DISClaimer Single Reviews (1/04/12)

Let’s start the New Year with some star power, shall we?

Today for your listening pleasure, we have first-rate efforts from Blake, Miranda, Lady A, Ronnie Dunn and Tim McGraw. Tim definitely has the ballad of the day.

Our newcomers are Jana Kramer, Tim Dugger and Ann Claire. Wait a minute, Tim had a record out back in 2009. So that leaves Jana Kramer as our DisCovery Award winner.

The Disc of the Day prize is a tie between two of our band entries, Lady Antebellum and Eli Young Band. Long may they sing.

Here’s to a prosperous, healthy and happy 2012 to one and all.

ELI YOUNG BAND/Even If It Breaks Your Heart
Writer: Will Hoge/Eric Paslay; Producer: Mike Wrucke; Publisher: Will Hoge/Cal IV, BMI/ASCAP; Republic (track)
—Majestic. It has a melody to get lost in and production dynamics that pound and swirl. The lyric is for aspiring musicians everywhere. I’m way, way into this anthem.

LADY ANTEBELLUM/Dancin’ Away with My Heart
Writer: Dave Haywood/Charles Kelley/Hillary Scott/Josh Kear; Producer: Paul Worley & Lady Antebellum; Publisher: Warner Tamerlane/DWHaywood/Radiobullets/EMI Foray/Hillary Dawn/Global Dog/Big Yellow Dog/Lunalight, BMI/SESAC/ASCAP; Capitol (track)
—Individually, their voices are enchanting. But when these kids harmonize, magic happens. This wafts through the room’s atmosphere like incense smoke. In a word, dreamy.

TIM DUGGER/Way Past My Beer Time
Writer: Tim Dugger/Billy Aerts/Scott Lynch/Justin Pritchett; Producer: Jim Ed Norman & Mike Curb; Publisher: Mike Curb/Stormey/Baby Gray/BMG Chrysalis, BMI; Curb
—Loaded with fiddle and steel, this wobbles and weaves its merry way to the barroom. Lotsa sing-along hillbilly fun.

RONNIE DUNN/Let the Cowboy Rock
Writer: Ronnie Dunn/Dallas Davidson; Producer: Ronnie Dunn; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Showbilly/EMI Blackwood/String Stretcher, BMI/ASCAP; Arista (track)
—The lovelorn redneck is drowning his sorrows, and the band is rollicking.

TIM McGRAW/Better Than I Used to Be
Writer: Bryan Sampson/Ashley Gorley; Producer: Byron Gallimore & Tim McGraw; Publisher: How Bout That Skyline/BMG Chrysalis/Encore Entertainment/Mr. Noise/Writers of Sea Gayle/Gorleysongs/Bug/Music of Windswept/Songs of Southside Independent, BMI/ASCAP; Curb
—The man in this ballad is far from perfect, and he knows it. He’s cleaning up his act, little by little. Movingly performed and beautifully written.

Writer: Catt Gravitt/Christopher DeStefano/Ashley Gorley; Producer: Scott Hendricks; Publisher: Ink Pen Mama/Songs of Max/Tunes of R&T Direct/Razor & Tie/EMI April/Sugar Glider/External Combustion/Out of the Taperoom/Songs of Southside Independent, SESAC/ASCAP; Elektra Nashville
—It’s a heartache lyric wrapped up in a jaunty, country-pop arrangement. It may not be a hit, but it certainly shows promise.

Writer: Miranda Lambert/Blake Shelton; Producer: Frank Liddell & Mike Wrucke; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Pink Dog, BMI; RCA
—This trembling ode to loss has a deeply contemplative vibe, but the track packs enough energy to keep it from being completely mournful. Miranda’s vocal, as usual, is perfect.

Writer: Jon Randall/Jessi Alexander/Rodney Clawson; Producer: Scott Hendricks; Publisher: Reynsong/Why Ya Say/Vistaville/Happy Tears/Big Red Toe/Amarillo Sky, BMI/ASCAP; Warner Bros.
—He’s such a fine country singer, and this swaying, honky-tonk come-on fits him like a glove. Winning in the extreme.

ANN CLAIRE/Better Girl
Writer: none listed; Producer: Travis Howard & Maxwell Abams; Publisher: none listed; Prosody (track) (www.princessannclaire.com)
—She’s some kind of princess in Iran, since she’s the niece of the late Shah. Hence, her CD title, Honkytonk Princess. Its debut single isn’t a honky-tonk tune, however. It’s a sunny, bright, upbeat bopper. Her breezy soprano vocal delivery is adequate, if unexceptional.

ALISON KRAUSS & UNION STATION/My Love Follows You Where You Go
Writer: Lori McKenna/Barry Dean/Liz Rose; Producer: Alison Krauss & Union Station; Publisher: Barrytones/Universal Music Careers/Wagnerville, BMI; Rounder (track) (www.alisonkrauss.com)
—Captivating. Every instrumental break, every vocal lick and every thing about this production is crystal acoustic perfection. And it doesn’t hurt that the song is such an evocative minor masterpiece.


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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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