DISClaimer Singles Reviews: Brandy Clark, Mickey Guyton, Sheryl Crow, And More

photo credit: Chris Phelps

On Tuesday, Aug. 18, we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of women winning the right to vote.

The Tennessee legislature here in Nashville was the deciding institution in the passage of the constitutional amendment. To celebrate, the downtown public library is dedicating a new exhibit/wing honoring Votes for Women and we are all invited to participate with guest Rosanne Cash online. In person, shoot a video of yourself ringing a bell and saying what you’re ringing it for. Be sure to tag NewsChannel 5 and the Nashville Public Library and use the hashtag “I ring the bell” when you post it to NPL.

Also to celebrate, welcome to this all-female DisClaimer. Any day I get to hear music by Brandy Clark, Mickey Guyton, Sheryl Crow and Lori McKenna is a banner day for me. Brandy Clark has our Disc of the Day.

Intriguing, individualistic Rachel Brooke is the DisCovery Award winner.

JEANNIE SEELY & WAYLON PAYNE/Old Flames Can’t Hold A Candle To You
Writers: Pebe Sebert/Hugh Moffatt; Publisher: Pebe Sebert/BMG Rights Management/Rightsong/Warner-Tamerlane, BMI; Producer: Don Cusic; Curb
-Seely turned 80 this year, but she sounds as soulful as ever on her new CD An American Classic. She’s joined on the set by bevy of celeb guests — Bill Anderson, Steve Wariner, The Whites, Rhonda Vincent, Willie Nelson, Lorrie Morgan, Vince Gill, Ray Stevens and, in this case, Waylon Payne. This golden-oldie ballad is taken at a slow, deliberate pace with plenty of space for both singers to phrase and harmonize. Now celebrating her 50th anniversary as an Opry member, Seely is in the spotlight on Tuesday (Aug. 18) as the latest star in the streamed “Change the Conversation” series about women in country music.

LINDSAY ELL/Want Me Back
Writers: Lindsay Ell/Kane Brown/Matt McGinn/Lindsay Rimes; Publisher: none listed; Producer: Dann Huff; BBR
-Ell is currently a double ACM nominee as Best New Female Artist and Musical Event (for “What Happens in a Small Town” with Brantley Gilbert). This single is drawn from her acclaimed new Heart Theory concept CD about dealing with grief. The track burbles with electronics while she sings with direct aim at an ex. Forceful and fiery. She’ll perform it streamed live from the Ryman on the Today show on Monday (Aug. 17, during the 10 a.m. portion of the show). Also highly recommended from this collection is the courageous and brilliantly written (with Brandy Clark) “Make You” about surviving rape as a teen.

KELLY LANG/Drive
Writer: Ric Ocasek; Publisher: none listed; Producer: none listed; KL
-This is a lustrous, enchanting, atmospheric and superbly listenable revival of the 1994 pop masterpiece by The Cars. Lang employs both a husky whisper and a throaty soar as she gives the tune a nuanced vocal performance. A beautiful change of pace that deserves massive airplay.

SHERYL CROW/Woman in the White House
Writers: Chris DuBois/Sheryl Crow/David Lee Murphy; Publisher: none listed; Producer: none listed; Big Machine
– Sheryl rocks out on this feisty, bluesy, feminist bopper. With Joe Biden’s announcement of Kamala Harris as his running mate this week, the song is suddenly super timely. The instrumental fade-out is needlessly cluttered and busy sounding.

HEIDI NEWFIELD & DELBERT McCLINTON/The Blues Is My Business
Writers: Kevin Bowe/Todd Cerney; Publisher: Publisher: none listed, BMI/ASCAP; Producers: Heidi Newfield, Jim “Moose” Brown; Notfamousenough
– Noted for her string of hits as the lead singer of Trick Pony, as well as for her “Johnny and June” solo success, Newfield is back with a collection titled The Barfly Sessions. She gets down and dirty on this rhythmic romper, blowing harmonica and wailing a saucy vocal with McClinton. Soulful and cool.

JAMIE O’NEAL/Wreck Me
Writers: Jamie O’Neal/Hannah Bethel/Rachele Lynae; Publisher: none listed; Producer: none listed; JO
-I am always so impressed with this lady’s record productions. As ever, this is a model of sonic clarity and perfect mixing. Also as ever, she sings her face off. The song is a smoldering, sultry stomp about surrendering in romance. This is pure country class.

LORI McKENNA/The Balladeer
Writer: Lori McKenna; Publisher: none listed; Producer: Dave Cobb; Publisher: CN/Thirty Tigers
– The double-tracked vocal took a little getting used to, but the song is a brilliantly written, aching ode about the struggle to make it in music while getting your heart broken in romance. Lilting, poetic and altogether lovely. I am hopelessly in love with this artist.

MICKEY GUYTON/Heaven Down Here
Writers: Mickey Guyton/Gordie Sampson/Josh Kear/Hillary Lindsey; Publisher: none listed; Producer: Karen Kosowski; Capitol Nashville
– Guyton continues her march toward greater artistic excellence with this pristinely sung and exquisitely produced, throbbing track. It’s a plea to God to send down some solace in these troubled times. This woman has the goods, people.

CASSADEE POPE/Rise and Shine
Writers: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Producers: Cassadee Pope/Todd Lombardo; CP
-Pope’s new sound is stripped down and acoustic. This is the title tune of a collection that showcases her newfound strength as a cowriter, as well as her customary power as a singer. It’s a ballad about finding strength and persevering through difficulties.

BRANDY CLARK & RANDY NEWMAN/Bigger Boat
Writers: Brandy Clark/Adam Wright; Publisher: Highway 508/New House of Sea Gayle/Clearbox/Tiltawhirl/Casa de Casa/Carnival, ASCAP/BMI; Producer: Jay Joyce; Warner
– Love it. It’s wry, jaunty and sideways philosophical. Newman’s drawl is as personality-packed as usual, and Clark’s laid-back, winking delivery is a sheer delight. It fills my heart with joy that this woman makes music. She’s a genius. That’s all. The new album is called Your Life Is a Record. Buy it now.

RACHEL BROOKE/The Loneliness in Me
Writers: Rachel Brooke/Brooks Robbins; Publisher: none listed; Producer: Andy Van Guilder; Mal
-This is the title track to a self-penned collection that drops Oct. 23. She’s a charismatic, drawling low alto with a terrific, conversational delivery on this bluesy strut. There’s a great deal of promise here. The next step should be to come to Nashville and get some production and instrumental finesse behind her.

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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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