We have some dandy ballads for you country-music lovers today.
Adam Hood, Reyna Roberts & Tayler Holder, Sam Hunt, Walker County and the all-time master of slowies, Vince Gill, are all on hand today with messages from the heart. Topping them all is Darius Rucker, who has the Disc of the Day with “Lift Me Up.”
The DisCovery Award goes to Dylan Marlowe. Guess what? He has a ballad, too.
REYNA ROBERTS & TAYLER HOLDER / “Another Round”
Writers: Reyna Roberts/Laura Veltz/Jimmy Robbins; Producer: none listed; Label: Empire
– Previously noted as a country rocker, Roberts showcases her true vocal skills on this power ballad about calling it quits with a guy. Duet partner Holder can’t keep up with her firepower, but the whole thing is a listening pleasure.
DYLAN MARLOWE / “Record High”
Writers: Dylan Marlowe/Zach Abend/Adam Dean/Tyler Collins; Producer: Joe Fox; Label: Sony
– Moody and haunting. The soundscape ripples with dobro, muted percussion and chimed electronics. His broken-hearted delivery aches with sincerity. Excellent work.
DARIUS RUCKER / “Lift Me Up”
Writers: Rihanna/Ryan Coogler/Ludwig Goransson/Tems; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: UMG
– Wakanda forever! Right on the heels of Rihanna’s Super Bowl halftime performance comes Rucker’s fine cover of her Oscar-nominated theme song from the Black Panther franchise. Beautifully produced, spiritually uplifting and soul stirring. It builds to anthem-level intensity before receding into an intimate prayer. Essential.
MEGAN MORONEY / “I’m Not Pretty”
Writers: Micah Carpenter/Megan Moroney/Mackenzie Carpenter/Ben Williams; Producer: Kristian Bush; Label: Sony
– I fell in love with her the moment I heard “Tennessee Orange.” This clever, femme-centric ditty confirms her status as a first-class, off-center, wonderfully creative country artist. With flawless storytelling skill, she relates a modern gal’s situation of being stalked on social media by her ex’s new girlfriend. Rest assured, Instagram gets a shout-out.
TRAVIS TRITT / “Get a Little Rowdy”
Writer: Travis Tritt; Producers: Danny Davenport, Billy Suit, Travis Tritt; Label: Painted Desert Music
– Upbeat and lively, this is Tritt in his classic soul-meets-honkytonk style. The production is a little thin, but his vocal passion carries the day.
RUSTY CREEK / “Bombs Away”
Writer: Alexander Deeth; Producers: Tim Hearsey,Alex Deeth; Label: RC
– This Canadian band moans an anti-war message aimed at Russia’s disgusting invasion of the Ukraine. It would be nice if one of them could sing. At least the steel guitarist gets it right.
SAM HUNT / “Walmart”
Writers: Sam Hunt/Zach Crowell/Shane McAnally/Josh Osborne; Producers: Zach Crowell,Chris LaCorte,Sam Hunt,King Henry; Label: UMG
– His feathery delivery is perfect for this wistful ballad of resignation. The song’s snapshot of small-town life glows with philosophic, matter-of-fact acceptance that a broken relationship isn’t the end of the world. I dig this. A lot.
VINCE GILL / “Someday”
Writers: Vince Gill/Richard Marx; Producer: Vince Gill; Label: MCA
– I’m not sure what is going on here. The video of Vince’s gorgeous 2003 ballad is evidently being re-issued by UMG. Hey, any time I can hear this angelic voice is fine with me.
JON LANGSTON / “Howdy Howdy Howdy”
Writers: Jacob Rice, Jon Langston, Jordan Gray; Producers: Jacob Rice, Jody Stevens; Label: EMI
– Howdy rhymes with rowdy. Langston growls his way through this barroom romp while guitars grind, a steel stutters and a drummer blasts the beats. Lotsa fun.
GRIFFEN PALMER / “Second Guessing”
Writers: Andrew Deroberts/Benjamin Simonetti/Brian Kelley/Corey Crowder/Ester Dean/Geoffrey Warburton/Griffen Palmer/Ryan Tedder/Shane McAnally/Tyler Hubbard; Producer: Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud
– Palmer sang this on TV’s The Bachelor last week. It’s a fairly routine love song. Ten writers? Really?
ADAM HOOD / “You Love Me Like That”
Writers: Adam Hood, Sean McConnell; Producer: Brent Cobb; Label: Southern Songs
– Hood has written tunes for Miranda Lambert, The Oak Ridge Boys,Travis Tritt, Little Big Town, Lee Ann Womack, Luke Combs, Anderson East, Riley Green and more. He made some noise last year with his solo album Bad Days Better. Now comes his kick-off single for 2023, a beautiful Valentine ballad with enormous grace and gentility. So-o-o-o-o romantic.
WALKER COUNTY / “Stoned”
Writers: Ivy Walker/Sophie Walker/Ashley Monroe; Producer: AJ Pruiss; Label: Warner
– “Your love is a drug and I’m stoned.” Appropriately, the track has a dreamy, ethereal sound and the sisters’ vocals are airy and wafting. “Let’s get lit, fired up and breathed in.” A totally baked winner.
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