It’s “duet day” here at DISClaimer.
Collaborations rule the roost with discs by Alex Hall & Tenille Townes, Luke Combs & Billy Strings, Ryan Kinder & Brandy Clark and Hailey Whitters & Brent Cobb. I had a ball listening.
There’s nobody new here, so the DisCovery Award is dormant this week.
As for the Disc of the Day, take your pick. I honestly can’t decide among Kinder & Clark, Kelly Lang, Eric Church, HARDY, Granger Smith and Miranda Lambert. They all thrilled me. There’s never been a six-way tie before, but there’s a first time for everything….
SOUTHERLAND / “Along Those Lines”
Writers: Chris Rogers/Greg Bates/Joseph Driver Williams III/Matt Chase; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Greg Bates; Label: River House Artists/Sony Music Nashville
– Gentle nostalgia for the small town of one’s youth, nicely harmonized and sympathetically produced. This duo (Matt Chase & Chris Rogers) manages to effectively blend traditionalist vocals with echoey electronic arrangements.
LUKE COMBS & BILLY STRINGS / “The Great Divide”
Writers: Luke Combs/Billy Strings/Wyatt Durrette; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Chip Matthews; Label: River House Artists/ Columbia Nashville
– This is so pleasurable on so many levels. The rippling, bluegrassy, acoustic backing is enchanting. The lyric is a poignant plea for unity. The vocals are so comfortingly sincere that you can practically warm your hands by them.
HAILEY WHITTERS & BRENT COBB / “Glad to Be Here”
Writers: Brent Cobb/Brent Rupard/Neil Medley; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Jake Gear/Hailey Whitters; Label: Pigasus Records/Big Loud Records/Songs & Daughters
– Whitters turns in her usual, pure-country vocals and winsome charm. Cobb matches her for down-home friendliness and warmth. The expertly mixed track blends organ, twang guitars, Dobro, rock electronics and frisky percussion. Her current single ( “Fillin’ My Cup” ) with LBT is a gem, and this makes me even more eager to hear the whole album.
RYAN KINDER, BRANDY CLARK & JERRY DOUGLAS / “Tired of Flying”
Writers: Ryan Kinder/Jenn Schott/Luke Sheets; Publishers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Label: Warner
– The presence of one of the greatest female country artists alive, plus an instrumental living legend, ought to be enough to pique your interest. Kinder sings in a haunting, airy tenor, and his writing in this gorgeously poetic, wistful meditation is superb. The ballad has you hanging on every line. I think I am becoming a major, major fan.
ALEX HALL & TENILLE TOWNES / “Heart Shut”
Writers: none listed; Publishers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Label: Monument
– Hall’s Six Strings EP features collaborations with Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, Kassi Ashton, John Osborne and Brad Tursi. The best companion to his “broken” vocal style is perhaps the always heart-tugging Townes. However, the song could be stronger.
MIRANDA LAMBERT / “Tequila Does”
Writers: Miranda Lambert/Jon Randall/Jack Ingram; Publishers: Sony-ATV Tree/Pink Dog/Beat Up Ford/Platinum Songs US/BMG/Lonesome Vinyl, BMI; Producer: Jay Joyce; Label: Vanner Records/RCA Records Nashville
– Oh, hell yeah! A honky-tonk moaner that shifts into a barroom toe tapper. With border-town Texas lyrics, no less. It goes without saying that her vocal is as tangy as a twist of lime.
KELLY LANG / “I’m Not Going Anywhere”
Writers: Kelly Lang; Publishers: Kelly Lang Music, BMI; Producer: Kelly Lang; Label: Kelly Lang
– I have been fixated on this song ever since I first heard it in an Ascension Hospitals TV ad and have long been wondering who is singing it so brilliantly. Now it can be told. This is heart-gripping, inspirational stuff. A balm for those who are aching. A comforting ballad for the ages.
ERIC CHURCH / “Heart On Fire”
Writers: Eric Church; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Jay Joyce; Label: EMI Music Nashville
– It has a jangly country-rock vibe with a heartland-roots lyric to match. The soundtrack for a ride on back roads with the windows rolled down and the radio turned up. Does anybody in country music do it better than this guy? I don’t think so.
GRANGER SMITH / “Hate You Like I Love You”
Writers: Justin Wilson/Rodney Clawson/Granger Smith/Kyle Fishman; Publishers: Play It Again/Round Hill/Ford Drives a Chevy/Shirt at Work/Kyle Fishman; Producer: Derek Wells/Granger Smith/Scott Johnson; Label: Wheelhouse Records
– Tuneful and hooky. This extremely well-written breakup song sung with heart sure sounds like a Big Hit to me. Play it.
SAM WILLIAMS / “Can’t Fool Your Own Blood”
Writers: Jaimee Harris/Mary Gauthier/Samuel Williams; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Tommy Cecil; Label: Samuel Williams
– It’s an anguished-sounding ballad about escaping self-destructive ways. Mama’s drinking again and can’t hide it. Hank Jr.’s boy sounds like he has his own highly creative soul.
HARDY / “Give Heaven Some Hell”
Writers: HARDY/Hunter Phelps/Ben Johnson/Ashley Gorley; Publishers: Relative Music Group, BMI/Rednecker Music, BMI/Round Hill Songs II, ASCAP/Caleb’s College Fund, ASCAP/8 Minutes Twenty Seconds Publishing, BMI/Artist Publishing Group West, ASCAP/Big Blue Nation Music, ASCAP/Nontypical Music, ASCAP/Who Wants To Buy My Publishing, ASCAP/ WC Music Corp., ASCAP; Producer: Joey Moi/Derek Wells; Label: Big Loud Records
– Very cool. A loving send-off to a running buddy who’s passed on. It manages to have deep sentimental affection and rocking attitude at the same time. “I’ll see you again/But ‘til then give Heaven some Hell.” Can you pump your fist at a funeral? This guy can, and I dig him the most.
JAY DEMARCUS / “Music Man”
Writers: Jay DeMarcus; Publishers: none listed; Producer: Jay DeMarcus; Label: Big Machine
– This super-gifted Rascal Flatts member penned this ballad in homage to his mentor father when he recently died. It’s an airy, soaring atmospheric creation with a lyric and a tenor vocal that tug at the heartstrings in all the right ways.
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