Country music’s men dominate this edition of DISClaimer.
Batting a thousand are Corey Kent, Randall King, Chris Stapleton, Levi Hummon and Walker Hayes, Kristian Bush, Travis Denning and Neal McCoy.
But wait, stepping up to the plate is Mickey Guyton, and she hits an out-of-the-park home run with a thrilling take on Tina Turner’s 1989 rock hit “The Best.” Turner has left us, but this performance lights up her memory like a fireworks display. Disc of the Day.
MICKEY GUYTON / “The Best”
Writers: Mike Chapman/Holly Knight; Producer: none listed; Label: MG
– Guyton tore the house down when she paid homage to Tina Turner during yesterday (Nov. 15)’s CMT Smashing Glass female special. Honorees Tanya Tucker and Patti LaBelle rocked along joyously in the audience while she strutted through this commanding performance. If you didn’t catch it, go to YouTube right now and check it out. Star-making stuff.
NEAL MCCOY / “First Time For Everything”
Writers: Porter Howell/Dwayne O’Brien; Producers: Brandyn Steen/Duane Propes; Label: NM
– McCoy’s cover of this 1992 Little Texas oldie is pristinely produced and perfectly executed. He takes it at a slow waltz pace while guitars twang all around him. Sounding good.
MUSTANGS OF THE WEST / “Down at the Palomino”
Writer: John Beland; Producers: Kirk Pasich/Colin Devlin; Label: Blue Élan Records
– The all-female quintet salutes the legendary California country nightclub with this sprightly bopper. Sunny and bright.
TRAVIS DENNING / “Going Places”
Writers: Travis Denning/Paul DiGiovanni/Jeremy Stover/Matt Mulhare; Producers: Paul DiGiovanni/Jeremy Stover; Label: Mercury Nashville
– His gal leaves town to make a name for herself. In his unhappiness, he boasts that he’s going places too. Except his “places” are the neighborhood bar. Denning’s delivery is country, country, country.
HANNAH ELLIS / “Too Much And Not Enough”
Writers: Hannah Ellis/Emily Weisband/Tofer Brown; Producers: Tofer Brown/Jason Massey; Label: Curb Records
– This closes Ellis’ new That Girl album. It’s a ballad that muses about the line a woman has to walk to balance others’ expectations and her sense of self. “Wine Country” is still the single, but this certainly adds another texture to her promising career.
CHRIS STAPLETON / “White Horse”
Writers: Chris Stapleton/Daniel Dodd Wilson; Producers: Chris Stapleton/Morgane Stapleton/Dave Cobb; Label: Mercury Nashville
– Southern rock lives! Stapleton conjures the memory of The Allman Brothers Band on this blazing barn burner. His electrifying voice is married to sizzling guitar work and a pounding rhythm track. Sit up and take notice.
BRITTNEY SPENCER / “Bigger Than The Song”
Writers: Brittney Spencer/Jennifer Anne Wayne/Tofer Brown; Producer: Marcus Lomax; Label: Elektra
– Spencer’s current single gets a stripped-down piano-vocal treatment in this new release. I’m down with it, because it showcases the cool lyric that name checks Reba, Aretha, Johnny & June, Janis, Dolly, Beyonce, Whitney and Alannis.
RANDALL KING / “Hang of Hangin’ On “
Writers: Brett Sheroky/Brice Long; Producers: Randall King/Jared Conrad; Label: Warner Music Nashville
– His country baritone is wonderfully resonant and warm, and this heartbreak ballad is a terrific showcase for it. This is a simply dreamy performance.
KRISTIAN BUSH / “House on a Beach”
Writers: Kristian Bush/Canaan Smith; Producer: none listed; Label: KB
– The Sugarland veteran has been mighty busy lately. He’s written and staged three musicals in Atlanta, produces new hitmaker Megan Moroney, is issuing a Christmas EP and dropped a 52-song set of four albums. This lovely acoustic track is a smooth, soothing float on gentle waves. Recommended.
KASSI ASHTON / “Genie In A Bottle”
Writers: David Frank/Pam Sheyne/Steve Kipner; Producers: Kassi Ashton/Oscar Charles; Label: MCA Nashville
– Moody and soulful, but this is definitely a pop artist.
LEVI HUMMON & WALKER HAYES / “Paying For It”
Writers: Levi Hummon/Walker Hayes/Eric Arjes; Producer: Eric Arjes; Label: Red Van Records
– She’s gone, but he’s still just as broke as when they were dating. “I’m still paying for it…’cause I’m drinking for two.” Totally clever and totally cute. Essential listening. Also, I believe this is the first country lyric containing the word “wazoo.”
COREY KENT / “You Know”
Writers: Corey Kent/Austin Goodloe; Producer: Corey Kent; Label: RCA Nashville
– Kent is super charismatic here as he chronicles the chapters of a romance. I dig this guy’s simple eloquence in this acoustic gem. Get on board.
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