DISClaimer Singles Reviews: Keith Urban, Carly Pearce, Trace Adkins, And More

Today’s edition of DISClaimer is country, country, country all the way. We have superlative singles from Matt Stell, Cody Johnson, Sean Stemaly, Carly Pearce and Trace Adkins. All of them deserve your unconditional support.

The abundance of quality leads to a tie for the Disc of the Day award. Let Johnson and Pearce both have the spotlight, please. Our newcomers today are Southerland, Wendy Moten and Travis Tidwell. Moten is the best singer, but her song is weak. Southerland could use a stronger song, too.

CODY JOHNSON/Dear Rodeo
Writers: Dan Couch/Cody Johnson; Publisher: none listed; Producer: none listed; Warner
– It’s a love letter to the sport he loves and gave up. And it’s a beautiful piece of work. This Texan just might be the future of real country music. At least I hope he is.

MATT STELL/If I Was A Bar
Writers: none listed; Publisher: none listed/ASCAP; Producer: none listed; Arista Nashville
– Very cleverly written and sung with honky-tonk aplomb. Loved every hillbilly note.

TRACE ADKINS/Just The Way We Do It
Writers: Jeffrey Steele/Danny Myrick/Kip Raines/Bart Allmand; Publisher: none listed; Producer: Bart Butler; Verge
– Tap yer toes and bop along as Trace leads us in this party-hearty anthem. Guitars stutter and beats abound in this charming, good-time romp. Play and smile.

WENDY MOTEN/Can’t We Get Along
Writer: Pat Boone; Publisher: none listed; Producer: none listed; The Gold Label
– This power ballad about peace and brotherhood is spectacularly well sung, but sadly under-written with platitude piled on platitude. Moten is a genre-fluid vocalist who performs with western swingers The Time Jumpers and has also charted with R&B singles such as 1993’s “Come In Out of the Rain.” Somebody please give this gifted lady a hit song to sing.

FLORIDA GEORGIA LINE/Long Live
Writers: Tyler Hubbard/Brian Kelley/Corey Crowder/David Garcia/Josh Miller; Publisher: Big Loud Mountain / T Hubb Publishing / Pranch Ringle Music (BMI). All Rights Administered by Round Hill Works./ WC Music Corp. / Big Crowd Publishing / Georgia Song Vibez (ASCAP). All rights o/b/o Big Crowd Publishing and Georgia Song Vibez administered by WC Music Corp./ Spirit Two Nashville / 4theKidz Music / Spirit Vault Songs (ASCAP) administered by Spirit Two Nashville./ Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp. / Jack 10 Publishing / Songs of the Corn (BMI). All rights o/b/o itself, Jack 10 Publishing and Songs of the Corn administered by Warner-Tamerlane Publishing Corp; Producers: Hubbard/Kelley/Crowder; Big Machine
– I don’t think you could string more bro-country cliches together if you tried. They’re all here: longnecks, dirt roads, babes in cut-off jeans and more.

DWAIN MESSER/Ease My Troubled Mind
Writer: Dwain Messer; Publisher: Head of the Hollar; ASCAP; Producer: Mark Beckett; N Crowd
– He longs for relief from the rat race and a return to a simpler life. Produced with eloquent country simplicity and sung with hillbilly heart. It is also nearly five minutes long.

SEAN STEMALY/As Far As I Know
Writers: Jameson Rodgers/Hunter Phelps/Justin Wilson; Publisher: WC Music Corp./Who Wants To Buy My Publishing (ASCAP),Highly Combustible Music/One77 Songs (ASCAP), Legends Of Magic Mustang Music/Somebody Play It Again (SESAC); Producers: Joey Moi/Derek Wells; Big Loud
– Is she leaving their small-town life behind or just headed to her Mama’s house? Either way, this country boy feels heartache. Stemaly’s vocal is full of authenticity, although you do have to strain sometimes to hear the lyric amid the gorgeous, echoey production. Well worth your spins.

TENILLE TOWNES/Hallelujah
Writer: Leonard Cohen; Publisher: none listed; Producer: Jay Joyce; Columbia
– It is a classic, great song. But it has already been recorded by a bluezillion artists. There is even a whole book devoted to it. This lifeless rendition does nothing to enhance it. Unnecessary.

CARLY PEARCE/Next Girl
Writers: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Producer: none listed; BMLG
– Fabulous record. She sings the heck outta this uptempo cautionary lyric addressed to any future victims of a barroom lothario. This wonderfully written ditty is sprinkled with stardust. Loved “Every Little Thing” about it.

SOUTHERLAND/Thing Is
Writers: Matt Chase/Chris Rogers/Greg Bates; Publisher: none listed; Producer: Trent Willmon; River House/Sony
– It’s a duo, but it is mixed like a solo performance, with the harmony vocal being reduced to mere backup status. The song is a country bopper about being head over heels.

KEITH URBAN/Tumbleweed
Writers: James McNair/Jaren Johnston/Neil Mason; Publisher: Sony-ATV/Kobalt; Publisher: none listed; Capitol Nashville
– He’s a rocker at heart, and he really struts his shredder stuff in the guitar solo. The frenzied tempo and rapid-fire lyric delivery are as catchy as can be.

TRAVIS TIDWELL/Catch Me If You Can
Writers: T. Tidwell/M. Tidwell; Publisher: none listed; Producers: Kelly Schoenfeld, Kent Wells, Dave Fowler & Travis Tidwell; GTR
– There’s more than a little Southern rock in this long-haired fellow. He’s a screamin’ good guitarist with a bluesy bent, cool organ fills and soul-sister backup vocals. Get on board all you Skynyrd/Allman devotees.

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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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