Somebody opened the flood gates at UMG this week.
The company’s Dierks Bentley, Jon Pardi, Little Big Town and Brothers Osborne dominated this week’s country listening session, and all vied for a Disc of the Day award.
But there’s no denying the superstar power of Sony’s Luke Combs & Miranda Lambert, who ride off with the prize.
Songs and Daughters singer-songwriter Madison Kozak is our DISCovery Award winner. Along with Brooke Eden and Stafani Joyce, she illustrates the ongoing insurgency of country’s female talent.
PILLBOX PATTI / “Suwannee”
Writers: Nicolette Hayford/Aaron Raitiere/Ashley McBryde/Park Chilsolm/Benjy Davis/Connie Harrington/Joe Clemmons; Producer: Park Chilsolm; Label: Monument
–The pop production is echoey, murky, atmospheric and awash in electronics. The Deep South lyric extolls the virtues of Florida-swamp culture. It would be better if you could hear it more clearly. Pillbox Patti is Nicolette Hayfield, one of seven (!) songwriters credited.
LITTLE BIG TOWN / “Rich Man”
Writer: Jimi Westbrook; Producers: Little Big Town; Label: Capitol
–Tender and touching. It’s an ode to the simple joys of family and fatherhood. It’s also a reprise of one of country music’s greatest themes, that money doesn’t buy happiness, but love can. Westbrook takes the heartfelt lead vocal in an airy, acoustic production.
BROOKE EDEN / “Left You For Me”
Writers: Brooke Eden/Kyle Schlienger/Jon Stone; Producer: Jesse Frasure; Label: BBR
–Very appealing. A ringing, chiming instrumental bed surrounds a forceful soprano vocal on a strong song of survival. In-the-pocket contemporary femme country. She walks it like she talks it: Eden engaged with the campers of the YWCA’s Girls, Inc., sharing how music empowered her and encouraging them to find their own inspirations.
DIERKS BENTLEY / “Gold”
Writers: Ross Copperman/Luke Dick/Ashley Gorley/Dierks Bentley/Trent Dabbs; Producers: Ross Copperman/Jon Randall/F. Reid Shippen/Dierks Bentley; Label: Capitol
–This is a top-down, summertime-drive, open-air, traveling tune. The rhythm track is irresistible. The strumming guitars are rockin.’ The everyman, rosey-glasses lyric is a face-wide smile. Play it on repeat.
CUTTER ELLIOTT / “Heartache Waiting to Happen”
Writers: Paul A. Reeves/JD Simo; Producer: Paul Reeves; Label: CE
–He’s a traditionalist with plenty of stuttering guitar, pedal steel runs and roadhouse rhythm. The uptempo tune is a promising disc debut for this honky-tonk baritone.
LUKE COMBS & MIRANDA LAMBERT / “Outrunnin’ Your Memory”
Writers: Luke Combs/Miranda Lambert/Dan Isbell; Producers: Luke Combs/Jonathan Singleton/Chip Matthews; Label: River House / Columbia
–This is match made in heaven, for sure. The track rolls along relentlessly while these two superb country singers have a harmony fiesta and swap verses. Deliciously listenable as well as a breezy change of pace for the usually more amped-up Combs.
STEFANI JOYCE / “Love Thy Neighbor”
Writers: Stefani Joyce/Mary Heather Hickman/SJ McDonald; Producer: Kyle Manner; Label: ONErpm
–A thumpin,’ swampy cheating song that’s uber cool. If the skillful songwriting doesn’t have you hanging on every line, her sultry, conversational, sensual vocal delivery will. I remain a huge fan of this newcomer.
BROTHERS OSBORNE / “Skeletons”
Writers: John Osborne/Andrew DeRoberts/TJ Osborne/Adam DeRoberts; Producer: Jay Joyce; Label: EMI
–Barreling through this chesty rocker, the siblings tore it up on the CMA Music Fest TV special Wednesday night on ABC. As an audio experience, the title tune of their current album packs a potent punch, as does T.J.’s macho, snarling lead vocal. A performance this mighty vividly illustrates why the Osbornes ascended to stardom.
MADISON KOZAK / “Loud House”
Writers: Madison Kozak/Aaron Eshuis/Emily Falvey; Producer: Chris LaCorte; Label: Big Loud
–A complex, fascinating recollection of growing up in a crowded, busy, chaotic and maybe a little abusive household. She can’t wait to get out, but yearns for the noisy familiarity she leaves behind. Kozak is yet another gifted soul to emerge from the Songs and Daughters franchise.
THE LONG & SHORT OF IT / “Midnight Choir”
Writers: David Baird/Kenneth Royster/Patricia Westray Toop; Producer: Ken Royster; Label: LS
–This is an award-winning, Australian male-female duo, David Baird & Patsy Toop (he’s the Short one). The title tune of their current album is a well-sung, toe-tapping romper celebrating a Cheers-like gathering spot with loads of warmth, good humor and honky-tonk merriment. Sing along.
JON PARDI / “Fill ‘Er Up”
Writers: Ross Copperman/Brice Long/Jon Pardi; Producers: Jon Pardi/Bart Butler/Ryan Gore; Label: Capitol
–It’s a straight-ahead drinking song. Now that’s country. If you loved “Last Night Lonely,” belly up to the bar for another round.
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