DISClaimer: Ladies Have the Best Sound

Ashley Monroe

Ashley Monroe

It’s a girl-power day.

Males dominate the releases this week – what else is new? – but the ladies have most of the best sounds. The finest vocal comes from Bekka Bramlett. The most refreshing new production approach belongs to Heidi Feek. The Disc of the Day is by Ashley Monroe. And the DisCovery Award goes to Leah Turner.

Meanwhile, such fellows as Robby Armstrong and George Ducas remain stuck in that endless country-party loop. The male highlights include Rodney Atkins with his stirring song and Brett Eldredge with his equally stirring groove.

PETE ANDERSON & BEKKA BRAMLETT/Rock In My Shoe
Writer: Pete Anderson; Producers: Michael Murphy and Tony Rambo; Publisher: Jesse Lee, BMI; Little Dog (track)
-Swamp country, with a heaping load of bluesy guitar groove answering Bekka’s every soul-sister vocal lick. Beyond cool. Pete’s just-released CD is titled Birds Above Guitarland. If you have even a passing acquaintance with a six string, you need this record.

THE GOOD INTENTIONS/Hank’s Last Ride
Writer: R Peter Davies; Producer: Rick Shea; Publisher: none listed; Drumfire (track)
-It’s sung from Hank’s point of view, as he contemplates getting into that fateful Cadillac. Unfortunately, the vocalist sounds like he’s at a tea party with his pinky finger raised.

BRETT ELDREDGE/Beat of the Music
Writers: Brett Eldredge/Ross Copperman/Heather Morgan; Producers: Ross Copperman & Brett Eldredge; Publishers: Paris Not France/Smith Wiles/EMI Blackwood/Ross Copperman/4 Tunes/Sony-ATV Tree, BMI; Atlantic
-Pretty dang irresistible. Falling in love has seldom sounded so catchy and so much fun. Also, he’s singing his lungs out on every one of the soaring choruses. You know what? You’ll sing along.

BOBBY ARMSTRONG/Birthday Happy
Writers: Robby Armstrong/Darrell Brown; Producers: Darrell Brown and Robby Armstrong; Publishers: Robby Armstrong/Grey Ink/BMG Chrysalis, ASCAP; Strong Arm
-All rocked up and no place to go.

RODNEY ATKINS/Doin’ It Right
Writers: Jay Knowles; Producers: Ted Hewitt & Rodney Atkins; Publishers: Dean-Parnell/Acme Nashville/BMI; Curb
-His greatest effort since “If You’re Going Through Hell” in 2006. The production makes my heart beat faster. The lyric fires my brain. His performance rings with heartfelt country honesty. I believe in everything about this record. Play it over and over again. Make it a No. 1 hit.

Leah Turner

Leah Turner

LEAH TURNER/Take The Keys
Writers: Leah Turner/Cary Barlowe/Jesse Frasure; Producers: Jim Catino, Cary Barlowe and Jesse Frasure; Publishers: WB/Rockin T/Thankful For This Music/Castle Bound/We Be Pawtying/Rio Bravo, ASCAP/SESAC/BMI; Columbia
-Head for the open road, sing along to the radio and fall back in love. Sounds like a plan to me. Especially when it has such a lovely, airy, rushing production and such a winning, confident vocal performance.

ASHLEY MONROE/Weed Instead of Roses
Writers: Ashley Monroe/Sally Barris/Jon McElroy; Producers: Vince Gill and Justin Niebank; Publishers: Reynsong/Ayden/Wrensong/Vista Larga/Songs of Mighty Isis, BMI/ASCAP; Warner Bros.
-A twangin’ hoot. The saucy song has a few sexy suggestions about how to spice up a relationship. Hilariously hillbilly, complete with galloping piano and stuttering steel. In a word, brilliant.

TJ BROSKOFF/This Is The Moment
Writers: TJ Broskoff; Producers: Bill Green and TJ Broskoff; Publisher: Bill Green, BMI; BGM (track)
-His slightly hoarse tenor vocal style draws you in. The barely-there production is simple and straightforward, embellished by tidy fiddle and steel licks. The song is a toe tapper that goes down easily.

GEORGE DUCAS/CowTown
Writers: J. Beavers/G. Ducas; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Loud Ranch (track)
-The Ducas disc comeback is a rockin’ party song with plenty of guitar and attitude. Relentlessly rhythmic.

HEIDI FEEK/Someday Somebody
Writers: Heidi Feek/Rory Feek; Producer: Heidi Feek & Rory Feek; Publishers: Western Pinup/Milkbarn, SESAC/BMI; Western Pinup
-The production has a bottomless, bassy echo. Her performance of the bluesy, languid tune is sultry and lushly harmonized. The deep-twang guitar solo only adds to the track’s cool, mysteroso vibe. Highly inventive and intriguing. Heidi is gifted singer-songwriter Rory Lee Feek’s offpring. Like father, like daughter, it seems.

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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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