Today’s honored discs don’t belong to the biggest country stars.
Despite the presence of titans Eric Church and Blake Shelton, both of whom have dandy new efforts, I’m tossing bouquets at David Nail and Radney Foster.
David has always moved me with his mighty voice. His new sound is splendid.
And leave it to country music and to Radney to show decency, love, caring and true Christian charity to people who have been treated as sub-humans by our government. “Godspeed,” indeed.
These two share this week’s Disc of the Day award.
The DisCovery Award honoree is Southern California country rocker Ry Bradley.
RY BRADLEY/Hard Not To Feel
Writers: Ry Bradley/Justin Busch; Producer: Justin Busch; Publishers: Grade One View, ASCAP/BMI; Grade One View
– Pretty dang cool. It has a throbbing, irresistible rhythm and double-time delivery of its verse lyrics. His voice ranges from a gritty growl to a shouted tenor, which gives the disc loads of dynamics. Toss in a sizzling electric guitar solo and an electronic effect or two and you’ve got a mini audio sensation.
CAM/Road To Happiness
Writers: Cam/Tyler Johnson/Hillary Lindsey; Producer: Tyler Johnson; Publishers: none listed; RCA
– This is quite a switch from that barn-burner “Diane,” which I adored. It’s a low-key, philosophical ballad with an acoustic-guitar accompaniment. Very pretty, but I’m fearful of its chances at radio. In a word, disappointing.
CODY JINKS/Must Be The Whiskey
Writers: Cody Jinks/Josh Morningstar; Producer: Joshua Thompson/Arthur Penhallow Jr.; Publishers: Late August/Sad Smiles, BMI; Rounder
– This bearded Texas baritone is a real-deal country singer. This steel-soaked barroom toe tapper mines familiar boozy country ore. Spare and ear catching. His second Rounder single is more languid, a ballad titled “Somewhere Between I Love You and I’m Leavin.’” Play this one instead.
ERIC CHURCH/Desperate Man
Writers: Eric Church/Ray Wylie Hubbard; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publishers: Sony-ATV Tree/Londer and Louder/Snake Farm/BMG Rights, BMI/SESAC; EMI
– Urgent sounding. A nervous, choppy rhythm track sets the mood. Church comes in shouting like a latter-day Mick Jagger while the production builds in volume and intensity. Rocking and roaring. Co-writer Ray Wylie Hubbard is featured in the tune’s “vinyl-heist” video, which also offers beaucoups footage of Church without sunglasses (!).
BUCKY COVINGTON/I Probably Won’t
Writer: Bucky Covington; Producer: Bucky Covington; Publisher: none listed; Barefootin’
– A wistful heartache ballad that unfortunately reveals a rather thin singing voice.
DAVID NAIL & THE WELL RAVENS/Heavy
Writers: none listed; Producer: Jason Hall; Publisher: none listed; One Five Sound
– This man was born to sing. In his latest incarnation, he’s surrounded by a gripping, taut, echoey band. But that soulful, searing voice remains the gripping centerpiece of the sound as he pleads fiercely for a lover to stay. Charisma on the hoof.
KATHY MATTEA/I Can’t Stand Up Alone
Writers: Martha Carson; Producer: Tim O’Brien; Publishers: none listed; Captain
– Mattea’s comeback is a dip into gospel waters. The production is acoustic and minimal, which throws the spotlight on her performance and on the classic song. Rootsy and listenable.
BLAKE SHELTON/Turnin’ Me On
Writers: Blake Shelton/Jessi Alexander/Josh Osborne; Producer: Scott Hendricks; Publishers: Sony-ATV Tree/Thankful For This/Damn Country/WB/Anderson Fork in the Road/Smackville/Smack Songs/Kobalt, BMI/ASCAP; Warner Bros.
-Kinda steamy and a little swampy. It’s a swirling, fevered dream of desire.
Writers: Brian Kolb/Karen Waldrup; Producer: Garth Fundis; Publisher: none listed; The Fuel Music
– It says here that she is a viral sensation thanks to her online videos of “I Hope You Dance,” “Me and Bobby McGee” and her vivacious originals. Her new album’s soul-rock title tune showcases a potent, wailing, penetrating vocalist with moxie and fire. It’s about how getting on stage and making music gives her life meaning and reason. Be prepared to be energized.
RADNEY FOSTER/Godspeed (Dulces Suenos)
Writer: Radney Foster; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; RF
– This brought me to tears. Radney’s bi-lingual musical prayer for the children at the border is gorgeous, heartbreaking and intensely moving. It’s a rewrite of his 1998 lullaby to his son, and the proceeds go the charity RAICES Texas. Lift this man up for his decency, heart, soul and compassion.
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