The year of unusual collaborations continues.
Today, it’s pop queen P!nk and country king Chris Stapleton. Their track on P!nk’s album is essential listening and was a highlight of her recent TV special.
In more familiar terrain, the chest-out, proudly country new track by Jon Pardi wins the Disc of the Day award, and the rockin’ country of James Wesley earns him a DisCovery honor.
LOVE AND THEFT/Gimme Tonight
Writers: Jaren Johnston/Andrew Dorff; Producers: Josh Leo/Jim Ed Norman; Publisher: none listed; Curb
-I have always liked this duo. This pop confection sports their twin-like harmony voices amid a choppy, electronic and sophisticated production. Airplay ready.
SARA EVANS & THE BARKER FAMILY BAND/Dreams
Writer: Stevie Nicks; Producers: Sara Evans/Ben Fowler; Publisher: none listed; Born to Fly
– It sounds almost exactly like the Fleetwood Mac 1977 mega hit, so why not listen to the original version? That said, it is a splendid showcase for how gifted Sara’s teen children are.
Writers: Marcum Stewart/Zack Wrixon/James Wesely Prosser; Producers: none listed; JWM
– Nicely done. He has a tough, confident, traditional-country vocal delivery, and the band cooks with gas on the rocking track. This has a driving “open road” tone that is perfect for summer.
JOHN BERRY/The Richest Man
Writers: John Berry/Liz Hengber/Will Robinson; Producer: Chuck Howard/Barry Weeks; Publishers: JB/Modern Music Works/Give It All/More Coco/Notting Hill/Will Chill, SESAC/ASCAP/BMI; JB Music
– I never tire of hearing this most fundamental message of country music — happiness doesn’t lie in wealth, but in love. Few have the heart and soul to deliver it as effectively as this guy. Brilliantly crafted, wonderfully melodic, exquisitely poetic and flawlessly produced.
JON PARDI/Heartache Medication
Writers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Capitol
– Just when you thought country music was dead and buried, along comes an artist and a single like this. So righteous and hillbilly, I practically shouted hallelujah. The fiddles-and-steel production, the peppy-two-step rhythm and his drawling delivery are beamed straight from Hillbilly Heaven. Turn it on, turn it up, turn it loose.
P!NK & CHRIS STAPLETON/Love Me Anyway
Writers: James Allen Shamblin II/Tom Douglas/Alecia B. Moore; Producers: Pink/Sal Oliveri/Simon Gooding; Publishers: Sony/ATV, no performance rights listed; RCA
– Gorgeous. It’s a stunning, vulnerable Nashville love ballad that P!nk delivers with seething passion. Stapleton provides occasional harmony and then answers her phrase-for-phrase as the song moves into its luscious finale. I’d have used his vocal talent a little more, but they sound great together.
NOE PALMA/This Summer
Writers: Brian Kolb, Brian McElyea, Noe Palma; Producer: Brian Kolb, Brian McElyea, Noe Palma; Publishers: none listed; Mae Capital
– From the “woah-oh” shouted interjections to the generic country-party lyrics, this doesn’t break any new ground. However, the relentless tempo is irresistible and the youthful, “this summer’s gonna last forever” hook is completely captivating. This definitely belongs on your June/July/August playlist.
WALKER HAYES/Don’t Let Her
Writers: Walker Hayes/Shane McAnally/Andrew DeRoberts; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Arista/Monument
– His delivery remains more spoken than sung. I remain confused about how and why this is a “country” artist.
MONTGOMERY GENTRY/King of the World
Writers: Troy Jones; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Average Joes
– Hale and hearty. It’s a delightful, cute and clever little ditty about the simple pleasures of being a country boy. Your toes will tap and your lips will smile. I’m a little unclear about the billing. It’s an Eddie Montgomery solo performance, but still seems to have the “Montgomery Gentry” imprimatur.
LEE ANN WOMACK/Hollywood
Writers: Waylon Payne/Mando Saenz/Lee Ann Womack/Adam Wright; Producer: Frank Liddell; Publishers: Drip Rock Creek/Words & Music/Scrambler/Tiltawhirl/Casa de Casa/Carnival, ASCAP/BMI; ATO
– The second single drawn from her acclaimed The Lonely The Lonesome & The Gone collection is a hypnotic, sultry, shimmering heartache ballad. She is an absolutely magical vocalist. To listen is to fall in love.
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