If you ask me, the country-music industry could use a lot more second chances. Take Tim McGraw. He is experiencing a welcome career-uptick now that he has been energized by a new record label. He also has this week’s Disc of the Day with the irresistible “Shotgun Rider.”
If Brian Pounds sounds a little familiar, maybe you were watching Season 5 of The Voice in 2013. He was on Team Blake, but was eliminated. His just-released CD gives him a new lease on life and earns him a DisCovery Award.
BRIAN POUNDS/Somewhere, Maybe Carolina
Writers: Brian Pounds; Producer: Brian Douglas Phillips; Publisher: none listed; BPSG (track)
-Now here’s an outstanding find. Not only does this guy sing like a bird, his lilting, melodic composition soars right into your heart and, for a change, his Texas record production sounds as fully realized as anything Nashville has to offer. Pounds’ five-song EP is titled Strikes and Gutters. Be the first on your block to own a copy.
ALABAMA/The Last Altar Call
Writers: Jeff Cook/Tony Nichols; Producer: Alabama; Publishers: Whispering Cougar, BMI; Cracker Barrel
-Alabama’s new gospel collection contains three tracks that are exclusive to Cracker Barrel. This waltz is the most ear opening, for it has a heartfelt lead vocal by Jeff instead of Randy. Refreshingly different.
WADE BOWEN/When I Woke Up Today
Writers: none listed; Producer: Justin Niebank; Publishers: none listed; AMP (track)
-The album doesn’t come out until Oct. 28, but this jangly, jaunty country-rock single is out now. It is sung with enormous verve. Just as important, it boasts an excellent lyric as well as a catchy tempo. Recommended.
TIM McGRAW/Shotgun Rider
Writers: Hillary Lindsey/Marv Green/Troy Verges; Producers: Byron Gallimore/Tim McGraw; Publishers: Hillarody Rathbone/BMG/Warner-Tamerlane/The Good The Bad The Ugly/Goes Something Like This/Songs of Universal/Songs From the Engine Room, ASCAP/BMI; Big Machine (track)
-Summer might be coming to an end, but this is still a perfect roll-the-top-down and take-to-the-highway song. A single with its own built-in breeze. The electric guitar leads and fills by Michael Landau, David Lavita and producer Byron Gallimore are delightfully ear tickling.
DERIK HULTQUIST/For The Good of the Rose
Writers: Derik Hultquist; Producer: none listed; Publishers: Scrambler/Carnival; ASCAP
-Subtle, poetic, artistic and a little verbose, with just the tiniest hint of a chorus. He definitely has troubadour blood in his veins.
JASON ALDEAN/Burnin’ It Down
Writers: Rodney Clawson/Chris Tompkins/Brian Kelley/Tyler Hubbard; Producer: Michael Knox; Publishers: none listed; Broken Bow (ERG)
-It has more production layers than most of his singles. Which would be okay if the song was comparably complex instead of monotonous.
NATALIE STOVALL & THE DRIVE/Mason Jar
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; HitShop (ERG)
-Youthful and rocking. They have sometimes sounded a little over the top, but this time out, the merry, sunny tone is pitched just right.
JON BYRD/In The Back of Your Mind
Writers: Mando Saenz/Will Kimbrough; Producer: Jon Byrd/Thomm Jutz; Publishers: none listed; Longleaf Pine
-I have liked the work of this plainspoken, down-home country stylist in the past. His new CD, Route 41, contains songs by writers he has encountered in both Atlanta and in Nashville. This moody, downbeat ballad has a definite Music City pedigree.
KELLEIGH BANNEN/You Are What You Love
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; EMI (ERG)
-Sprightly and enjoyable. It won’t exactly change your life, but it might make you smile for three minutes and 16 seconds.
LOUISIANA SWAMP DONKY/Redneck Revival
Writers: none listed; Producer: Richard Young; Publishers: Bugmusic, ASCAP; LSD (track)
-Produced by Richard Young of The Kentucky HeadHunters, these four dudes attack a song like whiskey-ripped barroom brawlers. As you might expect by the title, there’s plenty of electric guitar screaming, drum pounding and growling Bocephus/Dixie vocal attitude. And, yes, that is the way they spell “donky.”
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