Country music comes in all kinds of styles this week.
You connoisseurs of old-school, barroom story telling need go no farther than “I Just Come Here for the Music.” It’s as fine a country song as I’ve heard all year. And it sure doesn’t hurt that it’s in the throats of the masterful Don Williams and Alison Krauss.
Those of you of a forward-looking, cutting-edge persuasion owe yourselves a listen to “Truck Yeah.” You won’t find a more adventuresome single than this latest outing by Tim McGraw. The man definitely knows a hit when he hears one.
Gretchen Wilson is offering blue-eyed soul. Brian Milson is our balladeer du jour. Randy Rogers Band and Sarah Jarosz add two more, totally different, flavors to the mix.
Our Disc of the Day prize goes to Pistol Annies for their left-field take on life as a touring musician, “Takin’ Pills.” I’m smitten with all three of these babes.
Speaking of “different,” do your ears a favor and spin “Family Tree” for them. The quirky audio charms of this platter earn Her & Kings County this week’s DisCovery Award.
RANDY ROGERS BAND/One More Sad Song
Writer: Randy Rogers/Sean McConnell; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publisher: Warner-Tamerlane/Lonely Model/Little Beluga, BMI; MCA Nashville (CDX)
—Wonderfully melodic and marvelously atmospheric. The softly attractive, moody, cloud-shadowed and captivating verses draw you in inescapably, then give way to brightly brilliant sunbeams in the soaring choruses. Totally engaging.
SARAH JAROSZ/Annabelle Lee
Writer: Sarah Jarosz/Cameron Scoggins; Producer: Gary Paczosa; Publisher: SoRaw/Pounding Paw, BMI; Sugar Hill (CDX)
—Based on the famed 1849 Edgar Allan Poe poem (published two days after his death), this is appropriately haunting and minor-key. But there is rhythm and drive here as well. Check it out.
COLT FORD & JAKE OWEN/Back
Writer: Colt Ford/Shannon Houchins/Noah Gordon/Mike Hartnett; Producer: Shannon Houchins, Noah Gordon & Mike Hartnett; Publisher: Average ZJS/Mike Harnett/ZJS, BMI/ASCAP; Average Joe’s (CDX) (615-733-9983)
—It was so pretty and nostalgic and tuneful, until he started to rap.
DON WILLIAMS & ALISON KRAUSS/I Just Came Here for the Music
Writer: John Ramey/Bobby Taylor/Doug Gill; Producer: Garth Fundis & Don Williams; Publisher: Sixteen Stars/Stella Dog/Peacehouse, BMI; Sugar Hill (track) (www.donwilliams.com)
—Wistful, poignant and loaded with emotion. From the aching lyric of two lost souls to the awesomely heart-tugging vocal work, this is country-music heaven.
BRIAN MILSON/Too Damn Young
Writer: Casey Kessel/Arlis Albritton; Producer: James Stroud; Publisher: Major Bob/EMI, ASCAP; Permian/Quarterback (www.brianmilson.com)
—Remembering a youthful romance with just the right amount of wisdom and lingering innocence. Well written, well sung and well produced.
TIM McGRAW/Truck Yeah
Writer: Chris Janson/Preston Brust/Chris Lucas/Danny Myrick; Producer: Ryron Gallimore & Tim McGraw; Publisher: Red Vinyl/Sony-ATV Tree/Root 49/DannyMyrick, BMI; Big Machine
—It’s borderline offensive. Which is probably why I like it so. Also: It’s a decidedly different musical approach, and that’s always a welcome thing from a veteran superstar.
GRETCHEN WILSON/One Good Friend
Writer: Dennis Morgan/Billy Burnette/Bekka Bramlett; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Little Shop of Morgansongs/Still Working for the Man/Irving/Miss Ivy, BMI; Redneck
—As usual, she is an immensely expressive vocalist. This time around, she’s delving into an r&b, soul-sister groove, to the accompaniment of a fuzz-tone guitar, a stately backbeat and a searing organ solo. The super-cool song deserves to be covered by every blues-leaning artist on the planet.
PISTOL ANNIES/Takin’ Pills
Writer: Miranda Lambert/Ashley Monroe/Angaleena Presley; Producer: Frank Liddell & Mike Wrucke; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Pink Dog/Reynsong/Ayden/Ten Ten, BMI/ASCAP; Columbia (track)
—“One’s drinkin,’ one’s smokin,’ one’s takin’ pills.” Now THAT’S a country lyric you don’t hear every day from a gang of gals on the honky-tonk trail. Mix the vocal attitude with a dose of raucous band noise, a dollop of feisty harmonies and a pinch of lively snare and you’ve got the perfect hillbilly cocktail recipe.
KELLY PARKES/All Cried Out
Writer: Ron Irving/Lynda McKillip/Kathleen Higgins; Producer: Darran Smith, Mark Lambert & Mike Borchetta; Publisher: SueCo/McKiller/Marydian, SOCAN; Edge (615-288-4234 ext. 101)
—Bopping and cheeky, if a little uncertain vocally in spots. It kinda sounds like if they’d taken a few more passes at it, she’d have locked into the band’s groove a mite more and nailed it. But make no mistake, there’s definite promise here.
HER & KINGS COUNTY/Family Tree
Writer: Caleb Sherman/Monique Staffile/Larry Florman/Justin Sherman/Alex Haddad/Frank Gagliardi; Producer: Caleb Sherman, Wayne Kirkpatrick & Josh Leo; Publisher: Warner-Tamerlane/ Therealcaleb/ Tweetleberry/ Brolo/ Shuggafree/ Alex Haddad/Katie Ro, BMI/ASCAP; Elektra Nashville/Warner Bros.
—This mixes hearty group choral harmonies with crunchy beats, spoken-sung passages, superb production finesse and a ridiculously catchy song. Plus, it’s completely joyful. A delightful surprise.
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