DISClaimer: Sans Bro Country, Nashville’s Songwriters Shine

kip moore i'm to blame

Kip Moore

With no bro country in sight this week, the Nashville songwriting community is strutting its stuff.

Will Hoge, Austin Webb, Carrie Underwood, Kip Moore, Bobby Wills and Keith Urban all have new singles with true composing craftsmanship on display. And two of them wind up with this column’s awards.

Canadian Bobby Wills wins the DisCovery Award. He’s already an award winner north of the border, and here’s hoping he can duplicate that success stateside. Longtime “DisClaimer” favorite Kip Moore takes home the Disc of the Day prize. This guy seems to go from strength to strength.

Coincidentally, both of these fellows are singing “bad-boy” songs.

Bobby Wills

Bobby Wills

BOBBY WILLS/Crazy Enough
Writers: Pyle/Aldridge/Wills; Producer: Michael Pyle; Publishers: none listed; Willing (track)
-Infused with personality and raucous energy. The sidewinder guitars are perfect for the on-the-edge lyric. His ad-libbed chuckles in mid song are groovy, too.

KIP MOORE/I’m To Blame
Writers: Kip Moore/Justin Weaver/Westin Davis; Producer: Brett James; Publishers: WB/Cool Change/Music of the Corn/Magic Mustang/Reefer Road/Big Loud Bucks, ASCAP/BMI; MCA (CDX)
-The double-tracked vocal, distinctive rhythmic sounds, banjo ripples and urgent production are all ear catching, not to mention the excellent n’er-do-well lyric. This one’s a keeper.

AUSTIN WEBB/All Country On You
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Streamsound
-There’s no telling what a gal might do if you cross her. She might go “Carrie Underwood” your truck, flip you the bird, “tear you something new,” binge on your credit card or “post naked pictures with your ink showin’ through.” Cleverly written and produced with zippy zest.

CARRIE UNDERWOOD/Little Toy Guns
Writers: Carrie Underwood/Chris DeStefano/Hillary Lindsey; Producer: Mark Bright; Publishers: Carrie Okie/EMI April/Sugar Glider/Sony-ATV/WB, BMI/ASCAP; Arista (track)
-Carrie follows her hit baptismal rocker with a thunderous, complex, layered production about a little girl who wishes mommy and daddy would stop fighting. Power pop.

WILL HOGE/Middle of America
Writers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Cumberland/Thirty
-Little slices of life from the heartland add up to one fine, rocking anthem. He sings with just as much passion as there is in the songwriting. I love this guy. Please make him a star.

SHERRY LYNN/What Are You Running From
Writers: Leah Crutchfield/Brian Nash; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Steal Heart
-The instrumental arrangement is way bigger than her vocal ability.

KEITH URBAN & ERIC CHURCH/Raise ‘Em Up
Writers: Jaren Johnston/Jeffrey Steele/Tom Douglas; Producers: Nathan Chapman/Keith Urban; Publishers: Sony-ATV Harmony/Texa Rae/Jeffrey Steele/BPJ/tomdouglasmusic, ASCAP/BMI; Capitol (CDX)
-As uplifting and positive as its title implies. Both men sing with conviction and authority. The instrumental track both crackles with energy and dazzles with echoey splendor. This thing is a smash if I’ve ever heard one.

MICHAEL RAY/Kiss You In The Morning
Writers: Justin Wilson/Michael White; Producer: Scott Hendricks; Publishers: Magic Mustang/Big Loud Bucks/Downtown DMp/Music of Parallel, BMI; Warner Bros.
-He pretty much sounds like every other male country performer.

THE MAVERICKS/All Night Long
Writers: Raul Malo; Producers: Raul Malo/Niko Bolas; Publishers: Big Machine/Raul Malo, BMI; Valory (track)
-This horn-punctuated, salsa-inflected slab of latino pop kicks off the upcoming Mavs collection, Mono. Elsewhere on the CD, you’ll find flavors of r&b, classic balladry, Tex-Mex, swing, folk and more. All of it sounds pretty dang cool.

MICHAEL TURNER/Matches and Moonshine
Writers: Pete Stewart/Brian White/Megan Conner; Producer: Ilya Toshinsky; Publishers: none listed; Rustic
-Dreamy and sultry in the verses; pert, bright and bopping in the choruses. I guess it’s either creative or jarring, depending on your point of view.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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