It might be optimistic and springtime outside, but it’s sad-ballad day here at Music Row.
Blake Shelton, Heidi Newfield, Chris Webb and Lady A are all singing downbeat fare on their latest singles. But only one of them is essential listening. That would be Lady Antebellum, nailing the Disc of the Day award with ease.
Of our more upbeat entries, Mark Collie, Grady Skelton, the Agave Posse Band and Rodney Atkins are all worth some spins. Texan Grady Skelton wins the DisCovery Award with his “Girl I Love.”
MELISSA BROOKE/Sticky Situation
Writers: Minnie Marianne Murphy/Pat Murphy/Ted Hewitt; Publishers: Montage/Machinafree/Pakimo/Ted Hewitt, ASCAP; Producer: Bill Green; Label: BGM (www.melissabrooke.com)
—This Texas teen takes the tune at a plodding, march-like tempo. It’s about a blind date that goes wrong, thanks to a girlfriend’s mix-up. Brooke’s pert singing needs some seasoning to sound more womanly.
RODNEY ATKINS/Just Wanna Rock n’ Roll
Writers: Rodney Clawson/Chris Tompkins; Publishers: Big Red Toe/Amarillo Sky/Big Loud Songs/Angel River/Big Loud Bucks, BMI/ASCAP; Producers: Ted Hewitt & Rodney Atkins; Label: Curb
—Despite the title, it’s a lilting, attractive invitation to party, country style. Well produced and highly listenable.
TJ BROSCOFF/Bigger, Better Than You
Writers: TJ Broscoff, Bill Green, BMI; Producer: Bill Green; Label: BGM (www.tjbroscoff.com)
—His singing and the band’s playing seem to be in different time signatures. A mess.
MARK COLLIE & HIS RECKLESS COMPANIONS/One More Second Chance
Writers: Mark Collie/T Graham Brown/Steve Schuffert; Publishers: Daniel Island/EMI Blackwood/Leipers Fork/River of Time, BMI; Producers: Tony Brown, Mark Collie & David Z; Label: Wilbanks (www.markcollie.com)
—In 2001, Collie went to the notorious Brushy Mountain State Prison with a batch of tunes about crime and punishment. His show, which also featured Kelly Willis, was recorded, but not released until this month. The Tennessee prison closed in 2009, but its energetic, in-concert album has found new life. It kicks off with this snappy, rockabilly romp that has the inmates whistling and shouting in appreciation. Alive at Brushy Mountain also includes versions of “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Why Me, Lord” and “Gospel Train,” but the bulk of the repertoire was freshly penned by Collie and his collaborators. Highly recommended.
GRADY SKELTON/Girl I Love
Writer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Producer: Clayton Corn; Label: Gamagrass (www.gradyskelton.com)
—The current single from Skelton’s Live Simply CD is a hearty, drawling, endearing and irresistibly jaunty ditty that rumbles along with such good will that you can’t help smiling. Feel-good Texas music, tailor made for summertime. Producer Corn is Pat Green’s keyboard player and Skelton has also worked with folks associated with Robert Earl Keen, Jerry Jeff Walker, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Eli Young Band and other mainstays of the Lone Star State.
LADY ANTEBELLUM/Wanted You More
Writers: Dave Haywood/Charles Kelley/Hillary Scott/Jason Gambill/Matt Billingslea/Jonathan Long/Dennis Edwards; Publishers: Warner Tamerlane/DWHaywood/Radiobulletspublishing/EMI Foray/Hillary Dawn/Songs to Make Out To/Christina Marie/Ebug/Donelson/Sussman & Associates, BMI/SESAC/ASCAP; Producers: Paul Worley & Lady Antebellum
—Swirling and magical, this has a deeply sensual vibe. The multi-layered percussion, midnight-hour vocal echo, super strings and full-throttle production make this one fabulous listening experience. Co-writers Gambill, Billinslea, Long and Edwards are in the Lady A band, so that’s extra cool.
CHRIS WEBB/D.J. Please
Writer: Chris Webb; Publisher: none listed, BMI; Producer: Gary Sadker: Label: Red Ridge (www.chriswebbcountry.com)
—It’s a plea to a D.J. to play a tune about romance. His smooth, baritone vocal on this ballad is solid, but the tempo is taken so slowly he’s practically having to drag his knuckles along the ground
Writers: Paul Jenkins/David Elliott Johnson; Publishers: Sony-ATV Cross Keys/Touch My Music, ASCAP/BMI; Producer: Scott Hendricks; Label: Warner Bros.
—The amped-up choruses on this power ballad are thunderously over the top. He’s a country singer, so give him a country song.
AGAVE POSSE BAND/We’ll Get It On
Writer: Chad Beedy; Publisher: Agave, BMI; Producer: none listed; Label: Agave Posse (www.agaveposse.com)
—Garage country, sounding like it was recorded live in a shed made of corrugated metal. That said, the rhythm-happy band sounds like a raucous good time, and the vocalist has a slap-on-the-back friendliness that’s hard to deny. Worth a spin around the dance floor.
HEIDI NEWFIELD/Why’d You Have to Be So Good
Writers: Jeffrey Steele/Jeremy Popoff; Publisher: Jeffrey Steele/BPJ/EMI April/Jagermaestro, BMI/ASCAP; Producer: Blake Chancey: Label: Sidewalk/Curb
—Her vocal performance burns the house down. The song puts a wet blanket on the blaze.
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