DISClaimer: Chris Stapleton, Ryan Kinder Bring Ace Musicianship To New Singles

Pictured (L-R): Chris Stapleton, Ryan Kinder

Pictured (L-R): Chris Stapleton, Ryan Kinder

Big stars are side-by-side with complete unknowns this week.

In fact, more than half of these platters are by newcomers. Fortunately, this quantity creates no confusion about who is the best of them. The hands-down winner of the DisCovery Award is Ryan Kinder.

When dealing with the stars, the choice isn’t all that clear-cut. Miranda Lambert, Thomas Rhett, Chris Stapleton and Hank Williams Jr. all have highly engaging sounds. In a very, very close contest, I’m going with my old fave Chris Stapleton as having the Disc of the Day. He nailed “Tennessee Whiskey” on the CMA telecast, and he nails on the record, as well.

JEFF DANE/Apple Pie Moonshine
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; JD
-It’s about running bootleg hooch. It has no melody.

HANK WILLIAMS JR. & ERIC CHURCH/Are You Ready For The Country
Writer: Neil Young; Producer: Julian Raymond; Publisher: Silver Fiddle, ASCAP; Nash Icon
-Packed with “outlaw” energy. An audio Red Bull jolt.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Studio Gold
-Duet partner Caldwell was an American Idol Season 2 finalist. But this is Braly’s show, since he is the more relaxed and believable vocalist. The song is a power ballad with loads of oomph.

CHRIS STAPLETON/Tennessee Whiskey
Writers: Dean Dillon/Linda Hargrove; Producers: Dave Cobb/Chris Stapleton; Publishers: Universal – Songs of PolyGram International, Inc.; EMI Algee Music Corp., BMI; Mercury (track)
-Part of the brilliance of Stapleton’s CMA award-winning album is that his vocals are so clear and uncluttered by production. His reworking of this 1983 George Jones hit drips with blue-eyed soul. His electric-guitar solo is just as groovy. Play and believe.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Studio Gold
-Merrily rollicking and mighty enjoyable. He’s deliriously in love, riding the open road and heading for home. A very tasty production and writing job, so credits would have been nice.

Writer: Miranda Lambert; Producers: Frank Liddell/Chuck Ainlay/Glenn Worf; Publishers: Sony-ATV Tree/Pink Dog, BMI
-Smartly written and performed with moxie. Also, it kicks serious butt.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Crush
-The electro-accented production is full of echo and drama. He sings like a man possessed. He keeps drinking and descending into misery. “Bring it on; I ain’t afraid of the dark,” he cries. Gripping and passionate.

THOMAS RHETT/Die a Happy Man
Writers: Thomas Rhett/Sean Douglas/Joe Spargur; Producers: Dann Huff/Jesse Frasure; Publishers:EMI Blackwood/Cricket on the Line/Sony-ATV/Warner-Tamerlane/Eastman Pond/Music of Big Deal/Nice Life/Frederic and Ried/BMG Rights Management, BMI; Valory Music Co.
-The softly seductive r&b groove is delicious. His laid-back delivery charms with subtlety. A love-ballad gem.

Writers: Shane Michael Taylor/Lorna Flowers; Producer: Lorna Flowers; Publishers: none listed; Platinum Horse
-The album is credited to Taylor, who is a wheelchair-bound cerebral-palsy patient. In actuality, he is the songwriter of the collection. Vocals are provided by Trent Jeffcoat, Clare Dunn, Josh Helms, Tiffany and, as is the cast here, Mason Douglas. The ballad has a positive, uplifting message.

Writers: Ryan Kinder/Luke Sheets; Producer: Paul Worley; Publishers: W.B.M. Music Corp/Crimson Garden Music/Melodies of Bigger Picture (admin by W.B.M. Music Corp.)/Curb Congregation Songs; SESAC; Warner Bros.
-I like the driving, throbbing quality in this sound. He rides atop the pounding production with vocal finesse. It’s a sophisticated booty call, and who can argue with that? Unquestionably, the finest country debut in quite some time.



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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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