DISClaimer: Kip Moore, King Calaway Lead New Releases

Country music is shaking off the winter doldrums.

The tempo tunes here seem designed to chase away those gray skies. So a hearty thanks to Hunter Hayes, Blackberry Smoke, Alexis Ebert and our Disc of the Day prize winner, Kip Moore.

Interestingly, all three of the DisCovery Award contenders are groups. Farewell Angelina, Rebel Union and our winners, King Calaway, all have audio enchantment in their arsenals.

KING CALAWAY/World For Two
Writers: Ross Copperman/James Abrahart/Josh Osborne; Producers: none listed; Publishers: EMI Blackwood/Artist 101/Smackville/Anderson Fork in the Road/Rezonant/Plain Jane/Let’s Get Brunch, no performance rights listed; Stoney Creek
– Wafting and dreamy. The soft, seductive lead vocal blends into enchanting group harmonies as you drift into the choruses. A head-in-the-clouds musical moment.

HUNTER HAYES/Heartbreak
Writers: Hunter Hayes/Thomas “Tawgs” Salter/Gordie Sampson/Simon Wilcox; Producers: Hunter Hayes/Sam Ellis; Publishers: Published by Songs of Universal, Inc. / Ogden Avenue Publishing (BMI) / Sony/ATV Music Publishing Canada (SOCAN) / 1217 Music / Still Working For The Woman Inc. (ASCAP), All rights administered by Kobalt Songs Music Publishing / EMI Blackwood Music Inc. / Stellar Songs Limited / Dames Booze And Chains (BMI); Atlantic
-Wonderfully energetic, delightfully upbeat, undeniably hooky. Loved it.

JON LANGSTON/Dance Tonight
Writers: Jon Langston/Jody Stevens; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed, EMI/32 Bridge
– Lotsa guitar. Lotsa everything. Busy sounding.

DIERKS BENTLEY/Living
Writers: Ross Copperman/Jon Nite/Ashley Gorley/Dierks Bentley; Producers: Ross Copperman & Jon Randall Stewart; Publishers: EMI Blackwood/Plain Jane/Rezolant/EMI April/Nite Writer/Combustion Engine/Sadie’s Favorite/WB/DudeTunes/Kobalt, BMI/ASCAP; Capitol
– Drink in every moment. Savor your existence. Experience the beauty of life with every breath. “Have a heart full of grateful for all you’ve been given.” Cool message. Cool record. Cool artist.

ALEXIS EBERT/Ride Or Die
Writers: Alexis Ebert/Tammy Hyler; Producer: Mickey Jack Cones; Publishers: Wrensong Music Publishing/Rezonant Music Publishing/Smashville Entertainment Music Publishing; BMI; Smashville
– She has a dark, smoky delivery that matches the deep-bass rumble of the rocking production perfectly. Fiery and sexy.

KIP MOORE/The Bull
Writers: Jon Randall/Luke Dick; Producer: Luke Dick; Publishers: BMG Platinum/SWMBMGBMI/Lonesome Vinyl/Emileon/Little Louder/Songs of Kobalt, BMI; MCA
– His finest performance to date. Full of bluster, packed with rhythm snap, swaggering with pride and blazing with intensity. Every second is an amusement-park ride.

REBEL UNION/Brand New
Writers: Allie Johnson/Zach Laughlin/Madison Parks/Suzanne Dennis/Blake Mohler; Producers: Dan Hannon; Publishers: none listed; RU
– There’s a lot of talent here. The pop-ish arrangement bubbles along nicely. The voices are charming. The song is sweetly endearing. Send more.

LOGAN MIZE/Better Off Gone
Writers: Abe Stoklasa/Donovan Woods, Producer: Daniel Agee; Publishers: Big Yellow Dog/CMRRA/Sony ATV/Downtown, ASCAP; Big Yellow Dog
– Everything this guy releases is just dandy. I remain a fan with his performance of this bittersweet farewell song.

FAREWELL ANGELINA/Women and Wine
Writers: Nicole Witt/Andrea Young/Lauren Lucas/Sarah Davidson; Producers: Farewell Angelina; Publishers: Wittsong Entertainment, Sagivarius Songs, Sparky Noodle Music, Little Georgia Peach Music; 117 Entertainment
-This female quartet has flawlessly rehearsed vocal harmonies to spare. The shimmering, echoey production is lovely. The song is super contemporary: “You know only two things get better with time, women and wine.” Welcome to the winner’s circle.

BLACKBERRY SMOKE/Best Seat In The House
Writers: Keith Nelson/Charlie Starr; Producers: Blackberry Smoke; Publishers: none listed; BS
– Nice work. Chiming, shining, hooky, rhythm-happy roots-pop in the vein of Tom Petty. These popular country rockers are booked to play the Ryman on Friday and Saturday (Feb. 22 & 23). I am told that they are fantastic live.

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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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