There’s no shortage of superstars this week in Disclaimer.
Everyone from the Hall of Famers Alan jackson and Randy Travis to restore the current giants Blake Shelton and Dan + Shay are here. Leading the peloton is Taylor Swift, whose return to the country track easily won the price of the disc of the day.
I’m happy to report that there are also a lot of baby acts in the mix today – Reyna Roberts, Joey Hendricks, Tyler Booth and our DisCovery Award winners, Bexar (it’s pronounced “Bear” or “Bay-har” for you non-Texicans).
JOEY HENDRICKS / To you or to me
Writers: none listed; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Sony
– Airy and attractive, in a bit of a pop way. There is too much “process” on the voice for the lyrics to be clear, but the message of youth and lust is clear.
BLAKE SHELTON / Happy everywhere
Writers: Ross Copperman / Josh Osborne / Matt Jenkins; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Warner
– Bopping, sunny and bright, more loaded with romantic optimism. If I’ve ever heard a quarantine / pandemic love song, this is it. Sweetie Gwen Stefani provides the vocal harmony.
REYNA ROBERTS / Stompin ‘Grounds
Writers: Reyna Roberts / Noah Henson; Producer: Noah Henson; Publisher: none listed; CEN / Orchard
– It’s a very dandy slice of southern rock, filled with a moaning delivery, a snap beat, searing electric guitar work and sassy lyric, welcome to Alabama. Vocal Fireball Roberts represents the latest entry in a very, very long quest for a black female country star. With this flamboyant first single, she’s on her way.
TAYLOR SWIFT / Betty
Writers: Taylor Swift / William Bowery; Producers: Aaron Dessner / Jack Antonoff / Taylor Swift; Editors: TASRM / Songs of Universal / William Bowery, BMI; MCA Nashville / Republic
– Embraced by floating harmonica notes and a strummy guitar, this is a beautiful acoustic track. Lyrically, it’s quite striking, as she sings from the point of view of “James”, 17, who cheated on “Betty” during a summer fling. Swift is a fountain of creativity in this return to the roots of his country.
BEXAR / Again
Writers: Ross Copperman / Chris Ryan / Logan Turner; Producer: Ross Copperman; Publisher: none listed; Warner
– This is a group led by Texan duo Chris Ryan (guitar / vocals) and Kentuckian Logan Turner (banjo / guitar / vocals). Their sound is terribly accomplished, acoustic yet punchy, polished and earthy. The song aspires to recall the innocence of teenage romance. Can’t wait to hear more from these guys. In the meantime, please put this on your playlist immediately.
RANDY TRAVIS / The Madman’s Love Story
Writers: Milton Brown / Keith Stegall / Charlie Monk; Producer: Kyle Lehning; Publisher: none listed; Warner
– Radio personality Charlie Monk is also a longtime songwriter on Music Row. He found a tape of Travis singing this song as a demo. Recorded just before the singer became a superstar in 1985, the slow-burning, cheating ballad is a clear reminder of just how stunning a country baritone he was. Producer Lehning has surrounded this voice with new tracks and the result is Travis’ first new single since his stroke seven years ago. This, my friends, is what real country music is like.
ROBERT COUNTS / What do I know
Writers: Robert Counts / Hardy / Jake Mitchell; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Arista Nashville
– Blue collar wisdom, redneck philosophy and dirt road life lessons wrapped in a hillbilly-banger production. Very promising. Send more.
LAUREN ALAINA / Running
Writers: Lauren Alaina / Ben Johnson / Kennedi; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Mercure Nashville
– This tempo track is super catchy. If you don’t listen and sing along to that catchy, repetitive, repetitive stuff, you aren’t listening. Plus, she sings beautifully here.
CAYLEE HAMMACK & ALAN JACKSON / Lord I hope this day is good
Writer: Dave Hanner; Producer: Dave Cobb; Publisher: none listed; Capitol Nashville
– These two Georgia natives sound extremely well together on this flawless remake of the Don Williams classic from 1981. I’ve always loved the song and those two harmonious voices make it even more heavenly.
TYLER BOOTH / In God and the trucks, we trust
Writers: Tyler Booth / Randy Montana / Phil O’Donnell; Producer: none listed; Publisher: none listed; Sony / Villa 40
– You must love it. Few of us may be farmers these days, but the semi-cheesy and semi-cheesy values embraced here can be embraced by just about anyone.
DAN + SHAY / I should probably go to bed
Writers: Shay Mooney / Dan Smyers / Jason Evigan / Sean Douglas; Producer: Dan Smyers; Publisher: none listed; Warner
– Shay Mooney shuddered his spine as he sang at the top of his range throughout the ballad performance. Dan Smyers played all the instruments and produced everything in his home studio. These two are dynamite, and it should explode in no time.