There’s more than a touch of Americana influence in today’s country edition of DisClaimer.
Frankly, it’s what is needed to keep the country format from becoming completely boring. Charley Crockett, Rodney Crowell, Willie Nelson and son Lukas Nelson all did their part to spice up this listening session.
So did the titanic John Mellencamp and Bruce Springsteen, who easily earned the Disc of the Day award.
Jessie James Decker stages her debut in the column this week and wins the DisCovery Award. A TV personality, fashionista, NFL wife and social media influencer, she seems like a real go-getter.
NIKO MOON / “Paradise to Me”
Writers: Niko Moon/Anna Moon/Joshua Murty; Producer: Joshua Murty/Niko Moon; Label: RCA Nashville
— It’s a mellow party vibe with a beach-y groove. Relaxing and smiley.
KANE BROWN & H.E.R. / “Blessed and Free”
Writers: David Biral/Denzel Michael-Akil Baptiste/Gabriella Wilson/Ilsey Juber/Kane Brown/Russ Chell; Producer: Russ Chell/Take A Daytrip/Kuk Harrell; Label: RCA Nashville
— Brown takes aim at the pop charts and misses. Tuneless and lifeless.
OMER NETZER / “Country Boy”
Writers: Omer Netzer/Moran Ifragan; Producer: Omer Netzer/Moran Ifragan; Label: ON
— It says here that Omer is “Israel’s hottest country music entertainer.” He has a gritty vocal quality that’s ear catching, and the guitar noodling sounds good. The songwriting could use some work.
LUKAS NELSON & PROMISE OF THE REAL / “Wildest Dream”
Writers: Lukas Nelson; Producer: Dave Cobb; Label: Fantasy
— Jaunty, welcoming country-rock that rolls along an open sonic highway. This has verve to spare.
JOHN MELLENCAMP & BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN / “Wasted Days”
Writers: John Mellencamp; Producer: John Mellencamp; Label: Republic
— As fiddles, accordions and guitars bob and weave in a dizzy swirl, these two music masters muse on the fleeting nature of life. They swap verses, and Bruce takes the high harmony vocal on the choruses. The resulting sonic tapestry is more “country” than 90% of what you hear on country radio.
EDDIE MONTGOMERY / “Alive and Well”
Writers: Eddie Montgomery/Ira Dean/Chris Wallin; Producer: Noah Gordon/Shannon Houchins; Label: Average Joes
— Rousing and uplifting. The lyric is lifted from his life: It reflects on the tragic losses he has endured (the deaths of his son in 2015 and his music partner Troy Gentry in 2017) and his ultimate will to live that they led to.
WILLIE NELSON / “Family Bible”
Writers: Willie Nelson; Producer: Willie Nelson/Steve Chadie; Label: Legacy
— Sister Bobbie Nelson provides the eloquent piano accompaniment, while children Paula, Amy, Micah and Lukas softly harmonize behind papa’s sturdy, sure and soulful lead vocal. Band mainstays Mickey Raphael and the late Paul English are here as well. It’s one of Willie’s finest early songs, and it still sounds brilliant.
JENNY TOLMAN / “I Know Some Cowboys”
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Label: JT
— Nashville’s finest unsigned talent sings the praises of Texas gentlemen in this instantly catchy, sprightly, clever country rocker. An irresistible toe tapper.
CHARLEY CROCKETT / “Music City USA”
Writers: Charley Crockett/Mark Neill; Producer: Mark Neill; Label: Son of Davy/Thirty Tigers
— This prolific Texas honky tonker has issued 10 albums during the past six years and won the Emerging Artist of the Year honor at this month’s Americana Music Awards. The title tune of his latest skewers the star-making machinery of Nashville. “I shouldn’t have come here in the first place,” he sings to the accompaniment of a classic ‘60s, steel-soaked track, “’cause folks in here don’t like my kind.” He’s retro and proud of it.
MICKEY GUYTON / “All American”
Writers: Mickey Guyton/Victoria Banks/Emma-Lee/Karen Kosowski; Producer: Karen Kosowski; Label: Capitol Nashville
— After a decade in Nashville, Mickey at last has an album. It is a 16-track dandy that is aptly titled Remember Her Name. This track from it is a soaring anthem of inclusion and togetherness. This lady can flat-out SING.
RODNEY CROWELL / “Something Has to Change”
Writers: Rodney Crowell; Producer: Rodney Crowell/Dan Knobler; Label: RC1/Thirty Tigers
— This timeless treasure offers introspection and social commentary in his new songs on an album titled Triage. His current Americana hit resonates with conviction and rhythmic thump, not to mention a striking trombone solo. Rodney’s singing is simultaneously conversational and soaring as he delivers this lyric asking for some social justice.
JESSIE JAMES DECKER / “Not In Love With You”
Writers: Sam Ellis/Jordyn Shellhart; Producer: Sam Ellis; Label: Big Yellow Dog/Atlantic Records/Warner Music Nashville
— Decker delivers the goods here, singing powerfully about moving on from a failed relationship. She deploys vocal breaks, sustained notes, vulnerable aches and whisper-to-a-shout range while the production chimes around her. Tuneful. Well done.
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