As a singer, songwriter and record maker, he is firing on all eight cylinders. As a singer, he had Billboard’s most-played country single of 2010 with “Love Like Crazy.” As a songwriter, he had Billboard’s most-played country single of 2011 with The Eli Young Band’s rendition of his “Crazy Girl.” That same song earned him the 2012 ACM award for Song of the Year. You will recall that in 2007, he was the cowriter of “More Than a Memory” by Garth Brooks, the only song to debut at No. 1 on the charts. Yesterday, his Hard 2 Love CD hit the stores with a bang. Its leadoff single, “A Woman Like You” rules the hit parade at No. 1. In addition, this week, Lee Brice lands his first Disc of the Day award from “DisClaimer” with the album’s title tune.
And he’s not the only one with a happening track today. The Lionel Richie & Billy Currington duet, Sawyer Brown, Bucky Covington and Due West all gave Lee a run for his money.
Our DisCovery Award goes to Herrick. The four-piece band enlisted Michael Bonagura of Baillie & The Boys to produce 10 tracks of its album, plus four “bonus” tunes produced by Buddy Cannon. Not too shabby, eh? The group’s debut full-length CD is titled New Dance. It will pin your ears back.
Writer: Chris Lucas/Preston Brust/Jeffrey Steele; Producer: Jeffrey Steele; Publisher: Sony-ATV Cross Keys/Sony-ATV Tree/Jeffrey Steele/BPJ, ASCAP/BMI; R&J
—This is not the same song that Joe Diffie had with this title in 1996. No indeedy. This one is an amped-up, super-electrified rocker that has next to nothing to do with actual country music. I’ll take Diffie’s tune any day.
Writer: none listed; Producer: Mark Moffatt; Publisher: none listed; CMM (track) (www.craigmorrisonmusic.com)
—This Aussie cracks the U.S. country marketplace with a gently rolling social statement about the nature of barricades in our lives. Well written and expertly produced, it’s a mighty promising debut.
BUCKY COVINGTON/I Wanna Be That Feeling
Writer: Jimmy Yeary/Ben Hayslip; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Black to Black/Get a Load of This/Warner Chappell, BMI/ASCAP; Entertainment One (www.buckycovington.com)
—Hearty and engaging, this comeback single has plenty of melodic oomph and production excitement. With pile-driving punch a-plenty, it’s exceedingly radio friendly. A real contender.
DUE WEST/Things You Can’t Do in a Car
Writer: Brad Hull; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Hull to Pay/Offer You Can’t Refuse, BMI; Black River
—In praise of pickup trucks, this jaunty little number bubbles and bounces in all the right places.
SAWYER BROWN/Ain’t Goin’ Out That Way
Writer: Robert Ellis Orall/Stephen Barker Liles/Brad Douglas Warren/Brett Daniel Warren; Producer: Mark Miller; Publisher: Orall Fixation/It’s a Birthday Party/Rockapop/Stylsonic/EMI Blackwood, ASCAP/BMI; Beach Street (CDX)
—The country-rock arrangement is sunny and bright, yet the gritty, poor-boy lyric is a downbeat contrast. I dig the dogged, determined message as well as the insanely catchy track.
PAT GREEN/All Just to Get to You
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Sugar Hill (ERG)
—The song is terrific, as is his vocal delivery. He should have been surrounded with a more lustrous or muscular production instead of this somewhat spare one. But the performance and composition are so strong that they carry the day nevertheless.
MARK WAYNE GLASMIRE/I Like You
Writer: Mark Wayne Glasmire; Producer: John Albani & John Wayne Glasmire; Publisher: Traceway, ASCAP; Traceway (track) (www.markwayneglasmire.com)
—I have consistently enjoyed this artist’s releases. But this faux-beach, pseudo-Buffett style of country music is among my least favorites. Pass.
LEE BRICE/Hard to Love
Writer: Billy Montana/John Ozier/Ben Glover; Producer: Kyle Jacobs & Matt McClure; Publisher: Mike Curb/Dandon Ranch/Over the Bar/91 One/Arose/EMICMG, BMI/ASCAP; Curb (track)
—Lee is coming off a chart topper (”A Woman Like You”) and remains a strong up-and-comer, so this release is crucial to his forward momentum. I think it will do the trick just fine. The insistent tune, steady rhythm, earnest vocal and true-to-life lyric are all ear tickling. Up, up, up it goes.
Writer: Donna Herrick/Kerry Herrick/David Walker; Producer: Buddy Cannon; Publisher: none listed; BreakAway (track) (www.herricklive.com)
—I like it, I like it. The song has a cool, moody, minor-key tune and a dramatic, girl-gone-wrong lyric. Donna’s lead vocal is supported by the band’s ultra-haunting harmonies. Captivating.
LIONEL RICHIE & BILLY CURRINGTON/Just for You
Writer: Lionel Richie/Paul Barry/Mark Taylor; Producer: Tony Brown & Lionel Richie; Publisher: none listed; Mercury Nashville (track) ()
—The songs on Richie’s new Tuskegee CD of country duets are his familiar classics. Except for this one. Evidently, it was a hit in Europe, but it only got to No. 92 on the U.S. pop charts (in 1994). Leave it to song-magnet Currington to wind up with this deliciously melodic, hypnotically rhythmic jewel as his selection on the disc. No one, but no one, writes songs this perfectly pristine as Lionel Richie does. Music to make your heart sing.