DISClaimer Single Reviews (4/11/12)

Just about everything sounds ridiculously good to me this week.

So much so that I’m giving out Disc of the Day prizes in the Male, Female and Duo/Group categories. Our male performance unquestionably belongs to Jake Owen. This man is inches away from superstardom. Kelly Clarkson’s fiery voice nails down the female award. And everybody already knows that the dynamic duo of Kenny Chesney & Tim McGraw has the release to beat this week.

The DisCovery Award goes to Josh Grider. Send more sounds.

JOSH ABBOTT BAND/Touch
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Lonestar Music (track)
—This group’s Small Town Family Dream CD drops on April 24. In the meantime, we have a teaser single/video that suggests we’re in for a treat. This haunting, minor-key and compelling slab of sound has an undertow rhythm pattern, a fevered performance and a sexy lyric. Absolutely a winner. More credits about who is responsible for this gem, please.

MONTGOMERY GENTRY/So Called Life
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Average Joe’s (track) (www.montgomerygentry.com)
—Raucous and romping, this rocks the working-man’s blues.

MELANIE ROSE DYER/Too Fast for Traffic
Writer: Melanie R. Dyer/Marc A. Rossi; Producer: Melanie R. Dyer & Daniel Cooper; Publisher: Fanetta/Marc My Words, ASCAP; Sugarplum (track) (www.melaniedyer.com)
—The track kicks up some dust, but her so-so vocal is almost buried in the mix. Also, her smoky style isn’t well suited to uptempo material.

KENNY CHESNEY & TIM McGRAW/Feel Like a Rock Star
Writer: Chris Tompkins/Rodney Clawson; Producer: Buddy Cannon & Kenny Chesney; Publisher: Big Loud Songs/Angel River/Big Red Toe/Amarillo Sky/Big Loud Bucks, ASCAP/BMI; BNA
—The Brothers of the Sun sound like they’re having a ball on this energetic, electrified stomper. I like the rapid-fire lyric on the chorus finales.

JOSH GRIDER/Slow
Writer: Josh Grider/Ben Stennis; Producer: Josh Grider; Publisher: G-Ride/Pickin’/Songs of Kicking Bird/Bug/Songs of Windswept Pacific, ASCAP/BMI; Smith Music Group (track) (www.smithmusic.com)
—Most of Grider’s new double CD was recorded live at Billy Bob’s Texas. The exception is this studio track and single release, which was cut west of Music City at Brave Studios in Pegram. It’s a blue-collar ballad about romantic relaxing on the weekends. His singing is immensely warm, welcoming and expressive. Plus, he shows real talent as a tunesmith. If he doesn’t have a hit with this hooky number, someone sure should.

JAKE OWEN/The One That Got Away
Writer: Dallas Davidson/Jake Owen/Jimmy Ritchey; Producer: Joey Moi & Rodney Clawson; Publisher: EMI Blackwood/String Stretcher/Universal Careers/Shiitoke Moki/Vibe Room/Jimbalaya/BPJ, BMI; RCA (track)
—Jake is hot, hot, hot. He is coming off two consecutive chart toppers, is in the current Entertainment Weekly music issue as one of “The 30 Greatest Artists Right Now” and is now engaged to wed. This new single bristles with energy. His vocal on it has brawny, chesty confidence, soaring above furious electric-guitar pyrotechnics and heart-pumping drumming. In short, this has as much heat as his career does.

MICHELLE TURLEY/Orange Blossoms in Phoenix
Writer: M. Turley/C. Turley; Producer: C.F. Turley; Publisher: none listed; Victorio (track)
—The track is in a lilting, acoustic-folkie style, which suits her wafting, breathy soprano. Pleasant sounding.

KELLY CLARKSON/Mr. Know It All
Writer: Brian Seals/Ester Dean/Brett James/Dante Jones; Producer: Dann Huff; Publisher: B-Uneek/Universal/Dat Damn Dean/Songs of Universal/WB/External Combustion/Brett James/All for Melodie, ASCAP/BMI; RCA/19
—The country version of Clarkson’s big pop hit features steel guitar but retains the song’s tremendous energy and super hooks. Her vocal delivery is simply electrifying. Essential listening. Kelly Clarkson is also featured on the same Entertainment Weekly list that Jake Owen is on. In fact, more than a third of the top-20 are Nashvillians. Besides Owen (#19) and Clarkson (#18), they include The Black Keys (#7), Taylor Swift (#2), Jack White (#6), The Civil Wars (#15) and Carrie Underwood (#4). Toss in London-based Americana faves Mumford & Sons (#9) and it’s a real community kudo.

AARON EINHOUSE/Good to Be Home
Writer: Aaron Einhouse; Producer: Walt Wilkins; Publisher: none listed, BMI; AE (www.aaroneinhoue.com)
—His vocal is recorded on the “dry” side, and the spare, simple band sounds live. It probably isn’t “produced” enough for most programmers, but there’s undeniable Texas verve here.

BILL GENTRY/That Kind of Life
Writer: Matthew T. Ramsey/Trevor Rosen/Josh Osborne; Producer: Chad Carlson; Publisher: Praley/Unfair Entertainment/Songs of BIMS/Tunes of Bigger Picture/Intunes, ASCAP; Tenacity (www.BillGentryNation.com)
—Very well written, with nicely crafted verses about growing up and an extremely catchy chorus. The production has plenty of crunch and bite, and his vocal performance is perfectly feisty and charming. Play it again.  

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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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