DISClaimer: Vince Gill, Dan+Shay, Tara Thompson Offer Noteworthy New Tracks

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This is a week when new sounds are presented.

One of the biggest agenda items during Country Radio Seminar is to get the visiting radio moguls interested in the format’s new and upcoming artists. Appropriately, in this edition of DisClaimer more than half the platters come from first timers to the column.

They are Sam Riggs, 8 Ball Aitken, Sierra Black, Reagan Boggs, Troy Johnson and the winner of our DisCovery Award, Valory Music’s Tara Thompson.

Things are less clearcut when it comes to the Disc of the Day award. I’m torn between the dreamy romance of Dan + Shay’s “From the Ground Up” and the exciting “Take Me Down” collaboration between Vince Gill & Little Big Town. Give ‘em both a prize.

SIERRA BLACK/Heart On Ice
Writers: none listed; Producer: Michael Omartian/Tom Hemby; Publishers: none listed; O.M.G.
– A country lyric, a rock attitude and a singer with fire. Energetic.

Dan+Shay

DAN+SHAY/From The Ground Up
Writers: Dan Smyers/Shay Mooney/Chris DeStefano; Producers: Dan Smyers/Scott Hendricks; Publishers: WB/Beats and Banjos/Warner Tamerlane/Shay Mooney/EMI April/CDS Words and Music, ASCAP/BMI; Warner Bros.
– A little swoon of a disc. It’s an ultra romantic waltz about love that lasts forever. The harmonies are twin-like, the track is glossy and the strings sigh just perfectly.

TROY JOHNSON/Stop Following Me
Writers: Greg Hudik/Dillon Dixon; Producer: Greg Hudik; Publisher: none listed, BMI
– He’s a picker on the road with a memory of a woman that he can’t escape. The song is a little wordy, but he sings it so forcefully that you’re sold.

HIGH VALLEY/Make You Mine
Writers: Seth Mosley/Brad Rempel/Benjamin Stennis; Producers: Sam Mosley/Mike X. O’Connor; Publishers: Ceentricity/Kickin’ Pub/Songs of Kicking Bird/Songs of Windswept Pacific, BMI; Atlantic
– The rhythm track seems kinda “nervous,” until they swing into the first chorus. Then the twitchiness turns into a hurricane wind. From that point on, this rocks solidly all the way to the finale.

REAGAN BOGGS/Empty Glasses
Writers: Reagan Boggs; Producer: Dave Coleman; Publisher: Reagan Boggs, BMI; Reckless Bess
– This loping, rolling tune is the title track of this singer-songwriter’s CD. Sung with admirable clarity and produced with plenty of open space for her to shine in. Promising.

VINCE GILL & LITTLE BIG TOWN/Take Me Down
Writers: Vince Gill/Richard Marx/Jillian Jacqueline; Producers: Vince Gill/Justin Niebank; Publishers: Vinny Mae/Songs of Kobalt/Richard Marx/Kobalt Songs/Downtown DLJ/Archer and Arrow, BMI/ASCAP; MCA Nashville
– Heart quickening. Vince begins singing over a steady, driving beat. Then on the chorus, the Little Big Town voices take it straight into vintage Fleetwood Mac territory. Then they oooh as Vince takes a stellar guitar solo. The voices return to swirl around each other like smoke rings into the dazzling fade.

ABBI WALKER/Too Good A Woman
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; AW
– I have liked this woman’s work in the past. But this ballad is too slow and draggy.

Tara Thompson

Tara Thompson

TARA THOMPSON/Someone To Take Your Place
Writers: Tara Thompson/Alex Kline/Leslie Satcher; Producer: Alex Kline; Publishers: Big Music Machine/Songs of Spoons Tunes/Songs of Starstruck/Vision Board/Airplanes for Stars/Sony-ATV Tree/Leslie Satcher, BMI/SESAC; Valory Music
– Fabulous lyrics. She’s on the prowl in her new Payless high heels, Chanel No. 5 perfume and hot make-up to get over their breakup. She purrs and spits delightfully and the track shudders and rawks. A blast.

SAM RIGGS/The Lucky Ones
Writers: Sam Riggs/Chad Camp; Producers: Erik Herbst/Sam Riggs; Publishers: none listed, BMI; Thirty Tigers/Deep Creek (track)
– Nicely done. It’s a nostalgic look back at his youth with chiming electric guitars all around him. Hang on for the finale, when the University of North Texas Drum Line comes stomping in.

8 BALL AITKEN/She’s Going To Mexico, I’m Going To Jail
Writers: 8 Ball Aitken; Producer: Michael Flanders; Publisher: none listed; Indie Extreme
– 8 Ball is a guitar slinger who lives in Austin, records in Nashville and is a native of Australia. This rollicking story song has already been a No. 1 country hit in Oz. Over
an outlaw beat, he bellows the yarn about a guy who gets roped by a redneck girlfriend into robbing a convenience store with a stolen car. She gets away and pins the evidence on him. Big party music.

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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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