We start the New Year off right here at DISClaimer.
Vying for our first 2022 Disc of the Day winner are the Zac Brown Band, Brett Eldredge, Conner Smith and our winner, Lady A, with their anthemic album title tune “What a Song Can Do.”
We have four notable collaborations today. They include Ernest with Morgan Wallen, Leigh Nash with Tanya Tucker, and Robert Plant with Alison Krauss. The fourth one gives us our DISCovery Award winner, Chayce Beckham, who is collaborating with Lindsay Ell.
SHOOTER JENNINGS / “Gene’s Song”
Writers: Shooter Jennings/Waylon Albright Jennings; Producer: none listed; Label: Black Country Rock
–This horn-embellished rocker is a tribute to Shooter’s high-school art teacher. It starts with his unaccompanied voice introducing the song in a hushed, intimate tone. Then it blasts open into a fiery frenzy of a sound collage. Cool, in a very left-field kinda way.
ZAC BROWN BAND / “Out in the Middle”
Writers: Ben Simonetti/Jonathan Singleton/Luke Combs/Zac Brown; Producers: Ben Simonetti/Zac Brown; Label: Warner
–Stompin’ and swampy. The theme is a familiar one–getting down and making do out in the sticks. But this band’s outstanding musicianship and stunning harmony vocals make the thing an epic adventure. Joyously listenable.
ROBYN OTTOLINI / “Boujee on a Budget”
Writer: Robyn Ottolini; Producers: Erik Fintelman/Mark Schroor; Label: Warner
–Full of personality and wit. She’s looking her best and spending less. Loaded with clever lines–cutting her hair with mama’s kitchen scissors, Gucci for $5, etc.–and performed with conversational vocal moxie. Ear catching, for sure.
LADY A / “What a Song Can Do”
Writers: Charles Kelley/Sam Ellis/Ryan Hurd/Laura Veltz; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: BMLG
–Surely everyone can relate to this. Everyone who loves music, that is. Charles’ soulful voice leads the way, and the choruses are a celestial celebration of group harmony singing. The rolling tempo is irresistible. A flawless single.
CHAYCE BECKHAM & LINDSAY ELL / “Can’t Do Without Me”
Writers: Jordan Walker/Michael Carter/Trannie Anderson; Producer: Ross Copperman; Label: BBR
–The vocal blend is perfect, and it’s refreshing to hear a country duet that is truly an equal partnership. The song isn’t great, but the energy is splendid and their performance is passionate. Radio ready.
BRETT ELDREDGE / “Holy Water”
Writers: Brett Eldredge/Heather Morgan/Mark Trussell; Producer: Dave Cobb: Label: Warner
–Soaked in gospel influence. He’s singing like a man lost in the spirit. The choir’s harmonies lift the mood even more. Her love is like a religious balm. Amen.
WILLIE JONES / “Slow Cookin’”
Writers: Hank Williams/Jason Afable/Phillip Fender/Willie Jones/Zak Waters; Producer: Jason Afable; Label: Penthouse/Empire
–This bopper folds in Hank’s “Hey Good Lookin’” with Willie’s own riffs. Like most of his output, it is quite repetitive. But it’s unmistakably country and undeniably catchy. Did you know that Willie’s 2020 LP Right Now was a camo-colored vinyl exclusive? It included his timeless “Bachelorettes on Broadway,” among other delights.
ERNEST & MORGAN WALLEN / “Flower Shops”
Writers: Ernest Keith Smith/Ben Burgess/Mark Holman; Producer: Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud
–The relationship has gone to hell: She’s split, and he’s on booze & pills. So let’s bring on the flowers. Millions of them. “It’s a bad day for love/But a good day for flower shops.” Both men are singing this honky-tonk heartache lament for all they are worth.
LEIGH NASH & TANYA TUCKER / “Never Again, Every Time”
Writers: Leigh Nash/Stephen Wilson Jr.; Producer: Butch Walker; Label: Orchard/Visionary/BMG
–Well, it might have sounded like a good idea. But the fey pop soprano and gritty country alto don’t exactly blend smoothly. The jumbled production doesn’t help much, either.
CONNER SMITH / “I Hate Alabama”
Writers: Drew Green/Hunter Phelps/Lee Starr/Nick Columbia; Producer: Zach Crowell; Label: BMLG
–He can’t stand to hear “Sweet Home…” by Skynyrd or watch the Crimson Tide, because the state of Alabama is where he lost her. Georgia Bulldogs, Tennessee Vols, Arkansas Razorbacks, Texas Aggies, LSU, Mississippi, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Auburn, Vandy and South Carolina fans will want to make this their football National Anthem.
ROBERT PLANT & ALISON KRAUSS / “Searching For My Love”
Writers: Robert Moore; Producer: T Bone Burnett; Label: Rounder
–Stunning and magical. I approached this with some trepidation, because I loved the 1968 R&B original by Bobby Moore & The Rhythm Aces so much. But these two turn the tune into a stately strut and weave their voices together so wonderfully that I shouldn’t have worried. Plant does the lead vocal, while Krauss adds haunting harmony flourishes.