This edition of DISClaimer is a celebration of songwriting.
Country music is built on song craftsmanship, and today, we have a number of examples of the artform at its finest. In various ways, “Prenup,” “Find Another Bar,” “The Medicine Will,” “Sweet Southern Comfort” and “The Table” represent this. So does “To Be A Man,” which translates easily into the country genre.
The Disc of the Day is unquestionably Brad Paisley’s “The Medicine Will.” This is topical country music at its most powerful.
The DISCovery Award goes to Leah Turner, for her Latin-tinged outing. It is a duet with Jerrod Niemann, and several of the day’s other outstanding platters are collaborations—Nicolle Galyon & Rodney Clawson, DAX with Darius Rucker, Shy Carter and Frank Ray and Buddy Jewell with his celebrity pals. Carry on.
LOGAN MIZE / “Out of State Plates”
Writers: Logan Mize/Daniel Agee/Kyle Shurrock; Producer: Daniel Agee; Label: Big Yellow Dog Music
– It’s a road song, but maybe not at the drag racing speed you might expect. Instead, it’s a breezy drive on a country lane. I love the spare production with its finger snaps and twang guitar. Very refreshing.
ERNEST / “Kiss Of Death”
Writers: Ernest Keith Smith/Andy Albert/Ryan Vojtesak; Producer: Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud Records
– This lively, tasteful country rocker zips right along as the singer describes a femme fatale who has captured his heart. The beats never overwhelm his vocal, and the emphasis is on acoustics, which is fine with me. Ernest is racking up one hit after another, and is heading for a two-night stand at the Ryman on Nov. 28-29.
LAUREN WATKINS / “The Table”
Writers: Lauren Watkins/Nicolle Galyon/Brad Warren/Brett Warren; Producer: Joey Moi; Label: Big Loud Records/Songs & Daughters
– This gifted singer-songwriter unspools a melancholy tale of a disintegrating relationship with sure-footed lyric sense, a smoky vocal and deft picking. Also check out her new country rocker “Fine County Line.” Both are drawn from her sophomore EP, which is a splendid showcase of a major new artist. Get on board.
BRAD PAISLEY / “The Medicine Will”
Writers: Brad Paisley/Lee Thomas Miller; Producers: Brad Paisley/Luke Wooten; Label: EMI Nashville
– Absolutely extraordinary. Paisley takes on the opioid epidemic, which is especially lethal in his West Virginia homeland. His word portrait encompasses coal mining and small-town devastation while offering sympathy and understanding to victims. The dobro-laced production drives a brisk track with an enormously sincere vocal performance. Essential listening.
AVERY ANNA & DYLAN MARLOWE / “I Will (When You Do)”
Writers: Avery Anna/Dylan Marlowe/David Fanning/Abram Dean/Joe Fox; Producer: David Fanning; Label: Warner Music Nashville
– They harmonize perfectly, like each other’s shadow. Neither one wants to be the first one to call it quits in this torrid ballad. I could have done without the crashing rock guitars.
DAX & DARIUS RUCKER / “To Be A Man”
Writer: Daniel Nwosu Jr.; Producer: Lex Nour; Label: Records/Columbia
– Canadian/Nigerian rapper Dax teams with Rucker for a country version of his hit meditation on masculinity. Both men pour anguished emotion into the dense, brilliant lyric. This works beautifully.
SHY CARTER & FRANK RAY / “Jesus At The Taco Truck”
Writers: Shy Carter/Frank Ray/Ben Burgess/Nathan Chapman; Producer: none listed; Label: Warner Music Nashville
– This already has two million TikTok views. The acoustic ballad teams two fine country singers on a lyric about acceptance, tolerance and love for our fellow men. They express understanding and sympathy for hard-working Mexican immigrants who send money home to their struggling families. Ray is a bi-lingual former police officer who gives representation to his culture here. Carter is a Black songwriting sensation who also brings welcome diversity to the country genre. A tip of the hat and a round of applause to both.
SYLVIA TYSON / “Sweet Agony”
Writer: Sylvia Tyson/Cindy Church; Producer: Danny Greenspoon; Label: Stony Plain Records
– I have been in love with this woman for decades. Now a member of the Canadian Country Music Hall of Fame, she came to prominence in the folk-country duo Ian & Sylvia in the 1960s and 1970s. She wrote the standard “You Were on My Mind,” became a radio broadcasting icon in Canada and has recorded more than a dozen acclaimed solo albums. She is billing At the End of The Day as her final recording. This is its lead track and first single, a sweet waltz with deep-twang guitar. Her voice has mellowed into a lustrous, wise alto, which she employs to great effect on a lyric welcoming love back into life, no matter the consequences.
CHRIS LANE / “Find Another Bar”
Writers: Chris Lane/Justin Ebach/Josh Thompson; Producer: Derek Wells; Label: Red Street Records/Voyager Records
– He spots her in his nightspot wearing a new dress, sporting a new hairdo, singing new song, sipping a new drink and accompanied by a new love. Lane’s a broken-hearted country boy who wishes she’d hang out someplace else. As before, he demonstrates that he’s a first-class country singer.
UNCLE KRACKER / “Cruising Altitude”
Writers: Uncle Kracker/Brett Warren/Brad Warren/JT Harding; Producer: Josh Bright; Label: Sturgeon General Records
– Good-natured and easy-going, the wafting tune is a romantic come-on that goes down (or is “up?”) smoothly. A feel-good fall anthem.
LEAH TURNER & JERROD NIEMANN / “South Of The Border”
Writers: Leah Turner/Brett Boyett; Producer: Brett Boyett; Label: LT
– Turner is Mexican-American Latina, and this song is loaded with caliente spice. Niemann is her perfect vocal foil as they zip through this rhythmic little wonder. Not to be confused with the lilting, 1939 Gene Autry hit, this ditty is hot and sexy.
BUDDY JEWELL, CLINT BLACK, MARTY RAYBON & THE BELLAMY BROTHERS / “Sweet Southern Comfort”
Writers: Rodney Clawson/Brad Crisler; Producers: Mitchell Brown/Brandyn Steen; Label: BJ
– Jewell updates his 2004 smash with some hearty cameo performances. In addition to singing, Black’s harmonica work is a standout. The anthemic song seems perfect for the SEC football season.
NICOLLE GALYON & RODNEY CLAWSON / “Prenup”
Writers: Rodney Clawson/Nicolle Galyon; Producers: Jimmy Robbins/King Henry; Label: Songs & Daughters
– Released two weeks ago on the date of her 16th wedding anniversary, Galyon’s new Second Wife EP chronicles her marriage to fellow hit tunesmith Clawson. The collection’s sole duet is this toe-taping hoot about how splitting up their assets would be ridiculous. The chugging, merry beat is matched by their tongue-in-cheek performance of the delightful ditty. Absolutely worth your spins.
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