Music Row gets religion this week.
In today’s stack of country platters, we find fabulous gospel efforts by Josh Turner, Gordon Mote and our Disc of the Day winners, Gold City. Shout hallelujah.
If you want secular recommendations, I’m urging spins for Chris Young, Big & Rich and our DisCovery Award winners, The Jake Bartley Band. Brotherhood is this band’s debut album, and I have a feeling it won’t be its last.
THE JAKE BARTLEY BAND/Cannonball
Writer: Jake Bartley; Producers: Andrew Crawford, Jake Bartley, Matt Miller; Publisher: none listed; Bonfire (track)
– It’s a well-written Civil War story song about a slave who fights in the Confederate Army. After the war, he vows to return to South Carolina and anonymity. The tempo is brisk, the production is crisp and the harmony vocal is by Vince Gill.
GORDON MOTE/Love, Love, Love
Writers: Mark Nesler/Marty Dodson/Liz Hengber; Producer: Phil Johnson, Wayne Haun, Gordon Mote; Publishers: Nashvistaville/Songs of Universal/Black to Black/I Hope Mama’s Listening/Red Sox Fan, BMI/ASCAP; New Haven
– A-list session pianist Mote is back with a new country-gospel collection. Its title tune is a stately, folksy sermon with a steady rhythm and a splendidly crafted lyric. His singing voice is as fluid and confident as are his fingers on the ivories. Highly recommended.
BIG & RICH/Brand New Buzz
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; B&B/New Revolution
– The champagne, the whiskey and the bong aren’t the high that her lovin’ is. The track churns and builds with shuddering electric guitar work, relentless rhythm and increasing power and volume while the boys sing their butts off. Totally righteous and rockin.’
CHRIS YOUNG/Raised On Country
Writers: Chris Young, Corey Crowder, Cary Barlowe; Producers: Young/Crowder; Publishers: none listed; RCA (download)
– Chris name-checks influences Strait, Diffie, A.J., Merle, Willie and Bocephus in this funky, rollicking, lively, joyous bopper. A smile from ear to ear.
MARK WAYNE GLASSMIRE/I’ve Got A Feeling
Writers: Debi Champion/Mark Wayne Glassmire; Producers: JOhn Albani/John Wayne Glassmire; Publishers: none listed, BMI/ASCAP; Traceway
-It has a vaguely early-Eagles feeling in that it has an airy, California-country vibe. Sweet and creamy sounding.
WILLIAM SHATNER, JEFF COOK, NEAL MCCOY & HOME FREE/Why Not Me
Writers: Corey Lee Barker/Shawn Sackman; Producers: Jeff Cook, Brian Curl, William Shatner; Publishers: none listed; Heartland
– Captain Kirk has always loved country music, and now he’s getting his own country CD, thanks to Alabama’s Jeff Cook. He also knows he can’t sing, so he gives this lyric his serious, spoken-word oomph while Neal McCoy warbles and Home Free harmonizes mightily alongside him. Shatner will make his debut on the Opry with this on Feb. 15. Be there or be square.
JOSH TURNER/I Saw The Light
Writer: Hank Williams; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; MCA Nashville
– It’s pretty hard to screw up this Hank Williams gospel classic. Josh gives it a rather mellow spin, instead of its usual hand-clapping style. The rumbling, rolling and flawlessly picked track that backs him is the star here.
AARON WATSON/Kiss That Girl Goodbye
Writer: Aaron Watson; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Big Label
-A breakup has never sounded this excited and rocking.
OLD DOMINION/Make It Sweet
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; RCA
– As usual, the song craftsmanship is first rate. The happy, hooky toe tapper is about seizing the moment and having a fine time in romance, because “life is short, make it sweet.”
GOLD CITY/Alabama Mud
Writers: Jason Wayne Cox/Timothy Harold Lovelace/Belinda Lee Smith; Producers: Michael Sykes, Daniel Riley & Ken Harding; Publishers: Christian Taylor/Daywind/House of Lovelace, BMI; New Haven
– These stellar singing souls recently and deservedly entered the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. If you’ve ever wondered if there really is “power in the blood,” give this deep dive into backwoods country a listen. A spectacular performance. Want a trip to vintage Southern-gospel heaven? Check out the group’s revival of the old Florida Boys favorite “Bible Lovin’ Man,” which is also on its new Hope for the Journey collection.
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