DISClaimer: CMA Awards Spotlight New Tracks

I thought country music offered America a pretty good representation of what it’s all about on last week’s CMA Awards Show.

Salutes to Glen Campbell, Troy Gentry and Don Williams were all well placed, as was a tribute to the 58 country fans slain in Vegas. I could have done without the ABC-TV non-stars as presenters and the gratuitous product-placement ads. But the singing and the instrumental tracks were consistently fine.

The four new songs introduced on the show (by Urban, Tim & Faith, Church, Miranda) are spotlighted in this week’s DisClaimer column. Of them, the Tim McGraw & Faith Hill enduring-love duet easily wins the Disc of the Day award.

The two closest competitors are Miranda Lambert’s honky-tonk ballad and a song that wasn’t on the telecast, Jerrod Niemann’s delightful toe tapper.

The DisCovery Award goes to a duo called Stranger Friends. It is comprised of John Martin and Jamie Floyd. He has penned songs recorded by Garth Brooks. She has had cuts by Ronnie Dunn and Ashley Monroe and is a former Disc of the Day winner as a solo artist. Together, they are terrific.

STRANGER FRIENDS/Country Song
Writers: Jamie Floyd/John Martin; Producer: Stranger Friends; Publisher: none listed; Voxhall (track)
– Everly harmonies. Slappin’ backbeat. Fabulous steel-guitar picking. Instantly catchy tune with a happy rhythm. I love, love, love this.

TIM McGRAW & FAITH HILL/The Rest Of Our Life
Writers: Ed Sheeran/Amy Wadge/Johnny McDaid/Steve Mac; Producer: none listed; Publishers: 2017 Sony/ATV Songs LLC (BMI) o/b/o Sony/ATV Music Publishing (UK) Limited (PRS)/Cookie Jar Music LLP (PRS). All rights on behalf of Cookie Jar Music LLP administered by WB Music Corp./Spirit B-Unique Polar Patrol administered by Spirit B-Unique Polar Patrol Songs (BMI)/Rokstone Music (ASCAP); Sony
– A beautifully performed power ballad with a supremely romantic lyric about growing old gracefully together. These two truly are “Mr. and Mrs. Country Music.”

 

LONNIE SPIKER/Love Would Have Wanted It That Way
Writer: Curt Ryle; Producer: Curt Ryle; Publisher: Big Matador, BMI; Megalith (track)
– Booze and the Bible mix it up in this very slowly paced barroom heartache lament. Best line: “It’s a long way from Hell to Step Number 12/But I’m gonna make it there one day.” Old-school country.

JERROD NIEMANN/I Got This
Writers: Luke Dick/Rodney Clawson/Josh Osborne; Producers: Jimmie Lee Sloas/Jerrod Niemann; Publishers: Sony-ATV Tree/Little Louder/Emilon/Round Hill Works/Big Loud Proud Crowd/Shirt At Work/Anderson Fork in the Road/Smackville/Smack Songs/Kobalt, BMI/ASCAP; Curb (track)
– I’ve always liked this guy a lot. This snappy bopper promises a gal some tunes, a pleasure drive, a drink and an open-ended evening. Irresistible.

LAURA BENITEZ & THE HEARTACHE/Whiskey Makes Me Love You
Writer: Laura Benitez; Producer: Laurea Benitez; Publishers: none listed; Copperhead (track)
– Recorded in the Bay Area, this lacks Nashville polish. But there’s plenty of guitar twang and a dandy lyric to compensate. I wonder if lowering her key would make her a more effective vocal communicator.

KEITH URBAN/Female
Writers: Nicolle Galyon/Ross Copperman/Shane McAnally; Producers: Urban, Ross Copperman, Dann Huff; Publisher: none listed; Capitol
– Almost immediately after introducing this on the CMA telecast, Urban was derided. Late-night TV host Stephen Colbert parodied the performance on his show as “She Person” and mocked the lyric as, “the first song ever written by dumping out a bin full of inspirational throw pillows.” Last weekend, some hipster NPR panelists who only knew Urban as “the guy who is married to Nicole Kidman,” also looked down their noses at it. The fact of the matter is that the production echoes and throbs and sparkles brilliantly. Keith’s performance rings with sincerity. And what the heck is wrong with a guy identifying with feminist issues anyway?

RE MATTEI/Bump Bump Bump
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Trinity Girl (CDX)
– She is sings in a throaty alto. The song is about drowning out his memory with loud music. Pass.

 

ERIC CHURCH/Chattanooga Lucy
Writers: Eric Church, Jeff Hyde, Ryan Tyndell; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publishers: 2015 Sony/ATV Tree Publishing/Longer and Louder Music; Sony/ATV Tree Publishing/Little Louder Songs/Mammaw’s Friend Okra Music; Sony/ATV Tree Publishing/Little Louder Songs/Harold’s Purple Heart Music (BMI); EMI (track)
– This has an appealingly nervous energy level, as well as some very cool soul-sister wailing in the background. Country rock with a decided edge.

TRAILERHAWK/Car
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Hundred Proof
– The rocking track rumbles with a simple, repeated, deep-twang guitar lick. Her spitfire lead vocal should have been mixed a little hotter.

MIRANDA LAMBERT/To Learn Her
Writers: Lambert/Ashley Monroe/Waylon Payne; Producers: Frank Liddell/Glenn Worf/Eric Masse; Publishers: Sony-ATV Tree/Pink Dog/Monroe Suede/Songs of Kobalt/Tiltawhirl, BMI; RCA (track)
– Hallelujah. Stone country from start to finish. Miranda gives it a classic honky-tonk vocal performance while the track seethes with pent-up intensity behind her. This is the right stuff.

 

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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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