DISClaimer: Gary Allan, Maggie Rose Outshine Star-Packed Competition

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• June 8, 2017

Gary Allan

Looks like it’s all-hands-on-deck for the CMA Fest edition of DisClaimer.

The most star-packed review column of the year to date includes such red-hot names as Thomas Rhett and Jason Aldean, plus plenty more. Because of all the big-time attractions, there was no room for newcomers today. Hence, no DisCovery Award.

The male contenders for Disc of the Day looked, on paper, to be a duel between our resident bruiser vocalists Luke Combs and Chris Stapleton. But both were bested by a come-from-behind dark horse, Gary Allan. It has been way too long since we have had new music from this talented fellow.

The female division appeared to be a contest between our happening ingenues, Lauren Alaina and Kelsea Ballerini. But here again, the front runners were beaten by a lesser known star, Maggie Rose. To retread a cliche, you go, girl.

MAGGIE ROSE/Body On Fire
Writers: Maggie Rose/Chad Carolson; Producers: Jimmy Robbins/Maggie Rose/Chad Carolson; Publishers: none listed; MR (track)
– A home run. Steamy, sensuous, slow-burning and sensational. Her voice explodes into little firecrackers and ignites sparklers throughout. The production is a beautifully textured tapestry of electronic wonder. Why is this gifted woman not on a major label?

 

LUKE COMBS/When It Rains It Pours
Writers: Luke Combs/Ray Fulcher/JOrdan Walker; Producer: Scott Moffatt; Publishers: Big Music Machine/50 Egg/Straight Dimes/Works of RHA/Atlas/Extremely Comustible/On Cor/PAJ, BMI; Columbia/River House
– A drawling good ole boy’s lament of love gone wrong becomes a toe-tapping celebration of freedom and good fortune. This guy sounds exactly like somebody you want to have a beer with.

CHRIS STAPLETON/Either Way
Writers: Chris Stapleton/Tim James/Kendall Marvell; Producers: Dave Cobb/Chris Stapleton; Publishers: none listed; Mercury (track)
– It’s just that magnificent voice and an acoustic guitar delivering a heartbreak ballad. And, boy, do they pack a wallop. Riveting and gripping and righteous and real.

KELSEA BALLERINI/Legends
Writers: Ballerini/Forest Glen Whitehead/Hillary Lindsey; Producer: none listed; Publishers: Forest Glen Whitehead/Jason Massey; Black River
– Echoey, atmospheric and utterly lovely. It’s about finding perfect love and soaring with the feeling.

 

CHRIS JANSON/Fix A Drink
Writers: Chris Janson/Chris DuBois/Ashley Gorley; Producers: Brent Anderson/Chris DuBois; Publishers: none listed, BMI/ASCAP; Warner Bros.
– He can’t fix the weather, job worries, a broken heart, the blues or the news. But he can sure ‘nuff fix a drink. Rollicking fun.

ELI YOUNG BAND/Fingerprints
Writers: Mike Eli/James Young/Ross Copperman/Josh Osborne; Producers: Ross Copperman/Jeremy Stover; Publishers: Small Town Kid/Young James Young/NTAC/EMI Blackwood/Rezolant/Sony-ATV/Songs of Black River/One Little Indian Creek, BMI/ASCAP; Valory Music
– Dense sounding, with loads of “bottom” in the mix. It’s not nearly as catchy as their big hits have been.

LAUREN ALAINA/Doin’ Fine
Writers: Lauren Alaina/Emily Shackleton/busbee; Producer: Busbee; Publishers: none listed; Mercury/19/Interscope (CDX)
– It’s a bit of a letdown as the follow-up to a star-making performance. But it has plenty of pluck, and she sings it splendidly, particularly in her upper register.

GARY ALLAN/Mess Me Up
Writers: Ashley Gorley/Ross Copperman/Shane McAnally; Producers: Gary Allan, Ross Copperman, Greg Droman; Publishers: none listed; EMI (CDX)
– Darkly compelling. In front of a throbbing track, he begs a woman he is obsessed with to torture his mind. As usual, he sings with tremendous fire and conviction. A burning cauldron of sound.

 

JASON ALDEAN/They Don’t Know
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Broken Bow (ERG)
– In defense of rural life, to the accompaniment of screaming guitars.

THOMAS RHETT & MAREN MORRIS/Craving You
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Valory Music (ERG)
– It’s a potent rocker with plenty of thump and crash. Despite the billing, this is essentially a Rhett solo with some occasional vocal coloring by Morris.

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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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