The theme for this edition of DisClaimer is evidently breakups.
The busted hearts belong to Seaforth and Lauren Weintraub, the latter of whom wins the DisCovery Award. On the other hand, Filmore and Hunter Hayes are positively rejoicing in the freedom that they’ve found, post-breakup.
Poor Parker McCollum can’t even get his relationship off the ground, but he sure sounds great trying. Jake Hoot & Kelly Clarkson are just plain pissed-off about the whole thing, and they sound great, too.
But the Disc of the Day prize goes to Jimmie Allen & Brad Paisley, who have nothing whatsoever to do with heartbreak. For that matter, neither does the duo Bexar, who is the runner-up.
BEXAR / “One Day”
Writers: Chris Ryan/Logan Turner/Ross Copperman/Josh Osborne; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Ross Copperman; Label: Warner Music Nashville
– This duo continues to impress. Named for Bexar County, Texas, these two combine hooky melodic sensibilities with acoustic textures and rhythm-happy production. If this doesn’t get your toes tapping and your head singing “Hey” along with the gang, you must be deaf. Absolutely essential. And joyous, too.
JIMMIE ALLEN & BRAD PAISLEY / “Freedom Was a Highway”
Writers: Ash Bowers, Jimmie Allen, Matt Rogers; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Ash Bowers, Jimmie Allen; Label: Stoney Creek Records
– Rocking nostalgia for the days when we were all 17 years old and carefree. Both men sing with passion, and guess-who takes off a stinging guitar solo?
LAUREN WEINTRAUB / “She’s Mine”
Writers: Lauren Weintraub/Daniel Ross; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Daniel Ross; Label: Big Machine Music
– This gifted former Belmont student and NPR/Grammy U/NSAI talent contest standout has amassed more than a million views on TikTok with this debut single. It’s a tuneful swirl of jealousy, heartache and obsession. She can’t stop thinking about the girl who stole him away: “I guess we all got reasons why we can’t sleep at night—and she’s mine.” A star is born.
JAKE HOOT & KELLY CLARKSON / “I Would’ve Loved You”
Writers: Jake Hoot/Dean Sams/Jamie Floyd; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Danny Myrick; Label: MLH Records
– The Voice winner teams up with his coach Clarkson on a dynamic, romantic power ballad. Both are mighty singers, and they hold nothing back as they tear this one up. Hang on for the “false” ending, after which they unleash two more blasts of fiery vocal emoting.
FILMORE / “Nothing’s Better”
Writers: Tyler Filmore/John Luke Carter/Michael Whitworth; Publishers: none listed; Producer: John-Luke Carter/Zach Abend; Label: Curb
– Here’s a switch. Instead of wallowing in heartache following a breakup, this tune is a celebration of getting rid of her. It’s kinda hip-hoppy and tuneless, but it has enormous goofy charm. I remain a fan.
RODNEY ATKINS / “A Little Good News”
Writers: Charlie Black/Rory Bourke/Tommy Rocco; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Brandon Hood; Label: Curb
– This 1983 Anne Murray oldie sounds relevant all over again in these troubled times, and Atkins’ reading of the song is super effective. The production is restrained, giving the lyric extra room to touch you. Applause for a job well done.
CLARE DUNN / “Real Thing”
Writers: Jenn DeCilveo/Clare Dunn; Publishers: Big Yellow Dog Music, Kobalt Music Publishing; Producer: Clare Dunn; Label: Big Yellow Dog
– She’s such a gripping singer, and perhaps never more so than when she’s dipping into her lowest alto range in the verses of this steamy shout of True Love.
PARKER McCOLLUM / “To Be Loved By You”
Writers: Parker McCollum/Rhett Akins; Publishers: Warner-Tamerlane/Parkermac/Ritten by Rhettro, BMI; Producer: Jon Randall Stewart; Label: MCA Nashville
– I love the heart-in-throat country-boy sincerity in this vocal performance. He’s tormented by his failing attempts to get her to love him. There’s ache in every note while the band kicks up dust all around him. Highly listenable.
HUNTER HAYES / “The One That Got Away”
Writers: Hunter Hayes/Sam Ellis/Sara Haze; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Hunter Hayes/Andrew Wells; Label: LP Entertainment
– This is a pop-oriented, forward-momentum sound, with a vibe like wind rushing through a car’s open window. Hayes sings of freedom and escape as he leaves a bad relationship. It’s attractive, in an ‘80s kinda way, but I don’t think there’s much that is “country” about it.
CATHERINE BRITT / “Me”
Writers: Catherine Britt/Katrina Burgoyne; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Catherine Britt/Michael Muchow; Label: Beverly Hillbilly
– Dull production, dull performance, dull sentiment. Go find a song.
SEAFORTH / “Breakups”
Writers: Tom Jordan/Mitch Thompson/Liz Rose/Cameron Bedell; Publishers: Warner Chappell Music; Producer: Tom Jordan; Label: RCA
– A plaintive sob from a heart crushed by a bad goodbye. The vocals have a sweet/sad quality that evokes a lonely guy, drinking too much, hurting a lot and thinking about her with deep regret. It’s a little word-y, but the feelings are authentic. I’m in.
DANIELLE BRADBERY & KURT / “Yo Nunca He (Never Have I Ever)”
Writers: Danielle Bradbery/Laura Veltz/David Hall Hodges/KURT/Mauricio Rengifo; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Dann Huff/Enrique López Lezama; Label: Big Machine Records
– Although she does not speak fluent Spanish, Bradbery comes from Mexican roots. She taps into that via this duet with romantic, breathy Latin star Kurt. It is sung entirely in Spanish, except for interjections of the English song title. The whole thing goes down smoothly.
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