DISClaimer: The 1980s All Over Again

DISClaimer receives a blast from the past this week.

It’s the 1980s all over again as Gene Watson, Karen Tobin, Gail Davies and Jim Chesnut all pop up with vibrant new sounds.

We also have a dandy crop of newcomers, including Dillon Carmichael, The Young Fables and our DisCovery Award winners, Blue Honey. Send more sounds, you two.

We have a tie for the Disc of the Day prize. Finishing in a dead heat are Joe Nichols and Michael Ray, both of whom are singing at the tops of their games.

Writers: L. Wright/W. Lunsford/K. Foster/P. Larney; Producers: Mitch Dane, Patryk Larney/The Young Fables; Publishers: none listed, BMI/SESAC; Hope Tree (track)
– Lauren Wright sings lead in a winsome soprano. Partner Wes Lunsford provides gentle harmony and some of the guitar in a twinkling, ear-catching production. They lyric is about making yourself happier by accepting romance in your life. The duo hails from Maryville, TN and is very, very promising.

JOE NICHOLS/Billy Graham’s Bible
Writers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Red Bow
– This masterful country stylist has a new ballad about finding a home and peace in his lover’s arms. It’s a place as comfy as “Billy Graham’s Bible and that old guitar Willie plays.” Joe’s vocal sent shivers up my spine. Play this.

BLUE HONEY/August Without Us
Writers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; BHM
-Comprised of the husband-wife duo of Troy Brooks & Kassie Jordan-Brooks, Blue Honey has a haunting, mid-tempo summer jam that’s as warm as sunshine. Lead vocalist Kassie has a smokey, blue-eyed-soul quality in her voice that is fascinating. As the song reaches its crescendo, Troy begins interjecting vocal “comments” and high “woo-hoos” that jack the excitement up ever higher. I dig this record a bunch.

RODNEY ATKINS/Caught Up In The Country
Writers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Curb (CDX)
– Atkins returns with a rousing summer rocker. The multi-layered, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink production includes everything from vocoder interjections and spoken-word passages to gang shouts and massed drumming.

GAIL DAVIES/Beyond The Realm of Words
Writers: Ron Davies; Producer: Chris Scruggs/Gail Davies; Publisher: BMG Chrysalis, BMI; Little Chickadee
– The title tune of Gail Davies’ current collection is a lovely waltz composed by her late brother, Ron Davies (”Long Hard Climb,” etc.). Co-produced by her super talented son Chris Scruggs, the track is characterized by a classy, classic simplicity with just the right touch of twang. Gail has also recently published a new edition of her autobiography The Last of the Outlaws.

MICHAEL RAY/Her World Or Mine
Writers: Brett Beavers/Jamie Paulin/Travis Denning; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Atlantic
– This is a dynamite break-up ballad, loaded with hooky lines and lovely production touches. His deeply expressive vocal is infused with heartache. I remain a big fan.

JIM CHESNUT/Rode Hard and Put Away Wet
Writers: Jim Chesnut; Producer: none listed; Publisher: Jim Chesnut Muisc, BMI
– Chesnut had a flurry of chart activity in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s on ABC, MCA, UA and Liberty. Now back in his native Texas, he has a new, “golden-years” CD titled I Sure Do Miss My Hair. Its lead single is a lively two-step about still rocking while sliding into old age.

GENE WATSON/Old Roman Soldier
Writers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Canyon Creek
– Everlasting, preeminent, honky-tonk immortal Watson already has a hit on the country Christian hit parade with this. No wonder. The intense roadhouse waltz is drenched with steel, fiddle and piano and boasts one of the most soulful vocals of this man’s already fabulous career. The parent album is My Gospel Roots, and it is essential. Put this man in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Writers: Carmichael/Daniel Smalley; Producer: Dave Cobb; Publishers: none listed; Riser House (track)
– It’s easy to hear why producer Cobb was attracted to this Kentucky-bred vocalist. His baritone has resonance and power to spare. This is the soul-country title tune to a CD that drops in August.

KAREN TOBIN/Before It’s Too Late
Writers: none listed; Producers: Brian Soucy/Karen Tobin; Publishers: none listed; Sunnyland (track)
– Californian Tobin made her Nashville stand on Arista and Atlantic in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. She’s still out there making noise on the West Coast, as this title tune from her new CD attests. It’s a ringing meditation on love that reveals that her vocal delivery remains as expressive as ever, although it is maybe paced just a little too slowly.


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Category: Artist, Featured, Reviews

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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