DISClaimer Single Reviews (9/12/12)
Welcome, Americana conventioneers.
This week’s edition of “DisClaimer” is full of your favorites as well as some folks who want to be. As you might expect, there’s an awful lot to like.
The Disc of the Day award is being divvied up. Our Female winner is Shawn Colvin. The Male prize goes to the comeback-bound Drew Womack. And ya gotta love the Group awardee, the completely charming World Famous Headliners.
Our newcomers include troubadours Sam Lewis, Jesse Terry and Eric Silver, plus the winners of this week’s DisCovery Award, Sarah, Hannah, Eva and Liza Holbrook, collectively known as Shel. Not since the heydays of the McGarrigles and Roches have I been so captivated.
CHRIS KNIGHT/Little Victories
Writer: none listed; Producer: Ray Kennedy; Publisher: none listed; Drifter’s Church/Thirty Tigers (track) (www.chrisknight.net)
—It has been four years since we’ve had an album from this gritty Kentucky song poet. The title tune to Knight’s newest remains true to his dedication to telling the stories of the “other” America. That’s a place of small-town desperation, working-class blues, hard times and resilience. The guy in this song has some firewood, a half a deer in the freezer and enough to survive on, so he thinks he’s doing pretty okay. John Prine joins in on the last chorus, by the way.
MINDY SMITH/Don’t Mind Me
Writer: Mindy Smith; Producer: Jason Lehning & Mindy Smith; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Big Yellow Dog/In the Tin Can, BMI; Giant Leap/TVX (track) ()
—This downbeat track from her self-titled current collection finds our heroine drinking, blue and lonely amid grinding electric guitars. Pairing her lilting, countryfied soprano with this thudding, echoey backing track is somewhat jarring at first listen, but I’ve always maintained that different is good. Elsewhere on the CD, she’s in her more familiar, folkish mode.
SAM LEWIS/I’m a River
Writer: Sam Lewis; Producer: Sam Lewis & Matt Urmy; Publisher: Sammy Sings, BMI; SL (track) (www.samlewistunes.com)
—Lewis has enlisted some stellar cast member for his CD, including guitarist Kenny Vaughan. On this r&b and gospel flavored ballad, he’s joined by Jonell Mosser on harmony vocals. Clearly, this is a blue-eyed soulman worth a listen. Or two or three.
WORLD FAMOUS HEADLINERS/Give Your Love to Me
Writer: Al Anderson/Shawn Camp/Pat McLaughlin; Producer: Justin Niebank & The World Famous Headliners; Publisher: International Dog/Bucked Up/Scamporee/Hammer Arm, BMI; Big Yellow Dog (track) (www.worldfamousheadliners.com)
—For lovers of Nashville music, the name of this group is no idle boast. The World Famous Headliners are Pat McLaughlin, Big Al Anderson, Shawn Camp, Michael Rhodes and Greg Morrow. The group’s CD kicks off with this rumbling rocker where everybody’s singing with hearty gusto. This train is moving with a steady roll. Get on board for the ride of your life.
Writer: Shel; Producer: Brent Maher & Shel; Publisher: Songs of Moraine, BMI; Moraine/Mad King(track) (www.shelmusic.com)
—Shel is comprised of the four Holbrook sisters on violin, mandolin, drums and piano, plus wafting vocals. Their cool, quirky sound is equal parts jaunty pop, sideways folk and sly humor, especially on this ear-tickling track. Delightful.
SHAWN COLVIN/All Fall Down
Writer: Shawn Colvin/John Leventhal; Producer: Buddy Miller; Publisher: Colvinsongs/Lev-A-Tunes, ASCAP; Nonesuch (track) (www.shawncolvin.com)
—Now 15 years on since her Grammy awarded “Sunny Came Home,” Colvin continues to make compelling records. She came to Nashville’s Buddy Miller to help her craft her latest. The title tune has a rambling, careening, jumbling and utterly fascinating audio texture and a gripping lyric of failure and redemption. Essential listening.
JESSE TERRY/Let the Blue Skies Go to Your Head
Writer: Jesse Terry; Producer: Neilson Hubbard; Publisher: Jackson Beach, SESAC; JT (track) (www.jesseterrymusic.com)
—He sings in a relaxed, easy-going tenor, and his songs are highly pleasing folk constructions. The cello-and-viola backing on this emphasis track are extra cool touches. The CD is titled Empty Seat on a Plane. It’s the kind of listening that makes a Sunday afternoon glide by.
TIM O’BRIEN & DARRELL SCOTT/Long Time Gone
Writer: Darrell Scott; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Famous/Chuck Wagon Gourmet, ASCAP; Full Light (track) (www.darrellscott.com)
—Separately, these two troubadours are both mighty forces to be reckoned with. Together on the live CD We’re Usually a Lot Better Than This, they are double dynamite. O’Brien’s mandolin provides the propulsion on this track while Scott’s expressive lead vocal makes you listen to this Dixie Chicks hit in a whole new way. Dazzling.
ERIC SILVER /When You’re Here
Writer: Eric Silver; Producer: Eric Silver; Publisher: none listed; Midas (track) (www.ericsilvermusic.com)
—Silver is a Nashville session musician who has written tunes for Diamond Rio, Reba, the Dixie Chicks, Toby Keith, Donna Summer, Neal McCoy and others. This title ballad from his own CD shows he’s been saving some choice songs for himself. It unveils a lush, luxurious and lovely texture as he spins its soft yarn of spending time alone with his guitar, cabernet and moonlight. The disc is being released in Brazil, where Silver has a side solo career.
DREW WOMACK/Sunshine to Rain
Writer: Drew Womack; Producer: Clayton Corn; Publisher: Native Stone, ASCAP; Blue Lightning (track) (www.drewwomack.net)
—The former Sons of the Desert leader has shifted into the Americana field for his comeback solo CD. Forced by spinal surgery to take a nine-year career hiatus, he took a clutch of well-polished songwriting gems into an Austin studio and emerged with a collection that will really grab you by the ears. The title tune is the tale of an alcoholic who returns to the poison that has already ruined a life. Womack has always had one of my favorite singing voices, and something as potent as this really lets him soar.