Today’s listening session is the way things ought to be, split almost evenly between male and female voices.
A few of those females come to us courtesy of male collaborations. And two of those finished in a dead heat for the Disc of the Day award. They are Pink singing with Kenny Chesney and Rhiannon Giddens singing with Eric Church. If you have not heard “Setting the World on Fire” and “Kill a Word” yet, drop what you are doing and listen to them now.
The other essential listening (and viewing) experience this week is, of course, the CMA’s multi-artist extravaganza “Forever Country.” It is awesome.
There is no DisCovery Award winner this week.
ERIC CHURCH & RHIANNON GIDDENS/Kill a Word
Writers: Eric Church/Jeff Hyde/Luke Dick; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publisher: Sony/ATV Tree Publishing/Longer and Louder Music/Little Louder Songs/Mammaw’s Friend Okra Music/Emileon Songs (BMI); EMI
– “I’d turn lies and hate to love and truth/If I could only kill a word.” To the accompaniment of a steady, thumping beat, Church chants one of his coolest songs to date. While he tries to wish away human unhappiness, Giddens shadows him in harmony, then lets fly with some wafting wailing. Love, love, love this.
BLAKE SHELTON/A Guy With a Girl
Writers: Ashley Gorley/Brian Simpson; Producer: Scott Hendricks; Publishers: Combustion Engine/Sadie’s Favorite/WB/Writers of Sea Gayle/Spirit Catalog Holdings/Spirit of Nashville, ASCAP/BMI; Warner Bros
– When he’s out with his darlin,’ she’s so beautiful that he becomes invisible. The rolling tempo never lets up for a second, but big-voiced Blake rides atop it like a pro.
AUBRIE SELLERS/Sit Here and Cry
Writers: Aubrie Sellers/Adam Wright; Producer: Frank Liddell; Publisher: Tiltawhirl/Casa de Casa, BMI; Warner Bros
– The song is a solid slab of hillbilly heartache. The dirty-guitar arrangement is a snarling garage-rock outing. Quite a combination.
RONNIE DUNN (With KIX BROOKS)/Damn Drunk
Writers: Liz Hengber/Alex Kline/Ben Stannis; Producer: Jay DeMarcus; Publisher: Starstruck Writers Group / Giving Out Wings Music/Vision Board Songs / Airplanes for Stars Music/The Stennis Mightier Music / Dead Aim Music / Young Guns Publishing (ASCAP/BMI/SESAC); Nash Icon
– Spectacularly well-written. Ronnie, as usual, sings the fire out of it. The pulsing production goes from a whisper to a scream, which puts you right on the edge of your seat. This is one righteous record.
KIM McABEE & TY HERNDON/Looking Back to See
Writers: Jim Ed Brown/Maxine Brown; Producer: Ty Herndon; Publisher: None listed; Soigne
– I have always loved this Jim Ed & Maxine Brown 1954 golden oldie. But part of its charm is the fact that it is such a bouncy, rapid-fire ditty. Slowing it down like this ruins it for me. Kim McAbee, by the way, is the featured singer with The Buckaroos and has opened The Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame. The venue will host its first induction ceremony next month.
KENNY CHESNEY Feat. PINK/Setting the World on Fire
Writer: Ross Copperman/Matt Jenkins/Josh Osborne; Producer: Kenny Chesney/Buddy Cannon; Publisher: EMI Blackwood Music Inc./Atlas Music/WB Music Corp/Smackville Music (ASCAP/BMI); Blue Chair/Columbia
– Rousing and resonant. This has a big, soulful sound, and both of them are singing their faces off. Massive airplay, please.
DOLLY PARTON/Head Over High Heels
Writer: Dolly Parton; Producer: Dolly Parton; Publisher: Velvet Apple, BMI; Dolly Records/RCA Nashville
– Cute and coy, with a slightly funky backbeat. She’s headed for a hot date with her honey, tricked out in all her finery.
GEORGE STRAIT/Goin’ Goin’ Gone
Writers: Wyatt Earp/Keith Gattis; Producer: Chuck Ainlay & George Strait; Publishers: Western Legend/Warner-Tamerlane/Gattis/Atta Baby, BMI; MCA Nashville
– A working man’s Friday-night plight, set to a bopping rhythm and accompanied by stuttering steel, twanging guitar and some rambunctious party people. His long vocal drawls are exquisite.
KELSEA BALLERINI/Yeah Boy
Writers: Kelsea Ballerini/Forest Glen Whitehead/Kelsea Timmer; Producer: Forest Glen Whitehead & Jason Massey; Publishers: Songs of Black River/KNB/Songs of Blue Guitar, ASCAP/BMI; Black River
– This is a pert, attractive come-on to a cute guy that arrives with built-in smiles and winks. Jaunty and likable. Open that car door and let her in for a ride.
JAKE OWEN/If He Ain’t Gonna Love You
Writers: Luke Laird/Shane McAnally/Chris Stapleton; Producers: Shane McAnally, Luke Laird & Ross Copperman; Publishers: Songs of Universal/Creative Nation/Universal/Smack Ink/WB/House of Sea Gayle, BMI/ASCAP; RCA
– A slamming rhythm track, an echoey production, some quasi-rapping, ghost background vocals and a dense soundscape are among the ingredients here. It ain’t exactly something you can sing along with, and it’s certainly not very “country,” but it is absorbing listening.