DISClaimer: Ryan Hurd, Brett Eldredge Enchant With New Music

Variety is the spice of life.

This week’s country offerings range from over-produced, slick Nashville items to the rootsy charms of EmiSunshine and Margo Price. Kevin Costner is back, sounding as good as ever. And the well-established Rascal Flatts demonstrates that it still has plenty of gas in its tank.

The best newcomer is Ryan Hurd, who earns a DisCovery Award.

The Disc of the Day belongs to Brett Eldredge. Some production, publishing and songwriter credits on both of these winning tunes would have been nice, record companies.


Writers: Ryan Hurd/Joey Hyde; Producer: Aaron Eshuis; Publishers: Universal Music Corp./Lake Allegan Pub Club (ASCAP). All rights for Lake Allegan Pub Club controlled and adm by Universal Music Corp. ©2016 Sony/ATV Tree Publishing (BMI); RCA (ERG)
– Utterly enchanting. The melody swirls beautifully. The production builds and boils with intensity. His vocal delivery is loaded with dynamics as it goes from a whisper to a scream. A mighty debut.

Writers: Marty Morgan/Luc Nyhus/Yasmine Van Wilt; Producers: Ben Kitterman/Aaron Lewis; Label: Big Machine (ERG); Publishers: Morgan House Music Publishing (SESAC)./ Timberslust Music (BMI)./ Yasmine Van Wilt (BMI). 
-Sung from the point of view of a dead soldier. It’s very well written and performed, but I don’t imagine radio folks will clamor to program such a downer.

Writers: Cary Barlowe/David Hodges/Josh Thompson; Producers: Jay DeMarcus/Rascal Flatts; Publishers: Castle Bound/We Be Partying/3 Weddings/Songs of Kobalt/Big Music Machine/Two Laine Collections, SESAC/BMI; Big Machine (track)
– I dig the crunchy production and the gripping lyric. Gary’s lead vocal is more chesty and intimate than usual, and he’s not constantly at the top of his range. This is the group’s strongest single in years.

Writer: EmiSunshine; Producers: EmiSunshine/Randall Hamilton/Troy Dixon; Publishers: none listed; Little Blackbird
– Considering the fact that she’s just 13, this is an extraordinary song. It is not only loaded with melodic hooks, it deals with the topic of autism in a strikingly mature way. Available now, it is the advance track of a hard-country CD titled Ragged Dreams that’s due on Aug. 25.

RAELYNN/Lonely Call
Writers: RaeLynn/Nicolle Galyon/Rob Hawkins; Producers: Jimmy Robbins/Nicolle Galyon; Label: Warner Music; Publishers: ©2016 Super Big Music / I Take The Bull By The Horns (ASCAP) admin. by Big Machine Music, LLC / Prescription Songs LLC (ASCAP), admin. by Kobalt Songs Music Publishing / Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI) / A Girl Named Charlie (BMI). All rights admin. by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI) / Songs Music Publishing, LLC o/b/o Pneumatic Man (ASCAP), Songs of SMP (ASCAP)
– I don’t like the way her voice is buried in the mix. You have to strain to understand the lyric, and that ain’t the country way.

BRIAN MILSON/I’d Have To Kiss Ya
Label: First Short Road
-Nicely done. He runs into an old flame and resists the urge to rekindle it. Catchy, well crafted and extremely promising.

Writers: Teddy Morgan/Henry Jack Williams; Publishers: Teddy Morgan/songs of LGME! BMI/ASCAP; Producer: Teddy Morgan; Kevin’s Music
– I have liked this guy’s music from the start. The new single is a doomy, dramatic, minor-key outing that he delivers in a gritty whisper. Despite the dark atmosphere, the overall message is oddly positive. I dig this.

Writers: Brett Eldredge/Matt Rogers; Producers: Ross Copperman/Brett Eldredge; Publishers: Sony/ATV Countryside/Paris Not France Music; BMI;
Ole Canalco Publishing (ASCAP); Atlantic
– Simply put, he is one helluva singer. This addictive, rolling, rhythmic production surrounds a personality-packed performance that ranges from nearly-spoken intimacies to falsetto quasi-yodels. A brilliant performance.

Writers: Karen Pittelman; Producers: Charles Burst; Publishers: Ocean Born Mary, ASCAP; OBM (track)
– Fiddle and steel in Brooklyn? You betcha. This outfit lays down a country-rock groove that’s as solid as anything you’ll hear in Music City. Plus, Karen shows real promise as a songwriter. Recommended.

MARGO PRICE/Paper Cowboy
Writers: Matt Gardner; Producers: Margo Price, Alex Munoz, Matt Ross-Spang & Jeremy Ivey; Publishers: none listed; Third Man
– Yes, I know I reviewed a single by her last week. The thing is, she has TWO new singles on the market. This one is a toe-tapping, stuttering-steel romp wherein she wails about a no-good guy. The surprising, extended instrumental coda is like a splash of cool water in the face. Refreshingly different.


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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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