DISClaimer: Willie Nelson’s Voice Remains “An Instrument Of Perfect Wonder”

It’s a real horse race for today’s top-ranked new country sound.

Coming around the far turn and galloping into the home stretch are the records by The Frontmen, Jagertown, Tyler Rich and Josh Gracin. They’re running neck-in-neck for the Disc of the Day prize.

But coming from behind is a wise old pro who knows just when to turn up the heat. It’s Willie Nelson crossing the finish line first and leaving the youngsters in his dust.

The talented colt who takes home this week’s DisCovery Award is a young son of Texas named Zach Stone. Lend him your ears.

TYLER BOOTH/Hand Crankin’ People
Writers: Phil O’Donnell/Josh Thompson/Kendell Marvel/Justin Moore; Producer: Phil O’Donnell; Publishers: 16 Stars/Rooster Pecked/Sony-ATV/ole Songs of Better Angels/Blank Sheet/Georgia Buggy/Marvelicious/Big Music Machine/Double Barrel/Ace, BMI; TB (track)
-He sounds like Bocephus wading through molasses.

JAMES HOUSE/Leading Me Home
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Victor House (CDX)
– The vocal performance is spectacular, but the backing track is mixed too hot.

JOSH GRACIN/Nothin’ Like Us
Writers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Revel (CDX)
-Sung with gusto, this has plenty of oomph. The rhythm track is dynamite. The song is loaded with hooks. Everything works. Definitely worth your spins.

THE FRONTMEN/If It Wasn’t For The Radio
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Frontmen (CDX)
– Now here’s some singing for ya. Individually, Larry Stewart (Restless Heart), Richie McDonald (Lonestar) and Tim Rushlow (Little Texas) have enough vocal firepower to send any song heavenward. As it happens, this one is a hit waiting to happen. Together, these three are an embarrassment of riches. And give a gold star to whoever produced the potent track.

TYLER RICH/The Difference
Writers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Valory (download)
– Kinda pop-ish. Kinda catchy. Kinda clever. Ear candy.

JAGERTOWN/Rearview
Writers: Preston Creed; Producer: Matt McClure; Publishers: none listed; JCT
– I dig this. The fierce lead singer has bite and grit. The band plays with fiery conviction and lotsa punch. The kiss-off song packs a wallop. A winner.

MIDLAND & JAY DE LA CUEVA/Drinkin’ Problem
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Big Machine
-It’s their breakthrough hit, sung in Spanish. Whatever…..

MAGGIE ROSE/It’s You
Writers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; MR (download)
– I have been a fan of this lady for a long time. Her ear-opening new music is a fusion of her country roots and old-school soul. Piercing, righteous passion.

ZACH STONE/Four Letter Word
Writers: Zach Stone/Will Stone; Producer: Sam Martinez; Publishers: Jetpack/Ripcord South, ASCAP
– His voice is quite wonderful, characterized by baritone warmth, expressive phrasing and controlled volume. His songwriting is just as impressive, because this is as polished and professional and hooky as any works by country’s master tunesmiths. This Belmont alumnus is ready for the big time.

WILLIE NELSON/Me and You
Writers: Willie Nelson/Buddy Cannon; Producer: Buddy Cannon; Publisher: none listed; Legacy (download)
– Willie rocks! This irresistible toe tapper percolates like a coffee pot. His voice remains an instrument of perfect wonder as he drawls out the wry, witty lyric. Play it again. And again.

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About the Author

Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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