DISClaimer Single Reviews (02/29/12)

Phillip Thomas and Joanna Smith

I love it when the underdog wins.

Despite the presence of legendary Johnny Bush, superstar Carrie Underwood and funnyman Cledus T. Judd, it’s the far lesser known Joanna Smith who carries home today’s Disc of the Day award. She and producer Buddy Cannon have the finest sounding single of this week, by far.

Our DisCovery Award winner introduces himself with a seven-song EP titled Scars. Phillip Thomas recorded it in Austin with what appears to be a largely Latino supporting cast. Bueno.

PHILLIP THOMAS/Weather Man
Writer: Phillip Thomas/James DeBerry; Producer: Omar Vallejo & Phillip Thomas; Publisher: Matt Stevens, BMI; Muy Grande  (www.phillipthomasmusic.com)
—The scampering banjo that underscores this country rocker is just one of the reasons that it’s a slab of excitement. Deft electric guitar work, a pulse-quickening rhythm track and a soaring melody bring this thing home smartly. And then there’s his youthful, soaring, tenor vocal. You’ve got something, kid.

CLEDUS T. JUDD/Double D Cups

Writer: Brett Beavers/Jim Beavers/Brett Warren/Brad Warren; Producer: Cledus T. Judd & Chris P Cream Clark; Publisher: Beavertime Tunes/Chestnut Barn/Chrysalis One/EMI Blackwood/Sony-ATV Tree/StyleSonic, BMI; Warner Bros.
—As usual, his parody perfectly apes the original sonically. In this case, it’s “Red Solo Cup.” If they left out any synonym or nickname for breasts in this lyric, I sure didn’t spot it.

MARTY McINTOSH/She Makes Me Look Good
Writer: Tom Botkin/Tony Stampley/Toni Dae; Producer: Frizzell Productions; Publisher: Paris Landing, BMI; Nashville America (track) (www.martymcintoshmusic.com)
—You have no business being in a recording studio.

JOHNNY BUSH /Who’ll Buy My Memories
Writer: Willie Nelson/Eddie Noack; Producer: Justin Trevino; Publisher: none listed; Heart of Texas (track) (www.heartoftexascountry.com)
—This Texas honky-tonk legend’s latest is a whopping 16 songs long. Some of the tunes are chestnuts, such as “Am I That Easy to Forget,” “Pop a Top,” “Drinking Champagne,” and “I’ve Got a New Heartache.” Others are lesser known, but ALL are bona fide classic country. His vocal on the Willie Nelson title tune is robust, if a little timeworn in the vibrato department. Trevino’s production is hillbilly perfection.

JERRY VANDIVER & VICTORIA BANKS/Leave No TraceWriter: none listed; Producer: Jerry Vandiver; Publisher: none listed; Paddle Songs (track) (www.jerryvandiver.com)
—Vandiver is a successful Nashville tunesmith with such credentials as Tim McGraw’s “For a Little While” and Gene Watson’s “Don’t Waste it on the Blues.” He is also an avid canoer, and his True and Deep concept CD is a celebration of paddling on America’s waterways. This lilting, dobro-laced duet with 2010 Canadian Country Female Vocalist of the Year winner Banks is about enjoying nature without marring or spoiling it. Soothing and highly listenable.

CARRIE UNDERWOOD/Good Girl
Writer: Carrie Underwood/Chris DeStefano/Ashley Gorley; Producer: Mark Bright; Publisher: Carrie-Okie/EMI April/Sugar Glider/External Combustion/Out of the Taperoom/Songs of Southside Independent, BMI/ASCAP; 19/Arista
—It’s a rocker that warns the title femme about the no-good guy she’s seeing. Oddly for someone with such a fine vocal instrument, she often chooses material with more attitude than melody. This is one of those, but the production surrounding her dazzles.

CURTIS & LUCKEY/Tattoo
Writer: Curtis/Flanery/Rhem; Producer: Budy Cannon; Publisher: Tattoo/More Luckey, BMI/ASCAP; KMG (track) (www.curtisandlucke.com)
—They fall in love on spring break, and he becomes her “naughty little secret” just like that bit of body art. Extremely catchy and sung with jaunty charm.

JOANNA SMITH/We Can’t Be Friends
Writer: Brandy Clark/Shane McAnally/Shelley Skidmore; Producer: Buddy Cannon; Publisher: Tunes of Bigger Picture/Bigger Pictures Group/Vista Loma/Crazy Water/Little Blue Egg/Kobalt/Chrysalis/BMG Rights, ASCAP/BMI; Columbia
—This sweet/sad ballad portrays the complexities of lovers who’ve broken up beautifully. Her wistful vocal is echoed by lovely acoustic guitar work and framed in a gorgeous, echoey, wafting production. This is as pretty as it gets.

ANSON CARTER/Blue Collar
Writer: Casey Coesel/Chad Hudson; Producer: Michael Bowen & Anson Carter; Publisher: none listed; Black Gold (track) (www.ansoncartermusic.com)
—There already is a Montgomery Gentry. Also, “I’ve got blue collar running through my veins” makes no sense.

ONE NIGHT RODEO/We Could Go to Jail
Writer: Kim Tribble/Keith Follese; Producer: Kim Tribble; Publisher: Songs of Category 5/Tunes of RPM/Magic Midas/Jamanayre, SESAC/BMI; Fox Hill (CDX) (www.onenightrodeo.net)
—They’re so hot for each other that what’s on their minds could be illegal. I like the rapid-fire lyric delivery and the Southern-rock guitar work.

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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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