DISClaimer: Chuck Wicks, Jessie G, Tim Elliott, Southern Halo Take Indie Spotlight

Chuck Wicks

Chuck Wicks

It’s high time we did some tidying up around here.

Several of these indie acts have been in the to-be-listened-to pile of platters for weeks. They’re usually pushed aside by major-label artists, but today they’re in the spotlight.

The Disc of the Day belongs to Chuck Wicks.

But the real news du jour is in the DisCovery Award department. We have three winners — a female, a male and a group. The female DisCovery is power voiced Jessie G. Our male winner is jaunty Tim Elliott. The group DisCovery is the sister act Southern Halo. Congratulations, one and all.

Southern Halo

Southern Halo

DIANA UPTON HILL/Southern Gentlemen
Writers: Georgia Thomas Edgeworth/Robin Grant; Producer: Bryan White: Publishers: Moonlight Through the Pines/Saved By the Belle, ASCAP/BMI; Third Floor
– The drums are slamming in this rocked-out mix. Indeed, she’s almost drowned out by them. Her pert soprano checks off the states of Dixie in the choruses. Which is cute.

CHUCK WICKS/She’s Gone
Writers: Chuck Wicks/Brett Tyler/Jeffery East; Producers: Chuck Wicks/Andy Dodd; Publishers: none listed; Blaster (track)
– I like the open, quiet spaces in the production. They allow his voice to crack in all the right places and draw your attention to the spare, lonely lyric. The rising intensity in the sound is cool, too. Recommended.

WILL CARTER/I Don’t Know Why
Writers: Will Carter/Jude Dyllan; Producer: Jude Dyllan; Publishers: Will Carter/Jude Dyllan, BMI; WC
– He sings well. The song does nothing for me.

SMITH & WESLEY/Sweet Life
Writers: Scott Smith; Producer: Shane Hill; Publishers: Dream Walkin’, ASCAP; Garage Door
– Twin-guitar Southern rock with bro-country lyrics. It conspicuously lacks a melody.

Tim Elliott

Tim Elliott

CLARE DUNN/Tuxedo
Writers: Clare Dunn/Ben West/Brett James; Producers: Clare Dunn/Ben West; Publishers: BMG Gold/Leer Jet 87/BMG Platinum/For the Kids Platinum/Legitimate Effort/WB/Songs of Brett, BMI/ASCAP; MCA (CDX)
– Country quasi-rap in the verses. Big-voice choruses. The echo on her alto puts her right in your face. Inventive songwriting and innovative production touches.

TIM ELLIOTT/Boom
Writers: Tim Elliott/Bob Moffatt/Clint Moffatt/Chris Womack; Producer: Kent Wells; Publishers: Boggs River/Chase the Music/Reynsong, ASCAP/BMI; BRE (CDX)
– Very clever. He counts down the numbers until the lovin’ starts. The production burbles along at a percolating pace, and his voice has a youthful innocence. Endearing.

KELLEY SALLEE SNEAD/Always A Stranger
Writers: Snead/Frederick/Sallee Snead; Producers: Doak Snead/Tony Garber; Publisher: Doak Snead, BMI; KSS (track)
– Veteran songwriter Doak Snead’s wife has a form of Parkinson’s that has taken away her ability to sing. He and co-producer Tony Garber have compiled the best of her song demos, fully produced masters, work tapes and home recordings to make the album Roses & Tumbleweeds: A Retrospective. She is a fine vocalist, equally at home on ballads and uptempo fare. The CD is available on iTunes, CDBaby and Amazon.

SOUTHERN HALO/Little White Dress
Writers: Natalie Morris/Cat Gravitt/Gerald O’Brien; Producers: Cat Cravitt/Gerald O’Brien; Publishers: Southern Halo/Razor and Tie/Ink Pen Mama, BMI/SESAC; Southern Halo
– This is a trio of singing sisters who harmonize like angels. The song is as catchy as all get out, with a solid backbeat, cool guitars and a wedding-day chorus to die for. Super listening.

Jessie G

Jessie G

JESSIE G/Drop A Line
Writers: Jessie Goergen/Joshua Withenshaw/Davis Branch; Producers: Gretchen Wilson/Jessie G; Publishers: Straight Off the Boat/Home Is a Time Not a Place, ASCAP/BMI; JG (track)
– Gretchen Wilson is behind the board for this minor-key, bluesy stomper. The singer has firepower to spare. A left-field winner.

RODEO GYPSY/Southern Proof
Writers: Bridgette Powell/Dustin Sciaraffo/Jonathan Robinson; Producer: Sam Tate; Publishers: Tuf Monkey, BMI/ASCAP; BAM (track)
– Rodeo Gypsy is a trio comprised of Bridgette Powell, Dustin Sciaraffo and Becca Cummins. Their debut outing is an acoustic ditty with stark bongo-dobro-guitar-bass accompaniment. The harmonies are dandy. The lyric is of the Dixie-proud variety. It might not be the most commercial thing I’ve ever heard, but it certainly is pleasant listening.

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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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