DISClaimer: Alex Williams, Shania Twain Offer Autobiographical New Tracks

Sometimes when you explore the landscape of indie releases, you find gems — and then there are explorations like today.

Finding gems amid this wasteland was easy. They stood out quite clearly.

The DisCovery Award goes to BMLG artist Alex Williams. I dig his “outlaw” vibe. Mitchell Tenpenny would have been right there with Alex, but I reviewed an earlier effort by him back in 2015.

With no competition in sight, Mercury Nashville’s Shania Twain earns a Disc of the Day award.

ANDY HUGHES/Heartland and Heartache
Writers: Andy Hughes/Becky Hughes; Producer: Joe Gantzer; Publisher: none listed; Move Along (track)
– He has a gentle, folk-ish delivery. His next step should be to find a producer. This sounds like a cheap demo.

MITCHELL TENPENNY/Truck I Drove In High School
Writers: Mitchell Tenpenny/Jordan Schmidt/Andy Albert/Devin Dawson; Producers: Jordan Schmidt/Mitchell Tenpenny; Publishers: Sony-ATV Countryside/WB/Freshy/We-Volve/Downtown DLJ/Neon Cross/Warner-Tamerlane, BMI/ASCAP; Riser House (track)
-He’s the grandson of music-biz legend Donna Hilley, and his EP is titled Linden Ave, which is the Nashville street where she lived. The single has a crunchy, “dirty,” bottom-heavy percussion track, some cool electronic effects and a super catchy tune. Turn it up and groove along.

SHANIA TWAIN/Life’s About To Get Good
Writers: Shania Twain; Producer: Matthew Kom/Ron Aniello; Publishers: none listed; Mercury (CDX)
– Bouncy, hooky and more than a little autobiographical. Eminently playable.


MARY SARAH/Without You
Writers: Mary Sarah Gross/Bart Butler/David Garcia; Producer: David Garcia; Publisher: none listed, BMI/ASCAP; 144e (CDX)
– I dig the spare, bluesy track. Her pert, conversational soprano has a piercing quality with just the right touch of attitude. Refreshingly different.

NITTY GRITTY GR/3 Up and 1 Down
Writers: Greg “Nitty Gritty” Roberts; Producer: Dulaa; Publisher: none listed; Reality (CDX)
– A complete audio garbage heap.

CRAIG COLLINS/Stand By My Country
Writers: C. Collins/J. Bates/B. Matthews; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; CC (track)
– Chest-thumping rock with a redneck accent and a barely-there melody.

Writers: Jeffrey Steele/Gary Nicholson/Tom Hambridge; Producer: Kevin Wayne Waldrop; Publishers: none listed, BMI/ASCAP; Amerimonte
– The album version, reviewed a couple of weeks back, is a guitar-vocal performance. The single has a full-band backing track, which makes it more commercial sounding and gives it a lot more emotional resonance. Play this version.

Writer: Cody Jinks; Producer: Joshua Thompson; Publishers: none listed; Cody Jinks (CDX)
– Sluggish. The tempo drags along listlessly, and his dull vocal doesn’t help matters much.

Writer: Alex Williams; Producer: Julian Raymond; Publishers: Big Machine/Freak Flag, BMI; Big Machine (track)
– His lived-in baritone is very, very charismatic. The song meanders a bit, but the dobro-and-harmonica atmosphere keeps you hanging on his compelling delivery. Extremely promising.

Writer: Matt Lee; Producer: Gene Higgins; Publisher: none listed, ASCAP; Stanley Music
– They have a sound akin to vintage Alabama. The song is rather generic. Pass.


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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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