Black Lives Matter say the stars in this week’s edition of DISClaimer.
Henry Particelli and Tony Stampley are singing songs of racial reconciliation. Kane Brown is on hand with Khalid and Swae Lee, as is newcomer Camo Brian, who wins the DisCovery Award.
There are plenty of other good tunes today. I especially recommend Runaway June, Eric Paslay and Chris Janson. For super songwriting excellence, the essentials are Hailey Whitter‘s “Janice at the Hotel Bar” and our Disc of the Day, “Lonely Alone” by Sheryl Crow with Willie Nelson.
RUNAWAY JUNE/We Were Rich
Writers: Ashley Gorley/Ross Copperman/Nicolle Galyon; Publisher: EMI Blackwood/Combustion Engine; Producer: none listed; BBR/Wheelhouse
-Sweetly heart tugging and absolutely gorgeous sounding. I don’t know which I like better, the deliciously well written lyric or the breath-taking harmony-vocal perfection. I fell hard for this little slice of American life. With new member Natalie Stovall on board, the trio introduced this on last week’s Grand Ole Opry broadcast. Loved it then. Love it now.
CHRIS JANSON/Waitin’ On 5
Writers: Chris Janson/Craig Wiseman/Shy Carter/Tommy Cecil; Publisher: Sony/ATV/BMG Rights/Ole; Producer: none listed; Warner
-A blue-collar rouser that’s itching for the working day to end so that the party can begin. I usually don’t like gang-shouted backup vocals, but they work perfectly here.
Writers: Tony Stampley/Bonnie Swayze; Publisher: none listed; Producer: Chris Janson, Tommy Cecil; TS
-A song for our times. It’s a plea for peace between races and for universal love. Tony’s songs have been recorded by a country who’s-who, including Hank Jr., Billy Currington, Randy, Moe, Tritt, John Anderson, George Jones, Chesnutt, Confederate Railroad and his daddy Joe Stampley. As he had done many times before, he can sing ’em just fine, himself.
ERIC PASLAY/Nice Guy
Writers: Eric Paslay/Craig Wiseman; Publisher: none listed; Producer: F. Reid Shippen/Tofer Brown; Paso Fino Records
– Very cute. He’s gonna get mean and nasty because, “It just don’t pay to be a nice guy in a bad-guy world.” The bopping track and light-hearted vocal are as delightful as the lyric. The video is a spot-the-celebrity collage of cameo appearances interspersed with Paslay in the slammer. I’ve always liked this guy.
HAILEY WHITTERS/Janice at the Hotel Bar
Writers: Hailey Whitters/Lori McKenna; Publisher: Scrambler Music, a division of Carnival Music Group, Maps and Records Music, Creative Pulse Music; Producer: Jake Gear, Hailey Whitters; Pigasus/Big Loud/Songs & Daughters
– This woman is so prodigiously talented. As if singing like a hillbilly angel wasn’t enough, she can write something so simply profound and true as this minor masterpiece. While you’re seeking this gem out (and you should), get addicted and plunge into the audio wonders of “Dream Girl,” “All the Cool Girls” and the rest of her extraordinary catalog. Her entire album The Dream is a country lover’s dream.
KANE BROWN, SWAE LEE & KHALID/Be Like That
Writers: Xplicit/Charlie Handsome/Kane Brown; Publisher: Universal/Warner Chappell; Producer: none listed; RCA
– Tuneful, jaunty and catchy, in a loopy kinda way. The mash-up of country with hip-hop is surprisingly effective in this ditty about a conflicted relationship. It works because Swae Lee’s falsetto portion and Khalid’s robust lower voice alleviate Brown’s (overly?) repetitive main refrain.
HENRY PARTICELLI/Your Name
Writer: Particelli; Publisher: none listed; Producer: Henry Particelli; HP
-Particelli wrote this in the wake of George Floyd’s death. “I know you never wanted this kind of fame/I’m so sorry that’s how we know your name,” he sings to the innocent man who died at the hands of police officers. The video intercuts shots of everyday citizens, black and white, holding signs with slogans of affirmation with footage of him singing alone in the studio. Toward the finale, he is pictured performing the lyric in a police uniform. It is not a costume for the video. You see, he is a for-real Metro Nashville police sergeant, trying to restore cops’ reputations by emphasizing their overall wish to help the public. He has his work cut out for him: This week in a botched-address scenario, Nashville officers broke down the door of an innocent Black mother’s home with their guns drawn while she pleaded for her children’s lives.
LAUREN ALAINA & JON PARDI/Getting Over Him
Writers: Lauren Alaina/Paul DiGiovanni/Emily Weisband; Publisher: none listed; Producer: none listed; Mercury Nashville
-It’s a rocking “rebound” tune. They both exude personality and verve, but Alaina definitely has the edge over her partner.
CAMO BRIAN/Already Famous
Writers: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Producers: none listed; Average Joes
-Bear with me: His name is Camo, and he wears camo. Musically, he takes a page from the Lil Nas X/BRELAND country-trap playbook in this banger about loving his lady just the way she is. She’s a “celebrity on the red carpet/In some clothes you bought from Target.” Also: He likes her rear end, so “Go ahead and park it.” He’s an animated figure in his video wherein he name checks both “Old Town Road” and “Blue Ain’t Your Color.” This is his first single.
SHERYL CROW & WILLIE NELSON/Lonely Alone
Writer: Sheryl Crow, Shane McAnally; Publisher: none listed; Producer: Steve Jordan; Valory Music Co.
-Drawn from her celebrity-collabs CD Threads, which she says is her final album, Crow gets all warm and cozy in this outstanding duet with Nelson. The song of two strangers sidling up to each other in a bar is wonderfully well written. Willie’s beautifully comforting voice and guitar playing are the real stars here, plus a splendid harmonica solo from Mickey Raphael. Applause, applause, applause for a superbly executed track.
LUKE LAIRD/Music Row
Writer: Luke Laird; Publisher: none listed; Producer: Luke Laird; LL
-Laird has written 24 chart-topping hits for others and collected baskets of award trophies. This is the title tune of his debut solo album. He sings in a light, soft tenor while the lazy-day, drum-loop track burbles gently behind him. The charming lyric is packed with Nashville place names while describing the uncertain yet hopeful life of a tunesmith. Laird also hosts a new show on Apple Music called Country Replay Radio.