This is a star-packed edition of DisClaimer that features a dazzling number of country A-listers.
Leading the pack is Keith Urban, who wins the Disc of the Day award with fantastic competition from Kane Brown, Kenny Chesney, Chris Janson, Morgan Wallen and Cody Johnson. All are worth your spins.
We also have two splendid duets today. They come from spouses Rose Falcon & Rodney Atkins and from old buddies Jeannie Seely and Willie Nelson. The female vocal performance du jour is unquestionably by Hannah Dasher.
The DisCovery Award goes to BMLG newcomer Laci Kaye Booth.
HANNAH DASHER / “You’re Gonna Love Me”
Writers: Hannah Dasher/Thomas Archer/Andy Albert/Gordie Sampson; Producer: Brandon Hood; Label: Sony Nashville
— She says it best, “I’m a bad Mamajamma,” on this feisty, hooky, rhythm-happy slab of sound. She drawls in all the right places, the thumpy backbeat is killer and the lyric is a stone delight. A fiery hillbilly romp that deserves a place in the sun.
KANE BROWN / “One Mississippi”
Writers: Kane Brown/Jesse Frasure/Levon Gray/Ernest K. Smith; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: RCA Nashville
— His vocal is warm and intimate on the verses, then shouted and urgent on the soaring choruses of this rocking anthem of tipsy passion. Breezy and engaging.
TRAVIS DENNING / “Dirt Road Down”
Writers: Will Weatherly/Cole Taylor/Taylor Phillips/Travis Denning; Producer: Jeremy Stover; Label: Mercury Nashville
— Somewhat tuneless, over produced, thematically backroads generic.
KENNY CHESNEY / “Beautiful World”
Writers: David Lee Murphy/Tom Douglas/Tony Lane; Producer: Buddy Cannon/Kenny Chesney; Label: Blue Chair/Warner Nashville
— Relaxed and laid back, this settles into his sunny-outlook vibe with all the ease of a swaying hammock. It has a simple, catchy melody that I can imagine his stadium crowd singing along to.
CODY JOHNSON / “Let’s Build a Fire”
Writers: Chris Janson/Mitch Oglesby; Producer: Trent Willmon; Label: CoJo/Warner Nashville
— Furiously rocking, but his solid, Texas-accented country singing remains the big draw. A wild ride with plenty of heart.
KEITH URBAN / “Wild Hearts”
Writers: Keith Urban/Eric Paslay/Brad Tursi/Jennifer Wayne; Producer: Keith Urban/Mitch Furr; Label: Capitol Nashville
— His best in ages. It has a steady groove that is undeniable and an uplifting lyric about chasing your dreams, no matter what. Wonderful listening. This is exactly why he is a superstar.
JEANNIE SEELY & WILLIE NELSON / “Not a Dry Eye in the House”
Writers: Dallas Wayne; Producer: Don Cusic; Label: Curb Records
— What’s not to love? Steel soaked, with beautifully accented keyboard notes and an eloquent, fiddle-accompanied Willie guitar solo. Slow and sad, this classic-sounding weeper features both veterans singing splendidly.
ROSE FALCON & RODNEY ATKINS / “Being Here, Being There”
Writers: Rose Falcon/Rodney Atkins/Phil Barton/Seth Mosley; Producer: Seth Mosley/Rodney Atkins; Label: Curb Records
— His gritty country voice contrasts nicely with her lilting pop soprano on this charming outing. The crunchy, bopping track is delightfully ear catching and the reassuring, romantic lyric is heart warming. I totally dig this. It’s about time this doubly talented married couple became a recording duet. I would welcome an entire album with songs this dandy.
LACI KAYE BOOTH / “Shuffle”
Writers: Derrick Southerland/Laci Kaye Booth/Sam Ellis; Producer: Dann Huff/Jimmy Harnen; Label: BMLG Records
— Attractive and clever. She has a slightly hushed, sensual vocal style that is wed to a steady thumping track. She name-checks country oldies since her heart’s playlist is on “shuffle” because she’s so smitten.
CHRIS JANSON / “Bye Mom”
Writers: Chris Janson/Brandon Kinney; Producer: Zach Crowell/Chris Janson; Label: Warner
— Achingly lovely. We all know that one day we will lose our moms, but that doesn’t make it any less painful when we do. Always a masterful communicator, Janson taps into this universal truth with this lump-in-throat song. A lilting, gentle production lifts the whole thing upward. I remain an immense fan.
MORGAN WALLEN / “Sand In My Boots”
Writers: Ashely Gorley/Joshua Shaun Osborne/Michael Wilson Hardy; Producer: Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud/Republic
— He’s such a terrific singer. This heartbroken ballad is a mini country masterpiece, packed with evocative images and intense emotion. Performed solo on piano with fierce conviction, this works on every level.
RANDY TRAVIS / “Ain’t No Use”
Writers: Randy Travis/John Lindley; Producer: Kyle Lehning; Label: Warner
— The 35th anniversary of the landmark Storms of Life LP is being celebrated with a deluxe reissue featuring tracks originally recorded for the collection, but never released before this. This peppy toe tapper is one of them, and it’s a face-slap reminder of what a great country vocalist this Hall of Famer is.