DISClaimer: When The Stars Come Out To Shine

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Little Big Town

I like any listening session when the stars come out to shine, and we have no shortage of them today. On hand is new music from Gary Allan, Neal McCoy, Florida Georgia Line, Little Big Town, Josh Gracin and Susan Ashton, among others. Many of their singles are quite good, but no one shines brighter than Little Big Town. Give those sure-’nuff singers the Disc of the Day prize.

Warner Music Nashville has been making a habit of introducing excellent new talents in recent seasons. Brett Eldredge, Charlie Worsham, Ashley Monroe, Frankie Ballard, Hunter Hayes and Jana Kramer would be welcome additions to any company’s artist roster. This week, you can add Dan + Shay to that list and give them a DisCovery Award to boot.

JOSH GRACIN/Drink It Gone
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Private Label
-This rocks. And here’s what the well-written party tune says: surrender yourself to the weekend and live for today. After all, tomorrow could go wrong. So drink it gone. Eminently playable.

FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE/Stay
Writers: Joey Moi/John Fred Young/Chris Robertson/Jon Lawhon/Ben Wells; Producer: Joey Moi; Publishers: Moi/Hyvetown/Robot of the Century/WB, SOCAN/BMI/ASCAP; Republic Nashville
-There are five writers on this. No wonder it seems so word-y.

CHRIS JANSON/Cut Me Some Slack
Writers: Chris Janson, Kelly Roland, Tiffany Goss; Producer: Keith Stegall; Publishers: © 2013 Red Vinyl Music (BMI) / Buckkilla Music (BMI), Curb Songs (ASCAP) / Kelly Roland Music (admin. By Curb Songs) (ASCAP), Curb Congregation Songs (SESAC); Bigger Picture
-In this amiable, harmless bopper, all he’s asking for is a chance, lady. Give the boy a break.

LITTLE BIG TOWN/Sober
Writers: Lori McKenna/Hillary Lindsey/Liz Rose; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publishers: Songs of Universal/Hoodie/Raylene/BMG Rights Management/Liz Rose/Songs of Kobalt, BMI/ASCAP; Capitol Nashville
-The harmonies are beyond delicious. The production throbs and sparkles. The lyrics are terrific. Is there anyone today making better contemporary country records than these folks? I think not.

KAYLA CALABRESE/Kiss Me
Writers: Kayla Calabrese/Tami Hinesh; Producer: Kent Wells; Publisher: Kayla Calabrese, BMI; GTR
-It’s not the most original song idea, but the conviction in her straight-arrow vocal gives it plenty of oomph nonetheless.

NEAL MCCOY/Kaw-Liga
Writers: Fred Rose/Hank Williams; Producer: Garth Fundis; Publisher: Sony-ATV; ASCAP/BMI; Slate Creek (track)
-McCoy’s tribute album to Charley Pride has lots of memorable moments. He’s singing in a lower register to match his idol’s baritone keys, and as a result the performances are among the most natural sounding of his career. The selection of this track as its single is a bit of a head scratcher, since Pride cut it as a tribute to Hank Williams and now McCoy is reviving it as a tribute to Pride. Setting aside the layers of meaning, the crisp production is totally cool and McCoy’s vocal is right on the money. Definitely play it.

dan+shay11DAN + SHAY/19 You + Me
Writers: Dan Smyers/Shay Mooney/Danny Ortin; Producers: Dan Smyers, Shay Mooney & Scott Hendricks; Publishers: WB/Beats and Banjos/Shay Mooney/Danny Ortin, ASCAP; Warner Bros.
-Soaring summer romance, accompanied by lilting vocals, precision percussion, fizzy guitars, rippling mandolin and delicate piano work. A lovely confection.

GARY ALLAN/It Ain’t The Whiskey
Writers: Greg Barnhill/Jim Daddario/Cole Degges; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publishers: Second Note/ION/Green City/Green Wilderness/Calhoun/Jim Daddario/Songs of Universal/Specklebelly, SESAC/BMI; MCA Nashville
-Hillbilly heartache, done to perfection. On this ballad, Allan’s downcast rasp tells the tale of a man who’s dying over a lost love, instead of from booze or cigarettes. Let the sadness wash over you.

THE LACS/She’s Runnin’
Writers: Clay Sharpe/Brian King/Jared Sciullo/Justin Spillner; Producers: J. Sciullo & Justin Spillner; Publishers: Average ZJS/Riley Payton/DJKOPhivestarr, BMI/SESAC; Average Joes
-These drawling fellows alternate singing a laid-back country melody — “she’s running with a piece of my heart” — with spoken-word passages about how she made off with everything else, too. I ordinarily don’t like country rap, but I have to admit that this has an undeniable backwoods charm.

SUSAN ASHTON/Moonshine
Writers: Susan Ashton/Wayne Kirkpatrick/Gordon Kennedy; Producer: Wayne Kirkpatrick; Publishers: Susan Ashton/Be Original/GlennJoy/Mad Mother, ASCAP/BMI; Be (CDX)
-In this case, the title actually refers to the light from the moon, rather than to illegal hooch. Amid minor-key acoustic picking, she moans of being irresistibly drawn into the dark side of romance. Atmospheric and artsy.

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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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