DISClaimer: Michael Ray, Morgan Evans Top New Releases

The guys have it.

All of our contenders for this week’s Disc of the Day come from solo male country performers. They are Joe Nichols, Brett Eldredge, Thomas Rhett and our underdog winner, Michael Ray.

And, surprise, another solo male wins the DisCovery Award. That would be Morgan Evans.

SARA EVANS/Marquee Sign
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Born To Fly
-It has a cool, minor-key vibe that is quite fetching. Her bluesy vocal is complimented by jangly electric guitar effects and an echoey atmosphere. The lyric laments a heartbreaker who gave her no warning.

Writers: none listed, Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Warner Bros.
– He sings the fire out of this power ballad, from the sensual, husky low notes of the verses to the falsetto leaps in the choruses. Everything works here — the melody, the production, the sexy mood. This is one terrific record. It sounds like this handsome devil is about to become a Big Star.


THOMAS RHETT/Unforgettable
Writers: Thomas Rhett, Jesse Frasure, Ashley Gorley, Shane McAnally; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Valory
– It’s a jaunty, thumpy, pop-rocker with hooks a-plenty. Another smash for the boy.

MORGAN EVANS/Kiss Somebody
Writers: Morgan Evans/Chris DeStefano/Josh Osborne; Producer: Chris DeStefano; Publisher: none listed; Warner Bros.
– The crash-and-burn production stirs up lots of excitement. His vocal powers through, on top of all the noise, with occasional outbursts that come close to shouting. Energetic and intense.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Show Dog
-Strongly sung, but the song is pretty shallow.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Big Machine
– A party-hearty stomper with a drawled vocal, hand claps and piercing electric guitar. These guys should be much bigger stars than they are. Play ‘em.

LITTLE FEATHER/Hillbilly Love Song
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Curb
– Love the group harmonies and the ‘grassy, uptempo track. Lead singer Liz Sharpe’s voice has a built-in sunny quality, and the picking surrounding her is razor sharp.


JOE NICHOLS/Never Gets Old
Writers: Steve Moakler/Connie Harrington; Producer: Brent Rowan; Publishers: Creative Pulse/These Are Pulse/Highway 76/EMI Blackwood/Great Day at This/Watch This Girl, BMI; Red Bow (track)
– This guy endures as one of the greatest singers in contemporary country music. Listening to this romantic outing, you can get completely lost in his warm baritone. A superb performance. Again.

PARMALEE/Sunday Morning
Writers: Matt Thomas/Ross Copperman/Josh Osborne; Producers: Parmalee, David Fanning & Ben Stennis; Publishers: Songs of Universal/Songs By JMT/EMI Blackwood/Sony-ATV/Rezolant/Anderson Fork in the Road/Kobalt/Smack, BMI/ASCAP; Stoney Creek
– Sparkling and bright. Packed with shiny audio touches, plus a resonant production echo. Ultra modern and super listenable. I remain a fan of this gang.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Atlantic (track)
– This is a very nicely shaded vocal performance, that ranges from soaring yearning to cracked heartache and burning loss. I’m in. His upcoming collection sounds an awful lot like an Album of the Year contender.



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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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