Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue.
Our veterans today are Sawyer Brown and Miss Reba. Our newcomers are Dillon James and Chris Ryan. The “borrowed” tune is “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.”
As for something blue, that would be “Scared to Go to Church” by our DISCovery Award winner, Chris Ryan, with an assist by Jelly Roll.
The Disc of the Day award goes to Hailey Whitters. Her challengers for the crown were all collabs—Craig Morgan & Luke Combs, Miko Marks & The Fisk Jubilee Singers and Noah Kahan & Kacey Musgraves.
NOAH KAHAN & KACEY MUSGRAVES / “She Calls Me Back”
Writer: Noah Kahan; Producers: Noah Kahan/Gabe Simon; Label: Mercury Records/Republic Records
– New Englander Kahan is a huge Americana favorite. His pairing with Nashville’s Musgraves is a hooky pop-rocker with a delicious punch. The wordy song is brought down to earth when Musgraves starts singing lead about midway through, and then the two singers take it home, joyously, together.
DYLAN SCOTT / “I’ll Be a Bartender”
Writers: Rocky Block/John Byron/Grady Block/Jordan Dozzi; Producers: Jacob Durrett/Grady Block; Label: Curb
– If you are heartbroken, head on over to Scott’s kitchen counter and he’ll mix you a pick-me-up. It helps that he’s got a crush on ya. The wooshing production of this breezy, midtempo outing adds perfect support to his supple singing.
MORGAN EVANS / “Thank God She’s a Country Girl”
Writers: Morgan Evans/Jesse Frasure/John Sommers; Producer: Chris DeStefano; Label: Warner
– It’s a rewrite of the 1975 John Denver smash “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.” Sommers was the song’s first creator. Evans and Frasure flip the gender and perspective. Thanks, I’ll take the original.
CARLY PEARCE / “Heels Over Head”
Writers: Shane McAnally/Carly Pearce/Josh Osborne; Producers: Shane McAnally/Carly Pearce/Josh Osborne; Label: Big Machine
– It’s not a single, yet, but this new track is as cleverly written as anything she’s done to date. The fiddle-led track skips along jauntily as she describes the cheap trash he’s fallen for. In the bedroom, the new gal is “heels over head” for him, you see.
HAILEY WHITTERS / “I’m In Love”
Writers: Lee Thomas Miller/Nicolle Galyon/Cameron Bedell; Producers: Jake Gear/Hailey Whitters; Label: Big Loud/Pigasus/Songs & Daughters
– Adorable. As cute as a kitten. As fizzy as soda pop. Ya gotta love this little ray of sunshine. Whitters is the reigning ACM New Female Artist of the Year and is vying for a similar CMA award next month. Play this.
SAWYER BROWN / “Get Me to the Stage on Time”
Writer: Mark Miller; Producers: Mark Miller/Blake Shelton; Label: SB
– The durable band is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a new documentary film, and this is its title tune. It is upbeat and propulsive like much of their classic work, but is not retro sounding. It’s very engaging and up to date.
FANCY HAGOOD / “Southern Sound”
Writers: Fancy Hagood/Jon Green/Tofer Brown; Producer: Tofer Brown/Jon Green; Label: FH
– Hagood hosts “Trailblazers Radio” on Apple Radio. This tune teases his sophomore album. It’s the follow-up to his Southern Curiosity collection, which has accumulated more than 30 million streams. What we have here is a plaintive, aching plea of young lovers. Hagood’s heartbreak tenor vocal is framed by an echoey electronic production that is lustrous.
REBA McENTIRE / “Seven Minutes in Heaven”
Writers: Olivia Rudeen/Matt Wynn; Producer: Dave Cobb; Label: MCA
– The Country Music Hall of Famer’s new Not That Fancy collection mainly consists of stripped down versions of some of her biggest hits. It also includes her new single, this tender-hearted ballad about missing a loved one. As always, she delivers the goods as a singer.
DILLON JAMES / “Walking Man”
Writers: Dillon James/Paul Sikes/Paul Wrock; Producers: Paul DiGiovanni/Paul Sikes; Label: Buena Vista/UMG/19 Recordings
– This American Idol alumnus rose from homelessness and substance abuse to garner a country recording contract. His disc debut has a deep-twang production and an intense vibe due to its autobiographical nature. To the accompaniment of electric, echo-chamber guitars he sings of going from being a “dead man walking to a walking man living.”
GABBY BARRETT / “Cowboy Back”
Writers: Gabby Barrett/Jon Nite/Jesse Frasure; Producers: Gabby Barrett/Ross Copperman; Label: Warner
– Barrett co-penned and co-produced this midtempo ode to hard working men with solid, good-guy values in honor of her hubby, a Texan. The production marries twin fiddles to a rocking rhythm track.
MIKO MARKS & THE FISK JUBILEE SINGERS / “Jubilee”
Writer: Lee Bob Wilson; Producer: none listed; Label: MM
– As you might expect, this has a gospel vibe, from the steady, stately piano work to the acclaimed, Grammy honored backing vocalists. Marks takes charge with a confident, assured lead vocal that lifts the song skyward. She and her celebrated choir singers will stage the first live performance of this stirring collaboration tomorrow evening (Oct. 13) at the Grand Ole Opry.
CRAIG MORGAN & LUKE COMBS / “Raise the Bar”
Writers: Craig Morgan/Billy Dean; Producers: Craig Morgan/Phil O’Donnell; Label: Broken Bow
– Morgan’s new Enlisted EP features collaborations with Lainey Wilson, Trace Adkins, Jelly Roll, Blake Shelton, Gary LeVox and Combs. The last named is as rousing and raucous as peerless country singer Morgan is on “Raise the Bar.” The two blue-collar buddies invade the wine-and-cheese crowd’s tavern while singing loud and proud about giving the place “some working class.” The snootier set soon sings along. Lots and lots of fun.
CHRIS RYAN & JELLY ROLL / “Scared to Go to Church”
Writers: Chris Ryan/Jelly Roll/Logan Turner/Dave Kuncio/Jay Joyce; Producer: Jay Joyce; Label: Warner
– A sinner wails the blues about his lifestyle. Ryan’s searing tenor begins the power-packed lament with an anguished delivery. Jelly Roll takes a verse that is even more intense. When newcomer Ryan returns to the mic, he drives the song home with ferocious emotion. A grand disc debut.
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