From the pop end of the spectrum, we have a dandy collaboration between FGL and Tayla Parx. For bluesy finesse, check out Stoney LaRue & Tanya Tucker, or take a murder-fantasy ride with Lockwood Barr. For nostalgia, we have The Righteous Brothers teaming with Ronnie McDowell and John Schneider on an oldie rewrite.
And for true country excellence, we bring you our Disc of the Day winner, Chris Janson and our DisCovery Award honorees Carvin Walls.
Writers: Susie Brown/Kyndon Oakes/Mark Vikingstad; Producer: Michael Boris/Sean Spence; Publishers: none listed; Lockeland
– The title says it all: This is a roll-down-the-windows, put-the-pedal-down, shout-to-the-heavens, open-road rock, rock, rocker. If this doesn’t quicken your pulse, you need a heart transplant. Loved, loved, loved it.
Writers: Chris Janson/Mitch Oglesby/Jamie Paulin/Matt Roy; Producer: Chris Janson/Tommy Cecil; Publisher: none listed; Warner Music
– Well done, son. The stately tempo, his expressive vocal, the rolling-similes lyric, the swirling production and the emotional heft of this love song are all in their perfect places. This is a smash.
RIGHTEOUS BROTHERS, JOHN SCHNEIDER, RONNIE McDOWELL/Country Heaven
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Debut (CDX)
– It’s a rewrite of the 1974 Righteous Brothers hit “Rock & Roll Heaven,” this time name-checking Conway, George, Tammy, Merle, Johnny & June, Patsy, Hank and Waylon. The massed-vocal choruses work especially well in the finale.
LOCKWOOD BARR/6 Feet Deep
Writers: Lockwood Barr/Tim McGeary; Producer: Matt Odmark; Publisher: none listed; LB
– Dark and swampy and bluesy. The intense vibe in the music is matched by a lyric with murder on its mind. Haunting and creative.
JEFF BATES/If I Get Drunk Tonight
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Skydancer
– It’s a slow jam with a midnight-misery feeling. He can’t shake her memory, and it is torturing him. As usual, Jeff’s voice is a gripping, compelling and spirit-capturing instrument. Last call for alcohol, bar patrons.
STONEY LaRUE & TANYA TUCKER/Meet Me in the Middle
Writers: Stoney LaRue/Gary Nicholson; Producer: Gary Nicholson; Publishers: none listed; One Chord Song
– Here’s a heartily recommended, bluesy, roadhouse bopper about making a relationship work. Tanya is a Grammy-nominee queen this week, and Stoney is always worth a listen. You’ll find this on Okie/Texas road-warrior LaRue’s new CD Onward, which also features such luminaries as John Cowan, The McCrary Sisters, Colin Linden, Kenny Greenberg and Mickey Raphael. In addition to producer Gary Nicholson, songwriting contributors include Shawn Camp, Lee Roy Parnell, Guy Clark, Merle Haggard and Jesse Winchester. Great stuff.
BRANTLEY GILBERT/Fire’t Up
Writers: Brantley Gilbert, Brandon Day, Justin Weaver; Producer: Brandon Day; Publisher: none listed; Valory Music Co.
– Let’s all get drunk and rowdy. The track rocks, and Brantley sings with charisma, as always.
JACKSON MICHELSON/Stay Over
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Curb
– Plaintive sounding, with a jittery rhythm track under a sexually frustrated storyline. His best effort to date.
TAYLA PARX & FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE/Fight
Writers: Tayla Parx, Alysa Vanderheym, Tyler Hubbard, Josh Miller, Robin Oliver Frid; Producer: Alysa Vanderheym, Oliver “junior” Frid, Tayla Parx; Publisher: Taylor Monet Music/Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp., Castle Bound Music, Inc., Big Loud Mountain and T Hubb Publishing (All Rights Administered by Round Hill Works), Josh Miller Publishing Designee, Parx Publishing Designee
– Powerhouse pop songwriter/producer Parx is often underrated as a singer. Teaming up with country’s FGL really gives her a place to shine in that department. I can hear this tuneful outing as a big crossover success for both acts, with ease. Essential listening this week.
CARVIN WALLS/Sometimes I Lie
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Carvin Walls (CDX)
– It’s a male-female duo. Both of them phrase beautifully as country vocalists, and on the choruses, they soar with equal power. The lyric is about pretending to get over a heartbreak. The crisp production and soft-to-shouted audio dynamics are pretty special here. Lend this your ears.