DISClaimer: Dixie Chicks’ “Gaslighter” Is “A Total Blast From Start To Finish”

Greatness is timeless.

That’s the message in today’s DisClaimer column. Some of the best music in this stack comes from veterans like Pam Tillis, the Dixie Chicks, Keith Urban and Bobby Bare. In fact, the Dixie Chicks ride off with the Disc of the Day award.

Among our newcomers today, Stephanie Nash sounds like a real comer to me. Give that lady a DisCovery Award.

SEAN STEMALY/Come Back To Bed
Writers: Sean Stemaly/Andy Albert/Jared Mullins/Alysa Vanderheym; Producer: Joey Moi; Publisher: Buzz Light Beer Music (ASCAP), Tree Vibez Music/Mullins It Over Music/Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. (BMI), BMG Platinum Songs US (BMI), Castle Bound Music, Inc. (SESAC); Big Loud
-The lyric is super sexy. The monotonic melody is a turn off.

STEPHANIE NASH/Best Side of Me
Writers: Stephanie Nash/Logan Tucker/Ethan Willis/Jody Chappell; Producer: Kent Wells; Publisher: none listed; SN
– This has a very cool, dark, rocking undertow that is gripping and ear catching. Her confident, penetrating vocal delivery smacks every note resoundingly. The “rebel” lyric is a winner, too. Play it.

PAM TILLIS/Looking for a Feeling
Writers: Pam Tillis/Waylon Payne; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Stellar Cat
– I have always loved the smoky soul in this woman’s voice. On this title track of her forthcoming album, she luxuriates in a deep-South, bluesy groove while painting portraits of friends, neighbors and kin. Can’t wait to hear the rest of what promises to be a landmark collection.

DON RAY/Band of Gypsies
Writers: Don Ray/Tony Paoletta; Producer: Tony Paoletta/Don Ray; Publisher: Margdon/Sister Spike, BMI; Margdon (track)
– It’s a slow, drawling, brooding, dramatic tale about refusing to give in to the demands of the music biz. He stands by his “outlaw” friends in his band when the Man tells him to leave them behind. But he sounds so darned flat-footed and boring while doing it.

DIXIE CHICKS/Gaslighter
Writers: Emily Strayer/Jack Antonoff/Martie Maguire/Natalie Maines; Producers: Dixie Chicks/Jack Antonoff; Publisher: none listed; SME/Columbia
– This is a total blast from start to finish. The trio goes all sassy and feisty, bitch-slapping a no-good ex who made off with the money. The vocal harmonies are stunning. The beat is relentless. The mood is firecracker explosive. In a word, fabulous. In another word, “Yaaaaaay!”

CAITLYN SMITH/Supernova
Writers: Caitlyn Smith/Aimee Mayo; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Monument
– The title tune of Smith’s sophomore CD is a gorgeous, sad, haunting ballad. Time is fleeting, and we are all must grow and leave our childhoods behind. The echoey atmosphere and spare piano accompaniment are as mesmerizing as her aching vocal delivery.

KEITH URBAN/God Whispered Your Name
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Capitol Nashville
– It’s a romantic slow-burn groover with touches of quiet-storm soul. Extremely glossy and listenable. A big hit, for sure.

KELSEA BALLERINI/Hole in the Bottle
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Black River
– Snappy and coy, this little bopper excuses her wino problem because she’s nursing a busted heart. Cleverly written. Delightfully sung.

BOBBY BARE/Living Legend
Writer: Shel Silverstein; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; BB
– The Country Music Hall of Famer is wry and ironic on this self-referential two-step about a fading folk singer. He recollects past glories and regrets the pills while pleading for a one more gig. You kiddies who don’t know who the late Shel Silverstein is need to stop what you’re doing right now and research his brilliant songwriting catalog.

THE REVENUE MAN/Tennessee Sunset
Writers: Denny Rudolph/Glenn Brown; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; TRM (track)
– This unusual billing belongs to singer-songwriter Glenn Hunter Brown. His debut CD is titled 25 Years Behind and features this wistful meditation on a romance he foolishly let slip away. His weathered, lived-in voice has a plain-spoken beauty, and the simple, eloquent production is perfect for the nostalgia in the lyric. Also check out his countrified reading of Elvis Costello’s “(What’s So Funny About) Peace, Love and Understanding.” Americana programmers take note, as well.

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

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