DISClaimer (2/5/14)

hunter hayes1111

Hunter Hayes

Nashville’s Country music makers are doing everything they can to brighten this dreary winter. Rhonda Vincent, Darius Rucker and Joel Crouse are at the forefront of a parade of sounds tailored to perk you up. The Disc of the Day prize goes to Hunter Hayes for a message song with melody in spades. This week, the DisCovery Award is shared by two equally promising young men. Native Texan and former competitor on The Voice Curtis Grimes is one of them, and scruffy Canadian country rocker Marshall Dane is the other.

JOEL CROUSE/Why God Made Love Songs
Writers: Joel Crouse/Jamie Houston/Jimmy Yeary; Producer: Jamie Houston; Publishers: Stafford Road/Seven Peaks/John & Nancye’s Son’s/EMI Blackwood/Beattyville/Great Day at This, BMI/ASCAP; Show Dog
-Crouse’s second single fulfills the promise of his winning debut. As before, he exudes youthful verve. Hallmarks of this dandy disc include an upbeat lyric, stacked vocal harmonies, irresistible rhythm and a sing-along chorus.

Writers: Jaren Johnston/Heather Morgan; Producers: Kenny Greenberg/Chad Cromwell/Publishers: Sony ATV Harmony/Texa Rae/Sony ATV Tree, ASCAP/BMI; Curb (CDX)
-This jaunty toe-tapper has loads of catchy, crunchy stuff in the production. Her coy, saucy vocal has personality to spare. Endearing.

SHERRY LYNN/Girls Will Be Girls
Writers: Ashley Gorley/Bryan Simpson/Kelley Lovelace; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Steal Heart
-She’s aiming to get into trouble as soon as she can. The rocking — if somewhat “busy” — track is in complete agreement.

Curtis Grimes

Curtis Grimes

Writers: Trent Willmon/Brent Rupard; Producer: Trent Willmon; Publishers: ASCAMP/Barns and No Bull/Amplified/House of Sea Gayle, ASCAP; AMP (track)
-Hearty singing, dynamic percussion and searing guitar solos are just three of the ingredients that make this insistent pile driver an instant ear grabber. This fellow has the goods.

Writers: Billy Yates/Roger Brown; Producers: Rhonda Vincent/Buddy Cannon; Publishers: Warner-Tamerlane/Green Ivy, BMI; Upper Management
-Rhonda’s new double CD has one disc of country and one disc of bluegrass. The package’s title tune is on the bluegrass disc and features her lustrous, flawless singing as well as her band’s silvery instrumental work. Willie’s behind-the-beat phrasing, deft harmonizing and distinctive guitar picking alongside the grassers’ lickety-split licks make for fascinating listening. Definitely a pin-your-ears-back moment.

Writers: Debbie Cochran; Producer: Kent Wells; Publisher: DMC Anniston; BMI; Go Time (track)
-Her warm, resonant alto is super compelling. In the ballad’s lyric, he’s drifting away from her, and you hang on every word. Vibrantly listenable.

Writers: Hunter Hayes/Bonnie Baker/Katrina Elam; Producers: Dann Huff/Hunter Hayes; Publishers: Songs of Universal/Happy Little Man/Play Fairchild/Devon/Katrinkadink, BMI/ASCAP; Atlantic
-Introduced by Hunter at the Grammy Awards, this soaring song is addressed to bullying victims everywhere. Dare to be different. Don’t be afraid to be an outcast. Trust your heart. March to your own drummer. Because someday all the pain you’re going through now will have vanished. Amen, brother.

Writers: Katie Armiger/Mallary Hope; Producer: Chad Carlson; Publishers: Purple Monkeys/Sony ATV, SESAC/BMI; Cold River
-She’s singing as well as ever. But this listless, meandering, hookless song does her no favors.

marshall dane111

Marshall Dane

Writers: Darius Rucker/Frank Rogers; Producer: Frank Rogers; Publishers: Universal/Cadaja/House of Sea Gayle, ASCAP; Capitol Nashville
-The spark has gone out of their relationship, and Darius sings of it with sadness, yearning and passion. This extremely well-produced power ballad is beautifully melodic and evocative.

Writers: Kim Williams/Billy Yates; Producer: Dan Brodbeck; Publishers: Warner-Tamerlane/Green Ivy/Sony ATV Cross Keys/Triple Cross, BMI/ASCAP; Gold Lake
-This barroom rocker kicks serious butt. When booze is spilled in the roadhouse brawl, it’s alcohol abuse. The country-rock tempo is frothing and furious; the band is firing on all cylinders; the chorus harmonies are joyous; the clever lyric name-checks every cocktail you’ve ever heard of. Play it again.


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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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