Here we are in the blazing heat of a Southern summer, but the sounds from the country world aren’t nearly as hot.
The new single by Reckless Kelly is a dandy, and the latest from Lucas Hoge is well worth some spins, too. But most of the rest of what is in today’s column is not really essential listening.
One exception is the Disc of the Day winner, “Wildflowers” by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris, our eternally excellent Trio.
I also liked newcomer Shawn Byrne. He’s a singer-songwriter who has everything it takes to succeed. Give him a DisCovery Award.
FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE & TIM McGRAW/May We All
Writers: Rodney Clawson/Jamie Moore; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; BMLG Records
– Yearning and nostalgic, yet still very breezy and romantic. The vocals and production are very “processed” sounding, but there is “heart” here as well. Nicely done.
AMERICAN YOUNG/God Sends a Train
Writers: Kristy Osmunson/Bob Regan; Writers: Jon Stone, Justin Niebank & Lee Brice; Publishers: Getting Grown/Osmunson/Dixie Stars/Tahoe Kid/HoriPro, BMI/ASCAP; Curb
– It’s an atmospheric story song about a woman who is delivered from an abusive relationship by a railroad tragedy. Spooky and cool.
LUCAS HOGE/Boom Boom
Writers: Philip LaRue/Ben Glover; Producer: Matt McClure; Publishers: Razor & Tie/Aroise/9t One Songs, BMI/ASCAP; Rebel Engine
– Jaunty and romantic, with a nifty, bubbling, burbling percussion track. Easily his most commercial outing yet. Infinitely programmable.
KELSEY WALDON/All By Myself
Writer: Kelsey Waldon; Producer: Michael Rinne; Publisher: none listed; Monkey’s Eyebrow
– This moody, downbeat ballad has a hypnotic appeal with its ghostly echo-chamber guitar and her hushed, haunted vocal delivery. Intriguing, despite some problems with the band keeping tempo. This gal has real promise.
SHAWN BYRNE/Lonesome Ol’ Guitar
Writers: Shawn Byrne/Chuck McCarthy/Todd Elgin; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; SB (track)
– I like this guy. His baritone voice has a warm resonance. The production is admirably spare. And there’s something about this lonely-troubadour performance that keeps you hanging on every line.
EMMYLOU HARRIS, DOLLY PARTON, LINDA RONSTADT/Wildflowers (alternate version)
Writer: Dolly Parton; Producer: George Massenburg; Publisher: Velvet Apple; Rhino
– The 1988 and 1999 Trio masterpieces by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris will be the basis of a triple-CD reissue by Rhino next month. One disc will have the original album. The second will contain the tracks from its follow-up. A third disc will contain 12 previously unheard tunes and 8 alternate takes, plus “Even Cowgirls Get the Blues” and “Mr. Sandman” (Trio performances which appeared on Harris LPs). This previously-unheard alternate take of Dolly’s poetic song, available as a lyric-video download, has each woman singing a verse, full-throated trio harmonies and a bouncier, more twangy arrangement than the original. On the hit version, 28 years ago, Dolly sang lead throughout, the arrangement was more Appalachian/acoustic and she and Linda sometimes did duo harmonies. At any rate, I still tingle all over whenever I hear these three sing together, and the song is enduringly wonderful. I cannot WAIT to hear the rest of what is coming out of the vaults.
JEREMY & THE HARLEQUINS/Into the Night
Writers: Jeremy Fury; Producer: Jeremy & The Harlequins; Publisher: none listed; Yep Roc
– Galloping and pop-ish, with plenty of oomph and echo. The relentless tempo is very exciting, and the lead vocalist isn’t afraid to let the fur fly.
KENNY DAVIN FINE & THE TENNESSEE TEXANS/Ballad of the Tennessee Texans
Writer: Kenny Davin Fine; Producer: Michael Lloyd: Publisher: FinerMusic, BMI; Higher Ground
– A cheesy attempt at a retro sound that falls flat, largely because the song is as dull as mud. Also, the band’s playing is sloppy.
SMITH & WESLEY/You’re the One
Writer: Scott Smith; Producer: Shane Hill; Publisher: Dream Walkin,’ ASCAP; Garage Door (CDX)
– This is a change-of-pace love ballad for these Southern rockers.
RECKLESS KELLY/How Can You Love Him (You Don’t Even Like Him)
Writers: Willy Braun; Producer:Willy Braun, Cody Braun & David Abeyta; Publishers: Fah-Q Music; No Big Deal
– The band bashes and blazes in a tight, jangle-filled arrangement highlighting harmonica, organ, throbbing bass, cascading piano notes and shuddering guitars. The drawling, conversational vocal is just right. This would sound absolutely great on country radio. So nice I played it twice.