DISClaimer: Unchaperoned Women Need Not Apply

Charlie Worsham

Charlie Worsham

Unchaperoned women need not apply. That’s evidently the message in today’s column and, indeed, in all of contemporary country music. The state of solo female artists is a sorry one. If you’re not blonde, pretty and named Carrie, Miranda or Taylor, you can pretty much forget it.

The CMA and the ACM are hard-pressed to even field five female-vocalist nominees these days. The voices of Kimberly Perry, Hillary Scott, Karen Fairchild, Kimberly Schlapman, Shawna Thompson and Jennifer Nettles have been allowed airtime on country radio, but evidently only because they’ve been accompanied by male escorts.

And so we find ourselves today with an all-male column. It was bound to happen. Charlie Worsham easily wins Disc of the Day. Indie artist Robby Johnson has the DisCovery Award.

LUKE BRYAN/Drink A Beer
Writers: Jim Beavers/Chris Stapleton; Producer: Jeff Stevens; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/House of Sea Gayle/Small Fish, BMI/ASCAP; Capitol (CDX)
-Fortunately for Bryan, most listeners won’t have heard songwriter Stapleton sing this with far more soul. Also fortunately for him, the song is a tender gem that has “hit” written all over it.

KENT BLAZY/My Best Days
Writers: Marv Green/Kent Blazy; Producer: Kent Blazy; Publisher: Warner Bros./Marv Green/I Want to Hold Your Songs, BMI; KB (track)
-Songwriter Blazy includes his own versions of some hits he’s written for others on his new CD, as well as a clutch of fine first-time songs. As he has demonstrated before, he is just about the stars’ equal as a vocal performer. The collection kicks off in splendid style with his urgent, passionate delivery of this pulse-quickening rocker. It was previously a single for Danny Gokey, and is now the Blazy album’s title track. Buy this record.

BILLY CURRINGTON/We Are Tonight
Writers: Marc Beeson/Josh Osborne/Sam Hunt; Producer: Dann Huff; Publishers: WB/Erin’s Dream/Crazy Blue Egg/Smack Blue/Want a Fresh One/Twang Tractor/Wrensong, ASCAP; Mercury (CDX)
-Anthemic party music. Uptempo and celebratory.

ERIC CHURCH/The Outsiders
Writers: Eric Church/Casey Beathard; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publishers: Sony ATV Tree/Longer and Louder/Sony ATV Acuff Rose/Six Ring Circus, BMI; EMI (CDX)
-It starts with recitation, shifts gears into arena rock, includes a shouted chorus and cranks it up and down with a stuttering, double-time instrumental passage. Not exactly my cup of tea.

TOBY KEITH/Shut Up And Hold On
Writers: Toby Keith/Bobby Pinson; Producer: Toby Keith; Publishers: Tokeco Tunes/Bobby’s Lyrics Land & Livestock/Do Write, BMI; Show Dog
-It has both rock stomp and hillbilly banjo. Cool vocal effects and relentless rhythm carry the day. Melodically reminiscent of 2011’s “Made in America.”

HANK WILLIAMS, JR./Angels Are Hard To Find
Writers: Hank Williams, Jr.; Producer: Barry Beckett; Publisher: Bocephus, BMI; Curb (CDX)
-This steel-drenched honky tonker previously charted for Bocephus in 1974 (#19) and 1991. It remains a country masterpiece. And I do mean Country.

robby johnson south of me111SETH HOPKINS/Till The Town Burns Down
Writers: Ronnie Rogers/Seth Hopkins; Producer: Ronnie Rogers; Publisher: none listed; Harvest
-He has a burly delivery that perfectly suits the lyric about struggling to make it. Simply put, he’s not giving up in Guitar Town until he gets a break.

THE GRASCALS & DIERKS BENTLEY/American Pickers
Writers: Jamie Johnson/Susanne M. Johnson/Jeffrey East; Producer: The Grascals; Publishers: Asheville Forest/Zaviston, SESAC/BMI; Mountain Home
-This scampering ditty is the new theme song of the hit History Channel TV show. Bentley’s voice fits in surprisingly well with the bluegrass picking. Highly listenable. Drawn from the group’s album When I Get My Pay.

ROBBY JOHNSON/South of Me
Writers: Robby Johnson/Frank Myers/Anthony Smith; Producer: Frank Myers & Jimmy Nichols; Publisher: none listed; SMG
-Sultry and simmering. It conjures memories of a feverish summer romance with a simply dreamy production.

CHARLIE WORSHAM/Want Me Too
Writers: Charlie Worsham/Ryan Tyndell/Quinn Loggins; Producers: Charlie Worsham & Ryan Tyndell; Publishers: ole Purple Cape/Dad’s Retirement/Wanted Woman, BMI; Warner Bros.
-As addictive as a homemade chocolate-chip cookie. This sprightly bopper just might be the most delicious country single of 2013.

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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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