It’s independents’ day.
The major country music record labels all seem to be missing in action this week. That means today’s column gives independent labels a time to shine.
Stepping into the spotlight and center stage is April Kry. This Connecticut-bred Nashvillian has vocal pipes to spare, a solid song and a stupendous production. Oh, and also a Disc of the Day award.
Also, April shares the DisCovery Award with Dave McElroy. He’s evidently been around for a couple of years, but this is his first appearance in DisClaimer.
JEFF LEWIS & NORM CADY/Land of Dreams
Writers: Norm Cady; Producers: Anthony Brown; Publishers: none listed, BMI; Constituting America (CDX)
– Patriotic slogans strung together like beads on a string. It’s like somebody jotted down every sign they saw held up at a Fourth of July parade.
Writer: Lincoln Parish; Producers: Dustin Collins/Bill McDermott; Publishers: none listed, BMI/ASCAP; Big Risk (CDX)
– A crunchy country rocker with a definite blue-collar slant. It’s got some cool lines that make it worth a few spins.
APRIL KRY/While We’re Young
Writers: April Kry/Jennifer Pappas/Micah Wilshire/Stephanie Bentley; Producer: Micah Wilshire; Publishers: none listed, BMI; M (CDX)
– I dig this. She sings with powerhouse conviction. The song is as hooky as all get out. The production slaps, bounces and pushes emotional buttons in all the right places. This is as good or better than anything you’ll hear on any major label in the business. Listen and believe. Who are you? Send more.
DOMINGO & ESTEBAN HIRACHETA/Free to Believe
Writers: Domingo Hiracheta/Esteban Hiracheta; Producers: Janine Turner/Brandon Vanderford; Publishers: none listed, ASCAP; Constituting America (CDX)
-The freedom-of-religion sentiments are admirable. A competent lead singer would have been nice. There’s a good reason this switches into rapping in the middle.
LORI SMITH/Tumblin’ Paradise
Writers: Keith Follese/Tom McHugh; Producers: Larry Butler/Jack G. Kirby; Publishers: none listed, ASCAP; 615 (CDX)
– She warbles all around the melody, clinging to pitch for dear life.
GEORGE ALLEN TRUAX/My Hometown
Writers: George Allen Truax; Producers: Zac Maroof/Gene Higgins; Publishers: none listed, BMI; SMG (CDX)
– There already is a Montgomery Gentry. And they sing better than this.
DAVE McELROY/Without You
Writers: Dave McElroy/Michael Flanders/Scott Buchanan/Derik Holtquist; Producer: Michael Flanders; Publishers: none listed, ASCAP/SESAC; DM (CDX)
– His husky, whispery vocal style doesn’t have much range. But there’s something extremely appealing about his almost-spoken delivery. His conversational intimacy makes you want to know him.
JUSTIN DUKES/Warning Sign
Writers: Justin Dukes/Daniel Johnson; Producer: Chris Goff; Publishers: none listed, SESAC/BMI; Duke’s Entertainment (CDX)
– “Love at your own risk.” His youthful tenor sounds properly bruised.
RUSTY RIERSON/Upon This Rock
Writers: Stephen Amos/Rusty Rierson; Producers: Carster Green/Rusty Rierson; Publishers: none listed, ASCAP/BMI; RR (CDX)
– When he gets confused in a romance, he goes to a mountaintop where he can think straighter. Then she heads up there, too. Guess what? They wind up married and happy. Nicely done.
ALAN TURNER/Windows and Mirrors
Writers: Cole Swindell/Lynn Hutton/Jon Henderson; Producer: Alan Turner; Publishers: none listed, BMI/SESAC; SMG (CDX)
– Anguish and heartache with glass metaphors. He sings it with fierce force.
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