DISClaimer: Brantley Gilbert Brings “Great Country Craftmanship” To “Bad Boy”

Brantley Gilbert.

There’s an awful lot of pop music being marketed as “country” in today’s listening session.

But there are roses among the thorns. Chief among these is Brantley Gilbert. The “outlaw” star achieves new heights with “Bad Boy” and easily claims the Disc of the Day prize.

The DisCovery Award goes to Kentucky mountain boy Ian Noe. This is a singer-songwriter to be reckoned with as a true troubadour of working-class, small-town woes. Embrace his music at once.

RYAN GRIFFIN/Right Here Right Now
Writers: Ryan Griffin/Josh London/Jason Massey; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Warner
– His plaintive tenor soars over a lively rhythm track augmented by electric guitars in an echoey sonic bed. The song is a “live-for-today” romantic come-on that’s attractive and hooky.

DAN + SHAY & JUSTIN BIEBER/10,000 Hours
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Warner
– A sugary sweet pop confection that’s a lot more Bieber than backroads.

 
IAN NOE/Between The Country
Writers: none listed; Producer: Dave Cobb; Publisher: none listed; Silver and Gold
– He’s an Appalachian troubadour from East Kentucky with a gripping way with a song. The slight echo on his voice and the stark production throw a spotlight on his storytelling skill on this dramatic murder ballad. A superb disc debut. By the way, Noe is showcasing tonight at the Exit/In. Seek an invitation from Sacks & Co.

THE MAVERICKS/Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way
Writers: Waylon Jennings; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed, Thirty Tigers
– The band slightly slows down this Waylon Jennings classic, adding harmonica, horns and some extra guitar jangle to the arrangement. The 1975 original has more snarl and snap.

TREA LANDON/What Feelin’ Good Feels Like
Writers: Landon/Danny Myrick/Bryan West; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Warner
– Rural imagery abounds in this wistful, airy ode to letting the silence in and slowing life down. The details in the lyric are just dandy.

 

MAREN MORRIS & HOZIER/The Bones
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed, Columbia
– Even without Hozier, it was a pop performance. To his credit, his vocal sounds as “country” as hers does.

RUNAWAY JUNE/Head Over Heels
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed, BBR/Wheelhouse
– “I Can Buy My Own Drinks” has been one of the breakout, against-all-odds country success stories of 2019. The follow-up is a chronicle of a dating misadventure that’s frothy and cheeky.

BRANTLEY GILBERT/Bad Boy
Writers: Brantley Gilbert, Andrew DeRoberts, Josh Phillips; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Valory
– Exquisitely well written. I have repeatedly raved about his distinctive, haunting vocal tone. This illustrates what an underrated songwriter he is. The brushed-velvet ballad tells the story of a girl in love with a supposed delinquent as told from the point of view of her concerned mother. This is what great country craftsmanship sounds like. Brantley’s new Fire & Brimstone collection is out now. Get it.

 

BRANDON LAY/Still Rock and Roll
Writers: Brandon Lay/Shane McAnally/JT Hodges; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; EMI
-He’s carrying a torch for a hottie who can still captivate with just a glance. It must be that insistent beat and impossibly catchy tune, because they wind up back together as the night winds down. Tap your toes and sing along.

KRISTIN CHENOWETH, JENNIFER HUDSON & REBA McENTIRE/I’m A Woman
Writers: none listed; Producer: Steve Tyrell; Publisher: none listed, Concord
-Chenoweth is a Tony winning Broadway star (You’re a Good Man Charley Brown, Wicked, etc.) and an Emmy winning TV actor (Glee, Pushing Daisies, etc.). Her new CD is For the Girls, and it salutes Patsy Cline, Barbra Streisand, Lesley Gore, Judy Garland, Doris Day, Carole King, Linda Ronstadt and other women who have influenced her. She’s joined on this update of a feisty Peggy Lee classic by Reba and Oscar winner Hudson, and the result is delightful. Dolly is her duet partner on “I Will Always Love You.”

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About the Author

Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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