DISClaimer Single Reviews (6/06/12)

We went wandering off the beaten path this week to see what we could see. Or rather “hear.”

First of all, despite a plethora of unknowns, Miss Willie Brown muscled everyone aside to grab an utterly uncontested DisCovery Award. These gals are playing both Bonaroo and the CMA Music Festival, so look out, world.

The duo’s “You’re All That Matters to Me” was also in contention for Disc of the Day, as were “Crying on a Suitcase” by Casey James and Steele’s “Do You Really Have to Go.” But I went with the most stone-country performance of the week, “She Did” by veteran Clinton Gregory.

MAGGIE ROSE/I Ain’t Your Mama
Writer: Judson Spence/Candy Cameron; Producer: James Stroud; Publisher: Music of RPM/Dumb Dog/Dixie Stars/Sounds of RPM, ASCAP; RPM (www.maggierosemusic.com)
—Bluesy and groovy. She oozes sultry sex appeal in this performance of a come-on lyric. Sounds good. Send more.

CASEY JAMES/Crying on a Suitcase
Writer: Lee Thomas Miller/Tom Shapiro/Neil Thrasher; Producer: Chris Lindsey & Casey James; Publisher: Writers of Sea Gayle/Itchy Baby/EMI Blackwood/Little Dooey/Songs of Peer/Team Thrash, BMI/ASCAP; BNA/19 ()
—The song is quite unusual, in that it doesn’t ever really rhyme anywhere. The track is a pulse pounding delight, and Casey James one of those rare American Idol kids who sounds like he could have a real future. Recommended.

PHIL HAMILTON/Bad
Writer: Phil Hamilton/Beau Bedford; Producer: Beau Patrick Bedford; Publisher: Phil Hamilton/Beau Patrick Bedford/North Patrick, BMI; Winding Road (www.philhamiltonmusic.com)
—This has a lazy, loping quality that is quite appealing. He has a dusty, dry delivery, and the band keeps it slow, steady and simple. It will probably sound “underproduced” to some, but I think that’s part of its charm.

TONY KERR/Dig Deep
Writer: Tony Kerr/Steven Sheehan; Producer: Steven Sheehan; Publisher: Doreen/Scared Stiff, ASCAP/BMI; Barking Turtle (track) (www.tonykerrmusic.com)
—Kerr is a native of Ireland who has called Nashville home for more than a decade. He’s had a good bit of songwriting success in his homeland. This is the title tune of his second American CD. It is typical of the whole record in that it is a straightforward, acoustic-guitar-and-vocal presentation. His tenor voice is strong and supple, and Sheehan’s guitar work is exemplary. Song-wise, you could dress this up in a full Music Row production with a star warbling and easily have a hit. Also check out “Whiskey and Wood” and “The Prayer.”

MISS WILLIE BROWN/You’ve All That Matters to Me
Writer: Robert John “Mutt” Lange; Producer: Nathan Chapman; Publisher: Out of Pocket/Universal, no performance rights listed; A&M/Octone ()
—Don’t let the name throw you: Miss Willie Brown is a duo comprised of Amanda Watkins and Kasey Buckley. They’re the first artists on the new A&M/Octone imprint. Based on this throbbing bopper, I’d say they have quite a future. They harmonize perfectly, the guitars and steel chime right where they should and the song is as catchy as all get out. Play it again.

LONNIE SPIKER/You Can Go to Hell, I’m Going to Texas
Writer: Lonnie Spicher; Producer: Justin Trevino; Publisher: none listed, ASCAP; LS (888-455-5504)
—This regular visitor to the “DisClaimer” column is back, singing a hard-country ode with “Lone Star State” stamped all over it. Despite the twin fiddles and shuffle beat, there’s no escaping the utter dullness of the melody. Not to mention his rather limited vocal ability.

CLINTON GREGORY/She Did
Writer: Craig Martin; Producer: Jamie Creasy & Clinton Gregory; Publisher: Melody Roundup, BMI; Melody Roundup (CDX) (www.melodyroundupmusic.com)
—We still remember him fondly for 1991’s “(If it Weren’t for Country Music) I’d Go Crazy.” This comeback single is a heartbreak ballad demonstrating how much grace, style and finesse he has retained vocally. Caution: This is real country music: “They say you can’t take it with you/But she did,” when she died, taking his love with her. Prepare to blubber.

STEELE/Do You Really Have to Go
Writer: Karen R. Staley/Timothy P. Henneberry; Producer: Kent Wells; Publisher: Tim Henneberry/Jake and Vegas, SOCAN/BMI; Steele (CDX) (902-221-2340)
—He’s a strong singer, with plenty of lung power, range and feeling. The “open” production of this mid-tempo outing gives him plenty of room to strut his stuff. Promising.

COREY WAGAR/Take Ya Back
Writer: Corey Wagar/Cece Dubois/Beau Fuller; Producer: Kent Wells; Publisher: none listed, BMI/ASCAP; GTR (CDX) (www.coreywagar.com)
—It’s a sprightly “party” ditty that name-checks Tim McGraw, Shania Twain and such while telling its tale about songs prompting fond memories. Hang on for the delightful vocal counterpoint at the finale.

BOBBY LEWIS/Love Me and Make it All Better
Writer: E. Rabbitt; Producer: Jim Loessberg; Publisher: none listed, BMI; Heart of Texas (track) (325-597-1895)
—Bobby’s new Then & Now CD contains recreations of his old United Artists Records hits such as 1966’s “How Long Has It Been,” 1968’s “From Heaven to Heartache” and 1970’s “Hello Mary Lou,” as well as some new material. As this revival of his melodic 1967 hit reminds us, he was also among the first to recognize the songwriting ability of future star Eddie Rabbitt. At age 70, Bobby still sings well, and the slight echo chamber, Floyd Cramer style piano and sighing vocal background singers do an excellent job of conjuring up the classic Nashville Sound recording style. Nice job.

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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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