Happy New Year.
This past one was terrible for women in country music, so I am pleased to report that in the first stack of platters of 2015, female voices rule. Today, reigning queen Miranda Lambert is joined by equally powerful sounds from Maddie & Tae, Karen Fairchild of Little Big Town and the sublime Lee Ann Womack, who has this week’s Disc of the Day.
Don’t count the guys out. Frankie Ballard and Collin Raye sound especially good. And the male group A Thousand Horses wins the first DisCovery Award of 2015.
PARKER McCOLLUM/Meet You In The Middle
Writer: Parker McCollum; Producer: Corby Schaub; Publisher: none listed; PYM
-Breezy sounding, but with an underlying sadness. The Texan sings with plaintive yearning while guitars ring along to the refrain.
LITTLE BIG TOWN/Girl Crush
Writers: Liz Rose/Lori McKenna/Hillary Lindsey; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publishers: Warner-Tamerlane/Songs of Crazy Girl/Songs of Universal/Hoodie/HillarodyRathbone/BMG, BMI/ASCAP; Capitol Nashville
It’s not as gay as the title implies. The reason she has the “girl crush” is because she wants to be like the woman he loves instead of herself. Whatever the case, the lovely, wistful ballad is absolutely dreamy sounding.
RAY PRICE/I Wish I Was 18 Again
Writers: Sonny Throckmorton; Producer: Fred Foster; Publisher: Sony-ATV, no performance rights listed; Amerimonte
This heart-tugging waltz was originally a hit for George Burns in 1980. The fact that Ray Price was dying when he recorded this version makes it ache all the more. It remains an awesome piece of songwriting that everyone should hear.
COLLIN RAYE/Same Old Lang Syne
Writers: D. Fogelberg; Producers: Kelly Schoenfeld/Johnny Swinell; Publishers: Hickory Grove/EMI April, no performance rights listed; Goldenlane (track)
Collin’s new Everlasting CD is a set of reinterpretations of pop classics, including “Against All Odds,” “How Deep Is Your Love,” “Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word,” “She’s Got a Way,” “We’re All Alone” and “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You.” Appropriately, he greets the New Year with this Dan Fogelberg chestnut that toasts an old flame and a new beginning.
MADDIE & TAE/Fly
Writers: Maddie Marlow/Taylor Dye/Tiffany Vartanyan; Producer: Dann Huff; Publishers: Super Big/Not Your Average Girl/Silva Tone, ASCAP; Dot (track)
-Country’s most refreshing new female voices are back with a song of hope, optimism and strength in the face of adversity. The melody is delicious, the harmonies are sparkling, the track is terrific and the mood is uplifting. I’m in. Totally.
A THOUSAND HORSES/Smoke
Writers: Michael Hobby/Jon Nite/Ross Copperman; Producer: Dave Cobb; Publishers: Warner-Tamerlane/Carolina June/Greatshakin/EMI April/EMI Blackwood/Jon Mark Nite/Songs By Red Room/Sony-ATV, BMI; Republic Nashville
The woman is like smoke, “blowing rings around my heart.” He can’t put her down once he starts. She goes great with booze. She’s not good for his health. Her perfume lingers on his clothes. She’s a habit, and this haunting, swirling single makes her sound like a must-have. Very promising.
MIRANDA LAMBERT/Little Red Wagon
Writers: Audra Mae/Joe Ginsberg; Producers: Frank Liddell, Chuck Ainlay, Glen Worf; Publishers: WB/AMAEB/Double Flannel, ASCAP; RCA
-Miranda’s back in her feisty-female mode on this rumbling bopper. She’s a free spirit who has no use for the guy who’s pursuing her. The highly personalized last verse is a particular hoot.
T. GRAHAM BROWN/Forever Changed
Writers: H. Lindsey/D. Penn/C. Whitesett; Producers: Mark Carman/T. Graham Brown/Publishers: none listed; Mansion
-The title tune of this blue-eyed soulman’s latest collection is a sweet, tender ballad that he sings with depth and maturity. In addition to solo showcases like this, the gospel-themed album also includes collaborations with Leon Russell, Vince Gill, The Oak Ridge Boys, Jason Crabb, Jimmy Fortune, Sonya Isaacs and more. Recommended with an “amen.”
FRANKIE BALLARD/Young & Crazy
Writers: Ashley Gorley/Shane McAnally/Rhett Akins; Producers: Marshall Altman/Scott Hendricks; Publishers:External Combustion/Out of the Taperoom/Songs of Southside Independent/Universal/Smack Ink/EMI Blackwood/Rhettneck, ASCAP/BMI; Warner Bros.
-“How am I ever gonna get to be old and wise/If I ain’t ever young and crazy?” You said it, brother. Hit bound. Rock on.
Lee ANN WOMACK/The Way I’m Livin’
Writers: Adam Wright; Producers: Frank Liddell, Chuck Ainlay, and Glenn Worf; Publishers: Alrighty Den/Wrightone, BMI; Sugar Hill (track)
-This peerless country stylist is nominated for a Grammy Award this year. The title tune of the album in question is also her current single. There’s a devil on her shoulder who tells her that being bad feels good. So now she doesn’t know wrong from right, and the instruments that churn up that sound all around her make the chaos all the more inescapable. Contemporary country at its finest.
- DISClaimer Single Reviews: Eric Church, Miranda Lambert, Brandy Clark - March 4, 2021
- DISClaimer Single Reviews: Niko Moon, Tenille Arts, Lainey Wilson, Dillon Carmichael - February 25, 2021
- DISClaimer Single Reviews: Ryan Hurd & Maren Morris, Taylor Swift, Walker Hayes - February 18, 2021