DISClaimer Single Reviews (2/15/12)

Eric Church and David Nail are finishing in a dead heat for the Disc of the Day award.

David’s single is a range-y ballad. Eric’s is a throbbing tempo tune. What’s interesting is that they are both singing about how deeply blue-collar rock classics can penetrate your heart and mind. We can all relate to the extraordinary lyrics of “The Sound of a Million Dreams” and “Springsteen.” These songs are both smashes, folks.

The DisCovery Award goes to Thomas Rhett. This kid comes out rocking.

THE DIRT DRIFTERS/There She Goes
Writer: none listed; Producer: Justin Niebank; Publisher: none listed; Warner Bros. (track)
—I like these guys, and this is their best yet. This time around, the ultra-cool lead vocal is answered by a ghostly “Greek chorus” commenting on his heartbreak while the country-rock track canters along with chiming guitars and dusty percussion. Delicious sounding.

RECKLESS KELLY/I Never Liked St. Valentine
Writer: Willy Braun/Todd Snider; Producer: David Abeyta, Cody Braun & Willy Braun; Publisher: C&P Fah-Q/Nobody’s Collecting on These Songs, BMI; No Big Deal (track)
—He praises St. Cecelia for music, St. Francis for companionship, St. Patrick for booze, plus St. Christopher and St. Nick and but forget that heartbreaker Valentine. This mid-tempo, acoustic-based groover has a drawling wit that’s hard to resist. Timely, too, considering the season.

DAVID NAIL/The Sound of a Million Dreams
Writer: Scooter Carusoe/Phil Vassar; Producer: Chuck Ainlay & Frank Liddell; Publisher: Scrambler/Abbott’s Creek/Carnival/Phylvester, ASCAP; MCA Nashville (track)
—Magical. He’s not only a world-class vocalist, but this song about the power of music on your memory is downright breath taking. Chuck Leavell’s rippling piano accompaniment is simply gorgeous.

ADAM GREGORY/High on You
Writer: Adam Gregory/James Dean Hicks/Jamie Houston; Producer: Mark Moffatt; Publisher: On the Mantel/BPJ/Seven Peaks/John and Nancye’s Sons/Adam Gregory/Marc Isle/Walkerbout, BMI/ASCAP; Calusa/GMV Nashville (track) (www.adamgregory.com)
—Sung with confidence, produced with panache and written with craftsmanship. This rolling groove is more than ready for airplay. Well worth your spins.

ERIC CHURCH/Springsteen
Writer: Eric Church/Ryan Tyndell/Jeff Hyde; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Sinnerlina/Purple Cape/Bug, BMI; EMI (track)
—The deep rumbling thump and the wistful vocal both pushed my buttons immediately. And any lyric about the nostalgia conjured by hearing “Born to Run” and “I’m on Fire” hits me directly in the heart. Amen, brother.

SONIA LEIGH/Bar
Writer: Sonia Leigh; Producer: Zac Brown, Matt Mangano & The Southern Ground Recording Group; Publisher: Southern Ground, BMI; Southern Ground (www.southerngroundartists.com)
—She sings with Southern-accented moxie and the rollicking song is tailor-made for Saturday night. Unapologetic drinking songs sung by women are as scarce as hen’s teeth, and this one’s as raucous as they come.

DARRYL WORLEY/You Still Got It
Writer: Darryl Worley/Brett Jones; Producer: Jim “Moose” Brown; Publisher: none listed; Tenacity (www.darrylworley.com)
—This jaunty bopper is a sunny ode to enduring romance. It’s not the deepest thing you’ll ever hear, but it goes down easily. I particularly liked the silky organ playing in the production.

BILL ANDERSON & THE OAK RIDGE BOYS/Gone Away
Writer: S. Ripley/T. DuBois/J. Wooley/B. Anderson; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Time Standing Still/NuBois/Laugh-Thot-I’d-Die/Mr. Bubba/Sony-ATV, BMI/ASCAP; TWI (www.billanderson.com)
—These veterans sound strikingly contemporary here. The echoey, evocative production is wonderfully moody. The lyric about people and things that are no more is as haunting as the trembling melody. Ear opening, to say the least. If you’re a country fan, definitely give this a listen.

THOMAS RHETT/Something to Do with My Hands
Writer: Thomas Rhett Akins/Lee Thomas Miller/Chris Stapleton; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publisher: EMI Blackwood/Cricket on the Line/Writers of Sea Gayle/Itchy Baby/House of Sea Gayle/New Son of a Miner, BMI/ASCAP; Valory
—What a debut. This kid comes out swinging with a frenzied, insistent country rocker that grabs you by the lapels from the opening note and never lets go. The song is a sexy come-on with winks to spare.

LUKE BRYAN/Drunk on You
Writer: Rodney Clawson/Chris Tompkins/Josh Kear; Producer: Jeff Stevens; Publisher: Big Red Toe/Amarillo Sky/Big Loud Songs/Angel River/Global Dog/Lunalight, BMI/ASCAP; Capitol (track)
—It might be winter outside, but this tune is all about the heat of summer and romance. It simmers and shimmers and sizzles like a July heat wave.

DERYL DODD/Anybody Out There
Writer: Deryl Dodd; Producer: Deryl Dodd; Publisher: none listed; Smith Entertainment (track) (www.deryldodd.com)
—This Texan’s current CD is Random As I Am, and this track from it shows us a side of him we haven’t seen before. It’s a contemplative power ballad about feeling like an outsider, wondering who you are and seeking understanding. Different, and different is good. He has evidently undergone a strong songwriting spurt, because 10 of the album’s 13 tracks are Deryl solo compositions.

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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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