Everybody is batting a thousand today.
Knock-it-out-of-the-park entries by Eric Church, Luke Combs, Cam, Chris Young and Ingrid Andress are the order of the day. Plus, we have breath-takingly great collaborations between Miranda and Maren, as well as Taylor and the Chicks.
Give a Disc of the Day to Lady Antebellum for uniform excellence on every level with “Pictures.”
The DISCovery Award goes to the FGL-found Dylan Schneider. I believe you’re gonna like this guy.
NOAH SCHNACKY/I’ll Be The One
Writers: Noah Schnacky/Seth Ennis/Jordan Schmidt; Producer: Dann Huff; Publisher: WB/Sony-ATV Countryside/Sony-ATV Accent/Songs From the Rose Hotel/Wc/We-volve/Georgia Song Vibez/Smacknacky, no performance rights listed; Big Machine
– The performance has a slight blue-eyed-soul quality. His jaunty, youthful tenor seems sincere. For all those dewy-eyed, tween-country gals out there.
Writers: Dave Haywood/Charles Kelley/Hillary Scott/Sarah Buxton/Corey Crowder; Producer: Dann Huff; Publishers: none listed; Big Machine
– Very nice. The mellow melodic vibe pushes a wafting breeze over the wistful, downbeat lyric that is mighty, mighty pleasing. The relationship is over, but the sentimental photos remain. Love the guitar work. Love the harmonies. Love the songwriting.
DYLAN SCHNEIDER/How To Country
Writers: Dylan Schneider/Mark Holman/James McNair/Justin Wilson; Producer: Mark Holman; Publisher: none listed; Interscope/Round Here
– The “I’m-so-country” lyric territory is well worn. Practically worn out, in fact. But the funky production, processed audio effects and his strong vocal make the whole thing sound super fresh. The four-song EP is called Whole Town Talk, and it is an introduction to a fine talent.
LUKE COMBS/Even Though I’m Leaving
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; River House/Columbia Nashville
– The newest member of the Grand Ole Opry proves again how much he deserves his stardom. Life might be fleeting, but those who depart from us never really do. The feelings conveyed here are authentic, and his vocal is country perfection. Say “Amen,” somebody.
Writers: none listed; Producer: Jokke Pettersson; Publisher: none listed; RCA
– It’s a lilting Nashville cover of a pop song by the Euro act Christine & The Queens. Cam sings it entirely in French. It is simply beautiful, even if you don’t understand a word. I remain a huge fan of this sublimely creative and individualistic artist.
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publishers: none listed; RCA
– He’s lost in waves of misery and mourning. Chris sings for all of us who have lost someone way too soon. And he does it with a true country heart.
INGRID ANDRESS/We’re Not Friends
Writers: Ingrid Andress/A.J. Pruis/Derrick Southerland/Nate Cyphert; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Atlantic
– This lady so beautifully captures how complicated relationships can be. It’s a complex song, full of twists and turns. But her assured performance and brilliant writing keep the whole thing wooshing down the tracks. Wonderfully involving, ear-catching and brain tickling. She’s a terrific music creator. Play her.
Writers: Eric Church/Jeff Hyde; Producer: Jay Joyce; Publisher: Sony-ATV Tree/Longer and Louder/Mammaw’s Friend Okra/Little Louder/Songs of Kobalt, BMI; EMI
– For my money, this is the greatest singer-songwriter currently working in country music. Every single line of this had me on the edge of my seat. It’s a cautionary ode of an unsettled heart, a loving father and soul sicknesses that stalk us all. And the rhythm track kicks ass.
TAYLOR SWIFT & THE DIXIE CHICKS/Soon You’ll Get Better
Writers: Taylor Swift/Jack Antonoff; Producers: Jack Antonoff/Taylor Swift; Publishers: none listed; Republic
– The softly melodic, heartfelt, hopeful ballad is reportedly about Taylor’s mother’s battle with cancer. The harmonies and banjo droplets by the Chicks are heavenly. This stop-the-world performance touches every corner of your heart. Awesome and gorgeous and real.
MIRANDA LAMBERT & MAREN MORRIS/Way Too Pretty For Prison
Writers: Lambert/Hillary Lindsey/Lori McKenna/Liz Rose; Producers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; RCA/Vanner
– They’ve thought about “Goodbye Earl” and “Thelma and Louise” (not to mention Brandy Clark’s “Stripes”), but those prison jumpsuits just won’t do. These two Texas twisters define “feisty.” In a word, a hoot.
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