DISClaimer: Shenandoah Makes A Comeback, Ashley McBryde Makes Classic Country Debut

A couple of comebacks and a whole lot of debuts characterize this edition of “DISClaimer.”

Returning after a 20 year absence are both Shendandoah and the late John Denver. The reunion of Shenandoah is particularly welcome. So welcome, in fact, that the band wins the Disc of the Day award with “Noise.”

Now for the newcomers. First timers in the column today include Sabin Sharpe and Michael Lee, both of whom I sincerely hope to hear more from. Our new group entries are Gal Friday and Scooter Brown Band.

Our top debut contenders are both females, singer-songwriters Jenny Tolman and this week’s winner of the DisCovery Award, Ashley McBryde.

MICHAEL LEE/Ain’t That Just Like Jesus
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Red Hen (CDX)
-Wow. This Southern-fried baritone glows with warmth, depth and kindness. The song’s lyric is extraordinary, describing how every selfless gesture, act of compassion, thought of forgiveness and charitable effort illustrates us at our best. He avows that loving your neighbor and being color blind are the truly Christian ways to behave. A honky-tonk ballad with a message we should all take to heart.

Writers: none listed; Producer: Jay DeMarcus; Publisher: none listed; BMG
– They sound as good as ever. Marty Raybon’s torrid tenor is still packed with heart and soul, and the reunited band is cooking with gas on this simmering slab of sound. The pace is a churning, burning, stately, mid-tempo march to glory. The noise of the world outside is obliterated by the power of her love. Amen from this corner, boys.

SABIN SHARPE/Empty Bottles
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Twisted Rooster
– I like the soulful little rasp in his voice. The production adds deep bass twang, steel embellishments and steady, slow, thumping rhythm in all the right proportions. And I’ve always been a sucker for a heartsick drinkin’ song. This pushes all my buttons.


Writers: none listed; Producer: Pat Holt; Publishers: none listed; Reviver (download)
– I always thought she was the non-singing Mandrell sister. This doesn’t change my mind.

ASHLEY MCBRYDE/A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega
Writers: Ashley McBryde/Nicolette Hayford/Jesse Rice; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publisher: Songs of Song Factory / Veranda Music (SESAC) / Little Falcor Music (BMI); Warner Bros.
– Stupendously cool. The guitars echo from deep in a coal mine, the lyrics rise from the heart of blue-collar America and the voice evokes classic-country immortality. I live for musical moments like this. The woman is a stone bad-ass. Go to YouTube right now and check out her singing “Bible and a .44” on stage with Eric Church.

GAL FRIDAY/Scrapyard
Writers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Rundies (CDX)
– It’s a female trio with a cool, bluesy “attitude” song. But the too-busy track has so much going on it’s hard to hear it.

Writers: Brad Paisley/Brent Anderson/Chris DuBois; Producers: Luke Wooten/Brad Paisley; Publishers: New House of Sea Gayle Music (ASCAP) adm by ClearBox Rights., ASCAP; Arista (track)
– This lively, joyful toe-tapper celebrates the everyday pleasures of being in love in Dixie. As usual, there’s a dandy guitar break in there. A smile from beginning to end.


Writers:Scott Brown; Producer: Casey Wood; Publishers: VAlor Ranch, BMI; BFD/Audium
– Despite the dark, relentless, bluesy, doom-y, Southern-rock track, the lyric is meant to positive and uplifting. I think. Charlie’s participation is limited to a snarling, spoken-word passage about working-class men.

JOHN DENVER/The Blizzard
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Soundcloud
-The John Denver Estate is commemorating the 20th anniversary of his untimely passing with this previously unreleased performance. It is a somewhat arty, wintertime song, daintily embroidered with rippling piano and flute notes. It also seems to go on forever.

JENNY TOLMAN/Stripper For A Week
Writers: none listed; Producer: Dave Brainard; Publisher: none listed; Jennyville (track)
– When you’re so dead broke that you’re gasping to pay the bills, and you’re young and fit…..what the heck? Saucy, winking and endearing. Her debut Jennyville collection of songs will floor you — Her creativity compares favorably with Brandy Clark’s (whom Brainard also produced). A&R talent scouts, let a word to the wise be sufficient: Sign this woman before somebody else does. Even as an unknown, she’s already surpassed 100,000 streams on Spotify with this just-released gem.



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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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