DISClaimer Single Reviews (12/7/11)

Nashville’s country scene seems eerily quiet these days, but the city’s pop/rock community is making plenty of noise.

I have made no secret of my affection for the music of Mat Kearney. Once again, he did not disappoint. He would have totally owned the Disc of the Day award had it not been for the Grammy nominated Keb Mo. Both men’s music belong in your life, so they’re sharing the prize this week.

Gabe Dixon has been making music in The Gabe Dixon Band for a solid decade and three albums worth. Now he’s a solo artist and a Nashvillian, so I don’t care how long he’s been around: He deserves a DisCovery Award for reinventing himself.

STEPHEN SIMMONS/Spark
Writer: Stephen Simmons; Producer: Stephen Simmons; Publisher: Shiny Geode, SESAC; Locke Creek (track) (www.stephensimmonsmusic.com)
—This CD, The Big Show, is the Woodbury, TN native’s sixth album. Its emphasis track is a rootsy country-rocker with a gentle rumble and a plaintive, love-struck vocal. Americana programmers take note.

KYLE ANDREWS/Lazer Tag With Imaginary Friends
Writer: Kyle Andrews/Greg Burgess; Producer: Kyle Andrews, Chris Grainger & Greg Burgess; Publisher: none listed; Elephant Lady (track) (www.kyleandews.com)
—Kyle Andrews makes electro pop with weird audio squiggles, jumpy beats, goofy noises and frequent tempo shifts. This quirky track comes from his new Robot Learn Love collection. It’s kind of arty and over my head, but there’s no mistaking his talent.

MAT KEARNEY/Hey Mama
Writer: Mat Kearney/Jason Lehning; Producer: Richard Marvin & Jason Lehning; Publisher: EMI Blackwood/Facade Aside/Tastes Like Chicken, BMI; Aware/Universal Republic (track) (www.matkearney.com)
—If there’s any justice at all, Mat Kearney will be the next pop-rocker to break big out of Music City. This hand-clapping single from his Young Love album is so ridiculously catchy and irresistible it ought to have a warning label about possible addiction. It makes you want to skip around the room wearing a silly grin.

STEPHAN DUDASH/Paradise
Writer: Stephan Dudash; Producer: Stephan Dudash & Chris Rhyne ; Publisher: Gypsyquest Muzik, BMI; Gypsyquest (track) (www.stephandudash.com)
—Dudash’s current Gypsy Quest CD contains this utterly lovely violin instrumental that wafts like blossoms in a spring breeze. The rest of the collection draws on Latin, swing, folk, pop and jazz idioms. He has played or toured with a wide variety of talents—Shania Twain, Olivia Newton-John, BadaBing BadaBoom, Janie Fricke and Lee Greenwood among them. This virtuoso can also be heard playing thrilling gypsy jazz with guitarist John Jorgenson’s Quintet. For more audio samples, check out his website.

KEB MO/The Whole Enchilada
Writer: Kevin Moore/John Lewis Parker; Producer: Keb Mo; Publisher: Kebnote/Wixen/Parker’s Pen, BMI; Yolabelle/Ryko (track)
—This Nashvillian is nominated for a Blues Grammy Award for his current CD The Reflection. But although this single from it sounds appropriately laid back and funky, Keb Mo is more than just a “blues” artist. Elsewhere on the collection, you’ll find echoes of pop and folk as well. Whatever the genre, he’s an essential listening experience.

GLOSSARY/A Shoulder To Cry On
Writer: Joey Kneiser; Producer: Glossary & Mikey Allred; Publisher: Lytle Street Kitchen, BMI; Last Chance (track) (www.glossary.us)
Long Live All of Us is the seventh album by this Murfreesboro rock quintet. With its bright horn bursts and neo-soul vibe, this track typifies its rump-shaking new sonic approach. Mighty fine, mighty fine.

GABE DIXON/My Favorite
Writer: Gabe Dixon/Dan Wilson; Producer: Marshall Altman; Publisher: Five R/G and L/Sugar Lake/Chrysalis, BMI/ASCAP; Fantasy/Concord (track) (www.gabedixon.com)
—This guy has it all—a cooly soulful tenor singing voice, outstanding piano chops, a talent for pop tune crafting and propulsive energy. This track from his new One Spark CD is a slab of audio joy from start to finish. This is  definitely the month to become a Gabe fave. He’s WRLT Lightning 100’s “Artist in Residence” throughout December and will be appearing and/or performing at various venues to boost donations to Second Harvest Food Bank and Toys for Tots. He’ll be singing at Whole Foods on Friday (12/9) and at Zumi Sushi next Wednesday (12/14), among several other gigs. If you see/hear him just once, I promise you’ll walk away a fan.

JAY PATTEN/Crystal Nights
Writer: Jay Patten; Producer: Cristos/Ric Lonow & Jay Patten; Publisher: Standard Blue, BMI; Flamingo (track) (www.jaypatten.com)
—Smooth saxophone stylist Jay Patten has been Crystal Gayle’s bandleader for many years, so he dedicates his latest CD to her. Its title tune is a toe-tapping, jazz-inflected instrumental bopper that perfectly captures the horn man’s style. The 13-track collection includes six vocals, one of which is a duet with Crystal on “Memories Are Made of This.”

BARRY WALSH/Marathon Motorworks
Writer: Barry Walsh; Producer: Barry Walsh; Publisher: Barry Walsh, ASCAP; Scarlet Letter (track) (www.barrywalshmusic.com)
—Walsh is the keyboard accompanist and husband to singer-songwriter Gretchen Peters. His mostly instrumental Paradiso CD is performed on concert grand piano. Here, he’s joined by Dobro master Rob Ickes and cellist David Henry. The piano collection never feels predictable, partly because of the variety of his compositions and partly because electric guitar, accordion and synthesizer sounds pop up at various times.

BILL MILLER/Birds Of Prey
Writer: none listed; Producer: Bill Miller & Michael Von Muchow; Publisher: none listed; Cool Springs (track) (www.billmillerarts.com)
—One of our most distinctive musical residents is Native American singer, songwriter and flautist Bill Miller. His Spirit Wind North CD won last year’s Grammy in the Native American category, which was his third such trophy. The category has been discontinued this year. Nevertheless, he’s still an outstanding artist, as illustrated by  the haunting tones of his flute on this gorgeous instrumental embellished with bird calls. The sound of purity.

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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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