DISClaimer: Brad Paisley’s Heart-Tugging “Today” Rises Above


Considering how good last week’s award show was, I was hoping the country genre would stage a stronger artistic showing this week.

Instead, there is quite a bit of well-polished mediocrity on tap. About half of these singles are routine and/or ordinary.

There are some bright spots, however. Our Disc of the Day belongs to the always reliable Brad Paisley, who is heart-tugging and thoughtful this time around with “Today.” He premiered it on the telecast, and it still sounds good to me.

It’s always a good thing when there are lots of newcomers around. So many, in fact, that I am dividing the DisCovery Award into thirds. The female winner is Kris Bradley. The male prize goes to Brian Milson. And today’s finest newcomer group is the daughter-mother duo I Am.

DONOVAN WOODS/They Don’t Make Anything In That Town
Writers: Donovan Woods; Producer: James Buntin; Publisher: none listed, SOCAN; Meant Well (track)
– This downbeat, piano-and-strings ballad echoes rural desolation and hopelessness. Very, very slow and very, very sad.

THOMAS RHETT/Star of the Show
Writers: Thomas Rhett/Rhett Akins/Ben Hayslip; Producers; Joe London, Julian Bunetta, Thomas Rhett; Publishers: EMI Blackwood/Cricket on the Line/Brooks County Boy/Sony=ATV/Thankful For This/WB, ASCAP; Valory Music
– Rolling and relaxing. She’s a babe, but doesn’t know it. Fortunately, he’s completely smitten and is all too aware. It’s not exactly what you’d call unforgettable, but it goes down smoothly.

Writers: Bo Chandler Steele/Benjamin Burton Rubino; Producer: Bob Burrell/Stacy Stavola; Publishers: FMRG/Kadence Faith/B Rubino, BMI; Fire River (CDX)
– Summer love, bro-country style.

CAM/Half Broke Heart
Writers: Cameron Oches/Luke Laird/Tyler Johnson; Producers: Jeff Bhasker, Luke Laird, Tyler Johnson; Publishers: Marvelous Oak/Songs of Universal/Creative Nation/One Year Yesterday/Creative Pulse/These Are Pulse, BMI; Arista/RCA (track)
– She remains a immense vocal charmer. The crunchy track, stacked harmonies and catchy tune are all just right. Plus, the lyric is a clever as all get out. Bop along, with a wink and a smile.


Writers: Tanya Hancheroff/Catt Gravitt/Jerold O’Brian; Producer: Biff Watson; Publishers: none listed; CD
-She sings well, and the production supports her at every turn. The song seems wordy to me.

HUNTER HAYES/Yesterday’s Song
Writers: Hunter Hayes, Barry Dean, Martin Johnson; Producers: Dann Huff, Hunter Hayes; Publishers: Songs of Universal, Ogden Avenue Publishing, Creative Pulse Muisc, Pulse Nation, Be Barry Quiet; ASCAP/BMI; Warner Music Nashville (ERG)

– Rocking away a broken romance. He spits her out like a sour grape. The chorus voices shout along with, “OOoos and Wooooos and Nah-nah-nahs.”

KRIS BRADLEY/We Don’t Paint The Town
Writers: Kris Bradley/Daniel Schwarz; Producers: Daniel Schwarz, Kris Bradley & Jeff Zacharski; Publishers: none listed; KB (track)
– She has a juicy, pert delivery with a spicy attitude. Waking up the next morning remembering only that she had a heck of a time. The twangy, punchy track matches her saucy vocal. A winner.

Writers: Brad Paisley, Ashley Gorley and Chris DuBois; Producers: Brad Paisley, Luke Wooten; Publisher: New Sea Gayle Music/S.A.R.L./Songs of Southside Independent Music Publishing/Music of Windswept; ASCAP; Arista (ERG)
– Lost in love, reflective, poetic and pensive. Living in a moment of perfection. You’ll want to hold onto this feeling.


I AM/Strings
Writers: Anna Pearson; Producer: none listed; Publisher: NayeBird, BMI; IAM (track)
– Anna Pearson is a 16-year-old Nashville singer-songwriter who performs around town with her mom, LeNaye Pearson. Their CD features this solo performance about a street performer who makes it big. It is quite well written. I’d keep an eye (and an ear) on this extremely promising kid.

BRIAN MILSON/Gonna Be A Song Someday
Writers: John Ozier/Josh Dorr/Phil O’Donnell/Wade Kirby; Producer: Anthony Smith; Publisher: Ole Purple Cape/Horipro/Round Hill/Ole Red Cape, BMI/ASCAP; First Short Road
– His baritone is warm, robust and super confident. This is a strong, strong entry with a hooky chorus, a pumping production and an undeniable power. Well worth your spins.


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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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