DISClaimer: Diamonds In The Duos

Photo: Courtesy Morris Artist Management

Big & Rich

It’s the Day of the Duos.

The three best country singles this week all come from teams—Florida Georgia Line, Maddie & Tae and Big & Rich, the last with an assist from Tim McGraw.

I had a dickens of a time picking between them. Sound-wise, I tilt toward the Big & Rich collaboration. Song-wise, Maddie & Tae definitely have the edge. Call it a draw for the Disc of the Day honor.

There’s no uncertainty about our DisCovery Award winner. LANco earns that prize easily.

Writers: Big Kenny/John Rich/Tim McGraw; Producer: Big & Rich; Publishers: Big Love/Songs of Kobalt/J Money/Kobalt Songs/Stylesonic, BMI/ASCAP; B$R (track)
– Sensual and melodic, this sways in a gentle breeze of a production. The harmony vocals mirror one another beautifully. Superb in every way.

C.J. SOLAR/Hard One To Turn Down
Writers: none listed; Producers: Brent Anderson/C.J. Solar; Publisher: Sea Gayle; Sea Gayle (track)
– He’s a strong singer, with excellent country phrasing. The heartbreak song is solid, too, with a meaty, memorable chorus. Keep an eye on this guy.

Maddie & TaeMADDIE & TAE/Sierra
Writers: Maddie Marlow/Taylor Dye/Aaron Scherz; Producer: Dann Huff; Publishers: Super Big/Big Machine, ASCAP/BMI; Dot
– The fourth single from this team’s debut CD is its cleverest song yet. Maddie & Tae saucily call out a cold-hearted bitch named Sierra while a burbling, bopping track bounces behind them. Irresistible.

KENT ROSE/All That American Night
Writers: Kent Rose; Producer: Chris Casello; Publishers: Memory Train, BMI; Memory Train
– Chicagoan Kent calls himself, “The Voice That Remembers” to call attention to his throwback style. This peppy, catchy, tuneful track has a hint of rockabilly in its grooves, and there’s a touch of Roy Orbison and/or Buddy Holly in his throaty singing.

MIKE SMITH/Little Bit of Us
Writers: Mike Smith/Bobby Ross Avila/Issiah Avila/Frank David Stallworth; Producer: The Avila Brothers; Publishers: Smithouse/Defenders of Music/Universal/Sublime Basement Tunez/Franky Fade, ASCAP/BMI; 22
– Extremely pop, right down to the Doobie-esque guitar riffs. Pass.

Writers: busbee/Nate Cyphert/William Wiik Larsen; Producer: Joey Moi; Publishers: BMG Platinum/Pulse Ventures/BBRCOFFEE/IDAP/BMG Rights Management,BMI/ASCAP; Big Machine
– Well sung and nicely produced. The power ballad’s lyric stirs in religious words to illustrate how deeply in love he is.

MAIDEN DIXIE/The Whiskey’ll Miss Me
Writers: Channing Himes/Jonathan Krentz/Graham Becker; Producer: Makoa Johnson/Maiden Dixie; Publishers: none listed; Navigator (track)
– Whichever one of you is singing harmony, you’re off pitch. Also, the arrangement drags.

CRAIG MORGAN/I’ll Be Home Soon
Writers: Justin Ebach/Steven Dale Jones/John King; Producers: Craig Morgan/Byron Gallimore; Publishers: Wordspring Music/ Word Music/ Son Of Austin Songs/Songs of Black River/ Songs of Razor and Tie; ASCAP/SESAC; Black River (track)
– This is one of the finest male singers this format has. He soars magnificently in the chesty choruses of this mighty tune. The finale is thrillingly soulful.



LANco/Long Live Tonight
Writers: Brandon Lancaster/Jason Reeves; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publishers: Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp./Concession 114 Music/Neon Cross Music/WB Music Corp./Sonic Graffiti, BMI/ASCAP; Arista (track)
– LANco is a five-member ensemble that stages its debut single with a punchy backbeat and exciting harmony vocals. The tempo is pulse pounding and the lead singer has loads of heart. A winner.

Writers: Jaren Johnston/Neil Mason/Jesse Frasure; Producer: Dann Huff; Publishers: Sony-ATV/Texa Rae/Nettwerk One B/Revelry/Nevada House/Rio Bravo/Telemitry, ASCAP/BMI; Big Machine
– If her love gets him so high, how come this sounds like such a downer?


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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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