Collaborations are on the menu today in DisClaimer.
Sometimes they are between country acts (Dustin Lynch & Chris Lane, Willie & Cody Johnson) and sometimes they are cross-genre efforts (Needtobreathe & Carrie, Maren & Joy Oladokun). But in every case, they are all worthwhile.
The Disc of the Day award goes to my man Cody Johnson for his revival (with Willie) of Willie’s song “Sad Songs and Waltzes.” If you must have tempo, you can’t do better than the Lynch/Lane collab “Tequila on a Boat” or the Nashvillains’ bopping “Who Don’t.”
Give the James Barker Band this week’s DisCovery Award.
CODY JOHNSON & WILLIE NELSON / “Sad Songs and Waltzes”
Writers: Willie Nelson; Producer: Trent Willmon; Label: CoJo Music/Warner Music Nashville
— I have always loved this Willie chestnut. As a duet between these two awesome Texans, it becomes an atmospheric mini masterpiece. The production is perfection, and the vocals are as warm as a campfire.
DUSTIN LYNCH & CHRIS LANE / “Tequila On A Boat”
Writers: Hillary Lindsey/Justin Ebach/Matt Alderman; Producer: Zach Crowell; Label: Broken Bow Records
— This funky groover sounds exactly like a summer anthem. Bob heads and smile.
JOEY HEFFERNAN & JOE DIFFIE / “When the Golden Leaves Begin to Fall”
Writers: Bill Monroe; Producer: none listed; Label: JH
— Veteran sideman, Dobro instructor and touring artist Hefferman teamed up with the late great vocalist Diffie for this stately, slow-waltz rendition of a Bill Monroe gem. Their accompanying band is an all-star get together. Diffie’s lead vocal is a stirring reminder of what a fine talent we lost when he became the first music star to die of Covid-19 last year.
WILLIE JONES / “Down By the Riverside”
Writers: Willie Jones/Josh Logan/Jason Afable; Producer: Jason Afable; Label: Sony Music Nashville/Penthouse
— This guy manages to fuse hip-hop and country better than most. This tilts a little more more urban than country, but there’s still singing plus a square-dance element. Catchy and clever.
CHASE BRYANT & JESSI ALEXANDER / “Even Now”
Writers: Chase Bryant/Joe Haydel/Tim Owens; Producer: Jon Randall/Chase Bryant; Label: Green Iris
— Exquisitely heartbreaking. This is the best written and most beautifully sung breakup ballad I’ve heard in ages. Play and believe.
MICHAEL RAY / “Picture”
Writers: Michael Ray/Michael Hardy/David Garcia/Ross Copperman; Producer: Ross Copperman; Label: Warner Music Nashville
— “Take every snapshot while you can/Tell them that you love them while you got a chance.” Because one day all you will have is the memory and a photo. A lovely sentiment, a pretty melody and a sincere performance. What’s not to love?
JAMES BARKER BAND / “Over All Over Again”
Writers: Gavin Slate/James Barker/Todd Clark/Travis Wood; Producer: none listed; Label: Sony Music Nashville
— The ingredients here are dynamic country-rock rhythm, dandy lyrics, youthful energy and a soaring lead vocal. I dig this. Play it again.
TRIXIE MATTEL & ORVILLE PECK / “Jackson”
Writers: Billy Edd Wheeler/Jerry Leiber; Producer: Nick Goldston; Label: TM
— Trixie is a country-music drag queen. Orville is that guy in the fringed mask with the throaty, melodramatic delivery. Their pairing on this Johnny-and-June classic is country camp all the way. It has verve and moxie to spare.
NEEDTOBREATHE & CARRIE UNDERWOOD / “I Wanna Remember”
Writers: Bear Rinehart; Producer: Konrad Snyder/Needtobreathe; Label: Elektra
— The Grammy winning Christian rock band teams with the mighty voiced country queen on a boiling, emotive power ballad. This little pop beauty will definitely stir yer blood.
JADEN HAMILTON / “Heaven’s Jukebox”
Writers: Jaden Hamilton/Ryan Beaver/Jared Keim; Producer: Matthew McVaney; Label: Sony Music Nashville
— I remain in this neo-traditionalist kid’s corner. This time, he’s treating us to a rolling, upbeat ditty that is a country fan’s vision of the Hereafter. Worthy.
JOY OLADOKUN & MAREN MORRIS / “Bigger Man”
Writers: Joy Oladokun/Maren Morris/Jimmy Robbins/Laura Veltz; Producer: Jimmy Robbins/Joy Oladokun; Label: Amigo/Verve Forecast/Republic
— Joy is a Nigerian American who has moved to Music City from Arizona. She cites Tracy Chapman as an influence, and I can certainly hear that in her folk-tinged, Americana style. Maren helps to anchor the downbeat, poetic lyric with her languid, earthy vocals. Intriguingly different.
NASHVILLAINS / “Who Don’t”
Writers: Andrew Dorff/Brad Tursi/Corey Crowder; Producer: Steve Dorff; Label: Fate Entertainment
— This is a trio comprised of Music City songwriters/producers Brett Boyett, Troy Johnson and Scott Lindsey. Their single is a thumpy, rhythm-happy outing with bounce and charm. I defy you not to tap your toes.