DISClaimer: Willie Nelson, Delta Rae, Billy Ray Cyrus Edge Political On New Tracks

This week’s stack of country tunes features a trio of political statements.

Willie Nelson is campaigning against Ted Cruz. Delta Rae is speaking out about sexual harassment. Billy Ray Cyrus is standing up for democratic principles.

Three others are in a more romantic mood. Florida Georgia Line barely edges out Michael Tyler in that arena to claim this week’s Disc of the Day honor. Noe Palma is also staking a claim in this vein.

The DisCovery Award goes to Rachel Reinert. Evidently, things didn’t go so well when she left Gloriana for a solo career. But her music about that experience is splendid.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Average Joes
– Hick hop. This particular banger has a roaring electric-guitar track. As you might guess from the title, the rap is about being blue-collar proud. Not my cup of tea, but this whole label seems to be succeeding with an entire roster made up of this type of act. Whatever….

DELTA RAE/Hands Dirty
Writers: Brittany Holljes/Ian Holljes; Producer: none listed; Publshers: none listed; Big Machine
– Strong and tough. This rockin’ stomper is country’s first single that directly addresses the #MeToo movement. The message is righteous, and the delivery is fierce. It’s empowering, and it is also as catchy as all get out.

Writers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Warner Bros.
– The group’s new album is Greetings From the New Frontier. This is my favorite band working in country music today, so naturally I’m all ears when it issues anything new. This is an acoustic track recorded live at the Ryman that spotlights the ensemble’s stirring vocal harmonies and spot-on guitar chops. The get-back-to-basics lyric is as timeless as country music, itself.

Writers: Hardy/Hunter Phelps/Jameson Rogers/Alysa Vanderheym; Producer: Joey Moi; Publishers: none listed; Big Machine
– It’s a very sexy, r&b slow jam that should sound just dandy on yer playlist or on your radio station. You see, he loves that dress she’s got on, now he just wants to talk her out of it.

Writers: Rachel Reinert/K.S. Rhoads/Joe Pisapia; Producer: Davis Naish; Publisher: none listed; RR
-Rachel left Gloriana and embarked on a solo adventure. She found out that it’s a cold world out there when you’re starting over alone. This melodic, mid-tempo tune chronicles that journey. It’s lovely. She soars out of despair into shiny optimism. Highly recommended pop-country.

Writers: Jenee Flenor/Wade Kirby/Phil O’Donnell/Buddy Owens; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Star Farm/Average Joes
– This is exactly why we love these guys. Full of good will and party pleasure. Tap your foot, sing along and turn that bottle up. Toast to the memory of Troy while you’re at it. A winner.

NOE PALMA/I’ll Be Your Whiskey
Writers: Ryan Griffin/Jason Matthews/Emily Shackleton; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Mae Capitol Label
– I dig this guy’s voice. In the verses, he’s warm, soft and intimate. On the choruses, he leaps into a forceful tenor wail. Send more, please.

Writers: Billy Ray Cyrus/Don Von Tress/John Brennan; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; BRC
– His new band is pretty cool. The song is kinda muddled — it seems to be about reclaiming freedom of speech and social justice or something like that. He sings it in an urgent, strangulated rasp. Odd and intriguing.

MICHAEL TYLER/Remember These Words
Writers: Michael Tyler/Jaron Boyer/Alexander Palmer/Luke Pell; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Reviver (CDX)
– Nicely done. It has a rhythm-happy, infectious charm that’s quite irresistible. He’s singing about keeping him in her heart even when he’s not there. Sweet and super commercial. Play it, then play it again.

Writer: Willie Nelson; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; WN
– This YouTube clip introduces a new song by Willie that’s timed to the Midterm Elections. During a Beto O’Rourke Texas senatorial campaign appearance, he channels his inner Woody Guthrie while the audience sings along.


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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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