DISClaimer Single Reviews (3/14/12)

It is undeniable that much of the most creative music being made today is in the Americana genre, and that furthermore much of it comes from Nashville.

In today’s stack of platters, we find such stellar Music City contributors as Darrell Scott, Jeff Black, Rodney Crowell and Paul Burch. We can now add a new name to that list. Lend Bryan Clark and his New Lyceum Players your ears. The man is stepping up to the plate with guitar chops that equal Keith Urban, Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Steve Wariner and our city’s other guitar-slinger heroes. He is also today’s DisCovery Award winner.

The Disc of the Day is also packed with Nashvillians. In addition to Crowell and Scott, they include Gary Nicholson, John Prine, Radney Foster, Emmylou Harris, Shawn Camp, Suzy Bogguss, Verlon Thompson, Tim O’Brien and Vince Gill. All of them are saluting the eternal greatness of Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Guy Clark. A tip of the chapeau to This One’s for Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark, for it truly is a tribute worthy of the name.

SHELBY LYNNE/Heaven’s Only Days Down the Road
Writer: Shelby Lynne; Producer: Shelby Lynne; Publisher: none listed; Everso (track) (www.shelbylynne.com)
—Lynne’s Revelation Road collection is a true d.i.y. affair. She wrote all of its songs, played all the instruments and produced it. Its current emphasis track finds her emoting soulfully over a nervous beat and rapidly strummed acoustic guitar. The harrowing lyric seems to point back to her father, who murdered her mother and then killed himself while she and her sister watched. Gripping.

JEFF BLACK/Plow Through the Mystic
Writer: Jeff Black; Producer: Jeff Black; Publisher: Lotos Nile, BMI; Lotos Nile (track) (www.jeffblack.com)
—Speaking of doing it yourself, this superb Nashville song crafter produced his eighth CD on his own and played guitar, piano, banjo, bass and percussion on it as well. A few notables dropped by — Matraca Berg, Kim Richey and Gretchen Peters offer harmonies on a couple of tunes. Stellar instrumentalists Sam Bush and Jerry Douglas are here, too. Jerry is particularly prominent on this, the album’s shuffling title tune. Jeff, as always, sings with warm, throaty soul. Other standouts include the ballads “What I Would Not Do” and “New Love Song.” Jeff Black is booked to play at The Hard Rock on March 23 at 6 p.m. alongside Sam, Dierks Bentley and Jon Randall, all of whom have recorded his tunes, as has BlackHawk (”That’s Just About Right”).

DARRELL SCOTT/Hopkinsville
Writer: Darrell Scott; Producer: Darrell Scott; Publisher: none  listed; Full Light (track) (www.darrellscott.com)
—This awesome singer-songwriter’s new collection is titled Long Ride Home. Some of its tunes date back to his earliest years as a tunesmith while others are more recent collaborations with Marcus Hummon, Tia Sillers and others. This swinging bopper is a working man’s tune with snazzy steel by Lloyd Green, rolling piano by newly announced Country Hall of Famer Hargus “Pig” Robbins and a tenor harmony by Rodney Crowell. Elsewhere on this multi-faceted audio gem, other guests include John Cowan, Guy Clark, Patty Griffin, Mickey Raphael and Tim O’Brien. If you don’t love Darrell Scott, there’s something seriously wrong with you.

PAUL BURCH/Rave On
Writer: none listed; Producer: Paul Burch; Publisher: none listed; Ramseur (track)
—Burch’s latest is titled simply, Words of Love: Songs of Buddy Holly. His WPA Ballclub band lends the tunes a simplicity that is quite refreshing, considering how overblown most Holly tribute albums are. The arrangement of the set-opening “Rave On,” for instance, puts the spotlight on Burch’s jaunty, energetic vocal with nifty fiddle-and-squeezebox riffs, a simple rhythm section and little else. Ear opening.

MAD BUFFALO/Red and Blue
Writer: Randy Riviere; Producer: Chad Cromwell & Randy Riviere; Publisher: none listed; Mad Buffalo (track) (www.madbufffalo.com)
—Bandleader/songwriter Riviere hails from Montana, but traded Big Sky Country for Music City to record his latest CD. Stellar sidemen Dave Roe, Reggie Young, Jack Hoder and producer Cromwell make these tunes live and breathe as surely as Riviere’s shy, dry vocals do. This ballad title tune builds and swells around the philosophical lyric.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN/We Take Care of Our Own
Writer: Bruce Springsteen; Producer: Ron Aniello & Bruce Springsteen; Publisher: Bruce Spingsteen, ASCAP; Columbia (track)
—Introduced as the opening number of last month’s Grammy telecast, this is also the opening salvo of Bruce’s just-released Wrecking Ball CD. Despite the driving, uplifting track, it is a portrait of American promise denied to the disenfranchised. The theme resonates throughout the album. This is political music at its most majestic and powerful. This is why he’s The Boss. By the way, his eulogy to Clarence Clemons in the liner notes will move you to tears.

BRYAN CLARK & THE NEW LYCEUM PLAYERS/Southern Amen
Writer: Bryan Clark; Producer: Bryan Clark; Publisher: none listed; Rainfeather (track) (www.bryanclarkmusic.com)
—Clark is a transplant to Music City from Texas and the Southern Intermission CD was recorded in Brentwood. But you’ll swear you are listening to a smoking studio session from Memphis or Muscle Shoals or, in the case of this tune, New Orleans. This roars with soul/rock conviction, and the man’s fiery, world-class, fleet-fingered electric guitar work will blow your mind. Guaranteed. Get on board, chillun.

RODNEY CROWELL/That Old Time Feeling
Writer: Guy Clark; Producer: Tamara Saviano & Shawn Camp; Publisher: Chappell, ASCAP; Icehouse (track) (www.icehousemusic.com)
—”Let’s give her a good go and make ol’ Guy proud of us,” says Crowell as he kicks off this opening track of This One’s for Him: A Tribute to Guy Clark. His subsequent delivery of the wistful waltz is smoky, dreamlike and achingly emotional. But, then, everyone on this outstanding double CD is at their absolute best — Lyle Lovett, Vince Gill, Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris & John Prine, Radney Foster, Kris Kristofferson, Rosanne Cash, Joe Ely, Jack Ingram, Robert Earl Keen, Jerry Jeff Walker, Kevin Welch, Willie Nelson, Suzy Bogguss and on and on. Buy this at once.

FIERY BLUE/Slow Down
Writer: Paul Marsteller; Producer: Gabe Rhodes; Publisher: Big Moment, BMI; Doubloon (track) (www.fieryblue.com)
—This Texas combo seems to consist of lightly lilting vocalist Simone Stevens, percussionist Hunt Sales and multi-instrumentalist Gabe Rhodes performing the works of songwriter Paul Marsteller (apart from a delightful cover of The Beatles’ “I’ve Just Seen a Face”). This lively country rocker has enough hooks and melodic charm to be a mainstream country hit. The album’s title is Our Secret. Well, the secret is out.

FRED EAGLESMITH/Cemetery Road
Writer: Fred Eaglesmith; Producer: Scott Merritt & Fred Eaglesmith; Publisher: Sweetwater/A Major Label/Bluewater, SOCAN/SESAC; A Major Label (track)
—This ruggedly individualistic and independent Canadian has nonetheless had cuts by Toby Keith, Alan Jackson and Miranda Lambert, plus Chris Knight, The Cowboy Junkies, Mary Gauthier, Todd Snider, Kasey Chambers and more. This opening track of his new 6 Volts CD is a thudding, minimalist slab of drawled, bluesy, raspy attitude. Spooky, but as compelling as ever.

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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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