DISClaimer: Country Music Making A Comeback?

Country music, I mean real country music, returns with a vengeance this week.

With top-shelf performances by Alan Jackson, Jon Pardi and Chris Janson in the listening stack, I was in heaven. The female records hold up the pop-flavored part of the equation this week, with superlative offerings from Cam, Taylor Swift and Carly Pearce.

Since this column is wall-to-wall established acts, there is no DisCovery Award contender in sight. So instead, I am spreading the Disc of the Day love.

Chris Janson and Alan Jackson touched me deeply, so they are sharing the male prize.

Cam rocked and Taylor Swift provided ballad excellence. So they are both collecting the female trophy.

THOMAS RHETT/Marry Me
Writers: Thomas Rhett/Jesse Frasure/Ashley Gorley/Shane McAnally; Producers: Dann Huff, Jesse Frasure/Thomas Rhett; EMI Blackwood/Cricket on the Line/Sony/ATV/Rio Bravo/Telemitry; Valory (track)
– This piano-embellished heartbreak ballad is a nice change of pace. The plot is, she wants to get married, but not to him. Boo hoo.

CRAIG WAYNE BOYD/Stuck In My Head
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Copperline
– This 2014 winner on The Voice rocks out on this catchy ditty. He sings with gusto. The title is repeated a little too often for my taste. I guess he wants it to get “Stuck in My Head.”

TAYLOR SWIFT/New Year’s Day
Writers: Taylor Swift; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Big Machine
– I got so used to her pop bopping that I forgot what a tender balladeer she can be. This tender, piano-based heart breaker is a vivid reminder. Wistful and winning. Very, very cool.

CARLY PEARCE/Hide the Wine
Writers: Ashley Gorley/Luke Laird/Hillary Lindsey; Producer: busbee; Publishers: WB/Combustion Engine/Sadie’s Favorite/Universal/We Are Creative Nation/Jake & Mack/Songs of Universal/BMG Gold/Rezonant, ASCAP; Big Machine (track)
– He’s back in town, and that spells trouble. He’s no good, but she can’t resist him. So while the track thumps splendidly around her, she wails about getting rid of the vino, the music and the comforts that make her easy pickings. Rhythm happy.

CHRIS JANSON/Drunk Girl
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Warner Bros.
– Each vocal performance seems more expressive than the one before. He drew me into this with extraordinary intimacy. It’s also a wonderfully inventive lyric about behaving like a gentleman. A superb record.

MARGIE SINGLETON/Jesus Is My Pusher
Writer: Margie Singleton; Producer: none listed; Publishers: Ashmar, BMI; Ashley
– At age 82, this veteran is writing and singing with verve. This is one of her new gospel songs, but she’s also still creating solid honky tonkers. Margie is best known for her duet work with George Jones (”Waltz of the Angels”), Faron Young {”Keeping Up With the Joneses”) and Leon Ashley (”Hangin’ On”) in the 1960s, but she has always crafted equally distinctive solo sides (”Old Records,” “The Eyes of Love”).

ALAN JACKSON/The Older I Get
Writers: Alan Jackson; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; EMI (download)
– Philosophical and heartfelt. He is still the BEST, and I will be forever a fan. A lump-in-throat song and performance. Play and believe.

CAM/Diane
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Arista/RCA
– Man, this thing roars out of the chute like a runaway bronco. The stacked harmonies are as gripping as the pile-driving rhythm track. In the lyric, she’s a home wrecker who is trying to explain herself to Diane, the woman she has wronged. I was charmed by this track from the moment I heard her sing it during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

JON PARDI/She Ain’t In It
Writers: Clint Daniels/Wynn Varble; Producers: Bart Butler/Jon Pardi; Publishers: Writers of Sea Gayle/ClearBox Rights/Spirit of Catalog Holdings/Spirit of Nashville One/BMG Platinum/Mater Pie, BMI; Capitol (track)
-This guy gives me hope for the future of the genre. Unlike so many of his peers, he is unashamedly, unapologetically country, country, country. This swaying, heartbreak lament pushes all my buttons. The rolling tempo, the sighing steel, the gentle-twang guitars, the twin fiddles and his drawling baritone vocal are all exquisite.

KANE BROWN/Heaven
Writers: Shy Carter/Matthew McGinn/Lindsay Rimes; Producer: Dann Huff; Publishers: none listed; BMI/SESAC; RCA (track)
– Sensuous, dreamy and romantic. How could Heaven be any better than lying in her arms? There you have it.

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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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