The baby acts are riding high in DISClaimer this week.
Kameron Marlowe, Rodell Duff, Frank Ray, Kassi Ashton, Willie Jones and Travis Denning are front and center with new sounds. But they have to compete with such stellar vets as Willie Nelson, Ronnie Dunn and the winner of the Disc of the Day, Little Big Town.
Newcomer Corey Kent nails the DISCovery Award.
JORDAN DAVIS / “Next Thing You Know”
Writers: Jordan Davis/Chase McGill/Josh Osborne/Greylan James; Producer: Paul DiGiovanni; Label: MCA Nashville
–The shock of growing up and growing older before you know it. Heartfelt and well written.
LITTLE BIG TOWN / “Better Love”
Writers: Karen Fairchild/Jimi Westbrook/Tofer Brown/Audra Mae; Producer: Little Big Town; Label: Capitol
–This teaser track from the group’s Mr. Sun album is a stone delight. With its tongue-in-cheek lyric, feisty attitude, romping production and flawless, personality-packed vocals, the ditty pushes every pleasure button. It also makes me super eager to hear the whole collection, which is due next month.
KAMERON MARLOWE / “We Were Cowboys”
Writers: Tyler Farr/Wyatt McCubbin/Kameron Marlowe; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: Sony
–Love this guy’s voice. On this nostalgic look at youth, he shifts from a dark, dramatic baritone on the verses to a scorching, summer-sun tenor on the choruses. Ferociously good.
TRAVIS DENNING / “Buy a Girl a Drink”
Writers: Travis Denning/Jeremy Stover/Paul DiGiovanni/Chase McGill; Producers: Paul DiGiovanni/Jeremy Stover; Label: Mercury
–Pretty dang cool. An oomphy production with jangle guitars and a deep-bass undertow delivers a rapid-fire lyric about a lifelong relationship. Denning’s common-man, relatable vocal is the icing on the cake. A simply excellent listening experience.
FRANK RAY / “Country’d Look Good On You”
Writers: Cole Taylor/Derek George/Monty Criswell/Taylor Phillips; Producer: Frank Rogers; Label: Stoney Creek/BBR
–Sunny, catchy and pleasant. I can take it or leave it.
WILLIE NELSON / “Live Forever”
Writer: Billy Joe Shaver; Producers: Charlie Sexton/Freddy Fletcher; Label: New West/
–Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member Billy Joe Shaver is getting a tribute album in November. Lined up to participate are Rodney Crowell, Miranda Lambert, Steve Earle, George Strait, Margo Price and Nathaniel Rateliff, among others. Willie has the title tune, which is out now as an advance track. Which is brilliant, because if Shaver ever wrote an autobiographical manifesto, this song is it. What’s super great is that Willie’s arrangement reinterprets the philosophical song with tempo and drive. I’ve always loved the song, and this brings it vividly back to life.
RODELL DUFF / “Red Dirt Cursed”
Writers: Dylan Maloney/Eamon Owen/Eric Dodd/Rodell Duff; Producer: Dylan Maloney; Label: RD
–The wave of Black country talent continues with this fine single by newcomer Duff. It’s a classic sounding country rocker with a heartbroken lyric. His confident, soaring vocal is backed by a pristinely produced tempo track. This man sounds ready for the Big Time to me. Make room at the table.
KASSI ASHTON / “I Don’t Go Back”
Writers: Luke Laird/Hillary Lindsey/Kassi Ashton; Producers: Luke Laird/Kassi Ashton; Label: MCA
–Nicely done. Her conversational vocal is earthy and real. The ballad’s lyric gets out of a heartbreak by pushing forward, albeit with considerable regret and some aching loss. By far her best work to date.
RONNIE DUNN & PARKER McCOLLUM / “Road to Abilene”
Writer: Ronnie Dunn; Producer: Ronnie Dunn; Label: RD
–This is the lead single from Dunn’s new 100 Proof Neon collection. As usual, he sings like a hillbilly angel. McCollum holds his own collaborating with this master stylist. They both yearn in lovelorn longing on this terrifically twangin’ country tune. Get yer two-steppin’ shoes on.
WILLIE JONES / “Bein’ Green”
Writer: Joe Raposo; Producer: JD Walker; Label: Sony
–It’s kinda dreamy and airy. The melody meanders, but his vocal is steady and sure footed. Different, in an oddly pleasing, artsy way.
CRYSTAL SHAWANDA / “How Bad Do You Want It”
Writers: Crystal Shawanda/Darrin James/Dewayne Strobel; Producer: Dewayne Strobel; Label: True North
–This Juno-awarded Canadian stylist introduces her new Midnight Blues collection with this bright-sounding, lightweight, vacation ditty. Formerly an RCA Nashville stylist, she’s heading in a slightly more R&B direction, but there’s no getting away from her country roots.
COREY KENT / “Wild As Her”
Writers: Morgan Wallen/Brett Tyler/Kelly Archer; Producer: Chris Farren; Label: RCA
–His youthful vocal has just the right, slight touch of rasp. The tune is a dandy, depicting a free-spirited gal he’s trying his best to keep up with. The production gets a little too rocked up at times, but the jam is so catchy you can overlook the noise.
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