Brett James Signs With Warner/Chappell/ Combustion

Warner/Chappell Music, together with its joint venture partner Combustion Music, announces a worldwide co-publishing agreement with Grammy-winning songwriter Brett James. Additionally, Warner/Chappell will co-publish a selection of his past works and establish a co-publishing venture with James’ boutique publishing company, Cornman Music. This venture enables James to sign songwriters to publishing deals with the company.

“Brett James is an incredibly talented and creative songwriter who writes hit songs in all genres,” said Cameron Strang, Chairman & CEO, Warner/Chappell Music. “Brett and Warner/Chappell are already having great success together and we are thrilled to have someone of his character and talent join our roster.”
“Combustion Music is thrilled to establish this new relationship with Brett James,” said Chris Farren, President, Combustion Music. “Brett is one of the most dynamic and intelligent songwriters I know, and for years we have talked about partnering. To finally get that opportunity energizes me and the whole Combustion team beyond words.”
“I am truly excited to join forces with Warner/Chappell and Combustion Music,” said James. “Their combined creative and administrative expertise is second to none and it gives me the chance to work with some of my favorite people in the music business. Additionally, I believe that Warner/Chappell will be an amazing partner for my roster of artists and writers at Cornman Music.”

Brett James has had more than 300 of his songs recorded by some of music industry’s biggest artists including Rascal Flatts, Daughtry, Bon Jovi and Backstreet Boys. James’ songs have appeared on albums with combined sales of more than 100 million with 11 of his singles reaching No. 1 on Billboard’s Country Songs chart. In 2006, “Jesus, Take the Wheel,” which James wrote for Carrie Underwood, received Grammy Awards for “Best Country Song.”
He has been twice-named ASCAP’s songwriter of the year, in both 2006 and in 2010, and appeared in Billboard’s year-end Top Ten Country Songwriters list in seven of the ten years it has been published. As a producer, his credits include Taylor Swift, Jessica Simpson, Josh Gracin and Kip Moore. A native of Oklahoma, where he spent three years in medical school, Brett now lives in Brentwood, Tennessee with his wife Sandy and their four children.

(L-R): BJ Hill (Sr. Director A&R WCM Nashville), Steve Markland (VP A&R WCM Nashville), Nate Lowery (Creative Director Cornman Music), Brett James, Chris Farren (President Combustion Music), Phil May (VP & GM WCM Nashville), Alicia Pruitt (Sr. Director A&R WCM Nashville), Chris Van Belkom (Sr. Creative Director Combustion Music), Kenley Flynn (Catalog/Office Mgr, Combustion Music). Photo: LeeAnn Carlen

Dale Bobo Forms Music Direction Company

Dale Bobo


Music publishing veteran Dale Bobo has started Dale Bobo Music Direction, providing consultation, management, and creative propulsion to music publishers, songwriters and producers. The company’s inaugural client is hit songwriter/producer Jeff Stevens, who has written songs for George Strait, Tim McGraw and others including the recent Luke Bryan #1 single “Someone Else Calling You Baby” whom Stevens also produces.
“I’m tremendously excited,” Bobo told MusicRow. “Working with songwriters and producers has always been a strong passion for me and this new company will place me right on the front lines doing what I love the most.”
Prior to his new venture, Bobo was Executive VP of Chrysalis Music Nashville, overseeing all aspects of the Nashville office and working with successful producer/writers Jeff Stevens and Brett Beavers and hit writers Danny Orton, Jim McCormick and Victoria Banks.
He started his career at the Nashville office of Chappell/Intersong, following graduation from Middle Tennessee State University’s Recording Industry Management program. After the acquisition of Chappell by Warner Bros. Music, his A&R efforts lead to numerous singles on the charts. He rose to VP and head of Creative in 1996 and assumed the Warner/Chappell General Manager post in 2003 which he held to 2009.
As SVP/GM at Warner/Chappell Nashville, he lead a formidable staff that celebrated 22 number one records with hit writers Marv Green, Steven Dale Jones, Wendell Mobley, Tim Nichols, John Rich, Wynn Varble, Chris Wallin and others. Under his leadership, the company enjoyed successes such as the ten-week number one smash “Live Like You Were Dying” and the breakout of superstar group Lady Antebellum.
Based in Nashville, Dale Bobo Music Direction can be reached at 615-504-9803, [email protected] or Twitter: @dalebobo.
 

Urban Tour Places Artist Closer To Fans

Keith Urban’s Get Closer World Tour enthralled a sold-out Bridgestone Arena crowd in downtown Nashville, Aug. 6. “The idea of the Get Closer stage,” Urban told the crowd, “is to do away with the fences so there’s no me and you— just us…” And that’s how it was.
The Aussie was all over the arena. He and his four piece band owned a simple but, visually compelling stage. In addition, Urban performed on a small circular hydraulic platform in the center of the crowd and later at the rear of the hall—delighting fans in the process, slapping hands as he navigated the throng.

Urban played a variety of guitars including a Gibson ES-335, and what looked to be (based upon the tailpiece and single coil pickup) a Gold Top early ‘50s Les Paul. He also favored a Fender Startocaster and Telecaster, plus acoustic and gut string instruments.


Urban swept the crowd to its feet beginning with “Days Go By,” quickly followed with strong hits like “Raining On Monday” and “Put You In A Song.” The charismatic singer/songwriter/guitarist, who was CMA Entertainer of the Year in 2005 and Male Vocalist numerous times, has always displayed rare vocal and instrumental ability. But on this tour, he has added an astute interactive element making the show more accessible and boosting its entertainment value. Judging by the crowd’s reaction, there was no doubt that Mr. Urban is country’s 2011 Entertainer of the Year…
It was the sum of all the little things, like taking time to read some of the signs held up by fans.
“Wow, you drove 1400 miles to be here, thank you so much.”
“Keith, it’s been a long hot summer waiting to CU.”
“We’ve been to 47 shows in 24 cities.”
“A picture with you would be priceless.”
“Come and get it,” Urban laughed after reading, pleasing the crowd and giving a fan that 10 seconds of fame of which dreams are made as they made a candid shot together on stage.

Jake Owen was a truly impressive opening act. His bravado, and clear baritone voice made him an instant fan favorite, with songs like “Starting With Me,” his new single “Barefoot Blue Jean Night,” the riveting new ballad “Alone With You.”


Deep into “Kiss A Girl,” the artist shouted out, “Nashville you’re a singing crowd tonight.” He then randomly chose three fans and conducted a mini-Urban Idol contest giving each one a chance to perform the “Kiss A Girl” chorus center stage and judging the winner based upon applause. The crowd was rapt.
“Til Summer Comes Around,” was a concert highpoint. Fans already know that Urban’s prodigious guitar has distinct personalities. For this song, co-written with Monty Powell, he painted with sustain-packed notes in Santana-esque fashion punctuated with blistering note clusters grouped together like infinite solar systems whirling through space and time. Video b-roll played on the oversize mirror monitor as the star sang,
“The words came out, I kissed your mouth,
No fourth of July has ever burned so brightly
You had to go, I understand, but you swore that you’d be back again
And so I’m frozen in this town, til summer comes around.”
It’s a safe bet his fans will be back again, lined up to purchase seats… Over the past few albums, Urban and producer Dann Huff have fashioned a unique and commercial sound that has exposed Urban’s talent, but does makes it difficult, especially  in a live setting to distinguish which album a particular song is from.

Keith Urban with unidentified fan backstage.


“What a magical night tonight,” Urban said to the crowd after two encores, dripping with sweat and glowing like a firebug. “Thank you so much for making the decision, especially in these hard times when I know many of you are facing problems like lost jobs to spend your evening with us. I love you.”
 
Photos: BossRoss

“American Songwriter” Under New Ownership

Albie Del Favero

Albie Del Favero has taken the reigns of American Songwriter magazine, joining the team as Co-Publisher, and President of its parent company ForASong Media, LLC.

Del Favero’s extensive background in media includes being founding publisher of the Nashville Scene. More recently he served as Nashville-area group publisher at SouthComm, which currently owns The City Paper and the Nashville Scene.

In his latest venture, Del Favero is teaming with former American Songwriter owners Robert Clement and Doug Waterman. They are still in-office at the outlet they purchased in 2004. The magazine has been operated out of Music City since 1984.

The bi-monthly print mag is coupled with American Songwriter’s extensive online activity, which includes free content, iPad apps and more. The May/June issue app alone has been downloaded 5,000 times. Del Favero tells MusicRow, “Besides realizing the full potential of the magazine, the strategy for the company going forward will be to leverage the traffic drawn to the free content on the website to build a membership base of amateur songwriters. These members will have access to tools to hone their writing skills and connect with professionals.”

Songwriting contests are one way American Songwriter attracts users, which have helped the publication amass an email list of over 30,000.

Del Favero admits that some people aren’t bullish on traditional media, but says the shuttering of comparable ‘zines including Performing Songwriter and No Depression has freed up advertising dollars.

He explains, “American Songwriter has a solid niche, a highly recognizable brand and is profitable.”

Albie Del Favero can be reached at [email protected] and (615) 945-2016.

"American Songwriter" Under New Ownership

Albie Del Favero


Albie Del Favero has taken the reigns of American Songwriter magazine, joining the team as Co-Publisher, and President of its parent company ForASong Media, LLC.
Del Favero’s extensive background in media includes being founding publisher of the Nashville Scene. More recently he served as Nashville-area group publisher at SouthComm, which currently owns The City Paper and the Nashville Scene.
In his latest venture, Del Favero is teaming with former American Songwriter owners Robert Clement and Doug Waterman. They are still in-office at the outlet they purchased in 2004. The magazine has been operated out of Music City since 1984.
The bi-monthly print mag is coupled with American Songwriter’s extensive online activity, which includes free content, iPad apps and more. The May/June issue app alone has been downloaded 5,000 times. Del Favero tells MusicRow, “Besides realizing the full potential of the magazine, the strategy for the company going forward will be to leverage the traffic drawn to the free content on the website to build a membership base of amateur songwriters. These members will have access to tools to hone their writing skills and connect with professionals.”
Songwriting contests are one way American Songwriter attracts users, which have helped the publication amass an email list of over 30,000.
Del Favero admits that some people aren’t bullish on traditional media, but says the shuttering of comparable ‘zines including Performing Songwriter and No Depression has freed up advertising dollars.
He explains, “American Songwriter has a solid niche, a highly recognizable brand and is profitable.”
Albie Del Favero can be reached at [email protected] and (615) 945-2016.

The Authenticity Debate, Revisited

Kanye West, Eric Church


There’s been much discussion lately on the subject of authenticity in country music, particularly among its male stars.
To quickly recap, CMT.com’s Chet Flippo took issue with Eric Church for appreciating high thread count sheets and Justin Moore for his self-appointed “outlaw” status, then The Tennessean’s Peter Cooper followed declaring that all the redneck posturing simply wasn’t believable. The subject has prompted numerous strong reactions on both sides, so here’s mine.
This weird obsession with country music’s authenticity, both from the artistic community and from critics, borders on preposterous.
I’ve been a big hip-hop fan for some time. Lately I see country music beginning to mirror hip-hop’s growth in some interesting ways, and I’m not just talking about Jason Aldean spitting a few bars in his current single.
An artist should be free to believably inhabit the characters in his songs, and not have that persona confused with his offstage life. And it probably goes without saying, but an artist should also sing about something.
Which brings me to my first point.
There are a group of artists, mostly male, who seem to think if they can spout off more country cliches than the last dude that it somehow magically conveys an air of authenticity. There have been so many songs in the last few years referencing dirt roads, tailgates, bonfires, and every other “country” trope that I’m starting to get them all confused.
As a fellow small-town southerner (Arab, Alabama: Pop. 7,500) I agree these things are, to some degree, part of life. In younger years I spent more than one Friday night drinking in a cow pasture (sorry Mom!), and Saturdays boating on the Tennessee River. And yep, I hung out in the Food World parking lot after dark. When you grow up in a place where there everything closes at 6, you improvise.
But here’s the problem: these songs aren’t about anything. Small town life is quite complex, a rich tapestry of joy, heartache, community, sin and salvation. The offending songs actually do it a great disservice by making it appear completely one-dimensional. So songwriters, can we stop doing that? Please?
On to the second point.
People in the listening world, particularly critics, insist on projecting this myth that an “authentic” country artist needs to work on an assembly line, kill deer with his bare hands, and live out the tales in his songs. He should probably also sleep on a dirt floor in a shotgun shack with no running water, if he’s worth his redneck salt.
Which is totally absurd. I can say with a pretty high degree of certainty that Johnny Cash did not, in fact, shoot a man in Reno just to watch him die. But accusing the Man in Black of not being authentic, well that’s blasphemy and I don’t want to be near anyone who’d ever suggest such a thing (you know, in case the lightning strikes).
I’m reminded of a period in hip-hop, following the all-too-real murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious B.I.G. New face 50 Cent was being touted as the realest rapper on the scene, presumably because he’d been shot multiple times. Jay-Z and Nas were having an epic feud through their songs about who was bigger, better, more real and true.
It was a strange time to be a fan, because there was so much to love (like Outkast putting Southern hip-hop on the map or Missy Elliott’s brilliantly weird pop hits) and so much to hate (most every P.Diddy song that sampled an FM rock standard or knifeplay at the Source Awards) at the same time. Many artists were releasing songs that varied thematically between chest-beating ‘realer-than-thou’ proclamations and misogynistic, booty-obsessed fare. (Speaking of which, is Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” really all that different from “Country Girl (Shake It For Me)” and the like? Just saying.)
The good news is hip-hop in 2011 has (mostly) gotten over itself. I don’t know that there was some great watershed moment for the genre, but people now seem to no longer be so obsessed with an artist’s street credentials so much as they just want a banging song.
For an example, see Kanye West. He may have drawn the ire of country fans for the Taylor Swift kerfuffle, but he’s one of the biggest artists in the game and nobody doubts his artistic credibility. What’s interesting is he didn’t grow up in an inner city slum surrounded by violence and poverty, nor does he pretend that he did. He grew up in a middle class, suburban setting outside Chicago. He wears skinny jeans and understands high fashion. No one seems the least bit bothered, long as he can crank out innovative jams like “Monster” or “Stronger.”
Hip-hop got over it, and so too will country music. Come at us with a great song, not one listing things that sound country. Create an artistic persona, and sing about the human experience with all its beauty, tragedy and utter strangeness. We’ll stop making such a fuss over your life outside music.
And for the record, I’m with Eric Church on high thread count sheets.

American Idols Talk Recording, Touring

Lauren Alaina and Scotty McCreery


The 2011 American Idols Tour made its Nashville stop on Saturday (7/30), thanks to Music City resident and Top 10 finalist Paul McDonald. Show winner Scotty McCreery and runner up Lauren Alaina are, of course, also pursuing musical careers through Nashville. The trio of performers all sat down with local press to share some thoughts on life, post-Idol.
Life for all three, particularly teenagers McCreery and Alaina, has changed forever. One year ago when they first auditioned, the latter two were average high schoolers on summer break. Now they’re playing to audiences of thousands on a massive arena tour and hearing their songs being spun on country radio. While they may be young, the differences between the Idol show process and the difficult task of becoming a major label star are not lost on them.
“For the album, I look for songs that I can relate to so that I can feel it and sing my heart out,” says McCreery, whose upcoming Mercury release is due sometime this fall. “The audience that listens will feel that and appreciate it. For the [American Idol] show, you can pick songs that you can sing but if the audience doesn’t like it you’re done for and you’re going home next week.”
“I feel like my album has a lot of different types of songs,” adds Alaina, who is recording with Byron Gallimore. “Sweet ballads with good stories, and some really fast songs people can dance to. We still have to listen to all the songs and decide which ones will make the album.”

Paul McDonald


Paul McDonald, on the other hand, is nearly 10 years older than McCreery and Alaina and had already been making a go at a musical career prior to Idol. But the show has definitely afforded him considerable visibility and a big springboard for whatever his next step will be.
“Last year I was touring with my band across the country,” he recalls. “Doing all my original music, in a 15 passenger band, trying to make it the old-fashioned way. It’s a different scene these days. I was loading my gear in the venues, opening for bigger acts, and now we’re playing arenas.”
The 2011 Idol tour has been on the road for long enough now that even the less seasoned contestants have started to get a good feel for the life of a touring artist. Prior to the Nashville stop, the tour hit McCreery’s homeland in Raleigh, NC.
“Raleigh was incredible! They were seated all the way to the rafters,” he says. “All the Idols had a great time there, saying how energetic and crazy it was. It was also nice to get back and see friends and family in the crowd.”
“I’m always looking in the crowd and judging if they’re on their feet or I’m gonna have to work,” he continues. “Mainly I’m just thinking it’s great to be here. It’s amazing I get paid to do it.”
Nashville, being an industry town and the home of their label, is a slightly different animal. The artists all expressed a need to perform well in front of their industry peers, but have now gained enough stage and screen experience to not let it rattle them.
“There’s definitely a lot of people I’m looking to impress,” says McCreery, “but I don’t look at it as pressure. I just look at it as incentive to have more fun. That’s when you put on a good show, when you have fun and people see that.”
“When I get on a stage it’s like my body flips a switch and I’m in stage mode,” explains Alaina. “I’m more comfortable on the stage than anywhere. I’m a little nervous about tonight because this is where my label is and all the really important people that are part of my career are here. My whole family is also here. I perform better in front of people I don’t know than people I do.”
During the Idol show, the contestants had weekly mentoring sessions with Interscope head Jimmy Iovine and an assortment of popular artists and producers. The prevailing sentiment that they’ve taken away is that it’s important to know who you are artistically, and to hold fast to that as creatively as possible.
“Just be yourself,” says McDonald. “I wanted to sing Ray LaMontagne and Jimmy [Iovine] said ‘No one knows that, you should sing James Blunt ‘You’re Beautiful.’’ I said, ‘I don’t know man, do you want me to go shirtless too?’ Stick to your guns, no matter what. You can get intimidated really easily by the mentors. I’ve been doing it for so long, I kinda knew who I was. [Producer] Don Was said ‘Dude you’re record’s a whole lot cooler than what you’re doing on the show. Why don’t you do this stuff? I was like, ‘I’m trying!’”
“Stay in your lane and be you,” concurs McCreery. “Don’t change it up. I could have been country one week, and been Frank Sinatra another, but I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to sing country and stay true to my roots and what I grew up with.”
McCreery’s determination to stay true to himself already seems to be paying off. His debut single “I Love You This Big” has hit Top 20 on all charts, and the video is on the way. The jury might still be out on how successful he will be, but the 17-year-old has a pragmatic outlook on the crazy jigsaw puzzle of building an artistic career.
“I have plenty more to learn,” notes McCreery. “I’m young and it’s early to get in this business. You have to pick the songs, relate to the audience, and do a lot behind the scenes to make the process smooth. We had a team meeting two days ago to lay down the groundwork. We set goals up and said ‘This is what we want to do, and this is how we’ll get there.’ Hopefully it works out.”
Hey man, we’re rooting for you.

Church Enjoys Heavenly Sales

Capitol Chieftain Mike Dungan and his flock of the Capitol faithful have created a revival of sorts. First and foremost they receive a righteous shout out for launching Eric Church into the No. 1 spot on both the Top 200 and Country album charts with sales of almost 145,000 units. Secondly, their efforts have had the devout effect of raising country’s YTD album sales increase into heavenly territory above that of overall sales. According to Nielsen SoundScan, country album sales YTD are now up 2.9% while overall album sales are only up 1.8%.
And let’s not “pew pew” Church’s digital sales. The Chief album was downloaded over 51,000 times or 35% of total album sales. This is a lofty number which shows that country fans are rapidly jumping over the country chasm, aka—digital divide.
The congregation is still out on how this might have happened. Typically album sales are radio driven. Yet Church’s current single “Homeboy” is outside the Top 10 on mainstream radio charts and the single shows up this week at a lackluster No. 17 on the country tracks chart, hardly divine positions. (“Homeboy” has gone Gold however, in less than 21 weeks.)  And yet Chief is the second highest country debut of the year (behind Brad Paisley), outselling others this year that hit debut weeks with “perfect” textbook setups. So what has made the difference?  Could it be the artist’s strong touring schedule? Social networking?
“Is Eric the new Hank Jr.?” asks sales veteran Neal Spielberg. “There’s hits and then there are polarizing records that touch people and create rabid fans. Church has done a great job of converting people into solid fans.”
Church’s manager John Peets from Q Prime South has a pretty strong theory. “Yes it feels like a sea change of sorts for the country music industry,” he says. “The story here is that Eric didn’t get the traditional exposure that you would expect to be necessary to reach these levels. It wasn’t there for him, although we’re grateful for everything we did get. But what it tells me is that the new power is in the hands of the people. That is to say, the magic is created by great records with a point of view. And that’s what Eric has done with three great albums. It’s like we’ve reached a tipping point of sorts. We are just blown away and encouraged by this. It’s like Eric’s music represents something even bigger than him.”
“We have always put everything we have into making the best records possible,” explains Church. “Complete, individual pieces of work that strive to be as different and innovative as they are creative and artistic. It is a journey that at times has led us down the road less traveled. It is very humbling and rewarding to learn that a lot of people decided to follow us down this path. I can’t thank my fans enough and look forward to where this trip takes us next.”
Are we writing a new page in the country music sales handbook? Is social networking and digital word of mouth gaining critical mass? That would be great, since the existing book hasn’t delivered stellar results over the past few years. Please comment below…

DISClaimer Single Reviews (8/3/11)

It’s nice to know that country hasn’t forgotten its sense of humor.
Reckless Kelly’s “Good Luck & True Love” made me smile because of its cleverness. Sam Roark found me grinning from ear to ear with her merry “Check Out Girl.” Buddy Jewell had me openly chuckling from his performance of “Jesus, Elvis & Me.” And, trust me, you have GOT to listen to “No Beer Here” by Amy Ames. It is a complete hoot.
There was no contest for the DisCovery Award. Our winner is clearly Casey James. He might come from American Idol, but this Texan is more than a karaoke singer. He can actually play the guitar.
Meghan Linsey and Joshua Scott Jones of the duo Steel Magnolia recently became engaged to be married. Let me be the first with a congratulations gift, a Disc of the Day prize.
BILL GENTRY/This Letter
Writer: Arlos Smith/Rick Giles/Walker Hayes; Producer: Chad Carlson; Publisher: Jeff, Jack and the Mule/Plaid Cactus/1808/Purple Cape/Breaking New Ground/On a Walk/Sony-ATV Tree, SESAC/BMI; Tenacity (www.billgentrynatioin.com)
—The track is gorgeous, full of echoey bass, sighing steel, deftly twanged guitar and swooping fiddle. The producer seems to have fallen in love with it, too, for it sometimes threatens to overwhelm the clearly enunciated tenor vocal. The song’s too-predictable lyric is a case of romantic mistaken identity. The track fades with the same lovely instrumental work that introduces it. Worth some spins.
STEEL MAGNOLIA/Bulletproof
Writer: Lori McKenna/Chris Tompkins; Producer: Dann Huff; Publisher: Melanie Howard/Big Loud Songs, ASCAP; Big Machine (track)
—These newly engaged kids sing their faces off on this snarky rocker about surviving a bitter breakup. Meghan, in particular, is white-hot vocally here. Splendidly listenable.
MICHAEL MANDELLA/Simple Things
Writer: Eddie Cunningham/Jeffrey Steele; Producer: Michael Mandella; Publisher: none listed; MMM (track) (www.michaelmandellamusic.com)
—This slab of California beefcake (he’s posing shirtless on the CD cover) has titled his album American Outlaw. But its debut single is an attempt at down-the-center country balladry. I say, “attempt” because all the echo chamber in the world can’t hide those vocal pitch disasters. We’re talking painful, people.
CASEY JAMES/Let’s Don’t Call It A Night
Writer: Casey James/Brice Long/Terry McBride; Producer: Chris Lindsey; Publisher: EMI Foray/Songs of Send Me the Checks/Orbison/Turn Me On/BMG Chrysalis, SESAC/BMI; 19/BNA
—Another day, another American Idol alumnus. This one finished third on the show in 2010. His single is a nicely bluesy outing with a slow-burn, come-on lyric. Promising.
RECKLESS KELLY/Good Luck & True Love
Writer: Willy Braun; Producer: David Abeyta, Cody Braun & Willie Braun; Publisher: C&P Fah-Q, BMI; No Big Deal (track) (www.recklesskelly.com)
—I’ve always liked these guys. Their latest Austin outing is the album title tune that bops along with a personable vocal drawl, jingle-jangle guitars and cool “answering” harmony voices. In addition to great music, this project has spectacular graphics. Buy it.
BUDDY JEWELL/Jesus, Elvis & Me
Writer: Chris Stapleton/Tim James; Producer: Michael Bush & Buddy Jewell; Publisher: EMI April/Harry Fox/New Sea Gayle/Play Fairchild, ASCAP; Diamond Dust (CDX)
—Highly entertaining. The neo-rockabilly track gallops along while the lyric rattles off witty Elvis and holy-roller one liners. One favorite: “She loves to hear the preachin’ at a Southern revival/She takes a custom-made, blue-suede King James Bible.” Another: “She was singing ‘Rock of Ages’ first line third verse/It was all that I could do to keep from fallin’ in love/When she followed ‘Hallelujah’ with ‘thankyouverymuch.’”
AMY AMES/No Beer Here
Writer: Amy Ames/Eddie Hedges; Producer: Eddie Hedges; Publisher: Amy Ames/Eddie Hedges, BMI; Grand Channel (CDX) (www.amyames.com)
—This toe tapper has zippy fiddling, dandy banjo plunking and hilarious backup men practically burping their lines. The whole thing is so goofy and zany that it doesn’t even matter that she can just barely sing. Must be heard to be believed.
JOANNA MOSCA & RICHIE McDONALD/Where Does Good Love Go
Writer: Tania Hancheroff/Jimmy Ritchey/Billy Lawson; Producer: Bryan White; Publisher: Universal/Z Tunes/Fox Ridge/Artone, BMI/ASCAP; Dolce Diva (CDX) (917-701-5914)
—Richie leads things off with his hearty tenor. Her pert delivery takes over for a couple of lines before he begins harmonizing expertly. The mid-tempo tune is quite nicely penned. Another plus: it’s as country as grits.
NICK VERZOSA/She Only Loves Me When I’m Leavin’
Writer: Nick Verzosa/Matt Harlan; Producer: Walt Wilkins; Publisher: Tiyaga/Ghost Moon, BMI; Indie Extreme (www.nickverzosa.com)
—Send this to remedial melody camp. Uptempo dullsville.
SAM ROARK/Check Out Girl
Writer: Ron Davies/Ron Kimbro/Michael Witty; Producer: Joe Sun; Publisher: Meeshides/Cheap Cigar/Sleepover Boy, ASCAP; KAT (www.samroark.com)
—Samantha sings the sprightly, smiling tale of the grocery check-out gal who steals the cash from the register, hits the road with a touring band and then ditches the guys by taking off in their bus. I like the little breaks in her voice, the dobro-laced production and the rollicking tempo. Delightfully different.

Behind The Music Reveals Lambert’s Journey to Stardom

Miranda Lambert Behind The Music premiered on VH1 last month, tracing the singer’s story from humble Texas roots to Country music stardom. The episode includes numerous exclusive interviews with the artist, her family, peers, and the industry execs that helped drive her success.

Blake Shelton talks openly about his wife and their love story. Fellow stars Sheryl Crow, Hillary Scott, and Loretta Lynn discuss Lambert’s talent. Music Row figures on the show include Joe Galante weighing in from the label perspective, and Tracy Gershon on discovering Lambert on Nashville Star.

Lambert discusses writing her album Revolution, which propelled her career forward and went on to win a Grammy and rack up at the CMA Awards.

Select footage also includes Lambert’s Pistol Annies cohort Angeleena Presley, and songwriter Marshall Chapman.

See the full episode or bonus clips. A sneak peek is embedded below.