DISClaimer: Trace Adkins Towers Above Them All

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Disc of the Day winner Trace Adkins.

There is no shortage of “name” attractions in this stack of platters. Worthy of your attention are such familiar folks as Tracy Lawrence, Natalie Maines, B.J. Thomas & Vince Gill, Opry star Jim Ed Brown and Nashville TV diva Hayden Panettiere.

But towering above them all is tall Trace Adkins. Paired with pop princess Colbie Caillat, he delivers the unchallenged Disc of the Day. Play and believe.

It turns out that there is yet another Cyrus making records. Billy Ray and Miley have company. Hailing from Kentucky is Bobby Cyrus, who earns a DisCovery Award for his debut effort.

Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Show Dog Universal (ERG) 
—Arguably the finest vocal performance of Trace’s career. He brings so much warmth, depth of expression, soul, passion and believability to this extraordinary lyric that it feels like he’s sitting in the same room with you. Grammy-winning, million-selling pop star Colbie Caillat shadows him in harmony and breathes soft ad libs throughout the beautifully orchestrated ballad.

Bobby Cyrus

DisCovery Award winner Bobby Cyrus.

KIX BROOKS/Complete 360
Writer: Kix Brooks/Rafe Van Hoy; Producer: Kix Brooks; Publisher: Sony ATV Tree/Buffalo Prairie/Se-Lo-Tek/Zambala/Kobalt, BMI/SESAC; Arista (track)
—Loud and rocking. Despite the clever lyric, it is sonically irritating.

Writer: Cary Barlowe/Steve Robson/Caitlyn Smith; Producer: Ross Copperman & Buddy Miller; Publisher: Castle Bound/We Be Partying/Imagem CV/Music of Stage Three/Songs of Cornman/BMG Chrysalis, SESAC/ASCAP/BMI; Big Machine (track) 
—Sprightly, bopping and pop-y. I dig her voice.

TRACY LAWRENCE/Stop, Drop & Roll
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Lawrence Music Group/Tenacity (ERG) 
—He’s on fire because she’s so hot, hence the the title’s advice. The percolating production, cute lyric and forceful vocal performance all work.

JIM ED BROWN/In Style Again
Writer: Lance Miller/Austin Cunningham; Producer: Bobby Bare; Publisher: Sony ATV Rhythm/In Style Again/Drivers Ed/Worleyworld, SESAC/ASCAP; Century II 
—The veteran Grand Ole Opry star has always possessed one of country music’s most resonant baritones. The lyric of this fine song is about being passed over, pushed aside, made irrelevant, tossed away, replaced and forgotten in favor of someone younger and better looking. And what entertainment vet hasn’t experienced that? Very touching and poignant.

Writer: Natalie Maines/Ben Harper/Jason Mozersky/Jesse Ingalls; Producer: Ben Harper & Natalie Maines; Publisher: EMI Virgin/Three Chord Symphony/Iggy Brain, ASCAP; Columbia (track)
—I’m not sure whether Natalie’s solo CD has a single or not. The title tune “Mother” is drawn from Pink Floyd’s 1979 opus The Wall. Other tracks come from Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder, Patty Griffin, Jeff Buckley and her fellow Dixie Chicks. This soulful power ballad is the song she performed on Letterman and it is a totally gripping performance and production. No matter what genre you call this collection, she’s still singing her fanny off.

B.J. THOMAS & VINCE GILL/I Just Can’t Help Believing
Writer: Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil; Producer: Kyle Lehning; Publisher: EMI Blackwood/Screen Gems EMI, BMI; Wrinkled (track)
—I have always loved this song. Producer Lehning strips it down to a gently strummed acoustic arrangement, and stellar tenor Gill turns it into a duet while Thomas provides his trademark fluttering, embellished and ornamented vocal style. A superb listening experience.

Writer: Bobby Cyrus; Producer: Don Rigsby; Publisher: Somewhere in Tennessee, BMI; BGC (track) 
—Billy Ray’s cousin has a debut CD titled Homeplace. Its single is a splendid story song about a neglected youth growing up angry and hurt. He asks to be taken to Heaven, because no one on earth will miss him when he’s gone. At the finale, his wish is granted. This guy writes as well as he sings.

LIZZIE SIDER/I Love You That Much
Writer: Joe Vulpis; Producer: Joe Vupis; Publisher: none listed; LSM 
—Ordinary in every way, from the dull lyric to the formulaic melody, from the routine production to the bland vocal.

J.J. LAWHORN/Stomping Grounds
Writer: none listed; Producer: Jeremy Stover; Publisher: none listed; Average Joes (track) 
—It’s one of those this-is-my-country-home thangs, complete with dirt roads, beer, deer hunting, partying in the fields, small-town blah-blah-blah and I’ll die here. Fine. But take some singing lessons.


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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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