DISClaimer: Curing Country Radio’s Dearth of Female Artists

haden triplets111It is pathetic how few women are on the country charts these days. Meanwhile, pop radio embraces Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Lorde, Beyonce, Britney Spears, Lady Gaga, Pink, Kesha and on and on. You can’t tell me that Country listeners are any different, so why aren’t those programmers doing the same?

Let me offer some suggestions. This column is ALL female, and you’d have to be deaf to deny the latest from Rachel Holder, Jamie O’Neal, Ashton Shepherd and Rachael Turner. Not to mention our Disc of the Day winner, Kacey Musgraves. The DisCovery Award goes to The Haden Triplets, with Hailey Whitters a close second.

THE HADEN TRIPLETS/Single Girl, Married Girl
Writers: none listed; Producer: Ry Cooder; Publisher: none listed; Third Man (track)
-Their father is legendary jazz double bassist Charlie Haden, who grew up playing country music in the midwest and was once a sideman on The Ozark Jubilee. In 2008, he saluted his roots with the CD Rambling Boy, and that is where I first heard his talented offspring. The triplets’ self-titled album is out now on Jack White’s label, and it is completely addictive listening. This Carter Family classic is just one of its delights. They also cover Webb Pierce, Kitty Wells, The Louvin Brothers and more. Their names are Tanya, Rachel and Petra Haden. Buy their record now.

HAILEY WHITTERS/Friday Night Laundry
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; HW (track)
-I like her drawling delivery, the working-gal lyric, the soulful backing guitar work and the girlfriend chit-chat touches. Very, very promising. Keep your ears on this newcomer. Love the six-song sampler. Send more.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Shanachie (track)
-O’Neal’s Eternal CD drops next month. It’s a collection of country oldies. Based on this lead-off revival of Emmylou Harris’s 1982 toe tapper, we’re in for a treat. O’Neal’s forceful voice is stronger than ever. Check it out when she changes keys upward toward the finale. Very cool.

KRISTY COX/One Heartbreak Away
Writers: Jerry Salley/Gerald Crabb; Producer: Jerry Salley; Publishers: Universal/Brentwood Benson/Lasso the Moon/Hatchie Bottom/Capital CMG, SESAC/BMI; Pisgah Ridge
– The instrumentation is bluegrass, but her vocal is crystal-clear country. Sweet sounding: As rippling and frothy as a mountain stream.

Writers: Bill Luther/Bob Regan; Producers: Chuck Howard/Wilbur Rimes; Publishers: Sony-ATV Tree/This Town/Dixie Stars/Regan, BMI/ASCAP; Curb (CDX)
-I have always loved this lady’s work. She is a for-real singer, and this time out she kicks serious butt with a frothing, churning country rocker. Go get ‘em, honey. And whoever that guy singing harmony with you is, take him on the road with ya.

Writers: Eileen Carey/Kathryn Grimm; Producer: Travis Allen Childress; Publishers: Rolleycstr/Grimm Girl, BMI; Rolleycstr (track)
– The song is okay. But the track is too busy, and her singing voice is too generic.

Kacey Musgraves. Photographer Credit: KLRU-TV Austin City Limits. Photo by Scott Newton

Kacey Musgraves. Photographer Credit: KLRU-TV Austin City Limits. Photo by Scott Newton

Writers: Kacey Musgraves/Luke Laird/Shane McAnally; Producers: Kacey Musgraves/Luke Laird/Shane McAnally; Publishers: Warner-Tamerlane/351/Songs of Universal/Creative Nation/Twangin and Slangin/Crazy Water/Smack Songs/Little Blue Egg/Kobalt, BMI/ASCAP; Mercury Nashville
– Enchanting. The percolating production bobs and swirls around her tart/sweet vocal as she details an unraveling relationship. This woman is audio magic. Embrace her.

Writers: Tori Martin/Bart Rose; Producer: Bart Rose; Publisher: none listed; Martin 3
-It’s a bluesy Southern rocker, punctuated by wailing harmonica and a searing guitar solo. The gist of the lyric is that the new boyfriend is a big liar, so she’s giving him some lip.

Writers: Ashton Shepherd; Producers: Larry Baird/Ronnie Rodgers; Publishers: Gin Road, BMI; Pickin’ Shed (CDX)
-Very enjoyable. In this lilting ditty, she figures out how to live in the moment, like she did when she was a kid. Breezy and spring-like.

RACHEL TURNER/Meet Me In The Middle
Writers: Jeff Cohen/Nathan Chapman/Cheyenne Kimball; Producer: Zach Abend; Publisher: none listed; Rustic
-The veteran indie label Rustic is back and marking its comeback with this splendid country rocker. Turner sings with power and range, nailing even the toughest notes with confidence. The spirited production has the sass to back her up, too. This gal has the goods.


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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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