There is a lot of disposable pop in today’s listening stack.
Take it from me, you can skip the new offerings by Walker Hayes, Kane Brown and LeAnn Rimes. Dan + Shay are pop too, but at least they are gorgeous pop.
If it’s real country music you crave, allow me to direct your attention to the new music by Tyler Hubbard and/or the Zac Brown Band with Cody Johnson. They finished in a neck-and-neck race for the Disc of the Day, with Tyler Hubbard getting the win.
This week’s DISCovery Award is also solidly country. Tim Dugger, take a bow.
TIM DUGGER / “Heart of a Small Town”
Writers: Brandon Hood/Tim Dugger/Tim Nichols; Producer: Brandon Hood; Label: Curb
–His heartfelt-hillbilly voice is perfect for this stirring ode to the American heartland. The pounding drums and strumming guitars accent a cleverly written lyric and the catchy melody. I’m in.
DAN + SHAY / “You”
Writers: Dan Smyers/Dave Barnes/Jordan Reynolds; Producers: Dan Smyers/Scott Hendricks; Label: Warner
–Glossy pop with a paint-by-numbers love lyric. Pretty as all get out.
TEBEY / “Sink With the Sun”
Writers: Kelly Archer/Tebey Ottoh/Danick Dupelle; Producers: Tebey Ottoh/Danick Dupelle; Label: Jayward Artist Group
–Tebey briefly charted on RCA/BNA back in 2003. He returned to his native Ontario and wrote a clutch of million-selling international pop hits. His return to Nashville demonstrates that he hasn’t lost his feel for country music. He dreams of getting out on tropical water on a boat to drown his heartache with the sunset. Nicely done.
WALKER HAYES / “Y’all Life”
Writers: Walker Hayes/Pete Good/Josh Jenkins/Cornell Haynes Jr. (Nelly)/Jason Epperson; Producers: Walker Hayes/Joe Thibodeau/Shane McAnally; Label: Monument
–It’s awfully difficult to follow a giant novelty hit like “Fancy Like.” Hayes tries his best by doubling down on the hick-hop delivery and offering another chant-like chorus. Head bobbin’ stuff. Can lightning strike twice in the same place?
LILY ROSE / “In My Drinks”
Writers: Jamie Davis/Jordan Gray/Rob Pennington; Producer: Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud/Back Blocks/Mercury/Republic
–She has such a cool voice, full of soulful drawl and swallowed pain. The mid-tempo heartache lament has loads of barroom authenticity and is super listenable. It also breaks ground as a country performance by a woman yearning for another woman.
KANE BROWN / “Grand”
Writers: none listed; Producers: none listed; Label: RCA
–He has a current country hit with “Like I Love Country Music.” This single is his pop release. It has no tune.
HANNAH ELLIS / “Country Can”
Writers: Hannah Ellis/Parker Welling/Nick Wayne/Jason Massey; Producers: none listed; Label: Curb
–I believe this song. At its best, nothing can speak to your heart like country-music can. Ellis delivers the sentiment in a soaring, anthemic melody that begs to be turned up loud. Applause, please.
ZAC BROWN BAND & CODY JOHNSON / “Wild Palomino”
Writers: Ben Simonetti/Jonathan Singleton/Wyatt Beasley Durrette, III; Producers: none listed; Label: Warner
–Johnson’s burnished-baritone charisma totally steals the show here. The trademark ZBB harmonies are in place, but this is the Texas cowboy’s show. It’s also a super-cool and beautiful heartache song.
TYLER HUBBARD / “Way Home”
Writers: Tyler Hubbard/Corey Crowder/Canaan Smith; Producers: Jordan Schmidt/Tyler Hubbard; Label: EMI
–Hubbard’s solo career continues to gain ground with this new track. It also reclaims his country bona fides, because it pairs his delightful drawl with a down-home, spiritual lyric about redemption. Full of hillbilly heart.
BRIAN KELLEY / “American Spirit”
Writers: Brian Kelley/Jake Rose/Blake Redferrin/Canaan Smith; Producers: Brian Kelley/Jake Rose; Label: Big Machine
–This isn’t very promising. His debut post-FGL solo single is a fairly generic patriotic ditty. “The red, white and blue…is flying for me and for you.”
JASON ALDEAN / “That’s What Tequila Does”
Writers: Kurt Allison/John Edwards/Tully Kennedy/John Morgan; Producers: Michael Knox; Label: Macon Music/ Broken Bow
–The shouted choruses try to stir up excitement, but the verses just kinda lay there.
LEANN RIMES, MICKEY GUYTON & SHEILA E / “The Wild”
Writers: Darrell Brown/LeAnn Rimes; Producers: Darrell Brown/LeAnn Rimes; Label: EverLe/Thirty Tigers
–Vaguely tribal sounding pop music with wordless “woa-woa’s,” many repeated phases and thumping percussion. A collection of sounds in search of a song.
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