I love gender parity.
After all, we’re each half of the population. So in this stack of sounds, we have six featuring female voices and six that are males.
Do you need to ask which half has the better music?
Completely pinning my ears back was Lauren Watkins, who easily wins the DisCovery Award.
The Disc of the Day belongs to ACM New Female Artist nominee Megan Moroney. And it isn’t even a single.
TRACK45 / “Last Man in Tennessee”
Writers: Ben Johnson/Ashley Gorley/Geoff Warburton/Casey Smith; Producers: none listed; Label: BBR
– This sibling trio (two sisters & a brother) from Mississippi can sure ‘nuff sing. Their harmonies are perfection. On this witty, feisty kiss-off number, they are a snarky delight. Attitude wins the day.
THE WAR AND TREATY / “Have You a Heart”
Writers: Michael Trotter, Jr./Tanya Trotter; Producer: Dave Cobb; Label: UMG Nashville
– It seethes with burning romance. The piano-based track is firmly rooted in gospel tradition and the voices of these two angels are straight from heaven. I can’t even imagine what it must feel like to make music this divine. I love this duo beyond all reason. More, more, more.
HAILEY WHITTERS / “Plain Jane”
Writers: Hailey Whitters/Hillary Lindsey/Cary Barlowe; Producers: Jake Gear/Hailey Whitters; Label: Big Loud/Songs & Daughters/Pigasus
– This kicks serious hillbilly butt. A propulsive tempo catches your rhythmic soul. Her voice remains a priceless county gem. The extremely well written lyric is about self acceptance, no matter how flawed you are. It is high time you started taking this woman’s music seriously.
JUSTIN MOORE & RILEY GREEN / “Everybody Get Along”
Writers: Justin Moore/David Lee Murphy/Jeremy Stover; Producers: Jeremy Stover/Scott Brochetta; Label: The Valory Music Co.
– The outlaw rumble is cool. The lyric is of two buddies who disagree on lotsa stuff, but get along just fine. Both men sound like they are having a ball, and their hillbilly harmony vocal work is stellar.
DOM FLEMONS / “Traveling Wildfire”
Writer: Domonique Flemons; Producer: Ted Hutt; Label: Smithsonian Folkways
– He’s formerly a member of The Carolina Chocolate Drops, but the new album by Dom Flemons emphasizes his troubadour/songwriter/folkie side rather than the band’s old-time music sound. The title tune is a moody portrait of a bleak, downbeat emotional landscape. It is the album’s title tune, but it’s somewhat plodding. I recommend instead his romantic waltz “Slow Dance With You” from the collection.
KIP MOORE / “Kinda Bar”
Writers: Kip Moore/Dan Couch; Producers: Kip Moore/Jaren Johnston; Label: MCA Nashville
– Kinda sweaty, kinda raucous and kinda loud, this anthemic, good-time stomper praises a “neon dive” that’s just his kinda place. Kip Moore’s Damn Love collection containing this is due a week from Friday.
LAUREN WATKINS / “Shirley Temple”
Writers: Lauren Watkins/Nicole Galyon/Meg McRee; Producer: Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud/Songs & Daughters
– Wow. What a debut. The songwriting here is awesome, and her expressive delivery is spot-on. “You’re sipping Shirley Temples and wondering why you can’t catch a buzz,” she croons in a softly intelligent meditation. So far, she’s issued seven sides, all just as worthy. Absolutely send more.
MEGAN MORONEY / “Girl in the Mirror”
Writers: Megan Moroney/Jessie Jo Dillon/Matt Jenkins; Producer: Kristian Bush; Label: Columbia Nashville
– I absolutely adore her “Tennessee Orange” single. Here’s another demonstration that we’re in the presence of a major, major new talent. She gazes into the mirror, but doesn’t recognize her own reflection because he’s bent her all out of shape. “You can’t love the boy more than you love the girl in the mirror,” she sings with a palpable ache in her throat.
RVSHVD / “Reverse”
Writers: Christopher Roen Valenzuela/Clintarius Rashad Johnson/Goodwin Alexander Coburn/Kalvin Austin/Michael Paul Ferrucci; Producer: The Dream Addix; Label: Sumerian Records
– It’s one of those hip-hop, country fusion things. Despite the spelling, his name is pronounced “Ra-Shad.”
MICHAEL RAY / “Get Her Back”
Writers: Michael Tyler/Dallas Wilson/Jordan James/Lalo; Producer: Michael Knox; Label: Warner Music Nashville
– She’s gone, and he wants to get her back. But not the way you think—he wants to get her back for the all the bad things she did to him. He sings it well, but the production rocks harder than it needs to.
NESSA LEA / “Wake Up”
Writer: Nessa Survant; Producers: Mike Curb/Don Cusic; Label: Curb Records
– Bright, poppy and sunny with a semi-Shania vibe. But the message has some shadow, in that she’s telling a no-good guy to change. Promising.
COREY KENT / “Something’s Gonna Kill Me”
Writers: Austin Goodloe/Corey Kent/Joybeth Taylor/Lydia Vaughan; Producer: Jay Joyce; Label: RCA Records
– “If something’s gonna kill me, might as well be what makes me feel alive,” he warbles over a driving beat. So he likes drinking and smoking. Whatever….
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