DISClaimer Single Reviews (10/26/11)

Toby, Trace, Blake, Dolly, Merle and more—it’s all stars and no waiting in this week’s column.

Our Female Vocalist Disc of the Day goes to the indomitable Dolly Parton. Long may she sing. Trace Adkins, Toby Keith, Merle Haggard and our surprise winner, Billy Currington, vied for the Male Disc of the Day. Billy was the one who was smart enough to dip into the catalog of the late, great Harley Allen for his new single.

Owing to the glut of big-name record makers, there was, alas, no room for any worthy DisCovery Award.

TOBY KEITH/Red Solo Cup
Writer: Jim Beavers/Brett Beavers/Brad Warren/Brett Warren; Producer: Toby Keith; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Beavertime/BMG/Chestnut Barn/Chrysalis One/EMI Blackwood/StyleSonic, BMI; Show Dog (track)
—It’s sing-along drinking song with a spare banjo-guitar accompaniment. The recording sounds strikingly “live” and un-produced, and is therefore quite refreshing.

RODNEY ATKINS/He’s Mine
Writer: Casey Beathard/Phil O’Donnell/Tim James; Producer: Ted Hewitt & Rodney Atkins; Publisher: Sony-ATV Acuff-Rose/Sixteen Stars/Immokalee/Hodges House of Songwriters/Warner-Tamerlane/T-Bird’s, BMI; Curb (track)
—This, on the other hand, is totally compressed, auto-tuned and electro-produced within an inch of its life. The lyric has the Dad showing pride in his boy no matter what happens, good or bad.

KEITH URBAN/You Gonna Fly
Writer: Jaren Johnston/Chris Lucas/Preston Brust; Producer: Dann Huff & Keith Urban; Publisher: Sony-ATV Harmony/Texa Rae/Sony-ATV Cross Keys/Sony-ATV Tree, ASCAP/BMI; Capitol Nashville (track)
—The fourth single from Keith’s Get Closer collection is an upbeat, uplifting ode to escape and hope. His singing is super convincing, and the guitar solo blisters.

DOLLY PARTON/The Sacrifice
Writer: Dolly Parton; Producer: Kent Wells; Publisher: Velvet Apple, BMI; Dolly/Warner (track) (www.dollypartonmusic.net)
—The woman’s ongoing creativity is one of the wonders of our time. Five decades into her career, she is still writing and singing as powerfully as ever. This pulse-quickening little rocker is an autobiographical tale of how she willed herself to be a winner. And, boy, did she.

BILLY CURRINGTON/Like My Dog
Writer: Scotty Emerick/Harley Allen; Producer: Carson Chamberlain & Billy Currington; Publisher: Florida Room/BPJ/Coburn/Harley Allen, BMI; Mercury Nashville (track)
—For locating great songs, Currington has some of the best ears in Music City. This wickedly clever ditty praises the affections of a pooch, as compared to the judgmental attitudes of his gal. I grinned. So will you.

MERLE HAGGARD/Working In Tennessee
Writer: Merle Haggard; Producer: Merle Haggard & Lou Bradley; Publisher: Merle Haggard, BMI; Hag/Vanguard (track) (www.merlehaggard.com)
—The title tune to the Hag’s new CD is a quick-step western swinger. Guitarist Reggie Young, pianist Doug Colosio and fiddler Scott Joss all get in some hot licks while the vocalist offers some light-hearted, bluesy digs at Tune Town.

TRACE ADKINS/Million Dollar View
Writer: David Lee Murphy/George Teren; Producer: Kenny Beard & Mark Wright; Publisher: Old Desperados/Carol Vincent & Associates/EMI Blackwood/Terenator/Done and Dusted, ASCAP/BMI; Show Dog Universal
—As you might expect, the finest view isn’t from a beach, a mountaintop, a high rise or a vacation spot. It’s gazing at his baby in their humble, little living room. The band cooks with gas on this mid-tempo bopper, and Trace totally owns it, vocally.

HAYES CARLL/Stomp And Holler
Writer: Hayes Carll; Producer: Brad Jones; Publisher: Highway 87/Bug, SESAC; Lost Highway
—Perennial Americana fave Carll wails the bad-boy lyric like a wounded honky-tonk survivor. Guitars crash and scream all around this catchy rocker.

BLAKE SHELTON/Footloose
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Warner Bros. (track)
—I have said it before, many times: There is absolutely no point to remaking an oldie unless you’re going to put your own stamp on it and reinvent it. This merely apes the 1984 Kenny Loggins arrangement, right down to the grinding guitar licks.

CLAY DUSTIN/I’ll Take That Job
Writer: David Chamberlain/Mark Sherrill; Producer: David Chamberlain; Publisher: Handle It/Key/Mark, SESAC; PureHeart (track)
—The full title is “I’ll Take That Job That Johnny Paycheck Shoved.” His singing isn’t particularly distinctive, but Dustin is country right down to his boots.

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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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