DISClaimer Single Reviews (8/29/12)

Top: Kacey Musgraves, Tyler Farr, Darius Rucker. Bottom: High Valley

There’s a star in our winner’s circle, but the day belongs to little lights who twinkle a little less brightly.

Darius Rucker rides away with a Disc of the Day award for singing and co-writing the pulse quickening “True Believers.” It’s a song for lasting lovers everywhere.

But right behind him is a gaggle of unknowns, clamoring to be heard. Three of them are getting DisCovery Awards this week. Our Female DisCovery is Kacey Musgraves, who has an outstanding song. I first heard “Merry Go ‘Round” when she sang it earlier this year at CRS. It and she both blew me away then, and they did so again today.

The Male DisCovery Award goes to Tyler Farr, who has the outstanding voice, as well as a finely crafted song. “Hello Goodbye” pushed all my buttons.

The Group DisCovery Award goes to a sibling trio called High Valley. Their debut disc scores points for production excellence, as well as vocal performance. High Valley has already had several hits and awards nominations in its Canadian homeland.

LISA MATASSA/Somebody’s Baby
Writer: Kelly Archer/Casey Koesel/Justin Weaver; Producer: Tony Bruno; Publisher: Pubple Cape/ole/Major Bob/Music of Stage Three, BMI; 9 North/
itishwhatitis (www.lisamatassa.com)

—Mama sends her on her way with uplifting advice and assurance that home will always be there. Matassa attacks this tempo tune with gusto and admirable self assurance. Tell that rock guitarist to get out of her way.

ALAN JACKSON/You Go Your Way
Writer: Troy Jones/Tony Lane/David Lee; Producer: Keith Stegall; Publisher: Tiltawhirl/Tee Roy/Carnival/Uncle Beast/Songs of Universal/Horns on the Hood, BMI/ASCAP; EMI (CDX)
—Loping and relaxed in musical tone, but with more than a few conflicted feelings in the lyric. This finely written song is sung to perfection by this modern country master. Heartily endorsed listening.

HIGH VALLEY/Love You For a Long Time
Writer: Jared Crump/Ben Stennis/Brad Rempel; Producer: Phil O’Donnell & Jeremy Spillman; Publisher: Pickin’/BMG Chrysalis/Songs of Kickingbird/Bug/Songs of Windswept Pacific/Big Brave Bendito/Centricity, BMI/SESAC/SOCAN/ASCAP; Eaglemont (www.highvalleymusic.com)
—Male trio harmonies atop a beefy, rocking track. If you’re not bopping along by the second chorus, there’s something wrong with your rhythm mojo. Loved it, loved it, loved it.

THOMAS RHETT/Beer with Jesus
Writer: T. Rhett/Rick Huckaby/Lance Miller; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publisher: EMI Blackwood/Cricket on the Line/Songs of Stylesonic/Melvin’s Pistol/Melvin’s Bullets/13th Avenue/I-40, BMI/SESAC; Valory Music
—Awesome. Only in country music will you find a song this simultaneously poignant, wry, emotionally honest, courageously creative and heartfelt. Rhett’s drawling, countryboy delivery of it is completely believable and absolutely perfect. This is the kind of thing we do best.

ATTERBERRY STATION/Fool’s Game
Writer: none listed; Producer: Cody Braun; Publisher: none listed; AS (track)
—Country rock, served up with relentless guitar grooves and steady-as-she-goes rhythmic propulsion. Roll on down the highway with this cranked up in your car speakers.

TYLER FARR/Hello Goodbye
Writer: Tyler Farr/Kris Bergnes/Skip Black; Producer: Jim Catino & Julian King; Publisher: none listed, BMI/IMPRO/ASCAP; Columbia (CDX)
—Tenderly sung, with just the right amounts of heartache, self-pity and tenor sobs. The song is extremely well crafted, lyrically, and also takes advantage of his striking vocal range. Eminently playable.

DARIUS RUCKER/True Believers
Writer: Darius Rucker/Josh Kear; Producer: Frank Rogers; Publisher: Universal/Cadaja/Global Dog/Big Yellow Dog/Lunalight, ASCAP; Capitol (CDX)
—Surprisingly stirring. He really gets inside this thumping ode to an enduring love story. The chorus has more hooks than a tuna boat. The underscored strings at the bridge tickle your heartstrings and by the time of the final guitar chimes, you’re a complete goner.

KACEY MUSGRAVES/Merry Go ‘Round
Writer: Kacey Musgraves/Josh Osborne/Shane McAnally; Producer: Luke Laird, Shane McAnally & Kacey Musgraves; Publisher: Warner-Tamerlane/351 Music/Want a Fresh One/Black River/Universal/Smack Ink, ASCAP; Mercury (CDX)
—This brilliant song of defeated expectations and dysfunctional dynamics deserves massive exposure. Musgraves’ lulled, downbeat delivery matches the lyric’s every nuance.

CRAIG MORGAN/More Trucks Than Cars
Writer: Craig Morgan/Phil O’Donnell/Craig Wiseman; Producer: Craig Morgan & Phil O’Donnell; Publisher: Big Loud Shirt/Big Loud Bucks/Sixteen Stars/Rooster Pecked/CMOGO, ASCAP/BMI; Black River (CDX) (615-780-3079)
—The lyric touches on all the backwoods cliches about how much better country folks are than city dwellers. He can do better, and has. Just so you know, neither grits nor biscuits are on my list of favorite foods.

PHIL HAMILTON/Running
Writer: Phil Hamilton/Beau Bedford; Producer: Beau Bedford; Publisher: none listed; PHM
—Texas garage country, with appropriately dusty atmosphere and a certain rollicking likeability. The sound might be a mite muffled, but this guy has talent.

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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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