The weather might be getting chilly, but country’s new sounds will warm your insides.
For heart medication, you can’t beat the new sounds by Jason Aldean, Dierks Bentley, the late John Prine and Alex Hall. Topping them all is a fiery hot performance by our Disc of the Day winner, Chris Stapleton.
I don’t know much about Nate Barnes except that he has enormous promise and that he’s working with super talent Jason Sellers. He wins the DisCovery Award.
DIERKS BENTLEY / “Gone”
Writers: Nicolle Galyon/Ben Johnson/Niko Moon; Publishers: Warner Tamerlane/A Boy Named Ford/Ben There Wrote That/Artist 101/Songs of Kobalt/Hits From the Tape Room/Round Hill/W.C.M./Niko Moon, BMI/SESAC; Producer: David Garcia; Label: Capitol Nashville
– Stompin’ on heartache and misery with the emphasis on a shouted chorus that is super catchy. Nicely produced and sung with believability. Dierks strikes again.
TRAVIS DENNING / “Goodyears”
Writers: Travis Denning/Tony Martin/Cole Taylor; Publishers: Red Creative Group/Anthem Music Publishing/UMPG Nashville, BMI/ASCAP; Producer: Jeremy Stover; Label: Mercury Nashville
– While “Where That Beer’s Been” remains the single, fans have evidently been clamoring for this track’s release. I can see why: The lyric is loaded with everyday, neighborhood, small-town details, and the mood is hopeful.
JASON ALDEAN / “Blame It On You”
Writers: Kurt Allison/Tully Kennedy/John Edwards/Michael Tyler/Brian White; Publishers: WMG/BMG Rights Management/peermusic/CMRR/Audiam/Sony-ATV/Anthem Entertainment, BMI/ASCAP; Producer: Michael Knox; Label: BBR
– She’s gone, thanks to whiskey. Echoey production touches and ghostly vocal “answers” perk up your ears. Highly listenable.
JOHN SCOTT SHERRILL / “You Are Still Great”
Writers: John Scott Sherrill; Publisher: none listed; Producer: John Scott Sherrill, Ronnie Bowman & Scott Paschall; Label: Lobo Libre
– The message is that there is still so much that unites us, rather than tears us apart. The sentiment is all the more potent because he’s such a wonderful honky-tonk singer and because the harmonies are bluegrass-inspired. In case you don’t know, Sherrill is one of the greatest country songwriters in history. Just ask Reba, Strait, Buffett, Brooks & Dunn, Patty Loveless, John Anderson, Johnny Lee, Steve Wariner, Josh Turner, Neal McCoy, John Michael Montgomery, Shenandoah, Highway 101, Restless Heart or any of the many others who’ve hit with his works.
CHRIS STAPLETON / “Arkansas”
Writers: Chris Stapleton/Mike Campbell; Publisher: none listed; Producer: Dave Cobb; Label: Mercury Nashville
– Stapleton rocks out. His soulful roar lights this up like a bonfire. Southern rock lives.
ALEX HALL / “Jealous Love”
Writers: Alex Hall/AJ Babcock; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Alex Hall, Pete Good & AJ Babcock; Label: Monument
– Newcomer Hall is a guitar slinger, and he trades riffs here with the equally fiery picker John Osborne. Just as important, he delivers the goods vocally on this stormy, propulsive, hooky romance promise. Hot stuff.
GARTH BROOKS & TRISHA YEARWOOD / “Shallow”
Writers: Lady Gaga/Andrew Wyatt/Anthony Rossomando/Mark Ronson; Publishers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Label: Pearl
– Haven’t we heard this song enough? I mean, the thing has already won two Grammys and an Oscar. That said, this version has class. Yearwood hits the “money” notes with her flawless vocal firepower and the whole performance shimmers with confidence. Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper will remain unforgettable as the Star Is Born originators, but this rendition might create new memories.
NATE BARNES / “You Ain’t Pretty”
Writers: Nate Barnes/Jason Sellers/Jimmy Yeary; Publishers: Jason Sellers (ASCAP)/Nate Barnes-Self Published (NS)/Cedar Church Music (BMI)/Sony ATV Tree Publishing (BMI); Producer: Mickey Jack Cones/Derek George; Label: Quartz Hill
– This is stoked with warmth and sincerity. And what woman wouldn’t want to hear a romantic partner say, “I ain’t never seen ya, girl, when you ain’t pretty?” I also like the dynamics in the arrangement, which begins and ends small, but packs a big punch in the choruses. This kid has the goods.
JOHN PRINE / “I Remember Everything”
Writers: John Prine/Pat McLaughlin; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Dave Cobb; Label: Oh Boy
– I saluted this lovely, wistful, acoustic ballad when it was first released in June. Prine’s last recorded song received new notoriety this week when it was featured on the season premiere of This Is Us and the announcement that Jack White’s Third Man label is releasing it as a blue-vinyl 45 r.p.m. single. In whatever format, it’s a deeply touching mini masterpiece.
GEORGE DUCAS / “Old Timers”
Writers: George Ducas; Publishers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Label: GD
– Teachers, preachers, mothers, fathers, soldiers, workers and salt-of-the-earth folks are the real heroes, sings Ducas. The tempo is a little plodding, but this song’s heart is definitely in the right place.
ANDREW GOLD / “Spooky Scary Skeletons”
Writers: Andrew Gold; Publisher: none listed; Producer: none listed; Label: Craft/Concord
– Happy Halloween, everybody. Singer-songwriter Gold has the holiday’s soundtrack song. It’s a goofy, simple, child-like ditty with xylophone flourishes that’s totally cute. Initially released in 1996, it has gradually become an internet sensation. This year, it is a top-10 TikTok phenomenon with more than 550 million 2020 YouTube plays (it has more than five million YouTube plays in all). The newly launched “Spooky, Scary Skeletons” Activity Hub is now up. Visit to learn a variety of at-home things you can do, including Trick or Treat Scavenger Hunt, a comic Mad Libs sheet and a dance with the skeletons.
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