DISClaimer: Jake Owen “Sounds Better Than Ever,” Dee White’s Intriguing New Track

In this column of gender parity in country, the choices are clear. Jake Owen continues his recent winning ways by nailing down the Disc of the Day honor. Dee White is totally the obvious choice as the DisCovery Award winner.

MICKEY GUYTON/Hold On
Writers: Mickey Guyton/Karen Kosowski/Victoria Banks; Producer: Karen Kosowski; Publisher: none listed; Mercury
– Magical. Her hushed, throaty alto eases into the song with the intimacy of a midnight prayer. As the song builds, her performance becomes a soaring shout of strength and reassurance. I remain a huge fan.

TONY JACKSON/Country Road
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; DDS
-Let’s face, James Taylor is more “country” than most of today’s Nashville artists. This revival of his 1971 classic goes down smoothly. Mellow and welcome.

KASSI ASHTON/Pretty Shiny Things
Writers: Ashton/Emily Landis; Producer: Luke Laird; Publishers: none listed; MCA Nashville
– Ya gotta love this gritty, expressive, soulful voice. The lyric about a pill-popping beauty is a grabber. Sing on, sister.

BROOKS & DUNN and BRETT YOUNG/Ain’t Nothing ‘Bout You
Writers: Tom Shapiro/Rivers Rutherford; Producers: Dann Huff/Brett Young; Publisher: none listed; Arista
– The duo’s 2001 chart topper becomes an r&b groover in this cool collaboration. Horns, even. Be careful not to hit your head when the ending slams on the brakes abruptly.

CAYLEE HAMMACK/Family Tree
Writers: Hammack/Troy Verges/Gordie Sampson; Producers: Mickey Reaves/Caylee Hammack; Publishers: Universal/Sounds Like Chet/Songs of Universal/Low Z/1217 Songs/Still Working for the Woman/Kobalt, BMI/ASCAP; Capitol
– It’s an odd sonic combination. The lyrics are full of vivid, countrified details, but the track is thoroughly pop. I also could have done without the gang-chorus “whoa-hoas.”

REBA McENTIRE/Freedom
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Big Machine
– As you might expect from the title, it’s a blood-stirring tempo anthem of power and victory. This gal knows her way around a song.

DEE WHITE/Wherever You Go
Writers: none listed; Producer: Dan Auerbach/David Ferguson; Publisher: none listed; Easy Eye/Warner Music Nashville
– Intriguing. There’s something in this youngster’s voice that draws you closer. The song beckons us to the open road to the accompaniment of harmonica, banjo, guitar and gentle percussion. Very, very promising.

JAKE OWEN/That’s On Me
Writers: Laura Veltz/Benjy Davis/Matt Dragstrem; Producer: Joey Moi; Publisher: none listed; Big Loud
– His voice sounds better than ever on this sexy, romantic groove tune. The song is super well written, and the production swings and sways in all the right places.

LANCO/Rival
Writers: Brandon Lancaster/Tripp Howell; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publishers: none listed; Arista
– It’s a stomper with hooks on top of hooks. Joyce’s production, as usual, is an audio delight with beats, electronic crunches, jangling guitars and other ear-catching elements. This talented band always specializes in fabulous ear worms.

ABBY ANDERSON/Good Lord
Writers: Abby Anderson/Josh Kerr/Jordan Minton; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Black River
– A not-too-country, three-minute, uptempo love song. Brainless radio fodder.

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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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