DISClaimer Single Reviews (1/25/12)

There is life after major labels.

That’s today’s message, coming to us loud and clear from Deborah Allen, Neal McCoy, Jonathan Edwards and Suzy Bogguss. All of them have excellent indie albums, with Suzy and Deborah owning their own labels. For shining a spotlight on our folk-music legacy, Suzy Bogguss wins our Disc of the Day.

From the Broken Bow label comes a young Tullahoma, Tennessee native named Dustin Lynch. Give his “Cowboys and Angels” single a spin. I think you’ll agree with me that he’s a worthy DisCovery Award recipient.

KENNY VAUGHAN/Country Music Got a Hold on Me
Writer: none listed; Producer: Brandon Bell, Carmella Ramsey & Kenny Vaughn; Publisher: Veltal, BMI; Sugar Hill (track) (www.kennyvaughan.net)
—With Marty Stuart and the rest of The Fabulous Superlatives along for the rollicking ride, Kenny’s current solo CD kicks off with this neo-rockabilly romp that comes with built-in smiles as well as his trademark, deliciously stinging guitar licks.

SUZY BOGGUSS/Red River Valley
Writer: anonymous; Producer: Suzy Bogguss; Publisher: public domain; Loyal Duchess (track) (www.suzybogguss.com)
—Suzy’s American Folk Songbook CD is precisely what its title says it is, a collection of simply arranged gems of our nation’s musical heritage. Not only does she still sing with immense warmth and luster, she is surrounded by some of Music City’s top instrumentalists plus vocal harmonies courtesy of Matraca Berg, Harry Stinson and Gretchen Peters. I am told this is doing quite well overseas. It is a thorough delight.

TRENT JEFFCOAT/When I Find Me That Mountain
Writer: Trent Jeffcoat/Brandy Clark; Producer: Paul Sikes; Publisher: none listed; Deer in the Headlights (track) (www.trentjeffcoat.com)
—This singer-songwriter has a seven-song CD as a calling card. Its title tune is a meditative ballad with a deeply stirring lyric made even more potent because of his resonant, emotional baritone vocal. Trent Jeffcoat has the goods, people.

DEBORAH ALLEN/It Better Be Big
Writer: Deborah Allen/Callie Champion; Producer: Deborah Allen; Publisher: none listed; Delta Rock (track) (www.deborahallen.com)
—The second single from Deborah’s new Hear Me Now CD is a hoot. After a bluesy intro, she sizzles into a rapid-fire, rocking delivery. “If you’re gonna give it to me, baby, it better be big,” she sings. Get your mind out of the gutter: She means a wedding ring. Stay tuned for her personality-packed asides during the finale.

ALAN RHODY/Somebody to Care
Writer: Alan Rhody/Bill Caswell; Producer: Alan Rhody; Publisher: Sony-ATV, BMI; Ashwood (track) (www.alanrhody.com)
—If you’ve never seen this Nashville singer-songwriter perform, you’re missing out on one of our most entertaining and amusing acoustic troubadours. Alan’s new Led By Love collection begins with this ear catching story song about a would-be liquor store robber who finds romance and redemption en route. The supporting cast of this sterling set includes Sam Bush, Gordie Trapp, Mike Henderson, Jay Patten, Mike Bub, Vickie Carrico, Billy Thomas and Jonell Mosser. Are the tracks cool? You bet.

NEAL McCOY/Sentimental Journey
Writer: Les Brown/Bud Green/Benjamin Homer; Producer: Les Brown Jr. & Keith Olsen; Publisher: Morley/Holliday/Songwriters Guild of America/MPL, no performance rights listed; Encore/DPTV (track) (www.dptvmedia.org)
—Country star McCoy teams up with Les Brown’s Band of Renown on a new, in-concert CD that’s a definite change of pace. Singing the swing band’s signature song, he seems relaxed and at ease with the massed brass section wailing behind him. Charley Pride and Janie Fricke also make guest appearances on the set, which was originally recorded for a PBS special.

RANDY THOMPSON/One Guitar
Writer: Randy Thompson; Producer: Randy Thompson; Publisher: Twang This, ASCAP; Jackpot (track) (www.randythompson.net)
—Thompson’s Collected CD compiles tunes he has recorded over the past decade for various albums and singles. This is one of its two newly recorded selections. It is a country rocker with a “spaghetti western” vibe. The band rushes the tempo, and there’s too much echo on his vocal.

JONNY CORNDAWG/Shaved Like a Razor
Writer: none listed; Producer: Loney John Hutchins & Jonny Corndawg; Publisher: none listed; Nasty Memories (track) (www.corndawg.com)
—I think it is meant to be funny, but he still can’t sing.

JONATHAN EDWARDS/Surrounded
Writer: Jonathan Edwards; Producer: Jonathan Edwards & Jim Begley; Publisher: Joinatune Earthwords, no performance rights listed; Appleseed (track) (www.jonathanedwards.net)
—Appleseed Records specializes in reviving the careers of “heritage” artists who have long been absent from the recording scene, including Tom Rush (35 years between studio recordings), David Bromberg (17 years), Buffy Sainte-Marie (13 years), Jesse Winchester (10 years), Roger McGuinn (10 years) and Donovan (8 years). Edwards has been m.i.a. for about a dozen years. His comeback My Love Will Keep CD begins with this lilting, pastoral ode with super-soulful harmonies by bluegrass star Claire Lynch. In addition to his own songs, he covers works by Mark D. Sanders & Adrienne Young, Tommy Rocco, John Brannen and Henry Gross, not to mention Lennon & McCartney.

DUSTIN LYNCH/Cowboys and Angels
Writer: Dustin Lynch/Josh Leo/Tim Nichols; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Big Machine/Golden Gears/Super 98/Sony-ATV Tree/Warner-Tamerlane/Contentment/Made For This, BMI; Broken Bow  (www.dustinlynch.com)
—He sings in a clear, confident, smooth baritone with smoky, whiskey aftertones. The moody power ballad has a dusky, romantic vibe that is quite magnetic. This could definitely go places.

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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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