DISClaimer: Using Country’s Not-So-Secret Weapon

Cigarettes single art111There wasn’t a dud in this week’s stack of platters, which is unusual.

Faced with a uniformly good smorgasbord of flavors, I’m falling back on songwriting quality as the deciding factor. That means that Ronnie Dunn has the Disc of the Day and that Kira Isabella is the DisCovery Award winner. They both have songs that tell a story. And that’s the not-so-secret weapon of country music.

CARLENE CARTER/Little Black Train
Writer: A.P. Carter; Producer: Don Was; Publisher: Peer, BMI; Rounder (track)
-Carlene’s Carter Girl CD is a former Disc of the Day winner in this column. Now it has a single and video. This apocalyptic Carter Family classic from 1935 becomes a rumbling, atmospheric rocker in her dramatic re-imagining with producer Don Was. Exciting, to say the least.

Writers: Mark Nesler/Marty Dodson; Producer: Matt McClure; Publishers: Songs of Universal/ole Black in the Saddle/Romantic Fiction/ole, BMI/ASCAP; Windridge (track)
-A bopping pleasure. All he’s asking the Lord for is a girl. Which makes me smile.

RONNIE DUNN/I Wish I Still Smoked Cigarettes
Writers: none listed; Producers: Ronnie Dunn/ Jeff Balding; Publisher: none listed; Little Will-E (track)
-Yearning for lost innocence, lost freedom, lost youth, lost love. No one can make you feel a lyric like this awesome singer. What a mighty, mighty country-music man.

Kira Isabella

Kira Isabella

Writers: Rivers Rutherford/Marti Dodson/Bobby Hamrick; Producers: Mark Liggett/Jerry Lane; Publishers: Universal/Memphianna/Painted Desert/EMI April, ASCAP; HitShop
-Ear opening. She takes her first drink, has date-rape sex and winds up with her compromising photos on the internet. She’s a freshman, marching-band, no-name nerd and he’s the town’s football star, so she winds up carrying the blame. A brilliant piece of songwriting, delivered with pitch-perfect emotion.

RODNEY CROWELL/Fever on the Bayou
Writers: Rodney Crowell/Will Jennings; Producers: Rodney Crowell/ Steuart Smith; Publishers: Sony-ATV Tunes/Irving/Will Jennings, ASCAP/BMI; New West (track)
-The slapping snare and deep bass form the base of this ode to Louisiana romance. Cool backing vocals, a sawing fiddle and a French-language verse are all pluses. Highly recommended.

DAKOTA BRADLEY/Won’t Be Young Forever
Writers: Dakota Bradley/Lance Miller/Brad Warren/Brett Warren; Producers: Byron Gallimore/ Tim McGraw; Publishers: Red Vinyl/EMI Blackwood/Farmlove/Sagequinnjude/Songs of StyleSonic/Melvin’s Bullets/Melvin’s Pistol, BMI/SESAC; Streamsound
-The nifty choppy rhythm propels him forward as he sings of a life lived well. “I’ll try never to say never: I’ll be forever young, but I won’t be young forever.” Amen to that, bro.

Writer: Brad Hull; Producers: Bucky Covington/Dale Oliver; Publishers: Offer You Can’t Refuse/Black River, BMI; Bare Footin’ (CDX)
-A languid pace, banjo droplet notes and a dreamy vibe create a heat-wave, summertime mood here. Seasonally perfect.

Writers: Josh Thompson/Brett Warren/Brad Warren; Producers: Mark Wright/Cliff Audretch III; Publishers: Sony-ATV Tree/Songs of Better Angel/Blank Sheet/EMI Blackwood/Sagequinnjude/Farmlove, BMI; Show Dog-Universal
-This upbeat ditty is characterized by babbling, repetitive, rapid-fire lyric delivery in the choruses. Catchy as all get out.

Writers: Chris Tompkins/Josh Kear/Dierks Bentley; Producer: Ross Copperman; Publishers: Big Loud Songs/Play Animal/Big Loud Bucks/Global Dog/Lunelight/Big White Tracks, ASCAP; Capitol (CDX)
-He’s wasted, traveling and missing her on a trip to Mexico they were supposed to take together. Best line of this roaring rocker: “Kiss my ass.” Actually, I think there are FAA regulations against over-serving airline passengers.

Writers: Leah Turner/Jon Nite/Jimmy Robbins; Producers: Jim Catino/Cary Barlowe/Jesse Frasure; Publishers: WB/Rockin T/Thankful For This/EMI April/Jon Mark Nite/Universal/Extraordinary Alien, ASCAP; Columbia
-There’s something kinda cool about her vocal’s liquid, throaty quality. The stomping production keeps steady time while she emotes about her conflicting emotions. Even when she pushes him away, she wants him to pull her back. Super listening.


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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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