DisClaimer: Blake Shelton, Lari White Offer Top New Tracks

The guys and gals competed head to head this week.

The ladies were paced by the superbly diverse new collection by Lari White. And two of them tied for the DisCovery Award. That would be Arista Manning and Kristi Warner.

As for the fellows, they fielded quite a team to compete against Lari for Disc of the Day. Her challengers included Marty Stuart, Travis Rice, Kane Brown, Randy Thompson and our winner, Blake Shelton.

SOUTHERN HALO/Living Like That
Writers: Nathan Dale Stoops/Paul Taylor/Benjamin Francis Harris/Aubrey Felice Collins; Publishers: Tunes of RPM/Paul Taylor/Music of RPM, SESAC/BMI/ASCAP; Producers: Cat Gravitt & Gerald O’Brien; Southern Halo (track)
-This female trio rocks out on a rapid-tempo ode to living life in the fast lane. Feisty and fun.

 
KEITH URBAN & CARRIE UNDERWOOD/Fighter
Writer: Keith Urban/busbee; Publisher: Songs of Universal/Mary Rose/7189 Music/BMG Rights, BMI; Producer: busbee & Keith Urban; Capitol Nashville
-This pop-music duet features electronic beats and processed vocals. It is nicely composed, with her asking questions about their love and him responding with assurances of strength, fidelity and endurance.

 
RANDY THOMPSON/Midnight Blue
Writers: Randy Thompson; Publisher: none listed; Producer: Sean Russell; RTB (track)
-Ringing guitars, an echoey atmosphere, a super melody and a solid, manly vocal are the calling cards here. This guy has the goods.

KANE BROWN & LAUREN ALAINA/What Ifs
Writers: Kane Brown/Matthew McGinn/Jordan Schmidt; Publishers: none listed, BMI/ASCAP; Producer: Dann Huff; RCA Nashville (track)
– Nicely done. The craftsmanship in the songwriting is top notch, and his baritone vocal is packed with personality. The swirling melody and the dense production are the icing on this tasty cake. The female accompanying voice belongs to Lauren Alaina.

 
KRISTI WARNER/Gravity
Writers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Fred Vail; KW (track)
– The title tune of this gal’s CD is a driving, forceful, uptempo tune that she delivers like a pro. I like the little falsetto soprano embellishments in her phrasing on the choruses as well as her straightforward drawl in the verses. Promising.

 
LARI WHITE/Moonshine
Writers: Tom Bukovac/Lari White; Publishers: SWG, BMI; Producer: Lari White; Skinny WhiteGirl Music (track)
– Lari’s first new collection in 13 years is a double CD titled Old Friends / New Loves. One disc contains imaginative reinterpretations of her 1990s hits (”Now I Know,” “That’s My Baby,” “Lead Me Not,” “That’s How You Know,” etc.). The New Loves disc showcases her new songwriting accomplishments, including this moody, multi-tracked, swampy delight. Haunting, compelling and completely captivating. The album drops tomorrow. Get it.

 
TRAVIS RICE/Don’t Waste The Rain
Writers: Travis Rice; Publishers: none listed, ASCAP; Producer: Noah Henson; TR
– This former DisCovery Award winner is back, this time with a sexy, romantic ballad. It’s raining. He’s horny. And he’s calling her at work with a come-on to come home. A steamy video accompanying this can be seen on his website.

 
BLAKE SHELTON/Every Time I Hear That Song
Writers: Aimee Mayo/Chris Lindsey/Brad Warren/Brett Warren; Publisher: Warner Tamerlane/The Queen of Dot Dot Dot/Universal/Chris Lindsey’s Songs/EMI Blackwood/Sagequinnjude/Famlove, BMI/ASCAP; Producer: Scott Hendricks; Warner Bros. (track)
– The romance may be over, but a song can bring back its memory in an instant. Blake sings with heartfelt intensity and the song’s solid structure gives Scott’s production enough space to move around in. Listenable in the extreme.

 
ARISTA MANNING/Ride This Night
Writer: Phillip James Roselle/Andrew Rollins/Nicole Scott; Publisher: none listed; Producer: Steve Pope; AM (track)
– The title tune of her debut EP is a rushing wind of energy with some very clever audio gimmicks in the production. Her soaring delivery is a burst of brightly smiling sunshine. I just have one question: Did her parents name her after a record company?

MARTY STUART/Whole Lotta Highway
Writer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Producer: Mike Campbell; Superlatone (track)
– The advance single from Marty’s forthcoming Way Out West collection (due March 10) is a rolling, wide-open-road song that sports silvery steel work, a splendidly thumping country-rock rhythm track and smooth-groove harmony vocals by his Fabulous Superlatives. I remain an enormous fan.

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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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