DisClaimer: The Stars Are Twinkling This Week

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The race for Disc of the Day ends in a tie between Church and Moore.

The stars are twinkling in DisClaimer this week.

With fine new music from Darius, Kris, Kip and Eric, my ears were dazzled again and again. Tim and Billy Ray are here as well. Newcomers Jaida Dreyer, Sheila Marshall, Brandon Jenkins and Taylor Made got their licks in, too.

Jaida made her debut with a Christmas single a few weeks ago, so that leaves Sheila Marshall as our DisCovery Award winner.

I am declaring a tie for Disc of the Day. Both “Hey Pretty Girl” by Kip Moore and “Like Jesus Does” by Eric Church are essential listening.

SHEILA MARSHALL/Can’t Let Go
Writer: Randy Weeks; Producer: Ken Tondre; Publisher: Bug/EMI, ASCAP; Gerriec 
—Sidewinder guitars and a rumbling backbeat introduce the track. Then comes her strikingly bluesy, alto snarl. This baby rocks. Songwriter Weeks was a founding member of The Lonesome Strangers, and his song was previously popularized by Lucinda Williams. But Marshall makes it her own. Sing on, sister.

KIP MOORE/Hey Pretty Girl
Writer: Kip Moore/Dan Couch; Producer: Brett James; Publisher: Music of Stage Three/Songs of Cornman/Roll Through/BMG Chrysalis/Songs From the Couch, BMI; MCA Nashville (track) 
—My favorite new artist bats three for three with this swirling, dreamy come-on. His husky vocal whispers intimacy while guitars chime all around him. As magical as “Somethin’ ‘Bout a Truck” and “Beer Money” and then some.

DisCovery Winner Shelia

DisCovery Winner Shelia Marshall

JAIDA DREYER/Half Broke Horses
Writer: Jaida Dreyer/Lance Miller/Brett Warren/Brad Warren; Producer: Byron Gallimore; Publisher: none listed; Streamsound 
—She’s a sure nuff country singer. Alas, the guy she falls for has wanderlust and splits while her tears fall. From vocal performance to songwriting to production, this is class all the way around.

KRIS KRISTOFFERSON/Feeling Mortal
Writer: Kris Kristofferson; Producer: Don Was; Publisher: Jody Ray, BMI; KK (track) 
—This Country Music Hall of Fame and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member is still creating songs that are as powerful as ever. This title tune of his CD that came out this week is a meditation on the sundown side of life by the 76-year-old legend. It’s not depressing, but instead is warm and gracious and grateful for a life well lived. This whole project is the work of a true artist. Celebrate him.

TAYLOR MADE/That’s What Life Is
Writer: David Lowe/Gerald Smith/Johnny Holland; Producer: Dan Mitchell/Dale Morris; Publisher: Laci Morgan/Melody Roundup/Harmony Roundup, BMI/ASCAP; LGR 
—There’s way too much going on in the production during the choruses, including over-the-top strings. But he has a pleasant, earnest voice, the song is solid and the bopping tempo is infectious.

ERIC CHURCH/Like Jesus Does
Writer: Casey Beathard/Monty Criswell; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publisher: Sony-ATV Acuff Rose/Six Ring Circus/Sony ATV Tree, BMI; EMI (track) 
—I love this artist so much it’s ridiculous. This moody slice of audio perfection showcases one of his most expressive vocal performances to date. The lyric portrays a sinner who is loved unconditionally despite his shortcomings. Records like this are why he is the future of country music.

BRANDON JENKINS/Through the Fire
Writer: Brandon Jenkins; Producer: David Percefull & Brandon Jenkins; Publisher: Westen Soul, BMI; Smith Entertainment (track) 
—Jenkins wrote all the songs on his Dallas-recorded CD. This stark, stately, slowly paced title tune is dominated by his harmonica wails and throaty, strangely compelling vocals. An intriguing new stylist.

TIM McGRAW & COLT FORD/Twisted
Writer: Colt Ford/Scott Weaterwax/Wayne Hardnett; Producer: Scott Weatherwax & Shannon Houchins; Publisher: Average ZJS/Planet Crusher/ZJS, BMI/SESAC/ASCAP; Curb (CDX) 
—McGraw’s singing part is engaging. Ford’s monotonic, dominating, hillbilly rapping, not so much.

DARIUS RUCKER/Wagon Wheel
Writer: Bob Dylan/Ketch Secor; Producer: Frank Rogers; Publisher: Special Rider/Blood Donor, SESAC/BMI; Capitol Nashville (CDX) 
—The surprise Old Crow Medicine Show phenomenon is now a mainstream country single. Rucker and producer Rogers give the ultra catchy number some extra bounce, a few banjo plunks, lots of jaunty fiddling and backup vocals by Lady Antebellum. In a word, delightful. The song’s back story is that Dylan sketched out its chorus, but left it unfinished. It circulated as a bootleg. Old Crow member Secor worked up the verses to complete it. Its undeniable sing-along qualities did the rest. Rucker joined the band singing it on the Opry stage last July, and the audience went ape.

BILLY RAY CYRUS/Hillbilly Heart
Writer: Billy Ray Cyrus; Producer: Brandon Friesen; Publisher: Suunageronimo, BMI; Blue Cadillac (CDX) 
—It’s a country-rock stomper about keeping it country.

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About the Author

Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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