Come one, come all.
This week’s column includes several folks who made their name in other genres, but who now fit comfortably under country music’s umbrella. Sheryl Crow, Jason Crabb and Mac Powell are such great artists, that we should welcome them with open arms, however and whenever they come calling.
The same goes for Americana favorite, Tyler Childers, who wins this week’s Disc of the Day award. The DisCovery Award honor goes to singer-songwriter Allie Colleen. Lend her your ears.
ALLIE COLLEEN/Work In Progress
Writers: Allie Colleen/Marcus Hummon/Greg Beick; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; MC1 Nashville
– Lilting and lovely, it’s a meditation on growing up and taking “a journey to me.” The lyrics describe the uncertainty of youth, but there’s nothing immature about this performance. Extremely promising. This recent Belmont grad is the daughter of Garth Brooks, but richly deserves to be judged on her own talent. Allie Colleen is booked to play The Dawghouse in Music City next Tuesday (8/13).
MAC POWELL & THE FAMILY REUNION & CRAIG MORGAN/Whoo!
Writers: none listed; Producers: Jason Hoard; Publishers: none listed
– A rowdy and rocking invitation to party, party, party. The rhythmic undertow and the chesty baritone lead vocals are irresistible. Powell was formerly with the CCM act Third Day, but he’s a country-rocker now. And how.
SHERYL CROW & CHRIS STAPLETON/Tell Me When It’s Over
Writers: Sheryl Crow/Chris Stapleton; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Valory
-Thumping and tart, this has a distinct, old-school r&b groove. She begins in a light soprano range, but dips into a throaty alto when Chris joins her on the choruses. The searing guitar solo is the icing on the cake. Sheryl’s highly anticipated Threads CD appears on Aug. 30.
JASON CRABB/Day One
Writers: Jason Crabb/Gloria Gaynor/Chris Stevens; Producer: Jay DeMarcus; Publisher: none listed; Daywind
– This native Kentuckian possesses one of the most powerful voices in gospel music. Drawn from his Grammy winning Unexpected CD, this stately ballad is one more example of his electrifying greatness.
CASSADEE POPE/I’ve Been Good
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Awake
– When her ex asks how she is, she answers, “I’ve been good,” meaning she’s been good at being miserable. But she’s darned if she’s going to show him that. As usual, she sings with aplomb, even when the track plods just a little.
RODNEY ATKINS/Thank God For You
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Curb
– The hell-raising boy becomes a settled man. He sings well, and the rocking song is a good one. But there is something unattractive about how compressed and muffled this sounds. It should have been much edgier.
DYLAN SCOTT/When You Say Nothing At All
Writers: none listed; Producer: Jim Ed Norman, Matt Alderman, Curt Gibbs; Publisher: none listed; Curb
– Dylan sings this classic every night in his concerts. Now it is the debut video from his Keith Whitley tribute CD An Old Memory. It’s a flawless, heartfelt performance on a record meant to keep alive Whitley’s music and legacy. It’s Dylan’s way of saying “Thanks” to his biggest influence. And just as important, it’s a statement about who he really is as an artist, a proud neo-traditionalist. Absolutely play this.
CRYSTAL GAYLE/Ribbon of Darkness
Writer: Gordon Lightfoot; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Southpaw
– For her first album in 16 years, Crystal revisits the country classics she grew up on. You Don’t Know Me features the first recorded trio of her with sisters Loretta Lynn and Peggy Sue (”Put It Off Until Tomorrow”), as well as this rippling, lustrous lead single. The evergreen was previously a hit for Marty Robbins (1965) and Connie Smith (1969). Crystal’s single of it drops tomorrow.
JOE DIFFIE/As Long As There’s A Bar
Writers: Jessica Pearson/Galen Griffin/Keith Burns; Producer: Phil O’Donnell; Publisher: none listed; Silverado
– Diffie returns to down-home honky tonking with this steel-soaked, twanging, drawling roadhouse outing. Personality on parade.
TYLER CHILDERS/Country Squire
Writer: none listed; Producer: Sturgill Simpson/David Ferguson; Publisher: none listed; RCA
– The title tune to Tyler’s latest is a peppy two stepper. He reigns as the Americana genre’s Emerging Artist honoree, but there’s no reason on earth why mainstream country music shouldn’t embrace this authentic, gifted, rootsy singer-songwriter. I love this real-deal artist. You should too. Tyler appeared on Jimmy Fallon this week. I’d say that’s a pretty good launch for his CD.
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