DISClaimer: Alan Jackson’s Ballad, Carrie Underwood’s Anthem, Restless Heart’s Homage

Alan Jackson

Alan Jackson

Let’s be like an awards show today and give out accolades in multiple categories. In a challenging field that includes such stars as Luke Bryan, Randy Houser, Blake Shelton, Jake Owen and Charles Kelley, veteran Alan Jackson wins the Male Vocalist Disc of the Day honor.

With no competition at all, Carrie Underwood easily takes home the Female Vocalist Disc of the Day. Also with no competition in sight, Restless Heart wins the Group Disc of the Day prize.

The DisCovery Award goes to the lone newcomer in today’s stack of platters, Travis Rice.

ALAN JACKSON/The One You’re Waiting On
Writers: Adam Wright/Shannon Wright; Producer: Keith Stegall; Publishers: Tiltawhirl/Casa de Casa/Razor and Tie, BMI; ACR/EMI
-It’s a quiet country ballad about a gal waiting all night for her fellow to show up. Alan’s vocal is a burning ember of want and need. The steel guitar and mandolin passages are breathtaking. In a word, gorgeous.

CHARLES KELLEY/Lonely Girl
Writers: Chris Stapleton/Jesse Frasure; Producer: Paul Worley; Publishers: WB/House of Sea Gayle/ClearBox Rights/Rio Bravo, ASCAP/BMI; Capitol (track)
– The deep-thump in the percussion, the riffing guitar and piano passages and Kelley’s high-tenor vocal performance send this into the sonic stratosphere. Sizzling romance in every note.

RANDY HOUSER/Song Number 7
Writers: Austin Wilson/Ben Hayslip/Chris Janson; Producer: Derek George; Publishers: Legends of Magic Mustang/W.B.M./WB/Thankful For This/Red Vinyl/Words and Music, SESAC/ASCAP; Stoney Creek
– As the songs flow through the speakers during an evening, love burns brighter and brighter. Song number seven takes him all the way to heaven. As always, Randy roars as a vocalist. He’s a mighty man.

Carrie_Underwood_Church_Bells_2016

CARRIE UNDERWOOD/Church Bells
Writers: Zach Crowell/Brett James/Hillary Lindsey; Producer: Mark Bright; Publishers: External Combustion/Songs of Southside Independent/Who Wants to Buy My Publishing/Atlas/WB/Songs of Brett/Hillarody Rathbone/BMG Rights, ASCAP; Arista/19 (track)
– The album is called Storyteller, and this track has a heck of a plot. The beautiful, wild-child, poor gal snags a rich man. But he turns out to be a drunk wife beater. Until she poisons him to death. All of this is set to a stomping rhythm track and a soaring, hooky melody. A smash.

MICHAEL RAY/Think A Little Less
Writers: Jon Nite/Thomas Rhett/Barry Dean/Jimmy Robbins; Producer: Scott Hendricks; Publishers: EMI April/Jon Mark Nite/EMI Blackwood/Cricket on the Line/Songs of Universal/Creative Nation/Country Paper/Pulse Nation/Extraordinary Alien, ASCAP/BMI; Atlantic
-He implores her to kiss more and think less, so he can get her out of the bar and out of her clothes. Well-written, produced with clarity and sung with finesse.

JAKE OWEN/American Country Love Song
Writers: Ross Copperman/Ashley Gorley/Jaren Johnston; Producers: Shane McAnally/Ross Copperman; Publishers: none listed, BMI/ASCAP; RCA (CDX)
-The quasi-spoken verses open up into rapidly sung choruses. The track has an echoey resonance that suits the upbeat lyric nicely. Still, there was something “in one ear and out the other” about the whole thing.

Travis Rice

Travis Rice

TRAVIS RICE/Women, Water & Beer
Writer: Travis Rice; Producer: Noah Henderson; Publishers: none listed; TR
-This rural Tennessee country performer is an industrial-strength hunk. As a vocalist, he is a fairly generic honky-tonk baritone. As a songwriter, he shows promise.

BLAKE SHELTON/Came Here To Forget
Writers: Craig Wiseman/Deric Ruttan; Producer: Scott Hendricks; Publishers: Round Hill/Big Loud Proud/Red Toe Rocker/WB/Doc and Maggie/Thankful For This, ASCAP; Warner Bros.
– It is a measure of how big a star Blake has become that this practically tuneless song is the fastest-rising single on country radio.

LUKE BRYAN/Huntin’, Fishin’, And Lovin’ Every Day
Writers: Luke Bryan/Dallas Davidson/Rhett Akins/Ben Hayslip; Producers: Jeff Stevens/Jody Stevens; Publishers: Sony-ATV/Peanut Mill/EMI Blackwood/Two Chord Georgia/Brooks County Boy/WB/Tar Cam Knox/Thankful For This, BMI/ASCAP; Capitol (CDX)
– They say, “Write what you know.” These outdoorsy guys certainly do that here. And it is impossible not to feel the simple joy that Luke brings to his performance. Cheerful, smiley and catchy as all get out.

Restless Heart

Restless Heart

RESTLESS HEART/Wichita Lineman
Writers: Jimmy Webb; Producers: Dave Innis/Harry Smith; Publishers: none listed; Breezewood (MP3)
– Beautifully done. This homage to Glen Campbell is pristinely produced and arranged, with the orchestrations retaining all the warmth and heart-tugging yearning of the original, yet polishing the song with a new, burnished glow. Vocally, the boys get it totally right. It’s tough to measure up to a masterpiece, and they do. Awesome job.

 

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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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