It’s in with the new and in with the old today in DISClaimer.
I’m pleased to report that we have a trio of fine first-timers in the column—Karley Scott Collins, Sacha and our DISCovery Award winner, Stefanie Joyce.
At the same time, we have dandy new music from three veterans—Jeannie Seely, Deborah Allen and our Disc of the Day awardee, Tracy Lawrence.
Spin ‘em all.
THE KENTUCKY GENTLEMEN / “Whatever You’re Up For”
Writers: Brandon Campbell/Chris Sligh/Derek Campbell/Paul Wrock/Ty March; Producers: Chris Sligh/Matt McClure; Label: KG
–I was quite taken with these twins (Derek & Brandon Campbell) when I reviewed their infectious disc debut last year. They’re back with a sexy, good-time come-on that is ready for any country dance floor. This jam is star-making stuff.
TRACY LAWRENCE / “Don’t Drink Whiskey”
Writers: Cassidy Lynn Alexander/Conner Lawrence Sweet/Marla Cannon-Goodman; Producers: Tracy Lawrence/Julian King; Label: TL
–Classic country. This is honky-tonk heartache at its finest, and Tracy’s singing has never sounded more accomplished. Thank goodness someone is still making music like this; it’s what made this genre great.
BLANE HOWARD / “Boot N’ Rally”
Writers: Blane Howard/Keesy Timmer; Producers: John Shaw/Blane Howard; Label: BH
–It’s one of them rock ‘em, sock ‘em thangs with screaming electric guitar and pounding rhythm. The ditty is aided considerably by a cleverly written lyric.
MAREN MORRIS / “Background Music”
Writers: Maren Morris/Jimmy Robbins/Laura Veltz; Producer: Greg Kurstin; Label: Sony
–Her voice emerges from a deep well of echo with only the barest accompaniment. As the ballad progresses, the production adds layers and her singing increases in intensity. Fascinating, ear catching, magnetic.
SACHA / “We Did”
Writers: Brad Rempel/Ben Stennis; Producer: Gavin Slate; Label: Starseed
–This Canadian is on all kinds of artist-to-watch lists. I can certainly hear why. Her dazzling, bopping country rocker is produced like there’s no tomorrow. Her singing has all the verve, joy and delirium of young love. The twirling, swirling sound is utterly celestial. Make her a star.
KASSI ASHTON / “Dates in Pickup Trucks”
Writers: Kassi Ashton/David Garcia/Luke Laird; Producers: Luke Laird/Dave Garcia/Kassi Ashton; Label: MCA/Interscope
–Her quasi-spoken singing has more than a hint of R&B, and vibe here is distinctly hip-hop. In what sense is this record “country” music?”
JEANNIE SEELY / “So Far So Good”
Writers: Penn Pennington/Mitch Ballard; Producer: Don Cusic; Label: Curb
–Delightful. It’s a lively western swinger with scampering piano, twin fiddles and flawless background harmonies by The Whites (Sharon & Cheryl). It left me grinning from ear to ear.
LEVI HUMMON / “Bottled Up”
Writers: Levi Hummon/Mason Thornley/Grant Vogelfanger; Producer: Eric Arjes; Label: Reservoir
–Second-generation country guy Levi is the son of mega-hit writer Marcus Hummon (who recently debuted an opera in Music City). This track from his forthcoming EP is a well-written tune about the repressed emotions of a broken-hearted dude on a barstool. Catchy and commercial.
CHRIS LANE / “Howdy”
Writers: John Byron/Sam Ellis/Blake Pendergrass; Producer: Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud
–Breezy and easy going. His plain-spoken, relaxed delivery sidles up next to you in an instantly-familiar way while the track twangs and thumps in a lulling pattern around him. Gently endearing.
STEFANIE JOYCE/ “Idle Hands”
Writer: Stefanie Joyce; Producer: Kyle Manner; Label: Avalon
–The funky, backbeat production is uber cool. Her drawling vocal is an arrow of truth. The guitar-groove melody is solid and hooky. Best of all, the lyric is a brilliantly fashioned plea for salvation from pills and booze. This is an extraordinary disc debut. I can’t wait to hear what else this singer-songwriter has in her arsenal.
DEBORAH ALLEN / “Blue Collar Baby”
Writers: Deborah Allen/Margaret Phillips; Producer: Deborah Allen; Label: DA
–This romping retro-rockabilly rave up is a rollicking audio party, complete with stuttering guitar, piano plunking and non-stop rhythm.
KARLEY SCOTT COLLINS / “Heavenly”
Writers: Karley Scott Collins/Nathan Champan; Producer: Nathan Chapman; Label: Sony
–Her burlap-and-velvet vocal tone is enchanting. The song is a regulation positive love tune, but she makes it sound like something exceptional. Promising. Send more.
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