DisClaimer: Superstar In The Making?

Chris Young

Chris Young

Happy New Year. For the first time in history, I believe, the first “DisClaimer” column of the year actually includes a song that references that moment in time. It is a marvelously written number called “December Thirty One” that earns its writer and singer, Levi Lowrey, a big ol’ DisCovery Award. It is also a free download. Get it.

There no question at all who has the Disc of the Day this week. That honor goes to Chris Young. Now, will somebody please tell me when this format is going to make him the bazillion-selling mega-superstar he deserves to be?

WINK KEZIAH/When I Get Paid
Writer: Wink Keziah; Producers: Wink Keziah/Dale Meyer; Publisher: Nuagatone, ASCAP; Great South (track)
-The lead-off track of Cowbilly, this Texan’s fourth CD, is a toe-tapping trucker’s blue-collar lament. He not only has the coolest name, but he is SO beyond backwoods country that it’s frightening.

BRANTLEY GILBERT/Bottoms Up
Writers: Brantley Gilbert/Brett James/Justin Weaver; Producer: Dann Huff; Publishers: Warner-Tamerlane/Indiana Angel/WB/Songs of Brett/External Combustion/Music of the Corn, BMI/ASCAP; Valory Music
-Okay, it’s the same old lyric — the pick-up truck, the girl in the blue jean cut-offs, the radio turned up, the keg of beer blah, blah, blah. The differences are that this guy has a truly gripping, husky, charismatic singing voice and the tuneful production really rocks. Bro-country dressed up with a little more class than usual.

COLBY DEE/Missed The Exit
Writers: Colby Dee/Jake Etheridge/Lena Stein; Producers: Daniel Dennis/Colby Dee; Publisher: none listed; CD (track)
-She’s tired of playing nice: “I was gonna take the high road, but I missed the exit.” The lyric is better than the monotonic melody, and the rock production style does nothing for me.

CHRIS YOUNG/Who I Am With You
Writers: Marv Green/Jason Sellers/Paul Jenkins; Producer: James Stroud; Publishers: Warner-Tamerlane/The Good The Bad The Ugly/Made for This/Sony-ATV Cross Keys/Becky’s Boy, BMI/ASCAP; RCA
-This guy is arguably our finest young Country vocalist. This powerful love song gives him plenty of room to emote. I remain an enormous fan. Play this now.

levi lowrey

Levi Lowrey

LEVI LOWREY/December Thirty One
Writers: Levi Lowrey/Travis Hill; Producers: Matt Mangano/Clay Cook; Publishers: Southern Ground/Abbot’s Creek/Scrambler, BMI/ASCAP; Southern Ground
-Lowery is the co-writer behind the Zac Brown Band hits “Colder Weather” and “The Wind.” In advance of his album’s release, you can get a free download of this song at his website. It’s an evocative ode to romantic optimism sung in an engaging folkie tenor. The production is somewhat busy, but there’s real promise here.

RAY BENSON/A Little Place
Writer: Ray Benson; Producers: Lloyd Maines/Sam Lightnin’ Siefert/Ray Benson; Publisher: Asleep at the Wheel, BMI; Bismeaux (track)
-Ray Benson’s solo outing is quite a departure from the western-swing music he makes as the leader of Asleep at the Wheel. This title tune, for instance, is a tender ballad that is downright philosophical. A gentle and supremely listenable revelation.

MARK MCKINNEY/Lonely Bones
Writer: Mark McKinney; Producer: Mark McKinney; Publisher: none listed; CTK Entertainment
-It is well written, but the arrangement plods like a crippled mule.

CHUCK WICKS/Us Again
Writers: Chuck Wicks/Andy Dodd/Tiffany Vartanyan; Producers: Chuck Wicks/Andy Dodd/Ilya Toshinsky; Publishers: WB/CEW/Shady Hill/Seven Peaks/Dodd/Not Your Average Girl/Silva Tone, ASCAP; Blaster
-Wicks rose to fame with 2007’s “Stealing Cinderella.” This comeback single has wistful verses that softly yearn to recapture romance, alternated with quasi-shouted choruses that are just a little too loud. Even so, the thing has polish, panache and professionalism overall.

BRANDON RHYDER/That’s Just Me
Writer: Brandon Rhyder; Producers: Matt Powell/Brandon Rhyder; Publisher: Dogwood Hill, BMI; BR (track)
-The title tune to this fellow’s CD is relaxed and jaunty in praise of the simple things in life. It’s pretty basic, but every now and then, less can be more.

RICK BABB/Startin’ From Scratch
Writers: Rick Babb/J.M. Taylor; Producer: Milo Deering; Publisher: Royal T (no performance rights listed); Old Hat (track)
-The songwriting is fairly simplistic and his voice isn’t particularly distinguished, but the instrumentation surrounding him is an audio wonderland of echoey, ringing guitars and chiming steel.

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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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