”Summertime, and the livin’ is easy.”
With apologies to the Gershwins and Porgy & Bess, the country stars are making that sentiment a reality with a picnic of sunshine-y sounds this week.
Leading the way is Miranda Lambert, who wins the Disc of the Day honor. The column is full of “name” attractions, so no newcomer DisCovery awardee this time around.
NICOLLE GALYON / “Boy Crazy”
Writers: Nicolle Galyon/Kelsea Ballerini/Hillary Lindsey; Producers: King Henry/Jimmy Robbins; Label: Songs & Daughters
–Sharply observed lyrics, a tart/wise vocal and a stark, spare imaginative production make this a hang-on-every-line listening experience. Co-writers Ballerini and Lindsey provide harmony support. I can’t wait for Galyon’s upcoming album debut. Based on what I’ve heard, it’s going to be an Event.
KEITH URBAN / “Brown Eyes Baby”
Writers: Will Bundy/Rodney Clawson/Josh Thompson/Morgan Wallen; Producers: Dann Huff/Keith Urban; Label: Capitol Nashville
–This casts Urban as The Comforter, here to brighten your dark day with some mid-tempo sunshine. Introduced on Thursday morning’s Today show, it goes down super smoothly.
MIRANDA LAMBERT / “Strange”
Writers: Miranda Lambert/Luke Dick/Natalie Hemby; Producers: Miranda Lambert/Luke Dick/Jon Randall; Label: RCA
–It takes a little while to take off, but once it does, it’s a dandy ride. Lambert takes a look at these crazy times and suggests a few ways to liven the mood. “Do anything to keep you sane,” she sings. Amen, sister: You’re coming in loud and clear.
JOE NICHOLS / “Good Day For Living”
Writers: Bobby Hamrick/Dave Cohen/Neil Mason; Producers: Mickey Jack Cones/Derek George; Label: Quartz Hill
–The title tune of Nichols’ new album bubbles with energy. He lit up the Opry stage with it recently, and it sure sounded fresh. Upbeat, uplifting, bright, delightfully positive and just the thing to add some zip to your playlist.
MORGAN WALLEN /”You Proof”
Writers: Ashley Gorley/Ernest Keith Smith/Morgan Wallen/Ryan Vojtesak; Producers: Joey Moi/Charlie Handsome; Label: Big Loud
–All the whiskey in the bar can’t get her off his mind. The track burbles along with droplets of cool guitar notes, finger snaps and jaunty undertow rhythm. As usual, he sings with immense personality and verve.
INGRID ANDRESS / “Pain”
Writers: Ingrid Andress/Laura Veltz/Sam Ellis; Producers: Ingrid Andress/Sam Ellis; Label: Warner
–Her vocal performance is quite range-y and accomplished. The overall vibe is pop power ballad with strings and steel.
RANDY HOUSER / “Workin’ Man”
Writers: Randy Houser/Randy Montana; Producers: Randy Houser/Blake Chancey; Label: Magnolia Music Group
–The excellent “Note To Self” remains the single, but this track from his forthcoming album with that title also contains this rousing blue-collar anthem. Houser sings it with a barn-burner baritone that dips and growls in all the right places. He’s such an amazing vocalist, and this is a classic country message.
MADDIE & TAE / “Every Night Every Morning”
Writers: Maddie Font/Taylor Kerr/Jonathan Singleton/Brock Berryhill; Producers: Derek Wells/Jimmy Robbins; Label: Mercury
–Breezy, tuneful and youthful. Giddy in love, and full of sunshine. Well worth your spins.
KIP MOORE / “Fire on Wheels”
Writers: Kip Moore/Jaren Johnston; Producers: Kip Moore/Jaren Johnston; Label: MCA
–It’s a fiery rocker that journeys through the American heartland with hoarse exhortations. Scream and dance along.
JAKE HOOT / “Had It To Lose”
Writers: Jake Hoot/Matt Warren/Matt Nolan; Producer: Danny Myrick; Label: JH
–This winner of The Voice is a commanding vocal presence on this blue-collar country rocker with an Everyman message. Potent, penetrating and ultimately relatable.
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