DisClaimer: Innovative Sounds From Keith Urban, 2 Steps Back

keith-urban-john-cougar-john-deere-john-316-single-cover-300x300If there’s anybody out there reading this and not already on vacation, I have plenty of good music to offer today.

The stars are out this Independence Day weekend, with new discs from Billy Currington, Buddy Jewell, Jake Owen, Sawyer Brown, Keith Urban and Kelsea Ballerini. Most of them are quite good, too.

Our two award winners today have one thing in common. Both of them are innovative sounding. Keith Urban wins a Disc of the Day prize for releasing a delightfully different song.

The DisCovery Award goes to 2 Steps Back, a male foursome with a refreshing song as well as an ear-opening production.

Have a great holiday, everyone.

SAWYER BROWN/We Got the Night
Writer: Bill Shore/David Wills/Alicia King; Producer: Mark A. Miller; Publisher: Plumas/Cherry Heart, BMI; Beach Street (CDX) (www.sawyerbrown.com)
—Anthemic, with a darkly romantic vibe. The minor key lends it extra sensuality.

KEITH URBAN/John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16
Writer: Shane McAnally/Ross Copperman/Josh Osborne; Producer: Dann Huff & Keith Urban; Publisher: Smack Hits/SMACK Songs/Kobalt/EMI Blackwood/Songs By Red Room/Songs of Black River/One Little Indian Creek, GMR/BMI/ASCAP; Capitol/Hit Red (CDX) 
—Quite cleverly written, with loads of pop-culture references and copious name dropping. Bonus points for sounding completely different and distinct from his many prior singles. This deserves to be a major, major smash.

CLAIRE PETRIE/Somewhere Off the Map
Writer: Callander/Montana; Producer: Jack Gale; Publisher: Universal/Mike Curb/Dandon Ranch, BMI; Playback (track) 
—This sturdy country rocker romps with a steady rhythm. Petrie’s throaty vocal rides the toe-tapping track like a pro.

JAKE OWEN/Real Life
Writer: Ross Copperman/Ashley Gorley/Shane McAnally/Josh Osborne; Producer: Shane McAnally & Ross Copperman; Publisher: none listed; RCA (CDX) 
—The good-time song is fairly simple, and its barely-there melody is even more so. The track is needlessly busy.

KELSEA BALLERINI/Dibs
Writer: Kelsea Ballerini/Josh Kerr/Ryan Griffin/Jason Duke; Producer: Forest Glen Whitehead & Jason Massey; Publisher: Songs of Black River/KNB/DSM Administration/Nyssa/Jason Duke, ASCAP; Black River (track) 
—Ballerini follows her first trip to the top of the charts (“Love Me Like You Mean It”) with a trippy, hip hoppy, patter-happy ditty with rapid-fire lyrics and a bop that doesn’t stop. Endearingly youthful.

DANIEL ROMANO/The One That Got Away
Writer: Daniel Romano; Producer: Daniel Romano; Publisher: Daniel Romano/New West Independent/BMG Rights Management, SOCAN; New West (track) (www.danielromanomusic.com)
—This is kinda retro sounding, with its echo-chamber vocal, old-school songwriting and Nashville Sound production values. It’s not for everyone, but I found it oddly compelling. Definitely different, yet fascinating listening.

BILLY CURRINGTON/Drinkin’ Town with a Football Problem
Writer: Aarpm Henningsen/Brian Henningsen/Clara Henningsen/Elizabeth McDavid Elkins/Vanessa Ann Olivarez; Producer: Dann Huff; Publisher: none listed; Mercury (track)
—Romping and rousing, as you might expect from the title. Made for Friday-night mayhem.

DENNY HERRIN/Becky’s Bible
Writer: Chris Knight; Producer: Chris Beall; Publisher: none listed; DH (www.dennyherrin.com)
—This fellow is an up-and-comer on the Texas red dirt country scene. He grabs a-hold of this gripping Chris Knight song and doesn’t let go. The spare, punchy, country-rock track gives him just the right amount of space to deliver the lyric’s outlaw urgency. Highly recommended.
2 steps back
2 STEPS BACK/Boombox
Writer: none listed; Producer: Fred Mollin; Publisher: none listed; 2SB (track) (2sbmusic.com)
—Youthful, poppy, charming, catchy, tuneful, summery. Stunning production flourishes and a simply brilliant job of mixing.

BUDDY JEWELL/In the Misty Moonlight
Writer: Cindy Walker; Producer: Dave Moody; Publisher: none listed; Lamon (track) (www.lamonrecords.com)
—Jewell’s new CD is titled My Father’s Country, a collection of revived oldies that his late dad loved: “Singing the Blues,” “Behind Closed Doors,” “Galveston” and the like. His superbly resonant, effortlessly expressive voice polishes these gems with new luster. This ultra-melodic 1964 classic is especially appropriate since he used to sing songwriter Cindy Walker’s demos. But whichever track you choose, you will be in the presence of a world-class singer, guaranteed. Sing on, brother.

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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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