There are lots of stars in the mix today, but they’re not always the artists who shine brightest.
Josh Turner, Alabama, the red-hot Cole Swindell and Lady Antebellum’s Hillary Scott are all here with new discs. But the sound that stopped me in my tracks was by a newcomer. Louisiana-bred James Dupré submitted a minor masterpiece titled “Stoned to Death” and completely captivated me. Give that man an easily won DisCovery Award.
There’s one other red-hot star with a new offering today. That would be the mighty Chris Stapleton who far surpasses his peers and wins a Disc of the Day prize for “Parachute.”
COLE SWINDELL/Middle Of A Memory
Writers: Cole Swindell/Ashley Gorley/Zach Crowell; Producer: Michael Carter; Publishers: Sonuy-ATV Tree/Colden Rainey/Combustion Engine/Sadie’s Favorite/WB/External Combustion/Atlas/Songs of Southside Independent/Who Wants to Buy My Publishing, BMI/ASCAP; Warner Bros.
– His raspy delivery works well on this saga of a frustrated, foiled budding relationship. Michael Carter’s echoey electronic production touches are also pluses.
JAMES DUPRÉ/Stoned To Death
Writers: Jessi Alexander/Jeff Hyde/Clint Daniels; Producer: Jordan Lehning; Publishers: none listed; Purfectt Pitch
– The title tune of Dupré’s upcoming album can be previewed on his website. And I urge you to do so. This is a singer who exudes charisma with every note. The song is stupendously well-written, boasting both perfectly executed turns of phrases and a beautifully swelling melody. Lehning’s slowly building production bonfire is magnificent. Sign me up for the fan club. Now.
Writers: Chris Stapleton/Jim Beavers; Producers: Dave Cobb/Chris Stapleton; Publishers: none listed; Mercury (track)
– The heartbeat rhythm grabs you by the chest and doesn’t let go. Stapleton’s shouted, soulful delivery blazes like a fire iron. This is torrid, torrid stuff. Let it burn, baby, burn.
ALABAMA/Come Find Me
Writers: Tony Lane/David Lee; Producers: Jeff Cook, Teddy Gentry & Randy Owen; Publishers: BMG Gold/We Jam Writers Group/Mood Merchant/4 Cow Ranch/Banz, BMI; BMG (CDX)
– It’s a quiet ballad about a road-weary musician. Randy Owen delivers it in an understated hush. It’s quite emotionally affecting.
JOSH TURNER/Hometown Girl
Writers: Marc Beeson/Daniel Tashian; Producer: Kenny Greenberg; Publishers: Downtown DLJ/Son of a Ron/Diver Dann/International Dog, ASCAP/BMI; MCA Nashville
– This sweet, airy rural portrait fits Turner like a glove. Not surprisingly, guitarist Greenberg produces it with plenty of electric-guitar flourishes.
GLENNA BELL/Tonight’s The Night
Writer: Glenna Bell; Producer: Mark Abernathy; Publisher: Glenna Bell, ASCAP; GB (track)
– Texas favorite Bell has a throaty, distinctive vocal style. Her records always perk up my ears. This outing is about young lovers graduating from high school. She recalls their courtship and vows to go all the way on their big night. I hung on every word. Her new collection is aptly titled Lone Star Songs and Stories Straight From the Heart of Texas.
HILLARY SCOTT & THE SCOTT FAMILY/Thy Will
Writers: Hillary Scott/Emily Weisband/Bernie Herms; Producers: Bernie Herms/Ricky Skaggs; Publishers: W.B.M./EKT/WB/Thankful For This/Songs of Universal/G650, SESAC/ASCAP/BMI; EMI (CDX)
– It’s very pretty. But is a hymn-like ballad swimming in strings going to fit summer playlists?
AMY BLACK/You Gotta Move
Writer: traditional; Producer: Lex Price; Publishers: public domain; RR (track)
– Massachusetts native Black might seem an odd fit for a themed collection called The Muscle Shoals Sessions. She tackles songs by Sam Cooke, Arthur Alexander, Don Covay, Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, as well as some originals. This traditional spiritual puts the spotlight on her confident alto singing. Guess what? She pulls it off.
Writers: Brian Pharaoh/Bill DiLuigi; Producer: Kent Wells: Publishers: none listed; Spunkem
– Words were spoken. She left. But he’s not sorry, because he’s a redneck babe magnet. If you say so.
SHANE OWENS/Country Never Goes Out Of Style
Writers: Galen Griffin/Jason Patrick Matthews/Kerry Kurt Phillips; Producer: James Stroud: Publishers: Galen Griffin/EMI April/Songfighter/Dixie Stars, BMI/ASCAP; AmeriMonte (CDX)
– Shane strikes again with his uber cool, note-bending vocals. The gently swaying tune is like a hammock in a spring breeze. And you can bet this pluperfect country stylist means every word of the lyric.
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