It’s “baby acts” day in country music for this edition of DISClaimer.
Colby Acuff, Neon Union, Kylie Morgan, Randall King, Track45 and HuneyFire are all looking to take the next step up in their careers. But they’ll have to get by such established hitmakers as Reba McEntire, Maddie & Tae and our Disc of the Day winner, Billy Currington.
I can’t wait for you to hear this week’s DISCovery Award winner. It goes to Taylor Goyette for his crazy-good, marvelously creative “Show Goes On.”
TAYLOR GOYETTE / “Show Goes On”
Writers: Taylor Goyette/Joe Haydel/John Caldwell/Mark Addison Chandler; Producer: John Caldwell; Label: TG
– This is an uber-cool sound. There’s a funky stomp beat going on and off-kilter carnival audio beneath a raspy folk-soul vocal. The lyric is jam packed with vivid, doomsday, breaking-news imagery. Whoever this guy is, I’m a fan. So are some other folks, because this is blowing up on iTunes Country.
BILLY CURRINGTON / “Anchor Man”
Writers: Paul Overstreet/Scotty Emerick; Producer: Carson Chamberlain; Label: Mercury Nashville
– Wistful and yearning. It will take you out beyond the reef onto the open sea with a breeze in your face. The song’s protagonist is a former news anchor who has chucked it all to ignore headlines and deadlines and spend his days fishing. It wasn’t intended as such, but it kinda sounds like an audio homage to the late and much mourned Jimmy Buffett.
TANNER USREY / “Who I Am”
Writers: none listed; Producer: Beau Bedford; Label: Atlantic Records
– The production rocks nicely. The singing has urgency and force. The song and its unattractive lyric do nothing for me.
MADDIE & TAE / “Heart They Didn’t Break”
Writers: Ryan Beaver/Benjy Davis/Anna Vaus; Producer: Corey Crowder; Label: Mercury Nashville
– As usual, their vocal harmonies are perfection. The song about friendship carrying you through heartbreak has power and truth. I have always loved these ladies.
RANDALL KING / “The One You’re Waiting On”
Writers: Adam Wright/Shannon Wright; Producers: Randall King/Jared Conrad; Label: Warner Music Nashville
– King remains one of my very favorite current country singers. And I do mean country, not warmed-over ’70s rock. This man stands proudly in the tradition of Keith Whitley, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson and Merle Haggard. On this gentle barroom ballad, he winningly wishes he were the object of her affection. It pushes every honky-tonk button on the jukebox of your heart.
KENDALL TUCKER, JELLY ROLL & STATE OF MINE / “Dragging Me Down”
Writers: Kendall Tucker/Jason DeFord/Randy Foucha; Producers: Bernard James Perry/John A. Pregler; Label: KT
– Tucker is a white rapper and State of Mine is a rock band. In this audio battle between genres, rock wins and country never even fires a shot.
HUNEYFIRE / “Breaking Necks”
Writers: Cheaza Figueroa/Marriana Nevarez-Barlow/Jason Pennock; Producers: Cheaza Figueroa/Jason Pennock; Label: HF
– This mother-daughter, Afro-Latino country duo returns with a strutting, sassy, empowering outing. The reason she’s “breaking necks” is because when she walks by, the boys snap their heads around. Flirty fun. By the way, Figueroa’s mother was an Ikette, and Nevarez-Barlow’s dad was in All-4-One.
NEON UNION / “This Side of the Dirt”
Writers: Hunter Phelps/Nicollette Hayford/Ben Johnson/Jerry Flowers; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: Red Street Records
– Rousing and energetic, this ditty says you should live every day by loving your special someone like it’s your last day on earth. The tracks rocks and the men sing heartily. Good to see that this duo are still in there swinging for the fences.
REBA McENTIRE / “Till You Love Me (Acoustic Version)”
Writers: Gary Burr/Bob DiPiero; Producer: Dave Cobb; Label: MCA Nashville
– For her new Not That Fancy collection, McEntire teamed with producer Dave Cobb to record stripped-down versions of some of her best hits. Its lead track selects one of the most gorgeous melodies she’s ever sung and presents it to you in the throat of one of our greatest vocalists ever. Worthy to polish the reputation of this Country Music Hall of Fame member to a brilliant new shine.
TRACK45 / “Drinkin and Thinkin”
Writers: Ben Johnson/Ashley Gorley/Hunter Phelps/Michael Hardy; Producers: Track45/Jason Hall; Label: Stoney Creek Records
– Caught in a dangerous whirlpool of heartbreak. The sibling trio’s harmonies are chiming amid a churning, blasting track that makes trying to drink away his memory sound like a dangerous proposition. Extremely well done.
COLBY ACUFF / “Movin'”
Writers: Colby Acuff/Ben Roberts/Ben Chapman; Producer: Eddie Spear; Label: Sony Music Nashville
– Strummy and jaunty, this is a super dandy road song. Acuff’s boyish country tenor exudes optimism, promise and better days. The fiddler saws away in upbeat sympathy. Extremely listenable.
KYLIE MORGAN / “Making It Up As I Go”
Writers: Kylie Morgan/KK Johnson/Jordan Minton; Producer: KK Johnson; Label: EMI Nashville
– Winsome and winning. When do you ever really feel grown up? Probably never, says Morgan, and we can all relate to that. “Gettin’ older don’t make you wiser,” she sings. Can I get an “Amen?” Sweetly pensive with a thumpy backbeat.
THE WAR AND TREATY / “Stretch Out”
Writers: Michael Trotter Jr./Tanya Trotter/Joel Taylor; Producer: Joel Taylor; Label: UMG Nashville
– There are lots of open spaces in the percussive track. When you’re dealing with singers this powerful, that’s a very, very good thing since it gives them room to emote. Or, rather, to “stretch out.” A dynamic change of pace.