DISClaimer: Karen Waldrup, Lori McKenna Lead A Banquet Of Ballads

Karen Waldrup

It’s a banquet of ballads today at DisClaimer.

Rita Wilson, Brett Young, Josh Gracin and Blue Honey are checking in with slow songs. That’s okay, because it’s also a ballad that wins the Disc of the Day. That would be super country vocalist Karen Waldrup delivering an awesome Lori McKenna song.

The DisCovery Award goes to a charming, up-and-coming Music City singer-songwriter with the one-named billing Hardy.

Writers: Kassie Jordan-Brooks/Troy Brooks/Rob Klerkx; Producers: Kassie Jordan-Brooks/Troy Brooks; Publisher: none listed; BH
– It has an echoey, spooky atmosphere. Kassie’s lead vocal has a hushed intimacy. Decidedly left field, but undeniably intriguing. I look forward to more from this team.

Writers: Brett Young/Ross Copperman/Ashley Gorley; Producer: Dann Huff; Publishers: Super Big/Caliville/Big Machine/Songs of Black River/Wordspring/Memory Days/WBM/The Best I Could Do/WB, ASCAP/SESAC; Big Machine (track)
– This new track from Brett has an acoustic tracked, video version. The lyric terrain is familiar territory for this artist — dreamy and romantic and lost-in-love.

Writers: Jimmy Charles/C.J. Garton/Rich Fehl; Producer: Paul David; Publishers: Hook, Line and Singer, BMI; JC (track)
– This former American Idol contestant has issued this thumping rouser that tells the stories of folks impacted by cancer. Its inspirational vibe encourages us to remain strong and hopeful in the face of such a diagnosis.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed: Publisher: none listed; Sixteen 08 (track)
– This romantic ballad has a blue-eyed soul vocal performance that’s quite attractive. The drawbacks are a tempo that plods and its four-minute length.

RITA WILSON/Bigger Picture
Writers: none listed; Producer: Fred Mollin; Publisher: none listed; Sing It Loud/The Orchard
– The title tune of Wilson’s album is a gently strummed acoustic ballad. She has a sweet, lilting pop soprano voice that’s recorded crisply and clearly. The actor/singer/songwriter and hubby Tom Hanks recently attended the annual BMI awards banquet in Music City. Plus, she was a presenter on the CMA Awards, and she she staged her debut on the Opry.

KAREN WALDRUP/Sometimes He Does
Writer: Lori McKenna; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; KW (download)
– This gal is a Real Deal country singer. The stunning ballad is loaded with terrific visual details and emotional truths. A minor masterpiece. Listen and believe.


Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; TB (download)
– Intensely painful heartache, with a touch of rage. His anguished vocal is gripping, and the track pounds with repressed fury on the choruses. Highly recommended.

Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; WM (download)
-This Kentucky boy is “to the manner born,” as they say. He’s the son of John Michael Montgomery and the nephew of Eddie Montgomery. His country-boy vocal on this churning, lovelorn tune is right on the money. The gist of it is, he’s right here waiting when she finally comes back. Exactly in contemporary country music’s center lane.

HARDY/This Ole Boy
Writers: Corey Crowder/Tyler Hubbard/Brian Kelley/Hardy; Producer: Joey Moi; Publsher: none listed; Big Loud/Tree Vibez Music
– Hardy has cowritten hits for Morgan Wallen (”Up Down”) and FGL (”Simple”), the latter of whom collaborate with him on this catchy, cute and country rompin’ stomper. Its rock-ish tone can’t disguise the cleverness in his phrases. Lively, drawling and endearing.

DYLAN SCOTT/Nothing To Do Town
Writers: Dylan Scott/John Taylor/Matt Alderman; Producers: Matt Alderman, Curt Gibbs & Jim Ed Norman; Publisher: none listed; Curb
– The track is punchy and groovy. His vocal is just fine. But haven’t we completely worn out this song idea? Drinking in a field with your gals and guys on the weekend while celebrating your small-town, country ways? Really? Again?


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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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