Willie Nelson celebrated his 87th birthday yesterday (April 29). We have two tunes this week saluting the Red Headed Stranger. We should all rejoice in his enduring greatness.
Despite the presence of some major country stars, this listening session belongs to the up-and-comers. Vying for Disc of the Day are Ryan Hurd, Jackson Michelson and our winner, Rachel Wammack.
The DISCovery Award belongs to Tyler Braden. I can’t wait to hear more from this extraordinary new voice.
NATHANIEL RATELIFF/Willie’s Birthday Song
Writers: Nathaniel Rateliff; Producers: Patrick Reese/James Barone/Rateliff; Publisher: none listed; Stax
-He had me from the opening lines: “Pass me that joint. It’s Willie’s birthday.” Usually noted as an Americana blue-eyed soulman, Rateliff turns in a straight-ahead country vocal on this sing-along ditty. I still say he’s one of the finest singers around. His great Night Sweats band is along for the ride, as are Willie stalwarts Bobbi Nelson and Mickey Raphael. Proceeds benefit Rateliff’s charity Marigold Project (in this case, FarmAid and StrongHearts Native Helpline).
EDIE BRICKELL & WILLIE NELSON/Sing To Me Willie
Writer: Edie Brickell; Producers: Edie Brickell/Kyle Crusham; Publisher: none listed; Shuffle/Thirty Tigers
– Native Texan Brickell shucks her pop duds for country trappings on this sparely-produced duet with the living legend. He provides his distinctive guitar picking as well as a well-seasoned vocal that offers Lone Star State local color. Proceeds benefit the MusicCares COVID-19 fund.
KANE BROWN/Cool Again
Writers: Kane Brown/Josh Hoge/Matthew McGinn/Lindsay Rimes; Producers: Dann Huff/Lindsay Rimes; Publisher: none listed; RCA
-Very catchy and well sung. There’s not much that’s “country” about it, but it is highly listenable. Besides, he’s on an unstoppable roll.
RACHEL WAMMACK/When I Say Amen
Writers: Rachel Wammack/Matt Maher/Sam Ellis; Producer: Sam Ellis; Publisher: none listed; RCA
– It’s a piano ballad that works as a spiritual balm for a world that has plunged into pandemic darkness. Heartfelt and very, very moving. This lady always rules.
Writers: Steph Jones/Geoff Warburton/Griffen Palmer/Mark Trussell/Sam Fischer; Producers: Joey Moi/Keith Urban; Publisher: none listed; Capitol Nashville
– Bubbling memories of summers gone by. Bopping and endearing.
RYAN HURD/Every Other Memory
Writers: Ryan Hurd/Nathan Spicer/Cole Taylor; Producer: Aaron Eshuis; Publisher: UMPG; RCA
– Nostalgia with a kick-drum backbeat. It rumbles along so beautifully that you’d be a fool not to fall under its spell and roll with it. Ryan’s wife Maren Morris is on harmony vocals.
HIGH VALLEY/River’s Still Running
Writers: Brad Rempel/Randy Montana/Corey Crowder; Producers: Mike “X” O’Conner/Seth Mosley; Publisher: none listed; Warner
– Upbeat and anthemic, this engaging thumper definitely looks on the bright side. The gist of it is, “Everything’s gonna be okay.” The “gang” vocals are particularly rousing.
JACKSON MICHELSON/One Day
Writers: Jackson Michelson/Justin Ebach/Matta Alderman; Producer: Jeff Pardo; Publisher: none listed; Curb
– Charming. It’s about watching your kids grow up. His performance is loaded with sincerity, and the twirling, swirling production around him infuses the whole thing with a warm glow. Absolutely worth your attention. Listen.
WALKER HAYES/Trash My Heart
Writers: Walker Hayes/Josh Jenkins/Josh Osborne/Jimmy Robbins; Producers: Sam Sumser/Sean Small/Shane McAnally; Publisher: none listed; Monument
– Kinda hip-hoppy, lotsa rhythmic. There are so many novelty audio touches in the arrangement and production that you can almost forget the absence of melody. Even without one, he manages to be highly personable throughout.
Writers: William Rinehart/Nathaniel Rinehart/Gavin DeGraw; Producer: Randy Montana; Publishers: Bear Lee Breathing Music (BMI), NeedToBreathe Music (BMI), G DeGraw Music Inc. (BMI), All rights administered by Downtown DMP Songs (BMI); Warner
– This stirring tune comes from the rock band NEEDTOBREATHE. Newcomer Braden has a commanding delivery, with power and grit to spare. Hang on when he swings into the choruses with wailing, chesty oomph. I dig this guy.
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