It all begins with a song.
The thing that unites all of the standout records this week is that they all feature the craftsmanship that good country music has always boasted.
Whether it’s Zane Williams’s outstanding story lyric, Chris Stapleton’s road tune, Rich Karg’s cool description of momentary love without commitment, Toby Keith’s meditation on decaying society or Steve Azar’s musing about lost innocence these discs contain writing that makes me proud to be a country fan.
Throughout the career of Toby Keith, the consistent excellence of his songwriting has beamed brightly. He wins the Disc of the Day.
The DisCovery Award goes to Rich Karg. His CD is full of unexpected pleasures.
DIANA UPTON-HILL/Do Love Well
Writers: Mitchell T. Goudy; Producer: Bryan White; Publishers: Bread N Pants, ASCAP; Third Floor (track)
-Sunny and sugary. Sorry, I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth.
LADY ANTEBELLUM/Long Stretch of Love
Writers: Dave Haywood/Charles Kelley/Hillary Scott/Josh Kear; Producers: Nathan Chapman/Lady Antebellum; Publishers: Beards and Bullets/30A Getaway/Hobbs Hill/Kobalt/Global Dog/Book of Spells, ASCAP/SESAC; Capitol Nashville
-The multiple audio layers make it sound like there are a lot more than three voices on this. Dense sounding, but highly commercial.
RICH KARG/Beautiful Distraction
Writers: Weston Burt/R. Karg/S. Mitchell; Producer: Rich Karg; Publishers: Rich Karg/Green Hills Music Group/Grin Like Dog, SESAC; RK (track)
-This Nashville singer-songwriter is selling a CD titled U Turn at his gigs. It contains this deliciously melodic power ballad about hooking up with no strings attached. You big-time stars and producers out there need to be mining this and the other tunes on this collection for gold. Recommended listening.
JOSH GOODLETT/Why You Gotta Be That Way
Writers: Bobby E. Boyd/Brad Wolf/Phillip Moore; Producer: Bobby E. Boyd; Publishers: Boyd Where Prohibited/Green Dog, BMI; Good
-The country-rocking production is on the money, and he is a fine country singer. The song doesn’t do much for me, but overall this is a perfectly OK effort.
TOBY KEITH/35 MPH Town
Writers: Toby Keith/Bobby Pinson; Producers: Toby Keith/Bobby Pinson; Publishers: Tokeco/Bobby’s Lyrics Land & Livestock/Do Write, BMI; Show Dog (CDX)
-This is an extremely well written song about a mother who doesn’t like what she sees around her these days. She cautions her boy that things aren’t like they used to be. Toby’s vocal is a masterpiece of urgent phrasing, and the dramatic production totally kicks butt. Play it again.
STEVE AZAR & SOPHIE YOUNG/The Sky Is Falling
Writers: Steve Azar; Producer: Steve Azar; Publishers: Steve Azar, BMI; Ride (CDX)
-Their duet about lost youth and forgotten innocence glides on wafting wings of sound. Ear catching.
CASEY JAMES/Fall Apart
Writers: Will Bowen/Joshua Carter/Zach Carter; Producers: Chris Lindsey/Casey James; Publishers: Vaughn Fenwick/Little Extra/Ten Thousand Hours/Petite-T/Music of Parallel, BMI; Columbia (CDX)
-Pleading with a broken heart, he sings the fire out of this. But I’m sorry: “Every time I run into you, I fall apart” is not exactly the most original idea in songwriting history.
TYLER HAMMOND/Wild One Tonight
Writers: Chris Jones; Producer: Chris Jones; Publishers: Chris Jones, ASCAP; Milley (CDX)
-I like the moody, thumpy production and the up-close-and-personal quality in his singing. I also like the way it builds in sonic complexity. I’m intrigued. Send more.
Writers: Chris Stapleton; Producer: Dave Cobb; Publishers: WB/Ken Tucky, ASCAP; Mercury (CDX)
-He remains one of the most gripping vocalists on today’s scene. This lonely-wanderer song is right up his alley. The tempo rolls along appropriately. Super listenable.
ZANE WILLIAMS/Jayton and Jill
Writers: Zane Williams; Producers: Zane Williams/Tom Faulkner; Publishers: Born Into Love/Be Original, ASCAP; Be (CDX)
-I love a good country story song, and this one is a pip. Jayton is an everyday guy working at a filling station and feeling suicidal. Jill is preacher’s daughter gone wild. They meet, talk all night and save one another’s troubled souls. A dandy, an instant classic.
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