Every dog has his day, and this day belongs to the underdogs.
I am happy to report that we have plethora of contestants for this week’s DisCovery Award. Branch & Dean’s “Your Ol’ Lady’s Gone,” Alex Flanigan’s “Diesel, Guns and Rust,” and Gideon’s Daughter’s “Ain’t Got Nothin’” are all essential listening. So is our winning artist, The Abrams Brothers.
The Disc of the Day prize also goes to an indie act. You won’t find as superb a performance on any major as Buffy Lawson gives us with “I’m Leaving You for Me.”
BUFFY LAWSON/I’m Leaving You for Me
Writer: Buffy Lawson/Angie Russell/Eric Pittarelli; Producer: Walt Aldredge; Publisher: Buffster/Angelinalou/Little Painters, ASCAP/SESAC; Wrinkled (track) (www.wrinkledrecords.com)
—Magnificent. The throbbing production puts every sonic punctuation in its perfect place. The wounded-woman lyric of the power ballad is superbly crafted. Her vocal delivery is a wall of emotional fire. A star-making performance.
THE ABRAMS BROTHERS/Northern Redemption
Writer: John Abrams/James Abrams; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Bug/Rogues Writers Circle/Granite Hall, no performance rights listed; UFO (track)
—There are three of them — John, Elijah and James — and they hail from Canada. This is the title track of an album that’s a banquet of neo-Everly harmonies, percussive energy, folk charm, acoustic thump and sunshine-bright production. What a discovery: This one’s staying in the play-me stack for some time to come.
FAITH HILL/American Heart
Writer: Jonathan Singleton/Jim Beavers; Producer: Byron Gallimore & Faith Hill; Publisher: BMG Gold/Glassbean/We Jam/Sony-ATV Tree/Beavertime, ASCAP/BMI; Warner Bros.
—She remains one of our vocal treasures. Her soulful delivery of this well-crafted anthem gives even its most rah-rah lines believability.
CHRIS DANIELS/South Carolina
Writer: Chris Daniels; Producer: Chris Daniels, Jim Ratts, John McVey & Bradley Kopp; Publisher: none listed; CWD444 (track) (www.chrisdaniels.com)
—This singer-songwriter has a hearty vocal delivery and definite style as a composer. This lively track from his Better Days CD features jaunty, Cajun flavored accompaniment. The album’s cast should give you an idea of its overall quality– Sam Bush, Richey Furay, Mollie O’Brien, Bela Fleck, Lloyd Maines, John Cowan, Tim Goodman, plus sidemen from The Punch Brothers, Joe Walsh, The Subdudes and more. Play on.
BRANCH & DEAN/Your Ol’ Lady’s Gone
Writer: Steve Branch/Marion Dean/Michael Huffman; Producer: Michael Huffman, Jeff Silvey & Marion Dean; Publisher: Shootin’ Straight/Huffstuff, BMI/ASCAP; Spinville (www.branchanddean.com)
—This ode to Hank is loaded with wit and panache. From the yodel to the steel solo, this must be heard to be believed. Absolutely great.
HEARTLAND/The Sound a Dream Makes
Writer: Shana Canada/Gary Duffey/Gordon Mote; Producer: James Stroud; Publisher: none listed; R&J (www.heartlandband.com)
—The “I Loved Her First” fellows from 2006 have weathered label and personnel changes, as well as a self-imposed hiatus, over the past few years. Their comeback single is a sweet ballad of becoming a father (and then a grandfather) that tugs at the heartstrings and sounds just like a hit.
WANDA JACKSON/Tore Down
Writer: Sonny Thompson; Producer: Justin Townes Earle; Publisher: ARC/Carbert, BMI; Sugar Hill (track)
—Her last CD had Jack White in the producer’s chair, and it rocked. This time around, Miss Wanda has enlisted another alt-Nashvillian, Justin Townes Earle, for a collection titled Unfinished Business. Its lead-off single finds her in a stripped-down, urban-blues, rockin’ roots groove. Solid.
GIDEON’S DAUGHTER/Ain’t Got Nothin’
Writer: Gideon’s Daughter; Producer: Brad Petit; Publisher: none listed; Gideon’s Daughter (track) (www.gideonsdaughter.com)
—This trio from the Pacific Northwest features a slamming, slapping rhythm track and alternating male-female vocal leads that are equally sassy. A stomping surprise. Delightfully in-your-face.
MATT NATHANSON/Modern Love
Writer: Matt Nathanson/Mark Weinberg; Producer: Mark Weinberg & Matt Nathanson; Publisher: Little Victories/Stage Three/BMG Chrysalis/Rogue Leader/EMI April, ASCAP; Vanguard (track)
—This guy’s “country” connection comes via his outstanding duet with Sugarland on his album track “Run.” The collection’s second single and title tune confirms him as one of the great vocal newcomers of the year. If you don’t mind a few little horn blasts here and there, it could really liven your country playlist with its completely catchy tune, bopping rhythms and stellar production.
ALEX FLANIGAN/Diesel, Guns and Rust
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; AF (615-329-1032)
—She sings from the dark side of town, where the prison gates are. The song is just this side of Johnny Cash perfection. The production snarls and spits and rocks. She owns it vocally, from start to finish. An outlaw queen is born.
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