It’s all country stars, no waiting, in this edition of DisClaimer.
Darius Rucker, Kane Brown and Easton Corbin are all here. There are so many stars that they come in pairs—Chris Janson & Eric Church, Dylan Scott & Jimmie Allen, Chris Young & Old Dominion, Elle King & Dierks Bentley.
In a column filled with memorable performances, unstoppable Cody Johnson edges a win for the Disc of the Day prize.
The DisCovery Award goes to the wonderfully original Adam Raitiere.
AARON RAITIERE / “Single Wide Dreamer”
Writer: Aaron Raitiere/Jon Decious; Producers: Miranda Lambert/Anderson East; Label: Dinner Time/Thirty Tigers
— This guy is so left-field cool. His lazy vocal drawl, quirky lyrics and spare, funky production are all terrifically ear catching. This is the title tune of an album that’s in league with such greats as John Prine and Todd Snider. You absolutely need to hear this man’s music.
KANE BROWN / “Like I Love Country Music”
Writers: Kane Brown/Matthew McGuinn/Taylor Phillips/Jordan Schmidt; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: RCA
— Bold sounding and rockin.’ So cleverly written, with its name drops of Johnny & June, Willie, Alan, Brooks & Dunn and Jones. Instrumentally, it’s somewhat “busy” sounding, but there’s no denying the hearty vocal.
FILMORE / “Mean Something”
Writers: Filmore/Will Weatherly/Michael Whitworth; Producer: Zach Abend; Label: Curb
— An echoey track and wafting audio atmosphere set the stage for an expressive vocal about working on the road and missing loved ones. Moody and mournful.
EASTON CORBIN / “I Can’t Decide”
Writers: Ashley Gorley/Easton Corbin/Rhett Akins/Wade Kirby; Producers: Derek George/Wade Kirby; Label: Stone Country
— She’s so pretty in every way that he can’t decide which “look” she should put on for their date. I dig it that his vocal is mixed so crystal clear in the midst of a storming uptempo track.
BREI CARTER / “Paybacks”
Writers: Brei Carter/Jason Campbell/Terry Smith; Producer: Jason Wyatt; Label: BC
— The Louisiana singer-songwriter is feisty and fierce on this kiss-off power ballad. Snarling electric guitar, stomping tempo and solidly country attitude are the hallmarks here.
CHRIS YOUNG & OLD DOMINION / “Everybody Needs a Song”
Writers: Brad Francis Tursi/Chris Young/Chris DeStefano; Producers: Chris Young/Chris DeStefano; Label: Sony
— “When we can’t find the words, the radio can.” Truer words about country music were never spoken, and the mini portraits in this lyric are dandy (“Spring breakers need a fast one,” “Prom night needs a dance,” “Heartbreaks need a melody,” etc.). Marvelously well written and sung with gusto.
CODY JOHNSON / “Human”
Writers: Tony Lane/Travis Meadows; Producer: Trent Willmon; Label: Warner
— I didn’t think it was possible to follow a perfect performance like “’Til You Can’t,” but this stunning meditation on frailty and mistakes is just as breathtaking. This man is dusted with the glitter of superstardom.
CHRIS JANSON & ERIC CHURCH / “You, Me and the River”
Writer: Eric Church; Producers: Tommy Cecil/Chris Janson; Label: Warner
— Wow. A murder ballad. This is drenched in darkness, drama and doom. A shuddering electric guitar, thumped slow percussion and minor-key theatrics frame their ultra compelling, chilling performance. An awesome performance by both men.
DYLAN SCOTT & JIMMIE ALLEN / “In Our Blood”
Writers: David Fanning/Brad Rempel/Matt McGuinn; Producers: Will Weatherly/Matt Alderman; Label: Curb
— “We all bleed red at the end of the day.” It’s an oomphy anthem of brotherhood and unity that cuts across racial, cultural and religious lines. Scott takes the lead with Allen shadowing him with phrases and lines.
JESSIE JAMES DECKER / “Should Have Known Better”
Writer: Tom Barnes/Pete Kelleher/Benjamin Kohn/Madi Yanofsky; Producers: Matt McVaney/Scott Hendricks/TMS; Label: Warner/Atlantic/Big Yellow Dog
— A sassy, moving-on stomper that’s packed with femme attitude.
DARIUS RUCKER / “Same Beer Different Problem”
Writers: Darius Rucker/Tofer Brown/Sarah Buxton/Brad Tursi; Producer: Ross Copperman; Label: Capitol
— Rollicking. Made for a summer afternoon with brews handy. Crank it up and sing along.
ELLE KING & DIERKS BENTLEY / “Worth a Shot”
Writer: none listed; Producer: none listed; Label: Sony
— The “Different for Girls” duet partners return with an energetic, irresistible, forward-rushing slab of sound that particularly showcases Elle’s penetrating, forceful delivery. Bentley’s laid-back style relaxes behind her. Highly engaging.