There’s an awful lot of pop music in this week’s “country” round-up edition of DISClaimer.
Holding down the fort and standing firmly on country ground are Chase Rice, Brett Young, Ryan Hurd and our Disc of the Day winner, queen Miranda Lambert.
The DISCovery Award also goes to a female artist, Curb newcomer Hannah Ellis.
HANNAH ELLIS / “Us”
Writers: Hannah Ellis/Jason Massey/Travis Wood; Producer: Jason Massey; Label: Curb Records
— Bubbling and boiling, this churning, rhythm-happy number comes across like a female version of Keith Urban’s catchy, pop-country sound. Highly listenable.
WALKER HAYES / “U Gurl”
Writers: Walker Hayes/Dylan Guthro/Jodi Guthro; Producer: Dylan Guthro; Label: Monument Records
— While “Fancy Like” continues to dominate, Hayes issues this new track. It’s more pop, white-boy hip-hop, and has even less to do with country music than his mega hit.
SHY CARTER / “The Rest of Us”
Writers: Shy Carter/Bryan Simpson/Josh Kerr; Producer: none listed; Label: Warner
— The title tune of Carter’s debut EP is a lovely pop love ode wafting with heartfelt tenor vocals, brushed percussion and sweet lyrics. Enchanting. Swoon worthy. Stick with his “Beer With My Friends” banger, but keep this in your back pocket as proof of the depth of his talent.
LEE BRICE / “Soul”
Writers: Kevin Kadish/Tony Ferrari; Producer: Ben Glover/Kyle Jacobs; Label: Curb Records
— In the wake of four straight No. 1 country hits, Brice motors down a pop side street with this wildly attractive, bouncy bopper. Deliciously hooky.
THE WILD FEATHERS / “Ain’t Lookin’”
Writers: Jeffrey Steele/Joel King/Ricky Young/Taylor Burns; Producer: The Wild Feathers; Label: New West
— I loved ‘em when they were a pop/rock band, and I loved ‘em just as much as country music makers. Now they are rocking again. Whatever….
MIRANDA LAMBERT / “If I Was a Cowboy”
Writers: Miranda Lambert/Jesse Frasure; Producer: Luke Dick/Jon Randall; Label: RCA/Vanner Records
— Breezy and beautiful, this is the sound of freedom and high spirits. A bases-loaded home run. Massive airplay, please.
YOLA / “Be My Friend”
Writers: Yola/Dan Auerbach/Ruby Amanfu; Producer: Dan Auerbach; Label: Easy Eye/Concord
— This British-born, Nashville-based artist seamlessly blends soul, Americana and country. She’s this month’s OpryNext artist and is touring with Chris Stapleton. Her commanding voice is center stage in this stately ballad. That’s Americana queen Brandi Carlile on the twin-like harmony vocals.
BRETT YOUNG / “You Didn’t”
Writers: Ashley Gorley/Brett Young/Jimmy Robbins/Jon Nite; Producer: Dann Huff/Jimmy Harnen; Label: BMLG
— Mr. Romance cuddles up next to you while crooning a ballad about accepting a breakup without casting blame or recriminations. Tender and affecting. A heart-tugging lyric that will pierce anyone who has lived the line, “I fell in love, and you didn’t.”
RUTHIE COLLINS / “Hypocrite”
Writers: Ruthie Collins/Natalie Stovall; Producer: Brandon Hood; Label: Sidewalk
— Ruthie’s breakup isn’t going so well. In this ballad, she’s putting on a good face, but is actually shattered because she’s still in love with him. The pounding surrounding track is very pop.
CHASE RICE / “If I Were Rock & Roll”
Writers: Chase Rice; Producer: Jay Joyce; Label: Broken Bow Records
— Charmingly written. It’s a jaunty ditty about love and fidelity that brings a smile to your face. The shuffling, bright, light-hearted production is mighty endearing, too.
MORGAN EVANS/ “Love Is Real”
Writers: Jordan Reynolds/Morgan Evans/Parker Welling; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: Warner Music Nashville
— Relentlessly optimistic. The burbling, percussive track and sunshine-y melody are more than a little reminiscent of the style of his fellow Oz import Keith Urban. Which is to say: toe-tapping, catchy, rocking and shiny.
RYAN HURD / “Pass It On”
Writers: Ryan James Hurd/Maren Morris/Jordan Schmidt/Michael Hardy; Producer: Aaron Eshuis; Label: Arista Nashville
— Do you have good fortune? Don’t keep it to yourself. Pass it on to someone else, says Ryan in this ear-tickling pleaser. Hand claps. Gang sing-along. Rolling tempo. What’s not to like?
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