DISClaimer Single Reviews (10/31/12)

The Mann Sisters, Brad Paisley

Trick or Treat!

It’s Halloween, and no one knows how to craft a topical tune like a country artist. In this case it’s a duo, The Mann Sisters. They have a song called “Halloween Night” that’s good enough to be played any time of the year. I’d love to hear what they can do with a non-holiday song. In the meantime, give them a DisCovery Award.

Regionalism isn’t especially valued in a musical genre that aims for national appeal. But I don’t care where you’re from, “Southern Comfort Zone” will make your heart beat faster and your emotions swell up. It is also, sonically speaking, an amazingly well-produced record. It earns Brad Paisley a richly deserved Disc of the Day prize.

DUSTIN LYNCH/She Cranks My Tractor
Writer: Dustin Lynch/Brett Beavers/Tim Nichols; Producer: Brett Beavers & Luke Wooten; Publisher: Big Music Machine/Super 98/Golden Gears/Chrysalis One/BMG/Chestnut Barn/Warner-Tamerlane/Contentment/Made for This Music, BMI; Broken Bow (track)
—The starter motor of the tractor starts things, then it’s off to the races with a spirited bopper. His warm baritone delivers the country-boy lyric with elan, and the lightning licks on fiddle and electric guitar provide the rest of the considerable energy in the track.

MELISSA BROOKE/Texas Rubye
Writer: Leslie Satcher/Vince Gill; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Vinny Mae/Songs of Kobalt, BMI; BGM (www.melissabrooke.com)
—She sings with such verve that she veers off pitch here and there. But she means well.

TOBY KEITH/Cold Beer Country
Writer: Toby Keith/Bobby Pinson/Marc Fortney; Producer: Toby Keith; Publisher: Tokeco Tunes/Bobby’s Lyrics & Livestock/Cold Beer Country/Do Write, BMI; Show Dog Universal (track)
—What with “Beers Ago,” “I Like Girls That Drink Beer,” “Red Solo Cup,” and now this, Toby seems to be in a bit of a rut in the lyric department. Melody-wise, however, he’s refreshingly creative, because this jazzy swinger laced with clarinet is as delightful a track as I’ve heard all year. Deserving of massive airplay.

SCARLETTA/Right Here, Right Now
Writer: none listed; Producer: Paul Taylor; Publisher: none listed; Average Joe’s (track) (www.scarlettamusic.com)
—This trio consists of Aubrey Collins and her partners Benji Harris and Nathan Stoops. I’d have mixed the boys’ contributions a little louder, since they sound kinda muffled on this debut single. The interwoven fiddle player is a plus.

MARK COOKE/Stay With Me Tonight
Writer: Pete Sallis/Mark Carson/Kris Bergsnes; Producer: J. Gary Smith & John Smith; Publisher: Cherry Heart/Mark Carson/Cauley Orleans/BMG/English Ivy/Chrysalis One, BMI/SESAC; CVR (www.markcooke.com)
—They’re both brokenhearted, so why not shack up? The accompanying piano is a overwhelmingly loud, whether he’s softly seductive on the verses or pleading on the choruses.

JOSH TURNER/Find Me a Baby
Writer: Josh Turner/Frank Rogers; Producer: Frank Rogers; Publisher: Songs of Universal/J. Otis/House of Sea Gayle, BMI/ASCAP; MCA Nashville (CDX)
—Pleasant, gently bopping and inoffensive, but not exactly gripping listening.

BRAD PAISLEY/Southern Comfort Zone
Writer: Brad Paisley/Chris DuBois/Kelley Lovelace; Producer: Brad Paisley; Publisher: none listed; Arista (CDX)
—This manages to be both anthemic and splendidly rocking at the same time. Even if you’re not a Southerner, you’ll get caught up in the lyrics evoking a Dixie homeland. The throbbing undertow backbeat is just as inspirational. The sound collages that ebb and flow throughout the track are brilliantly mixed. A total home run, right down to the finale “Look away, look away.”

THE MANN SISTERS/Halloween Night
Writer: Alexandra Mann/Lauren Mann; Producer: Alexandra Mann, Lauren Mann & Derek Cintron; Publisher: Tanner Boy, BMI; Tanner Boy (CDX) (www.themannsisters.com)
—Tonight’s the night! These gals have the soundtrack for trick-or-treaters. It’s appropriately spooky and minor key. Here’s even better news: it’s quite well written, and they sing it splendidly.

HANNAH McNEIL/I Gotta Leave You for Me
Writer: Hannah McNeil/David Hansen/Rob Higgins; Producer: Rodney Good & Rob Higgins; Publisher: Positively Platinum/Hansen/Nilknarf, ASCAP/BMI; RED/Spinville (CDX) (www.hannahmcneil.com)
—A woman leaves a domestic violence situation. The country-rock track rumbles along splendidly, and she delivers the range-challenging melody with vocal assurance. Well done.

JOE BACHMAN/Small Town Rock Stars
Writer: Mark Irwin/Josh Kear/Chris Tompkins; Producer: New Voice Entertainment & Arlis Albritton; Publisher: Oceans One/Year of the Dog/Darth Buddah/Big Loud Shirt/Big Loud Songs, ASCAP; JPB (CDX) (www.joebachman.com)
—The local band covers Springsteen, Skynyrd, Hank Jr., Buffett and Rick Springfield, basking in the good-time glow of being big fish in a small pond, getting the girls and free beer. They know they’re going nowhere, but they’re having a ball. You’ll smile and rock along.

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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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