Some of country’s top stars are closing out the year in style.
Kenny Chesney, Little Big Town and Brothers Osborne are offering choice new singles to see us into 2017. Our endearing new choice as CMA Duo of the Year leads the way. Give a Disc of the Day honor to Brothers Osborne. But don’t overlook LBT and its Taylor Swift-penned song jewel.
Call it a tie for the DisCovery Award between a gal and a guy, namely Tenille Arts and AJ Hobbs.
THOMAS MICHAEL RILEY/Between The Tick n’ the Tock
Writer: Thomas Michael Riley; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; TMR
– The melody is pretty basic, with a ding-dong, nursery-rhyme quality. The production is fairly minimal, and his voice is just average. But there’s a certain sincerity here that I found appealing.
BROTHERS OSBORNE/It Ain’t My Fault
Writers: John Osborne/TJ Osborne/Lee Thomas Miller; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publishers: WB/Trampy McCauley/All the Kings Pens/Songstein/Warner-Tamerlane/The Country and Western Music, ASCAP/BMI; EMI (track)
– This righteous stomper features snarling electric guitar and a striking “outlaw” vocal on a very cool, torrent-of-words lyric. The stark, “ah” interjections are as ear catching as the chanted background singing. Play this all the dang time.
Writers: Brent Anderson/Sam Brooker; Producers: Jamie Tate; Publishers: Sea Gayle/Artist Revolution, no performance rights listed; SB
– Softly plaintive and aching. His soft tenor swims in a pool of chiming guitars, gentle percussion, hushed harmonies and ringing sonic touches. Enchanting. We first encountered Sam several years ago in the pop duo Sam & Ruby. Since then, he has tasted success as the publisher of “Cruise” and other top tunes. As this illustrates, his skills as a writer-artist remain potent.
SHANE OWENS/All The Beer In Alabama
Writers: Shane Owens/Dan Murph/Phillip Douglas; Producer: James Stroud; Publishers: Oxi Rock/231 South/Sixteen Stars/Curb, SESAC/BMI/ASCAP; AmeriMontie (track)
-This guy continues to impress. This honky-tonk ballad gives him plenty of room to showcase his bent-note phrasing and expressive lyric skills. This is real country music, the way it’s meant to be sung.
AJ HOBBS/Too Much Is Never Enough
Writer: AJ Hobbs; Producers: Ted Russell Kamp/AJ Hobbs; Publishers: Tee Hobbs, ASCAP; Booker (track)
– The title tune of this fellow’s CD is a rockabilly rave-up that puts pedal to the metal and never lets up for one second. Need tempo on your playlist? Look no further than this barrelhouse romp.
KENNY CHESNEY/Bar at the End of the World
Writers: J.T. Harding/Aimee Mayo/David Lee Murphy; Producers: Buddy Cannon/Kenny Chesney; Publishers: Songs Music/Mighty Seven/Heavy Metal Disco/Songs of SMP/Warner-Tamerlane/The Queen of Dot Dot Dot/Old Desperados/N2D/Carol Vincent, ASCAP/BMI; Columbia/Blue
– Kenny’s inviting you to take a toe-tapping tropical journey. I’d go if I were you.
MIGHTY ORQ/The Possum Song
Writer: J. Davidson; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed, BMI; ORQ
– It turns out that it really is about a nocturnal marsupial. With a bluesy backing track, no less.
LITTLE BIG TOWN/Better Man
Writers: Taylor Swift; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publishers: none listed; Capitol (CDX)
– I am a hopeless fan of this foursome. Karen’s lead vocal on this dreamy track is extraordinarily intimate. When the other three join her on the choruses, it’s audio heaven. Close your eyes and let this fabulous production wash over you.
TENILLE ARTS/Wildfire and Whiskey
Writers: Tenille Arts/Jason Massey; Producers: Matt Rovey/Adam Wheeler; Publishers: Oven/Ole Red Cape/Apartment Studio, BMI/ASCAP; 19th & Grand
– She is a Canadian writer-artist with a winsome, piercing delivery. The song is a lightly rocking, ridiculously catchy, brightly shining gem about falling head over heels. Promising in the extreme.
REX ALLEN JR.
Writer: Greenback Dollar; Producer: Rex Allen Jr.; Publishers: none listed; BPR (track)
-Rex is usually a cowboy singer, but Garage Songs: The Folk Years salutes his background as a ‘60s folkie. His warm baritone takes on “Tom Dooley,” “Blowin’ in the Wind,” “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” “Don’t Think Twice” and other fare such as that. The collection leads with a steady, solid rendition of this rounder’s anthem.