The news in country-music land is not so good this week.
At least half of the discs in this week’s column are forgettable. Plus, we have no outstanding newcomer to claim a DisCovery Award.
So here are the bright spots. The always flawless Alison Krauss wins the Disc of the Day prize. Also deserving your attention are the new tunes from LANco and Little Big Town.
COFFEY ANDERSON/Bud Light Blue
Writers: Jeffrey Jay/Muarizio Lobina/Massimo Gabutti/Coffey Anderson; Producers: Ilya Toshinsky & Coffey Anderson; Publishers: none listed, ASCAP; Patriot Road (CDX)
– “Her eyes are Bud-Light blue?” Give me a break.
JACOB DAVIS/What I Wanna Be
Writers: Jacob Davis/Forest Glen Whitehead/Adam Hambrick; Producer: Forest Glen Whitehead; Publishers: Songs of Black River/Bent Prop/Write Me Like You Mean It/Ole Red Cape/Red Like the Sunset/Ole, ASCAP; Black River
– It lacks a melody. The production is bland. It ain’t very country.
LITTLE BIG TOWN/Happy People
Writers: Lori McKenna/Hailey Whitters; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publisher: none listed; Capitol Nashville
– Merrily bopping, with a burbling rhythm track and sunshine-y vocals. Let’s face it: These folks just don’t know how to make a bad record.
ROBBIE ROBINSON/This Is The Life
Writers: Robbie Robinson; Producers: Robbie Robinson, Mark Prentice & Doug Wayne Holmquist; Publishers: none listed; BMI; GIM (CDX)
– You can produce. You can write. You cannot sing.
SMITH & WESLEY/The Little Things
Writers: Scott Smith/Todd Smith/Evan Kennedy; Producer: Shayne Hill; Publisher: none listed, ASCAP; Dreamwalkin’ (CDX)
– Thuddingly dull and ordinary.
LANco/Greatest Love Story
Writers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Arista (ERG)
– Nicely done. She leaves him behind for college and higher aspirations. But true love eventually triumphs. I love the story. The performance is packed with sincerity. The tune is catchy. The whole thing sounds like a big ol’ hit.
ALISON KRAUSS/Losing You
Writers: P. Havet/J. Renard/C. Sigman; Producer: Buddy Cannon; Publishers: Romantic/Tropicales/Universal/Music Sales Corp., ASCAP; Capitol (track)
– I have always thought that this is one of the most beautiful songs ever written. The exquisitely crafted, minor-key bridge, alone, is worth the price of admission. Brenda Lee’s torchy pop 1963 original was a cry of anguish. Alison’s revival slows the song to a sad sigh of resignation. In place of the sunburst trumpet obligato in the pop version is a poetic steel passage by Mike Johnson. Heavenly listening. Also on Alison’s new Windy City LP are treatments of Brenda’s 1962 hit “All Alone Am I,” plus Willie Nelson’s “I Never Cared for You,” Roger Miller’s “River in the Rain,” Johnny & Jack’s “Poison Love,” Vern Gosdin’s “Dream of Me,” Glen Campbell’s “Gentle On My Mind” and more shining gems.
KENNY DAVIN FINE & THE TENNESSEE TEXANS/Gotta Be Good
Writers: Kenny Davin Fine; Producer: Michael Lloyd; Publisher: none listed, BMI; Higher Ground (CDX)
– Old-time rock ‘n’ roll, accented with a steel guitar and a wailing female guest vocalist. Worth a listen. Once.
SARAH DARLING/Where Cowboys Ride
Writers: Sarah Ann Darling/Zach Runquist; Producer: Larissa Maestro; Publisher: Be Darling/Runquist, BMI; Be Darling (track)
– The male harmony singer nicely balances her lilting, wafting soprano tone. The delicate, acoustic-based arrangement and production are lovely. She has always made winning records. Give this gal the airplay shot she deserves.
DAN+SHAY/ When I Pray For You
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Southern Ground/Warner (ERG)
– The song is solid, and the vocal performance is on the money. The production seems needlessly layered and fussy. They have done better, but this will do for now.
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