Today’s listening session was dominated by country’s male up-and-comers.
Troy Cartwright, Canaan Smith, Russell Dickerson, Matt Stell and Cooper Alan are all spinning new tunes. The Disc of the Day competition features Stell and Dickerson duking it out with Chapel Hart. Matt Stell wins in a close decision.
Chapel Hart is one of four groups in the spotlight. The others are Lanco, The Shootouts and our DisCovery Award winners, Restless Road.
RESTLESS ROAD / “Take One Look at Her Momma”
Writers: Andy Albert/Colton Pack/Garrett Nichols/Lindsay Rimes/Zach Beeken; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: RCA Nashville/1021 Entertainment
– Well sung and well played country-rock with a good-time attitude. It’s not too deep, to put it politely.
LAUREN ALAINA & JON PARDI / “Getting Over Him”
Writers: Lauren Alaina/Paul DiGiovanni/Emily Weisband; Producer: Paul DiGiovanni; Label: 19 Recordings/Mercury Nashville
– The song is pretty cool, and Alaina sings it splendidly. The rest of the ingredients don’t quite mix—the screaming rock guitar and Pardi’s strained vocal are a bit jarring.
THE SHOOTOUTS / “Rattlesnake Whiskey”
Writers: Ryan Humbert; Producer: Chuck Mead; Label: Soundly
– This rumbling “spaghetti-western” groovefest is about a moonshine runner. Step right up for lots of exciting rhythm & twang.
DAN + SHAY / “Glad You Exist”
Writers: Dan Smyers/Shay Mooney/Ryan Lewis/Tayla Parx/Jordan Reynolds; Producer: Dan Smyers; Label: Warner Music Nashville
– Jaunty pop swathed in sweet romance. A smile, for sure.
CHAPEL HART / “I Will Follow”
Writers: Savannah Keyes/Jennifer Hanson/Nick Brophy; Producer: Jennifer Hanson, Nick Brophy & Jeff Glixman; Label: CH
– I am a big fan of this trio. “Jesus and Alcohol” and “You Can Have Him Jolene” were both delights, and so is this tuneful, beautifully harmonized bopper of positivity. The act has deservedly been chosen as one of CMT’s “Next Women of Country” for 2021.
CANAAN SMITH / “Mason Jars & Fireflies”
Writers: Canaan Smith/Brian Kelley/Corey Crowder; Producer: Canaan Smith/Tyler Hubbard/Brian Kelley; Label: Round Here Records
– We may be in the dead of winter, but Smith evokes summertime fun on this uptempo thud-romp. The melody is dull and repetitive, but the vibe is in the right place.
COOPER ALAN / “New Normal”
Writers: Seth Mosley/Cooper Alan/Victoria Shaw; Producer: Victoria Shaw; Label: Cooped Up Records
– This guy is a TikTok star, I am told. His new single has finger snaps, deft guitar plucking and a resonant, romantic, baritone vocal. Very listenable.
TROY CARTWRIGHT / “Hung Up on You”
Writers: Troy Cartwright/Solomon Olds/Rebecca Lauren Olds; Producer: David Garcia; Label: Warner Music Nashville
– This new release is a stripped-down acoustic version of his debut single. The Texas-to-Tennessee transplant definitely has the goods, and I dig his “woo-hoo” falsetto breaks. Best line: “That damned jukebox is a memory machine.”
MATT STELL / “That Ain’t Me No More”
Writers: Michael Hardy/Hunter Phelps/Smith Ahnquist/Jake Mitchell/Nick Donley; Producer: Matt Stell/Ash Bowers; Label: RECORDS/Arista Nashville
– Nicely done. The deep-twang intro leads to sincere performance of a wailing, loved-and-lost lyric. Matt is a prior chart topper who’s batting a thousand.
RUSSELL DICKERSON / “Home Sweet”
Writers: Casey Brown/Charles Kelley/Russell Dickerson; Producer: Russell Dickerson/Dann Huff/Casey Brown; Label: Triple Tigers
– A sound of joy and celebration. Love has seldom seemed as delirious as this rocking, soaring slab of inspiration. Play it again. And again.
CALLISTA CLARK / “It’s Cause I Am”
Writers: Callista Clark/Cameron Jaymes/Laura Veltz; Producer: none listed; Label: Big Machine Label Group
– Youthful and poppy. Promising, even though it ain’t all that country.
LANCO / “Near Mrs.”
Writers: Brandon Lancaster/Shane McAnally/Jeremy Spillman; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: Arista Nashville
– Exceedingly clever as a piece of songwriting. The stately tempo throws the spotlight on the spiffy lyric as well as Lancaster’s delivery. This act always hits the bullseye.
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