DisClaimer: Review-Column ‘Virgins’ Vie For DisCovery Award

RonnieDunnTruksInTexasEvery dog has his day, and the meek shall inherit the earth.

Today we have six DisClaimer “virgins” who are hoping that something like that is the truth. Despite the promise shown by Tucker and the delightfully named Beka & The Gin Hall Hustlers, the one newcomer who earns the DisCovery Award is Homegrown. This band arrives fully armed with stellar vocal abilities, top-notch production and songwriting skill.

Ricky Gunn and Mary Sarah have both been here before. As have our real veterans, Sammy Sadler and our undisputed Disc of the Day winner, Ronnie Dunn. Read on.

THE STICKERS/Countrified
Writer: Neil  Mason/Corey Crowder/Matt McGinn; Producer: Tony Castle; Publisher: Nettwerk One B/Revelry/Nevada House, BMI; Wodarek
—Half-spoken, half-sung verses. Shouted/screamed choruses. Twang guitar. Stomping beats. Shout outs to Conway Twitty and Randy Travis. I’m not buyin’ it.

MARY SARAH/Dress Up This Town
Writer: Mary Sarah/Melisssa Bollea/Bill DiLuigi; Producer: Kent Wells; Publisher: none listed, BMI/ASCAP; 144 Entertainment
—Pert, chirpy vocal and a sunny, upbeat attitude. Bright sounding. Summery.

Writer: Brooke Ellen Bollea/Drew Davis/Erik Halbig; Producer: Blake Bollinger; Publisher: none listed, ASCAP; MollyDog
—Her throaty, alto delivery is ear catching. The tempo is infectious. The song is too wordy and should have been edited.

RONNIE DUNN/Ain’t No Trucks in Texas
Writer: Wendell Mobley/Tony Martin/Neil Thrasher; Producer: Jay DeMarcus; Publisher: Warner-Tamerlane/Fonde Mountain/Sony-ATV Tree/Casa Jaco/Songs of Peer/Team Thrash, BMI/ASCAP; Nash Icon
—This is what it’s all about: A finely written country-weeper song, a supremely brilliant honky-tonk singer and a sterling contemporary production loaded with sonic dynamics. You youngsters should be taking notes on records like this.

AUSTIN MEADE/Feeling Closer
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed, ASCAP; Austin Meade
—Muffled, muddy sound. Barely-there singing. Aimlessly wandering lyric in search of a chorus. Pass.

SAMMY SADLER/Thinking About Mexico
Writer: Bart Butler/Tony Ramey; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Bill Butler/O Tex, BMI
—Sammy Sadler is still best known as the survivor of the 1989 Music Row assault that murdered Cash Box chart manager Kevin Hughes (convicted Richard “Tony” D’Antonio died in prison last year). His latest floats on bobbing steel notes and echoey mariachi horns and features the strongest singing of his career to date. Solid. Listenable.

Writer: E. Durrance/B. Deese/J. Parsons/Tucker; Producer: Ryan Sutton; Publisher: none listed; Big Pond/CEO
—Tucker is a multi-instrumentalist who has backed Jimmy Wayne, James Otto, Michael Peterson and others. Now stepping out as a singer-songwriter, he enters the country fray with a bro-country rocker loaded with redneck cliches. He’s good, but should have chosen a debut single that stands out rather than blending in.

RICKY GUNN/Living Like Me
Writer: Ricky Gunn/Dan Hannon; Producer: Dan Hannon & Billy Hume; Publisher: Emilex/NCE, BMI; NCE
—This fellow has received good notices in this column before. His latest has several things going for it. As before, he delivers vocally. In fact, this outing sounds even more personable and Southern than before. Also as before, he is backed with a well-mixed production. The upbeat song isn’t exactly a world beater, but it will do.
BEKA & THE GIN HALL HUSTLERS/Hollywood with Cowboy Hats
Writer: Beja Bronc; Producer: Beka Bronc; Publisher: Lil Miss Rebecca, BMI; Sassy Pants
—These guys have the best band name of this session, for sure. As it promises, their twangy-bop song is a wicked-funny jab at Music City. You see, she’s going to borrow money from Taylor Swift, marry Kenny Chesney and make it big.

Writer: C. Brannon/K. Brannon/Cole Ivey; Producer: Andy Bowen & The Rockporium; Publisher: none listed; Homegrown Entertainment
—Excellent brother-vocal vocal harmonies washing over a highly tuneful composition. This is perfectly produced beach music. Play and believe.


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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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