The winter skies may be unendingly gray, but this week’s country music sounds bright.
Superstar Tim McGraw starts his year off right by slam dunking a Disc of the Day prize. No one else even comes close.
To me, it’s always a sign of good health for the format when there are plenty of talented newcomers vying for attention. Today, they include Mickey Guyton, Nate Green and the winner of the DisCovery Award of the week, Mo Pitney.
NATE GREEN/Back Road
Writer: Nate Green; Producer: Cosme Liccardo/Enrico Carducci; Publisher: none listed; Conway/GMV
-He has an intriguingly husky vocal style, and the production is ear-catching, crunchy and innovative. It sure ain’t your father’s country music, but it has its merits. Recommended listening.
TIM McGRAW & CATHERINE DUNN/Diamond Rings and Old Bar Stools
Writers: Luke Laird/Barry Dean/Jonathan Singleton; Producers: Byron Gallimore/Tim McGraw; Publishers: Songs of Universal/Creative Nation/Twangin and Slangin/Country Paper/Pulse Nation/BMG Gold/Glassbean/We Jam Writers Group, BMI/ASCAP; Big Machine (track)
-Dunn is McGraw’s first cousin (their moms are sisters). Her family harmony with him is perfection on this ballad of regret. Diamonds are for queens, and barstools are for fools, you see. So the two lovers in this song were never meant to blend together. Extremely well done in every department.
PARMALEE/Already Callin’ You Mine
Writers: Matt Thomas/Scott Thomas/Barry Knox/Phil O’Donnell/Wade Kirby; Producer: NV; Publishers: 27861 Music/Revelry/Gallo & Landers/Sixteen Stars/HoriPro/Dirty County/Big Loud Bucks, BMI; Stoney Creek
-These four hard-working dudes continue to impress. This upbeat bopper summons a lady to romance with sunny optimism.
REBA McENTIRE/Going Out Like That
Writers: Ben Hayslip/Rhett Akins/Jason Sellers; Producer: Tony Brown; Publishers: WB/Tar-Cam-Knox/Thankful for This/Sony-ATV/EMI Blackwood/Becky’s Boy/Brooks County Boy, ASCAP; Nash/Valory
-This gal isn’t wallowing in her broken heart. She’s out rocking, throwing back shots, dancing up a storm, dressing in red and being the life of the party. Rock on.
JULIE C. MYERS/Can’t Get My Heart Around That
Writer: none listed; Producer: Dan Hodges; Publishers: none listed; Wild Heart (track)
-The opening line of her publicity bio brags that she is, “arguably the world’s most sought after Stevie Nicks tribute artist,” and that she has been touring for eight years with her “Nearly Nicks” act. Allrighty, then. The production of her debut single owes more to rock traditions than it does to country. Her vocal performance isn’t commanding enough for either genre.
JIM ED BROWN/When The Sun Says Hello to the Mountain
Writers: Harry Pease/Larry Vincent; Producer: Don Cusic; Publisher: Shapiro Bernstein, ASCAP; Plowboy (track)
-The lead-off track of the new CD by this Grand Ole Opry veteran harkens back to his ‘50s and ‘60s performances with his sisters in The Browns. The lovely harmonies match the lilting melody and the icing on the cake is the delicious steel-guitar embellishment by Chris Scruggs. At age 80, Jim Ed still has enormous vocal warmth and class. Get-well wishes are in order — He was recently diagnosed with lung cancer.
Writers: Mo Pitney/Bobby Tomberlin/Bill Anderson; Producer: Tony Brown; Publishers: Mike Curb/Sony-ATV Tree/Mr. Bubba, BMI; Curb
-His vocal is effortlessly countrified, with echoes of the great honky-tonk stylists of yore. The lyric is extraordinarily well crafted, full of the little details that make a great song sparkle. I can’t wait to hear more from this guy.
MICKEY GUYTON/Better Than You Left Me
Writers: Mickey Guyton/Jennifer Hanson/Jenn Schott/Nathan Chapman; Producers: Nathan Chapman/Dann Huff; Publishers: Mickey’s Island/Sony-ATV Acuff Rose/Chaylynn/Music of Parallel/Schott Heard Around the World/Downtown DMP/Songs of Universal/Art in the Pain, BMI; Capitol (CDX)
-It takes guts to start your career with a slow ballad. But this gal has the vocal chops to pull it off. The stately drum thump and softly sympathetic electric guitars aid her as she builds to a slow-burn, soulful emotional peak.
RACHEL HOLDER/I Think of You
Writers: Billy Aerts/Scott Lynch/Shea Fisher; Producer: none listed; Publishers: Stormey/BMG Platinum/Baby Gray/Dan Hodges/Shea Fisher, BMI; Curb (CDX)
-The fact this woman isn’t already a star continues to baffle me. Every single has been a vocal tour de force, and this one is no exception. She knocks this ballad out of the ballpark. Stop putting so much compression on her singing, crank up her volume and let her wail.
LOCASH/I Love This Life
Writers: Chris Janson/Preston Brust/Chris Lucas/Danny Myrick; Producers: Lindsay Rimes/Preston Brust/Chris Lucas; Publishers: Red Vinyl/Sony-ATV Tree/Root 49, BMI; Reviver (CDX)
-This made me want to dance around the room. They sing like hillbilly angels, the production is a frothing swirl and the dazzling rhythm track is relentless. I love this life, indeed.
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- Hit Producer & MGM Exec Jim Vienneau Dies At Age 97 - November 20, 2023
- DISClaimer Single Reviews: Mickey Guyton Gives ‘A Thrilling Take’ On Tina Turner Hit - November 16, 2023