Seasons change, but some things in country music are constant.
The days are getting shorter, the kiddies are going back to school and summer will soon be gone. But whether it is brilliant sunshine or falling leaves, you can always depend on Blake Shelton. This country titan nails down this week’s Disc of the Day prize with ease.
His closest challengers are all duos—Maddie & Tae, Sunny Sweeney with Vince Gill and the stunning outing by Hardy & Lainey Wilson. All three are essential listening.
The DISCovery Award goes to Pennsylvania’s Conrad Fisher.
TYLER RICH / “Trucks Don’t Lie”
Writers: Tyler Rich/Adam Craig/Jim McCormick; Producer: Jaren Johnston; Label: Valory
–Heartache on four wheels. Well sung and well produced, even if it does deal in country’s well-worn (worn-out?) truck fetish.
BLAKE SHELTON / “No Body”
Writers: Rodney Clawson/Chris Tompkins/Josh Kear; Producer: Scott Hendricks; Label: Warner
–Deliriously catchy. Thumpin’ rhythm, sassy lyric, snappy attitude and production perfection. Then there’s the voice of one of our finest country singers…..
HARDY & LAINEY WILSON / “Wait in the Truck”
Writers: Michael Hardy/Hunter Phelps/Jordan Schmidt/Renee Blair; Producers: Joey Moi/Hardy/Derek Wells/Jordan Schmidt; Label: Big Loud
–Very creative. A dark and arresting story song involving domestic violence and vengeance. You’ll hang on every line of this gripping yarn. Applause to everyone involved in this awesome outing.
BREI CARTER / “Kiss an Angel Good Mornin’”
Writer: Ben Peters; Producer: none listed; Label: BC
–She sings well, but I’m not sure it was a good idea to slow down this Charley Pride country classic.
CONRAD FISHER / “Trouble With a Hammer”
Writer: Conrad Fisher; Producer: none listed; Label: Ashbrook
–It’s a lively toe tapper with a workaday, everyman lyric. His strong tenor voice is backed by some twang guitar and a snazzy rhythm track. Promising. Send more.
MADDIE & TAE / “Spring Cleaning”
Writers: Maddie Font/Taylor Kerr/Josh Kerr/Tayla Parx; Producers: Derek Wells/Josh Kerr; Label: Mercury
–Bluesy, saucy and cool. It ain’t spring, but she’s cleaning house and wants him to get his shit outta there. The snarky vocals are matched by electric guitars on a rampage.
SUNNY SWEENEY & VINCE GILL / “Married Alone”
Writers: Hannah Blaylock/Josh Morningstar/Autumn McEntire; Producers: Paul Cauthen/Beau Bedford; Label: Thirty Tigers
–I have long been a fan of this gal. She’s as country as grits. On this downcast ballad, she’s joined by the incomparable Mr. Gill on spectacular vocal harmony. Steel and twang abound. Catch Sunny’s “Sunny Side Up” Sirius/XM radio show weekday mornings, 6 a.m.-noon on the Willie’s Roadhouse channel.
SHANE PROFITT / “How It Oughta Be”
Writers: David Frasier/Mitch Oglesby/Shane Profitt; Producers: Julian Raymond/Chris Janson/Scott Borchetta; Label: BMLG
–Rousing and rambunctious, he lays out a vision of a life where prices aren’t so high, folks treat each other right and teachers should be paid like lawyers are. You’ll get no argument from me.
KANE BROWN / “Go Around”
Writers: Kane Brown/Jordan Mark Schmidt/Ernest Keith Smith/Garrett Scott Nichols/Zachary Ryan Beeken; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: Arista
–This track marks time between his chart-topping “Like I Love Country Music” and his next single. The fiddle-embellished tune meanders aimlessly and so does the come-on lyric. Pass.
LEANN RIMES / “Awakening”
Writer: LeAnn Rimes; Producers: LeAnn Rimes/Darrell Brown; Label: LR
–LeAnn is turning 40: How can this be? As a mark of her new maturity, she’s issuing this confessional ode about mental health and psychological survival. It’s an extremely well produced pop track with lush strings, rumbling rhythms and layered vocal echoes.
ADAM DOLEAC / “Close That Tab”
Writers: Adam Doleac/Derrick Southerland/Zach Abend; Producer: Andy Skib; Label: Arista
–She keeps making the same mistakes, so he advises her quit that no-good guy. “Why you wanna spend another Happy Hour sad?” “He’s another watered-down vodka/soda.” Repetitive, but listenable.
MAREN MORRIS / “Make You Say”
Writers: Zedd/Maren Morris/Charlie Puth/Jacob Kasher Hindlin/Johan Yang/Bernie Yang; Producers: Zedd/BEAUZ; Label: Sony
–Zedd & Morris collaborated on her monster million selling “The Middle.” This reunion isn’t as insanely catchy, but it shares one fact with its predecessor: There is nothing country about it. There are a lot more electronic loops this time around, presumably by the two Yangs, who work under the billing BEAUZ.