The tomatoes win this round.
Both of our award winners today come from female country artists. They had tough competition from the men of A Thousand Horses and Brushville. But there was no denying that the Miranda Lambert record with Little Big Town singing harmony is the Disc of the Day.
Similarly, no one even touched the hem of Rainey Qually’s gown as she swept up to the podium as this week’s DisCovery Award winner. Her “Me and Johnny Cash” rocks in all the right places.
ERICA NICOLE/I’m Making Mine
Writer: Emily Weisband; Producer: Kent Wells; Publisher: WB/Thankful for This, ASCAP; GTR (CDX) (www.ericanicolemusic.com)
I have liked several of this gal’s upbeat, danceable, tuneful performances in the past. It turns out that she’s equally potent when essaying stirring, thoughtful lyrics.
Writer: Ben Hayslip/Rhett Akins; Producer: Klye Lehning; Publisher: WB/Get a Load of This/EMI Blackwood, ASCAP/BMI; Brushville (CDX) (www.brushville.com)
—It seems that what is “dangerous” isn’t risky driving, drinking, night swimming or even making love. It’s falling in love. Smartly executed in every way.
IRLENE MANDRELL/We Will Stand
Writer: Eric Homer; Producer: Pat Holt; Publisher: Blue Chameleon, ASCAP; CDX (www.irlenemandrell.com)
—She was always overshadowed vocally by sisters Barbara and Louise. But in her own modest and tentative way, Irlene holds her own on this patriotic outing.
ROWDY McCARRAN/Eyes Wide Open
Writer: none listed; Producer: Fred Vail; Publisher: none listed; RM (track) (615-297-0700)
—Veteran producer Vail’s latest discovery is a rootsy country romper with a personable drawl and a solid CD title song. Give this guy a deal.
THE KENTUCKY HEADHUNTERS & JOHNNIE JOHNSON/Meet Me in Bluesland
Writer: R.Young/G.Martin/A.Kenney/D.Phelps/F.Young/J.Johnson; Producer: The Kentucky HeadHunters; Publisher: BMG Firefly/Bughouse/Them Young Boys/Song Garden/BMG Bumblebee/Bug/Mr. Erik/I.B. Headed/JFJ, ASCAP/BMI; Alligator (track) (www.kentuckyheadhunters.com)
—The late Johnnie Johnson was Chuck Berrry’s right-hand man as a high-octane piano pounder and sometime songwriting collaborator. He was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2001 and died in 2005. His 2003 blues sessions with the HeadHunters are now being released as a CD with this stately outing as the title tune. His piano work still captivates, and his shouted, down-home blues vocal is equally riveting. The country group proves to be surprisingly adept as an r&b backing band.
JB AND THE MOONSHINE BAND/Shotgun, Rifle and a .45
Writer: J.B. Patterson; Producer: JB and The Moonshine Band; Publisher: JBMB, BMI; Thirty Tigers (track) (www.jbandthemoonshineband.com)
—Too busy. It sounds like a cluttered demo tape. Clean up your production.
MIRANDA LAMBERT & LITTLE BIG TOWN/Smokin’ and Drinkin’
Writer: Natalie Hemby/Luke Laird/Shane McAnally; Producer: Frank Liddell, Chuck Ainley & Glenn Worf; Publisher: EMI Blackwood/Wruckestrike/Songs of Universal/Creative Nation/Twangin and Slangin/Smack Ink, BMI/ASCAP; RCA (track)
—Strings sigh, a steel guitar moans and a drum kit shuffles along while electric guitar notes pierce the evening atmosphere. Languid, liquid vocals lounge in nostalgia and misty memory. Enchanting. Seductive. Dreamy.
RAINEY QUALLEY/Me and Johnny Cash
Writer: Rainey Qualley/John Ramey/Jeffrey East; Producer: Russ Zavitson & John Ramey; Publisher: Zavitson/Rainey Qualley/Tazmaraz, ASCAP/BMI; Cingle (track)
—This puts pedal to the metal and boasts a delicious backbeat, plus stuttering fiddle and banjo, deep-twang guitar and a wailing, wide-open vocal. A highway song for a red-hot summer. This is going places.
A THOUSAND HORSES/Drunk Dial
Writer: Michael Hobby/Corey Crowder/Neil Mason/Cale Dodds; Producer: Dave Cobb; Publisher: Warner-Tamerlane/Carolina June/Greatshakin/Universal/Crowder Taylor/Nettwerk One B/Revelry/Nevada House/Cale Dodds, BMI/ASCAP; Republic Nashville (track)
—“Smoke” was a dynamite career launcher. The follow-up, due at the end of the month, is just as cool. “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” is sung with rough-edged soul and shrouded in echoey, mysterioso guitars. Ear grabbing in the extreme.
OLIVIA LANE/You Part 2
Writer: Danny Myrick/Ilya Toshinsky/Olivia Lane; Producer: Ilya Toshinsky; Publisher: Round Hill/Warren Piece/Liv Write Play/Lane Train, BMI/ASCAP/SESAC; Big Spark (www.olivialane.com)
—Choppy rhythms, a quasi-spoken vocal with a hip-hop vibe and a minimal melody. It’s too far on the pop side of things for my taste, but I won’t deny that it’s very listenable.
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