DISClaimer Single Reviews (11/07/12)

Toby Keith, Phoenix Stone

What a sonic harvest we have this week.

Good luck, radio programmers. You’re going to have to make room for a heaping helping of new sounds. The Zac Brown Band has the most beautifully produced single of the week. The Band Perry has the most refreshingly original sound. Amy Rose turns in the finest vocal performance. Kelly Clarkson has the coolest groove. And Tim McGraw is playing at the top of his game. All of these folks deserve massive airplay.

For the Disc of the Day, I am going with the masterful new effort by Toby Keith. He’s playing the part of a bartender with a big shoulder to cry on in “Hope on the Rocks.” And he makes you believe every word of it.

Like Toby, Phoenix Stone writes and produces his own single, as well as singing it well. So he’s taking home this week’s DisCovery Award.

PHOENIX STONE/100 Proof Moonshine
Writer: Phoenix Stone; Producer: Phoenix Stone; Publisher: Stonelib, ASCAP; Stonehall (www.phoenixstoneofficial.com)
—Very nicely produced, with a crashing drum sound, banjo grace notes, a ringing electric guitar and some hearty shouting chorus boys. Stone sings with southern gusto, and the song has loads of memorable hooks. Play it.

TIM McGRAW/One of Those Nights
Writer: Luke Laird/Rodney Clawson/Chris Tompkins; Producer: Byron Gallimore & Tim McGraw; Publisher: Universal-Careers/Big Red Toe/Amarillo Sky/Big Loud Bucks/Big Loud Songs/Angel River, BMI/ASCAP; Big Machine
—The sound of young love. He and his babe head for the party, dance to a slow tune and get it on later. The whole thing is wrapped up in echoey, wistful nostalgia. Superbly listenable.

LOVE AND THEFT/Runnin’ Out of Air
Writer: Matt Jenkins/Shane McAnally/Josh Osborne; Producer: Josh Leo; Publisher: Songs of Bims/Kobalt/Crazy Water/Little Blue Egg/Want a Fresh One/Black River, ASCAP; RCA (track)
—It has a glossy-pop sound, a galloping beat and rich vocal harmonies. It’s not exactly my cup of tea, but there’s no denying the polished craftsmanship at work here.

TOBY KEITH/Hope on the Rocks
Writer: Toby Keith; Producer: Toby Keith; Publisher: Tokeco, BMI; Show Dog Universal (track)
—Forget what I implied last week. I still do dearly love “Cold Beer Country,” and the label did send it out as a tune to be listened to, but it is NOT the new single. This is. It is the moody, meditative title tune of Toby’s album. The disillusioned and downtrodden find their way into the bartender’s establishment to drown their sorrows. It is superbly written, and he sings the fire out of it. This man is a hoss.

KELLY CLARKSON & VINCE GILL/Don’t Rush
Writer: Blu Sanders/Natalie Hemby/Lindsay Dawn Chapman; Producer: Dann Huff; Publisher: Tiltawhirl/Carnival/Lindsay Dawn Chapman, BMI/ASCAP; 19/RCA
—With Vince supplying heavenly harmony, Kelly sways through this groove-a-minute tune with an old-school R&B vibe. Wonderfully rhythmic.

AMY ROSE/I Just Want You to Know
Writer: Gottwald/Sandberg; Producer: After Tuesday Productions; Publisher: Kasz Money/Universal, ASCAP; Wild Rose (www.amyrosemusic.com)
—This was a 2006 hit for The Backstreet Boys, and her version doesn’t countrify the song all that much. That said, her sultry, range-y singing voice is beyond excellent.

THE BAND PERRY /Better Dig Two
Writer: Brandy Clark/Shane McAnally/Trevor Rosen; Producer: Dann Huff; Publisher: Tunes of Bigger Picture/Vista Loma/Songs of Bigger Picture/Crazy Water/Little Blue Egg/Kobalt/ReHits/Unfair Entertainment, ASCAP; Republic Nashville
—Very cool. The crisp little banjo licks, thumpy percussion and sonic crashes give it a super dramatic sound. The dark, threatening lyric and the energetic vocals are pluses as well. Innovative and ear catching.

ZAC BROWN BAND/Goodbye in Her Eyes
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; RPM Entertainment (ERG)
—When they hit those chorus harmonies, I rose right out of my chair. Man, these guys can sing. This is one thrilling, gorgeous and deliciously melodic little record.

SMOKEY RIVER BOYS/All Pure Country
Writer: Robert Metzger; Producer: Robert Metzger; Publisher: Aim High/Universal, ASCAP; Platinum Plus (CDX) (www.smokeyriverboys.com)
—As you might guess from the title, this a for-real hillbilly-cornball outing. Country with a capital “K.”

JOSIE BRANDON/Crazy Week
Writer: Josie Brandon; Producer: Ian Spanic & Josie Brandon; Publisher: Josie Brandon, ASCAP; Tiger (CDX) (www.josiebrandonmusic.com)
—The song won’t win any contest prizes, that’s for sure. She sings it as loud as she can, but there’s no getting around its lameness.

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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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