Sometimes less is more.
And sometimes you have to vote for class rather than flash. Matraca Berg’s “The Dreaming Fields” is a very simple production, but it packs a big emotional wallop. There are more famous record makers in this week’s stack, but this Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member wins the Disc of the Day.
Both of the DisCovery Award contenders are Universal products. Greg Bates records for Republic, and Jessie James is on Show Dog. In a tight contest, I’m giving the nod to Jessie James.
I don’t give out an Album of the Day award. But if I did, it would most certainly go to Tuskegee by Lionel Richie and his country pals. Those songs of his are just so enduringly extraordinary.
EDEN’S EDGE/Too Good to Be True
Writer: Gordie Sampson/Hilary Lindsey/Troy Verges; Producer: Dann Huff; Publisher: No Such Music/Bug/Music of Windswept/BMG Chrysalis/Songs of Southside Independent/Raylene/Songs of Universal/Songs From the Engine Room, SOCAN/ASCAP/BMI; Big Machine
—This is a trio, but somebody decided to make it sound like a female solo performance with some background vocalists. Next time, bring the other two voices up in the mix. The song is cool and so are the Dobro licks.
DANIEL SMITH/Sometimes Love
Writer: Daniel Smith; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Daniel Smith, ASCAP; DLS (www.danielsmithmusic.net)
—I’ve always liked this guy in the past. This new ballad is about the sad side of love that you discover when a loved one passes away. He aches in all the right places.
MATRACA BERG/The Dreaming Fields
Writer: Matraca Berg/Gary Harrison; Producer: Matraca Berg; Publisher: Songs of Universal/Hannaberg, BMI; Dualtone (track) (www.matracaberg.com)
—The yearning title tune of Matraca’s lustrous album mourns the loss of her grandparents’ farm. Her trembling, highly emotional vocal is accompanied only by her piano playing and a sighing, moaning cello. Which makes it all the more moving. The song has just become the subject of her new video.
LIONEL RICHIE & SHANIA TWAIN/Endless Love
Writer: Lionel Richie; Producer: Nathan Chapman & Lionel Richie; Publisher: none listed; Mercury (track)
—Thirteen songs from Lionel’s awesome catalog have become country duets on his new CD Tuskegee. Some of the biggest stars of the genre eagerly participated — Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Willie Nelson, Jason Aldean and Rascal Flatts among them. Shania takes the Diana Ross part on what was a massive, massive hit in 1981. She has a fuller, richer voice than the reedy Supremes diva, so this raises genuine goose bumps. This is a thrilling performance by both partners. The whole album is one delight after another. And I have always believed that Lionel Richie was really a country artist.
RACHELE LYNAE/Party ‘Til the Cows Come Home
Writer: Rachele Lynae/Stephanie Bentley/Jamie O’Neal/Jimmy Murphy; Producer: Jamie O’Neal; Publisher: Rachele Lynae/Fru Fru/Sugar Dumplin/Pakimo, ASCAP; Momentum (www.rachelelynae.com)
—It sounds pretty much like you’d expect it to, given the title. Lots of screaming guitar work, pumping percussion and crowd shouting. Pass.
SCOTTY McCREERY/Water Tower Town
Writer: Cole Swindell/Lynn Hutton/Tammi Kidd; Producer: Mark Bright; Publisher: Sony-ATV/House of Sea Gayle/Mike Curb, BMI/ASCAP; Mercury/19 (track)
—The production on this celebration of small-town life rocks brilliantly. Scotty keeps up with it, but sounds like he’s having to make an effort.
JESSIE JAMES/When You Say My Name
Writer: Marshall Altman/Dylan Altman/Rose Falcon; Producer: Mark Wright; Publisher: Sons of the Galt Line/Razor and Tie/Music of Cal IV, BMI; Show Dog Universal
—Lively and tuneful, this has the sound of young romance running all through it. James has an intriguing vocal delivery, throaty in her lower register and brightly sunny on her soprano notes. Very radio ready.
Writer: Jim Beavers/Brett Beavers/Dierks Bentley; Producer: Brett Beavers & Luke Wooten; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Beavertime/BMG/Chestnut Barn/Big White Tracks, BMI/IMRO/ASCAP; Capitol Nashville (track)
—The girl is driving him insane, and he can think of nothing else. It’s Dierks in his upbeat rocker mode, accompanied by plenty of stuttering, twang guitar and thumping beats. Highly infectious.
JASON STURGEON/Time Bomb
Writer: Jason Sturgeon; Producer: Greg Archilla & Jason Sturgeon; Publisher: Jason Sturgeon, BMI; Tool Pusher (www.jasonsturgeonmusic.com)
—It’s a roaring, rocking car song. It also has no melody.
GREG BATES/Did It for the Girl
Writer: Greg Bates/Lynn Hutton/Rodney Clawson; Producer: Jimmy Ritchey; Publisher: Super Effusion/Big Music Machine/Bates ‘N’ Hooks/Songs of Universal/House of Sea Gayle/Big Red Toe/Big Loud Bucks/Amarillo Sky, BMI/ASCAP; Republic Nashville
—This sways like a summer hammock in the backyard. He cleans up to look sharp for her. He shines his car for her. He plays his favorite George Strait tunes for her. He dances, sips Corona, enjoys the moonlight, lights candles and drives slow. Let’s face it, the boy is dizzy in love. An excellent debut.
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