DISClaimer: Tin Pan South Week

Gary Burr

Gary Burr

Since this is Tin Pan South week, it’s appropriate that this stack of platters is dominated by singer-songwriters.

Happily, tunesmiths Adrian Duffy, Cotton Wine, Ronnie Dunn, Jeremy Phifer, Scott Stepakoff and Gary Burr are all as terrific as performers as they are as writers. So good, in fact, that two of them took home our Disc prizes, instead of any major-label stars.

The Disc of the Day belongs to Gary Burr. I always look forward to his records. His songwriting is an inspiration, and his singing voice is a balm. His Juggler’s Logic set of tunes will set you free. The DisCovery Award goes to Scott Stepakoff, who is sort of a Nashville version of James Taylor. Check out his Unlived Lives collection.

JEREMY PHIFER/Take The L Out of Lover
Writers: Jeremy Phifer; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Jeremy Phifer, BMI; HMG
– He has a slight vocal rasp. That, plus the highly rhythmic track, give the single an audio “edge.” The country-rock outing has a dandy electric guitar solo, as well.

LOVE AND THEFT/Night That You’ll Never Forget
Writers: Dallas Davidson/Ashley Gorley; Producer: Josh Leo; Publishers: EMI Blackwood/Two Chord Georgia/External Combustion/Out of the Taperoom/Songs of Southside Independent, BMI/ASCAP; RCA
– Breezy, fluffy, easy-going, pleasant, tuneful.

JOHN McVEY/Meet Me In Houston
Writers: John McVey; Producer: John McVey/Andrew Reed; Publishers: Artists International Broadcasting Corporation, BMI; Artists
– The guitar instrumental intro of this blues tune moves slower than frozen molasses. When the vocal finally comes in, it is practically somnambulant.

LUKE BRYAN/Play It Again
Writers: Ashley Gorley/Dallas Davidson; Producer: Jeff Stevens; Publishers: Songs of Southside Independent/Out of the Taperoom/External Combustion/EMI; Capitol Nashville
– Single #4 from the Crash My Party CD is a well written romance ditty comparing a favorite song to a favorite kiss. You want them both to be repeated. Groovy and innocent sounding.

GARY BURR/Love Is Out There
Writers: Gary Burr; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Connboy, SESAC; GB (track)
-In addition to garnering rave reviews for his work in Blue Sky Riders, Gary Burr continues to make solo discs. His current one, Juggler’s Logic, consists entirely of solo-penned gems. Its lead-off song is a dizzy melodic delight with his charming tenor riding atop deft guitar and banjo plucking. This Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member is a true Music City treasure. Buy this.

Scott Stepakoff

Scott Stepakoff

SCOTT STEPAKOFF and BRANDY CLARK/Unlived Lives
Writers: Scott Stepakoff/Brandy Clark; Producer: Scott Stepakoff/Dave Pacula; Publisher: none listed; Ten Ten (track)
– Stepakoff is a Ten Ten Music Group writer who is issuing a solo album. Its title tune is a mid-tempo meditation performed as a duet with co-writer Clark. The orchestration ramps up the excitement, but their entwined voices give even more audio thrills. Lend this man your ears.

RONNIE DUNN/Peace Love and Country Music
Writers: none listed; Producers: Ronnie Dunn/Jeff Balding; Publisher: none listed; Little Will-E (track)
-The title tune of Dunn’s new album is a simple, anthemic ballad that prays for a better world. As usual, he sings his face off. The collection’s first single is the previously reviewed “Kiss You There.”

SOUL CIRCUS COWBOYS/That’s The Way We Roll
Writers: Frank J. Myers/Anthony Smith; Producers: Frank J. Myers/Jimmy Nichols; Publisher: none listed; Kismet (track)
– Bro country has become so repetitive that it’s practically making photocopies of itself. I offer as proof the fact that there is also a current bro-country single titled “This Is How We Roll” (by Florida Georgia Line & Luke Bryan). This one does contain more working-man lyrics than the other one.

COTTON WINE/Murder Song
Writers: Cotton Wine/Jason Land; Producer: Femke; Publishers: Ten Ten/Marvelous Hands, ASCAP; Ten Ten (track)
-Cotton Wine is a male-female duo with pop and folk overtones. The act’s six-song, Americana-leaning EP kicks off with this haunting, languid tune embellished with electronic washes and stark percussive effects. Extremely promising.

ADRIAN DUFFY & THE MAYO BROTHERS/Someone Like You
Writers: Adrian Duffy; Producer: Matt Kemp; Publishers: none listed; SR (U.K.) (track)
-These three Irish Duffy brothers (Adrian, Chris and Melvin) have scored a No. 1 country hit in their homeland with this title tune of their five-song EP. It’s a jaunty outing that bounces right along as guitars twang and a steel chimes in. This defines “feel good” music.

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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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