The sounds of summer are upon us.
Logan Brill, Hunter Hayes, Jericho Woods, Emily Minor and Simon Andersson all have new tunes with sunshine built into their grooves. The Hayes and Brill songs were strong enough to compete for Disc of the Day, but were narrowly edged out by “Light Me Up” by Kristian Bush.
The DISCovery Award goes to someone who is already familiar to many of you, thanks to his accomplishments as a producer and songwriter. But now Nathan Chapman is stepping out as an artist with a CD that has audio delights around every corner.
WARD DAVIS/Last Monday in May
Writer: Bob Regan/Don Goodman/six war veterans; Producer: Bob Regan; Publisher: none listed; Operation Song (track) (www.operationsong.org)
—Operation Song is a collection of compositions that Bob Regan and Don Goodman created with war veterans as therapy. Its touching single is a Memorial Day tribute to the fallen from battles throughout history. Essential.
SIMON ANDERSSON/How Did I Get Here
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; SA Music AB (www.simonandersson.net)
—Andersson is Swedish, but he displays a thorough understanding of country music on this compelling single. The throbbing rhythm and hooky tune are just right, and so is his performance of the lost-in-love lyric.
RAY SCOTT/Ain’t Always Thirsty
Writer: Ray Scott/Mark Stephen Jones; Producer: Dave Brainard; Publisher: Songs of Universal/Rayality/Harlan Howard, BMI; DeciBel (track) (www.rayscott.com)
—I remain a fan of this baritone neo-traditionalist. The first single from his new album stares at a dissipated life with raw honesty and unflinching emotion. A steel-soaked ballad to chill the bones.
JERICHO WOODS/She Don’t Need Me Anymore
Writer: J. Mitcham/K. Daniel/P. Priest/D. Spencer; Producer: Dustin Spencer; Publisher: none listed, BMI; Yellowberri (track) (www.jerichowoodsband.com)
—Clear, liquid country-rock from Kentucky, smoothly played and sung. The dobro lines are particularly ear catching.
Writer: Nathan Chapman/Tyler Hilton; Producer: Nathan & Stephanie Chapman; Publisher: Songs of Universal/Art in the Pain/Ty Britt, BMI; Pain in the Art (track)
—Best known as the producer of million-selling Taylor Swift records and/or as the co-writer of Darius Rucker’s No. 1 hit “Homegrown Honey” Chapman steps out as an artist with a stunning collection of self-penned gems. Its title tune is a gospel-flavored ode to redemption that’s blessed with an instantly memorable melody as well as a vocal full of heart. This stuff is so strong it could appeal to listeners well beyond country’s borders.
EMILY MINOR/Funky Feel Good
Writer: Minor/Williams; Producer: Scott Trayer; Publisher: none listed; EMM (track) (www.emilyminor.net)
—”Funky” is not a word we ordinarily find in country music. This sunny, smiley, highly polished, white-girl ditty is anything but.
Writer: Dallas Davidson/Kelley Lovelace/Ashley Gorley/Hunter Hayes; Producer: Dann Huff & Hunter Hayes; Publisher: EMI Blackwood/Two Chord Georgia/EMI April/Don’t Have to Be Music/External Combustion/Songs of Southside Independent/WB/Atlas/Ogden Avenue/Songs of Universal, BMI/ASCAP; Atlantic
—When was the last time you heard a great birthday-party song? Well, Hunter has one, and it’s full of bopping energy and upbeat intentions. Dance along.
RISSI PALMER/Sweet, Sweet Lovin’
Writer: Rissi Palmer/Andrew Ramsey/Shannon Sanders; Producer: Andrew Ramsey & Shannon Sanders; Publisher: none listed; Baldilocks (track) (615-782-0078)
—The child’s voice is her daughter Grace. The song has a bluesy tinge that is appealing. There’s something somehow “Southern” sounding about it. The new five-song EP is titled The Back Porch Sessions. Recommended.
KRISTIAN BUSH/Light Me Up
Writer: Kristian Bush/Jesse Rice; Producer: Kristian Bush & Tom Tapley; Publisher: Songs of the Architect/Songs of Artist Revolution/ole, BMI/SESAC; Streamsound (track)
—This fellow continues to delight my ears. The sunny, romantic song is irresistible, and the warmth of his voice is completely enveloping. The icing on the cake is a brilliant production loaded with tiny, perfectly placed touches that shine like little jewels.
Writer: Ryan Tindell/Bryan Simpson; Producer: Oran Thornton & Matthew Miller; Publisher: none listed; Carnival (track)
—The loose-limbed rhythm track is the real scene stealer here. It rumbles through the song like a drunken pachyderm. Brill’s sexy, sultry vocal performance is dandy, too. By far her most accomplished record to date. Check out the rest of the Shuteye CD’s 10 tunes: I think you’ll be as impressed as I am.