously. Maybe that’s because producer Garcia is a top-notch guitarist, noted for his longtime work with Trisha Yearwood.

ZAC BROWN BAND/Keep Me In Mind
Writer: Zac Brown/Wyatt Durrette/Nic Cowan; Producer: Keith Stegall & Zac Brown; Publisher: Weimerhound/Lil’ Dub/Angelika/Souhern Ground, BMI; Atlantic (track)
—Their trademark group harmonies are right up front-and-center. And they get to the hook almost instantly, in a matter of seconds. It has a delightfully funky little back beat that bops infectiously up to a strikingly languid bridge, then returns brighter than ever. The whole thing, including the closing guitar solo, is dazzling.

LANTANA/A Few Little Things
Writer: Aimee Mayo/Tommy Lee James; Producer: Beau Bedford; Publisher: Universal Careers/Silverkiss/Still Working for the Man/Ballad Boy/BMG Chrysalis, BMI; Millijewel  (www.lantanamusic.com)
—This female Texas trio harmonizes brightly on this chugging toe tapper with a lyric of love lessons. Pleasant, if not exactly life changing.

VINCE GILL/Threaten Me With Heaven
Writer: Vince Gill/Amy Grant/Will Owlsley/Dillon O’Brian; Producer: Vince Gill, John Hobbs & Justin Niebank; Publisher: Vinny Mae/Grant Girls/The Loving Company/Willie-O/Dillon O’Brian, BMI; MCA Nashville (CDX)
—Deeply soulful. Gooebump inducing. I reviewed this last spring, but now is its time. To recap: This gorgeous meditation would be heart melting even acoustic and unadorned. As it happens, the production swells with inspiring choral backing, celestial guitar work and echoey ambiance. If it doesn’t produce a lump in your throat, you are made of stone.

TIM FOUST/You’re So Yesterday
Writer: Tim Foust/Joe Bilotta/Biran Pothier; Producer: Brian Pothier; Publisher: Soaring Swans, BMI/ASCAP; Flying Pig (CDX) (www.flyingpigproductions.com)
—He has one of those Josh Turner low-dipping vocal registers. The track thumps in all the right places, and as you might guess from the title, the lyric is a clever one. Recommended.

COLDWATER JANE/Marionette
Writer: none listed; Producer: Kevin Kadish & Wayne Kirkpatrick; Publisher: none listed; Mercury (track)
—I was quite fond of this act’s debut single, “Bring on the Love.” The follow-up sophomore effort has a little less crunch but a lot more breeze. Their vocals are enchanting, and the production sails along over the audio waves with marvelous clarity and energy. I remain a fan.

ASHLEY GEARING/Me, My Heart And I
Writer: Brian Davis/Ashley Gearing/Kyle Jacobs; Producer: The Fringe; Publisher: Mike Curb/Melrose Nashville/Curb Songs/Jacobsong, BMI/ASCAP; Curb
—So long, buster: She’s hitting the road, and rocking righteously while she’s at it.

JASON ALDEAN/Tattoos On This Town
Writer: Neil Thrasher/Wendell Mobley/Michael Dulaney; Producer: Michael Knox; Publisher: Warner Tamerlane/Boatwright Baby/Desert Treasure/Feet in the Creek/BMG Gold, BMI/ASCAP; Borken Bow (track)
—The follow-up to the mega crossover hit “Dirt Road Anthem” is a power ballad with a mighty audio undertow. His drawled vocal is mixed hot, the better to deliver the nostalgic message, yet the guitars are screaming and the rhythm is pounding right behind him. Strong stuff. Completely undeniable.

KEVIN FOWLER/That Girl
Writer: Kevin Fowler/Trent Willmon/Clint Ingersol; Producer: David Lee Murphy; Publisher: Kevin Fowler/Mayes County/Happy Cattle, BMI/ASCAP; Average Joes (track) (www.kevinfowler.com)
—I dig this guy’s voice with its slight touch of grit. The song is super solid. But the real star here is a frothing, lathered-up, ferocious, whiplash-rocker production. This thing will pin your ears back, for sure.

JESSICA CAYLYN/Just Can’t Help Myself
Writer: Emily Shackelton/Jessica Caylyn/Boh Cooper/Steffon Hamulak; Producer: Steffon Hamulak; Publisher: Liz Rose/Kobalt/Oceanwaveheart/Little Boh/Mousam River/Sea the Desert, BMI/ASCAP; JC (track) (www.jessicacaylyn.com)
—She tackles the melody and stays atop the crashing track like a pro. It’s not an especially memorable voice, but this is still a promising debut.

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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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