DISClaimer Single Reviews: Ashley McBryde & Brothers Osborne Stun With ‘Play Ball’
As we roll toward springtime, country music’s artists are putting their best feet forward.
Perhaps no one more so that Grammy winner Ashley McBryde. Her co-written “Play Ball” provides an outstanding platform for the talents of Brothers Osborne. Which is the Disc of the Day.
Newcomer Brandon Davis rides into town as this week’s DisCovery Award winner.
BRANDON DAVIS / “Fell For You”
Writers: Brandon Davis/Brandon Sammons; Producer: BSAMZ; Label: Big Yellow Dog
– A poignant heartache honky-tonker that’s country, country, country, all the way. Very promising.
BROTHERS OSBORNE & ASHLEY McBRYDE / “Play Ball”
Writers: Ashley McBryde/Brandy Clark/Benjy Davis/Connie Harrington/Nicolette Hayford/Aaron Ratiere; Producer: John Osborne; Label: Warner
– If there was an award for Country Concert of the Year, I’d be polishing a statuette for Ashley McBryde. Her “Welcome to Lindeville” all-star gathering at the Ryman last week was the most wildly entertaining and meaningful country event of our era. I have already told you about her extraordinary album’s “Bonfire at Tina’s,” “Gospel Night at the Strip Club” and “Brenda Put Your Bra On,” all of which were stunning in live performance. One thing the concert revealed was how important is the album’s producer, John Osborne. He and his brilliant vocalist brother T.J. turned this exquisite song into an an epic small-town poem about the groundskeeper at Dennis Linde Field. In a word, awesome.
MACKENZIE CARPENTER / “Jesus I’m Jealous”
Writers: Mackenzie Carpenter/Steve Moakler; Producer: Brandon Hood; Label: Valory
– Carpenter is a CMT Next Women of Country participant this year. This lilting outing finds her watching young lovers from her barstool and feeling pangs of envy. Loneliness hurts.
THE WAR & TREATY / “Ain’t No Harmin’ Me”
Writers: Michael Trotter Jr.,Tanya Trotter; Producer: Dave Cobb; Label: Mercury
– Moody and bluesy and altogether hypnotizing, the new single by this extraordinary act is a rapturous swirl of soul. They introduced it on the Opry and, as usual, brought down the house.
DALTON DOVER / “Giving Up on That”
Writers: Dalton Dover/Adam Craig/John Pierce; Producer: Matthew McVaney; Label: Mercury
– I have been in this country youngster’s corner from the get-go and couldn’t be more pleased that he is getting a major-label shot. This power ballad of regret and yearning gives him a super showcase for his dynamic, whisper-to-a-scream vocal ability. A solid winner. Make this man a star.
OLIVIA NEWTON JOHN & DOLLY PARTON / “Jolene”
Writers: Dolly Parton; Producer: Dane Bryant; Label: Green Hill
– The last recording and video that Olivia did prior to her passing last August was a duet with her longtime buddy Dolly. The result is a terrific interplay of voices fronting a kick-butt rhythm track. I love the way Dolly improvises as the choruses repeat. It will become part of an Olivia duets album in May, and the late singer will be celebrated via a live-streamed “global memorial service” from Melbourne on Sunday (Feb. 26). As for Dolly, she has a gospel duet coming next month with the legendary Dionne Warwick and is also part of an all-star collaboration titled “Gonna Be You” with Cyndi Lauper, Gloria Estefan, Debbie Harry and Belinda Carlisle.
NEON UNION / “‘Bout Damn Time”
Writers: Michael Hardy, Jordan Schmidt, Hunter Phelps, Tyler Hubbard; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: Red Street
– Comprised of Leo Brooks and Andrew Millsaps, this plus-sized, Black-white duo was put together by Jimmie Allen after he saw each of the members performing separately. Neon Union’s disc debut is a raise-em-up, beer-drinking, party-hearty, rousing country rocker about getting back to our hillbilly roots. I’ll drink to that.
TENILLE TOWNES & BRYAN ADAMS / “The Thing That Wrecks You”
Writers: Bryan Adams/Daniel Tashian/Kate York/Tenille Townes; Producers: Tenille Townes/Jaxon Hargrove; Label: Sony
– Adams’ hoarse raspy whisper contrasts beautifully with Townes’ assured, penetrating soprano delivery on this dramatic pile driver. The throbbing track and the Canadian stars’ audio charisma make this an essential listening experience. Absolutely play this.
KYLIE MORGAN / “Don’t Stay Gone Too Long”
Writers: Jason Massey, Kylie Morgan, Nelly Joy; Producer: Jason Massey; Label: EMI
– Sweet and plaintive, it begins with a youngster leaving home for the first time, segues into a lament about lovers separating, then a deathbed farewell to a beloved grandma. Achingly innocent-sounding and lovely.
BAILEY ZIMMERMAN / “Rock and a Hard Place”
Writers: Heath Warren/Jacob Hackworth/Jet Black; Producer: Austin Shawn; Label: Warner/Elektra
– Currently opening for Morgan Wallen on tour, this new country streaming sensation seems to blast one single after another into the top-10. This searing ballad is no exception. Sung with burning conviction.
LILY ROSE / “Truth Is”
Writers: Lily Rose/Stephen Carey/Ian Christian/Matt Morrisey; Producer: Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud
– It’s easier to swallow a slug of booze than it is to face the fact that the relationship is dead as a doornail. A classic heartache honky-tonk message given a kicking, driving, rhythm-saturated production. Not to mention her always-dynamic voice.
IAN MUNSICK / “River Run”
Writers: Jeremy Spillman/Ryan Beaver/Ian Munsick; Producers: Ian Munsick/Jeremy Spillman; Label: Warner
– Instantly gripping. The banjo-and-fiddle embellished, groove-soaked track pulls you in from its opening notes. Munsick’s piercing, country-boy tenor vocal carries the rushing, frothing emotions of lost love forward with immense personality. A very cool sonic experience.