The superstars are playing at the top of their game, but even underdogs have their day in the sun.
In this week’s stack of sounds, you’ll find first-rate efforts by Brad Paisley, Lee Ann Womack and Kenny Chesney. As is so often the case with my hopeless, country-loving self, I was drawn to the most retro styled discs. They belonged to stars who don’t twinkle quite as brightly as that much-awarded trio.
Thus, the Disc of the Day goes to Billy Yates. And the DisCovery Award belongs to Stoney Larue.
RACHELE LYNAE/Whole Lotta Nothin’
Writers: Rachele Lynae/Hannah Bethel/David Myhre; Producers: Jamie O’Neal/Rachele Lynae/Publishers: Rachele Lynae/Hanwyn/David Myhre, ASCAP/BMI; Momentum
-The sound of a beach vacation.
KENNY CHESNEY & GRACE POTTER/Wild Child
Writers: Kenny Chesney/Shane McAnally/Josh Osborne; Producers: Buddy Cannon/Kenny Chesney; Publishers: none listed, BMI/ASCAP; Columbia/Blue Chair (track)
– Languid. Lilting. Lulling. He’s dreamy in love with a rebel who has a wandering heart.
JONATHAN BYRD/Mama’s Got Wheels
Writers: Jonathan Byrd; Producer: Jonathan Byrd; Publishers: Jonathan Byrd, SESAC; Waterbug (track)
-Bluesy, earthy, rootsy and real, with just enough dirt under is fingernails to be completely compelling. I am all ears for this guy. Americana programmers will find him equally gripping. The CD is called You Can’t Outrun the Radio and is highly recommended.
MARK McKINNEY/Diggin’ My Grave
Writers: Mark McKinney; Producers: Mark and Erin McKinney; Publishers: none listed; MM
-Thumping and driving, with loads of slide-guitar moaning. Fantastically listenable. Be forewarned: The recurring line in it is, “Recipe for Disaster,” rather than the title, which is buried elsewhere in the lyric. It is still a way, way, cool little record.
BRAD PAISLEY/Crushin’ It
Writers: Brad Paisley/Kelley Lovelace/Lee Thomas Miller; Producers: Luke Wooten/Brad Paisley; Publishers: House of Sea Gayle/Words & Music/Making the Turn/Do Write/Warner-Tamerlane/The Country and Western, ASCAP/BMI; Arista (track)
-Ready for the weekend? Here’s the tune for you, complete with chilled beverages and a sizzling guitar groove.
THE CHEATERS/She Got A Way
Writers: none listed; Producer: Tommy Harden; Publishers: none listed; Cheaters (track)
-In praise of a babe, this innocuous little ditty has a laid-back tempo, close harmonies, a catchy chorus repetition and a summertime vibe. Engaging, if not exactly life changing.
LEO J. EIFFERT JR./Icon Super Star
Writer: Leo J. Eiffert Jr.; Producer: Leo J. Eiffert Jr.; Publishers: Young Country, BMI; Young Country
– Utterly amateurish, but at least he has a sense of humor about it.
LEE ANN WOMACK/Send It On Down
Writers: Chris Knight/David Leone; Producers: Frank Liddell/Chuck Ainlay/Glenn Worf; Publishers: WB/Wrensong/Judy Harris/Meester Smooshie, ASCAP; Sugar Hill (track)
– The second single from Womack’s Grammy-nominated CD is an aching plea for redemption from someone being driven mad by drink, loneliness and the ennui of small-town existence. It made me hold my breath in awe.
Writers: Billy Yates/Lee Thomas Miller/Monty Criswell; Producer: Billy Yates; Publishers: So Bizzy/Music of Stage Three, BMI; M.O.D. (track)
-Yates is the songwriter behind such pure-country, George Jones classics as “Choices” and “I Don’t Need Your Rockin’ Chair.” The debut single from his new These Old Walls CD is a hillbilly hoot. He’s a loser, but he’s okay with that because, “If zeros always come full circle, it’s high time I go back around.” The whole album brims with ready-for-radio country gems like this.
STONEY LARUE/Golden Shackles
Writers: none listed; Producers: Frank Liddell/Michael McCarthy; Publishers: none listed; eOne (track)
-This fellow is a headliner in the Lone Star State. His recruits top Nashville producers and session aces in a bid for mainstream country acceptance and hits a bullseye with a CD titled Aviator. This romping single’s sprightly rhythms contrast nicely with a downbeat lyric of losing a gamble with love. Audio charisma.
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