It’s wall-to-wall country stars in this edition of DISClaimer.
For your listening pleasure, we present Dan + Shay, Darius Rucker, Lady A, Charlie Worsham and Kip Moore, Kane Brown, Lauren Alaina and Cody Johnson. And the biggest star of them all gets the Disc of the Day award. It’s Jimmy Buffett singing the most touching and uplifting song of his career. Released posthumously, it demonstrates that this troubadour was making powerful music right up until the end of his life.
Our DISCovery Award goes to Matt Schuster, whose sound is the one of the most innovative I’ve heard these days.
LARRY FLEET / “Earned It”
Writers: Larry Fleet/Connie Rae Harrington; Producer: Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud Records
– The title tune of Fleet’s album is a toe-tapping blue-collar anthem about being proud to be a member of the working class. Fiddles saw, guitars twang and his voice drawls with honesty. I love it that this guy is so by-gawd country. Make him the star he deserves to be.
LADY A / “Love You Back”
Writers: James McNair/Lindsay Rhimes/Emily Weisband; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: BMLG Records
– It’s kind of a snooze until the three kick in with those amazing three-part harmonies. Then it’s katy-bar-the-door. A sterling, stirring audio ride.
MASON RAMSEY / “Next Right Thing”
Writers: Mason Ramsey/Kendall Goodman/Brandon Day; Producer: Brandon Day; Label: Atlantic Records
– This 16-year-old country phenom wails with fire on this country rocker. The sound is wonderfully relentless, and he bends notes in all the right places.
KANE BROWN / “I Can Feel It”
Writers: Kane Brown/Phil Collins/Gabe Foust/Jaxson Free; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: RCA Nashville
– I love his baritone vocal dips in the verses, and he definitely communicates lust in the soaring choruses. This one’s an upbeat banger that is going places.
CHARLIE WORSHAM & KIP MOORE / “Kiss Like You Dance”
Writers: Jon Nite/Andrew DeRoberts/Andy Albert; Producer: Jaren Johnston; Label: Warner Music Nashville
– Talk about a good time. This joyous, flirtatious bopper rumbles with an outlaw beat, and both men sound like they are having big, big fun. Turn it up and stomp along.
JIMMY BUFFETT / “Bubbles Up”
Writers: Jimmy Buffett/Will Kimbrough; Producers: Michael Utley/Mac McAnally; Label: Sun Records
– Warmly philosophical and contemplative. Acoustic guitar strumming and a subtle bass heartbeat underlie Buffett’s relaxed, friendly delivery. Co-written with Nashville guitar treasure Will Kimbrough (a longtime Coral Reefer), the ballad reflects on your life’s journey and encourages optimism and hope. What a eulogy. What a gift.
LAUREN ALAINA / “Thicc As Thieves”
Writers: Lauren Alaina/Rocky Block/Jacob Durrett/Parker Welling/Luke Bryan/Dallas Davidson; Producer: Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud Records
– Snappy and sassy. This sprightly rocker has cute lyrics as well as beats to spare and a catchy, layered-vocals production.
CODY JOHNSON / “Work Boots”
Writers: Jason Afable/Brett Beavers/Canaan Smith; Producer: Trent Willmon; Label: COJO Music/Warner Music Nashville
– The superb “The Painter” remains the single, but here’s another preview of CoJo’s Leather album, due Nov. 3. It’s a jaunty ditty that urges, “feet don’t fail me now.” Get up off your barstool and make your work boots dance with her. Crispy twanging and slurred slide notes abound.
KIMBERLY PERRY / “Fools Gold”
Writers: Kimberly Perry/Nicolle Galyon/Jimmy Robbins; Producer: Jimmy Robbins; Label: Records Nashville/Columbia
– Our story so far: She had country hits with her two brothers in a trio act, then decided she was going to be a pop star. That didn’t work out, so now she wants back into country music, this time as a solo. With its processed vocals and dance club beats, this doesn’t sound all that “country” to me.
DAN + SHAY / “Then Again”
Writers: Dan Smyers/Shay Mooney/Andy Albert/Jordan Reynolds/Lori McKenna; Producers: Dan Smyers/Scott Hendricks; Label: Warner Music Nashville
– A heavenly listening experience—lilting, sweet, romantic, wafting and gentle. They harmonize beautifully as the reflective lyric unspools. A complete audio pleasure. The song also inspired a music video, one of eight (!) the duo has made to promote songs on their new Bigger Houses album.
DARIUS RUCKER / “Southern Comfort”
Writers: Chris LaCorte/Matt Rogers/Josh Osborne; Producer: Dann Huff; Label: Capitol Nashville
– Uptempo and breezy, it’s an ode to the South with Allman-esque guitars and Dixie name-dropping galore. Rucker sings at the top of his range, and is extra-effective doing so. He should do it more often.
SAWYER BROWN / “Under This Old Hat”
Writer: none listed; Producer: Blake Shelton; Label: SB
– This veteran country band stars in Get Me to the Stage on Time, a documentary film that premieres this week. Produced by Blake Shelton, their comeback album features this zippy, rapid-fire-vocal rocker about living on the road. Sounding as good as ever, fellas.
MATT SCHUSTER / “Tell Me Tennessee”
Writers: Matt Schuster/Josh Dorr/Andy Albert/Lalo Guzman; Producer: Chris LaCorte; Label: Warner Music Nashville
– I dig this guy’s refreshing sound. His plaintive, heartfelt tenor is backed by a jingle-jangle, pop-ish track with irresistible rhythm. The hooky bopper’s lyric calls out to a missing lover to join him in the Volunteer State. I’m definitely intrigued. Send more.
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