They call these the “dog days” of summer, and there are definitely a few dogs in this column. But rather than dwell on them, let’s focus on the folks who got it right this week. One of them is newcomer Justin Adams. He is an Oklahoma native and former college football player who displays impressive chops as both a writer and a singer on his EP debut. Somebody sign this guy. In the meantime, give him a DisCovery Award. The pickin’s were slim when it came to naming a Disc of the Day. Only one record stood head and shoulders above the rest. It comes from two members of the Grammy-nominated Time Jumpers, Vince Gill and Paul Franklin. Lend this your ears. It is a salute to the Bakersfield country sound of yore, but this is no exercise in nostalgia. It is as vibrant and contemporary a CD as you’ll hear all year.
KELLY CLARKSON/Tie It Up
Writers: Shane McAnally/Ashley Arrison/Josh Osborne; Producer: Shane McAnally; Publisher: none listed; ASCAP/BMI; RCA (CDX)
-She’s such a super vocalist, and that’s what keeps you hanging on every note. From her staccato alto notes in the verses to her searing, soaring soprano shouts in the choruses, Clarkson totally owns this number. Catchy, catchy, catchy.
JOSH THOMPSON/Cold Beer With Your Name On It
Writers: Brent Anderson/Clint Daniels; Producers: Mark Wright and Cliff Audretch III; Publishers: House of Seagayle/Writers of Seagayle, ASCAP/BMI; Show Dog (CDX)
-His thin, strangulated singing conveys the regret he feels about his country girl having gone to the city. Pass.
JAKE OWEN/Days of Gold
Writers: Jaren Johnston/Neil Mason; Producer: Joey Moi; Publishers: Sony-ATV Harmony/Texas Rae/Nettwerk One B/Revelry/Nevada House, ASCAP/BMI; RCA
-The tempo is frenetic, and the production is zippy. The country-party lyric is as dull as mud.
AUSTIN WEBB/Slip On By
Writers: Allen Dukes/Blake NeeSmith/Nathan Tomberlin/Chris Stevens; Producer: Byron Gallimore; Publishers: Universal/Brentwood Benson/Finding Favour/Meaux Mercy/Larrydavid/EMI CMG, ASCAP/BMI; Streamsound
-The old man wishes he hadn’t wasted his youth and his opportunities. Considering the emotional possibilities, the vocal performance is somewhat monochromatic.
BRAD PAISLEY/I Can’t Change The World
Writers: Brad Paisley/Chris DuBois/Kelley Lovelace; Producer: Brad Paisley; Publishers: House of Sea Gayle/Words & Music/EMI April/Didn’t Have To Be, ASCAP; Arista (track)
-Brad belts in bodacious balladeer mode here. The heartfelt lyric promises to change the world with love, even if he is helpless in the face of the reality that surrounds us. The echoey production that swirls around him is punctuated with his pin-sharp guitar notes. A terrific listening experience.
ZANE WILLIAMS/Sure Felt Like Goodbye
Writers: Zane Randolph Williams; Producers: Zane Williams and Tom Faulkner; Publishers: Born Into Love/BE Original, ASCAP; Be
-Unapologetically country and undeniably classy. His hearty singing is matched by his skill as a sturdy tunesmith. Formerly a Music Row publishing staff writer, Williams returned to his native Texas a few years ago. This single will appear on his fifth CD, Overnight Success, which drops next week.
LAURA BELL BUNDY/Two Step
Writers: Laura Bell Bundy/Andy Davis/Colt Ford/Lance Kotara/Adam McInnis/Bryan Ray; Producer: Nathan Chapman; Publishers: EMI April/If I Had A Nickel/Really Complicated/Average JZS/Jacobstream/Playboy Poetry/Penny Dog/ASCAP; Big Machine
-Bundy is back in the bouncing dance-floor mode with which she began her county career two years ago. This time her ditty includes terpsichorean instructions as well as a guest rap from Colt Ford. As if this track isn’t busy-sounding enough, there’s also a dance mix available.
JUSTIN ADAMS/Miss Me Whiskey
Writers: Justin Adams/Karyn Rochelle; Producers: Aaron Eshuls and Matthew McGuinn; Publisher: none listed; JA (track)
-He hooked me from the well-written opening lines. This is a real piece of songwriting craftsmanship, and fact that he sings it with so much force makes it that much more involving. An artist who has all the ammo he needs for stardom. And I loved the haunting instrumental coda.
VINCE GILL & PAUL FRANKLIN/Foolin’ Around
Writers: none listed; Producers: Vince Gill and Paul Franklin; Publisher: none listed; MCA Nashville
-Steel guitarist Franklin and Hall of Famer Gill’s new Bakersfield collaboration salutes the tunes of Buck, Merle and their peers. It kicks off with a remake of this 1961 Buck bopper, which sounds like an onrushing locomotive on a breakneck pace. Super exciting, as is the whole package.
DAVID SHELBY/Kick A Little Dirt Around
Writers: F.J. Turner; Producers: David Shelby, Chris Virzi and F.J. Turner; Publisher: none listed; Highway South
-It’s a rousing invitation to get out on the dance floor. What it lacks in melodic inventiveness, it more than makes up for in enthusiasm. Rhythm happy, to say the least.
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