DISClaimer: Luke Combs, Brandon Ratcliff Debut Top New Tunes

Luke Combs

Today belongs to the youngsters.

This column is packed with the up-and-comers who are shaping the future of the country genre. There’s nary a superstar in sight.

There is one guy who is closing in on superstardom. That would be Luke Combs, who finishes in a dead heat with newby Tyler Rich for the Disc of the Day prize.

With a debut single that shows loads of promise, Brandon Ratcliff wins a DisCovery Award.

DUSTIN LYNCH/Ridin’ Roads
Writers: Dustin Lynch, Ashley Gorley/Zach Crowell; Producer: Zach Crowell; Publisher:Magic Mustang Music (BMI) admin by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp., Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI), Round Hill Songs II (ASCAP), Caleb’s College Fund (ASCAP) admin by Round Hill Songs II, Spirit Two Nashville (ASCAP), Miller Crow Music (ASCAP) admin by Spirit Two Nashville, Kyler’s Kinda Night (ASCAP) admin by Spirit Two Nashville; BBR
– Well done. His velvet vocal eases over this airy, echoey production and a small-town lyric infused with romance. An audio delight.

TENILLE TOWNES/I Kept The Roses
Writers: Tenille Townes/Dustin Christensen/Chris Gelbuda; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publishers: Year of the Dog Music (admin by Downtown)/Scrambler Music (admin by Bluewater)/National Dog Music (admin by Downtown); ASCAP/SESAC; Columbia
– Her piercing, plaintive vocal delivery contrasts attractively with the retro r&b groove of this ballad. She remains one of our most distinctive new talents.

TYLER RICH/Leave Her Wild
Writers: Tyler Rich, Chris DeStefano, Jon Nite; Producer: Julian Raymond/Lindsay Rimes; Publishers:Hot Rod 98 Music/Tyler Rich Publishing (SESAC). All rights o/b/o Hot Rod 98 Music and Tyler Rich Publishing administered by Big Machine Music, LLC./ EMI April Music Inc. / CDs Words and Music / Nite Writer Music. All rights o/b/o EMI April Music Inc., CDs Words and Music and Nite Writer Music administered by Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC; Valory
– Very cool. The message is this — If you’re gonna love the woman, don’t try to change her and accept her for who she is. The production soars. He sings with great heart. This fellow continues to impress with every effort.

Teddy Robb/Tell Me Now
Writers: Teddy Robb/Blake Chaffin/Aaron Eshuis; Producers: Shane McAnally/Ben Fowler/Matt McGinn; Publishers: Teddy Robb Music / Songs Of Smack (BMI) / Smackville Music (ASCAP) / Limestone Road / Music Of Parallel (BMI); Monument
– I like how the spare production lets the heartache lyric stay in the spotlight. There’s a certain comfy warmth in his voice that makes him a very effective communicator here.

LUKE COMBS/Beer Never Broke My Heart
Writers: Luke Combs/Randy Montana/Jonathan Singleton; Producer: Scott Moffatt; Publishers: Big Music Machine/50 Egg Music/Straight Dimes Publishing (BMI) adm by Big Machine Music, LLC. © 2019 Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp./Sullivan S Guns Music (BMI) adm by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. © 2019 Super Big Music/Jett Music (ASCAP) adm by Big Machine Music, LLC. All rights reserved. Used by permission.; Columbia/River House
– Want to know why this guy’s career is blowing up? It’s because he is a country-music artist. Got that? Country music. The rest of you should take note. He’s singing his face off on this barroom brawler. Guaranteed to make you want to crack open a cold one.

COLT FORD/We The People
Writers: Corey Crowder/James McNair/Brandon Kinney; Producers: Noah Gordon/Shannon Houchins; Publishers: WB/Big Crowd/Georgia Song Vibez/Stay Creative/Sony-ATV Countryside/Whiskey Tub/Peermusic III, ASCAP/BMI; Average Joes
– As usual, he doesn’t actually sing as much as he just exudes attitude. This is a rowdy, rockin’ stomper with hooks a-plenty. Which is to say, it’s as catchy as can be.

MATT STELL/Prayed For You
Writers: Allison Margaret Veltz/Ash Bowers/Matt Stell; Producer: none listed; Publishers: Words & Music/Big Deal/Amplified Administration/Sony-ATV, no performance rights listed; Arista/RECORDS
– The winsome song is well crafted, and he sings with gusto. The paint-by-numbers production does nothing for me.

BRANDON RATCLIFF/Rules of Breaking Up
Writers: Brandon Ratcliff/AJ Babcock/Pete Good; Producers: Pete Good/Shane McAnally; Publishers: none listed; Monument
– Very promising. It’s a little too pop for my taste, but his gentle vocal delivery and the twisty heartbreak melody are certainly ear catching. Brandon is the son of Suzanne Cox of the esteemed Cox Family, so music is in the boy’s blood.

SEAFORTH/Love That
Writers: Tom Jordan/Mitchell Thompson/Daniel Ross/Michael Whitworth; Producers: Dann Huff/Seaforth; Publishers: Incognito Street Music/Smoke Tavern Publishing (BMI/APRA) ©2019 Mitchell Thompson Publishing / Big Music Machine/Florida Song Vibez/I Finally Got Some Riser House Publishing BMI/APRA/ASCAP/SESAC
– Breezy and summery, with a nice thumpy backbeat and youthful, boyish vocals. An attractive debut.

JAKE OWEN/Homemade
Writers: Ben Goldsmith/Bobby Pinson/Drew Parker/Jared Mullins; Producer: Joey Moi; Publishers: Warner Chappell/BMG Rights Management, no performance rights listed; Big Loud
– His comeback remains on a roll with this rolling ride through the countryside. This sunny outing has summertime hit written all over it.

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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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