Country goes topical this week.
In this stack of tracks we have an ode for world peace, an anti-racist message, a gay man’s song and a coronavirus composition. And they’re all pretty darn good.
The Disc of the Day award is being divided into categories. The Female honor goes to Brandy Clark (with a harmony assist from Brandi Carlile). The male prize belongs to Luke Combs. The Duo/Group platter to pick belongs to Jon Bon Jovi and Jennifer Nettles.
Our DisCovery Award is for newcomer Priscilla Block. She sounds like a comer.
ADAM DOLEAC/Meet Me in the City
Writers: Adam Doleac/Sarah Buxton/Andy Skib; Publisher: none listed; Producer: none listed; Arista
-Buoyant and bubbly, this is a rush of smiling energy. Romantic, youthful, joyous and utterly delirious. Get up and twirl around the room.
LUKE COMBS/Without You
Writers: Daniel Paul Isbell/Luke Albert Combs/Wyatt Beasley Durrette III; Publisher: none listed; Producers: Luke Combs, Chip Matthews & Jonathan Singleton; River House/Columbia/Country
-My main man brings it home yet again. This is a stirring, personal anthem to his loving fans. He sings that his stardom is nothing without them. Spoken like a country star, amen. That’s Amanda Shires on fiddle backing him.
PAISLEY FIELDS/Stay Away From My Man
Writers: Paisley Fields/Mya Byrne; Publishers: none listed; Producers: Trace Faulkner/Don Giovanni
-He’s an out gay man with country song titles like “Ride Me Cowboy.” This track is an uptempo, stuttering-guitar romp cautioning, “I’m gonna slap you silly if you touch my hillbilly” to the guy in the bar who’s coming on to his lover. He’s not the strongest singer in the world, and the band is ragged-but-right. But there’s energy and verve here.
BRANDY CLARK & BRANDI CARLILE/Same Devil
Writers: Brandy Clark/Marla Cannon/Hailey Whitters; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Brandi Carlile; Warner
-This haunting, echoey ballad explores a variety of troubled souls with a ghostly female choir soaring softly in the background. The two voices weave and blend imaginatively while the production swirls. Captivating. Clark deserves country superstardom like nobody’s bizness.
PRISCILLA BLOCK/Just About Over You
Writers: Priscilla Block/Emily Kroll/Sarah Jones; Publishers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Mercury Nashville/InDent
-This song became a TikTok viral sensation, which led to her being signed by Universal. Block has a strong, emotive country voice which she most effectively applies to this plaintive lyric. It’s almost closing time in the bar, and she’s got a nice wine buzz going, feeling good about herself. Then her ex walks in and ruins everything. Sounds like a relatable relationship, right?
JON BON JOVI & JENNIFER NETTLES/Do What You Can
Writer: Jon Bon Jovi; Publisher: none listed; Producer: none listed; Big Machine
-These two previously won a Grammy for their No. 1 hit “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.” This country-rocking track appeared on Bon Jovi’s CD as a response to the coronavirus pandemic a couple of months ago. Now Nettles has added her terrific vocal to create another memorable duet. Their two voices hit all of the highlights of our “new normal,” social distancing, closed schools, lost paychecks, skipped graduations, PPE, front line workers, yearning for a vaccine, etc. The message is that we will survive this if we love one another. Filmed on the streets of New York City, the video is downright inspirational. This just might be the ultimate song of our COVID-19 times.
RILEY GREEN/If It Wasn’t for Trucks
Writers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Producers: none listed; BMLG
-A song about trucks? What a novel idea. Lucky for us, Riley’s great country vocal, honest presentation and true-to-life lyrics raise this one head and shoulders above the rest. Ya gotta love him. Folks like Mr. Green and Mr. Combs are going to lead us out of the pop-country wilderness.
CHARLES J. JONES/What Color Am I
Writer: Troy McConnell; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Troy McConnell; Metamundo
-Back in the 1990s, this guy was billed as “J.C. Jones” on Rising Tide Records (”One Night,” 1998). He has returned with this timely ode’s anti-racist message. The lyric profiles African American, Native American and Latino American people, asking, “What color am I on the inside?” and “Can you tell how I feel by the shade of my skin?” and “Just like you, I laugh and I cry.” The video shows soldiers, first responders, medical professionals and law enforcement people of various races, working together.
MADELINE MERLO/If You Never Broke My Heart
Writers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Open Road
-This Canadian won on the NBC-TV songwriting competition Songland. She has since penned a Lady A hit (”Champagne Night”) and issued her own “Kiss Kiss,” as well as this heartache ditty. Promising.
JEFF CARSON/God Save the World
Writers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Curb
-Originally put out in 2003, this is a reissue of a stately ballad that pleads for world peace. Who can argue with that?
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