DISClaimer slows things down today as the country stars concentrate on ballads.
Most of them are romances, paced by Disc of the Day winner Chris Stapleton’s heart-warming “It Takes a Woman.” In addition, lend your ears to the highly listenable offerings by Tanner Adell and Colbie Caillat.
Also checking in with a ballad is our DISCovery Award winner, Roman Alexander.
This turned out to be a day for comebacks as Lisa Brokop, Shenandoah and Carolyn Dawn Johnson all return to the scene.
ROBYN OTTOLINI / “Sick of Sex”
Writers: Robyn Ottolini/Emily Reid; Producer: Cameron Jaymes; Label: Empire
– This is a pop ballad that explores a topic I don’t believe has been addressed in song before. It is quite wordy and complex, so I doubt radio will play it.
ZACH BRYAN & THE LUMINEERS / “Spotless”
Writers: Zach Bryan/Wesley Schultz/Jeremy Caleb Fraites; Producer: Zach Bryan; Label: Warner
– This guy is always worth a listen. On this spare, stark, ear-catching ballad he’s joined by the Americana stars who chant along as he unspools this lyric of a downer heading nowhere romantically. If you haven’t listened to his self-titled collection, you should.
MADELINE MERLO / “Tim + Faith”
Writers: Jerry Flowers/Madeline Merlo/Parker Welling/Stephony Smith/Zach Crowell; Producer: Zach Crowell; Label: BBR/Wheelhouse
– This lady is a spectacular vocalist, and this dandy slice of romantic nostalgia just might be the tune that lets the whole world know it. The lyric cleverly folds in the power couple’s hit titles. I’m in.
JON PARDI & LUKE BRYAN / “Cowboys and Plowboys”
Writers: Rhett Akins/Cole Taylor/Jacob Rice; Producers: Jon Pardi/Bart Butler/Ryan Gore; Label: Capitol Nashville
– Two hicks swapping country cliches. Probably a hit.
ELVIE SHANE / “Pill”
Writers: Elvie Shane/Lee Starr/Nick Columbia; Producer: Oscar Charles; Label: BBR/Wheelhouse
– The lovely, echoey production and Shane’s captivating voice draw you into a dark tale of a struggle with addiction. Essential listening.
CHRIS STAPLETON / “It Takes a Woman”
Writers: Chris Stapleton/Ronnie Bowman/Jerry Salley; Producers: Chris Stapleton/Dave Cobb/Morgane Stapleton; Label: Mercury Nashville
– This stately ballad is exquisite. Wrap your loved one in your arms and slow dance around the room while his magic voice swirls in the air.
RESTLESS ROAD / “You Don’t Have to Love Me”
Writers: Austin Shawn/Colton Pack/Garrett Nichols/Nate Kenyon/Shawn Austin/Zach Beeken; Producer: Lindsay Rimes; Label: RCA Nashville/1021
– As always with this group, the singing is lustrous and warm. The ultra-romantic ballad is immensely comforting.
COLBIE CAILLAT / “Meant for Me”
Writers: Colbie Caillat/AJ Pruis/Liz Rose; Producer: Jamie Kenney; Label: Blue Jean Baby Records
– The Grammy-winning pop star slips easily into country music on her new Along the Way collection. This lushly produced, romantic ballad from it flows as smoothly as liquid gold.
CAROLYN DAWN JOHNSON / “Road Blocks”
Writers: Carolyn Dawn Johnson/Jennifer Lynn Kennard/Oscar Charles; Producer: Carolyn Dawn Johnson; Label: CDJ
– Johnson re-enters the music scene with a snappy country rocker about persevering through difficulties. Well worth your spins.
SHENANDOAH & LUKE COMBS / “Two Dozen Roses”
Writers: Mac McAnally/Robert Byrne; Producer: Noah Gordon; Label: 8 Track Entertainment
– Shenandoah dusts off its chart-topping 1989 hit with a mighty assist from our reigning country Entertainer of the Year. A classic song performed by classic singers.
ROMAN ALEXANDER & KARLY SCOTT COLLINS / “Downtime”
Writers: Zach Beeken/Garrett Nichols/Colton Pack/Mark Holman/Brett Tyler; Producer: Jared Keim; Label: RA
– This sultry slow jam showcases both voices admirably. It’s snuggle, cuddle-up music in front of the evening fireplace. Alexander seems to be specializing in female collaborations, having previously sung with Alana Springsteen and Ashley Cooke. This title tune of his EP was co-written by Beeken, Nichols and Pack, who are collectively better known as Restless Road.
LISA BROKOP & GEORGETTE JONES / “Who’s Gonna Fill Their Heels”
Writers: Lisa Brokop/Max D. Barnes/Troy Seals; Producers: Chuck Rhodes/Buddy Hyatt; Label: BFD
– The Canadian country award winner returns after a 10-year pause between albums. The title tune of her comeback collection is a female version of the iconic George Jones hit from 1985. George’s daughter lends her terrific voice to the track. The whole thing chimes with charisma.
TANNER ADELL / “Luke Combs”
Writers: Derrick Southerland/Evan Cline/Tanner Adell; Producer: Evan Cline; Label: Columbia
– Sweet, touching, vulnerable, lilting and charming. She listens to the radio and wishes she could be “the girl in a Luke Combs song” like “Better Together” or “Forever After All.” This so richly deserves to be a smash.
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