The Weekly Single Recap: September 7, 2012
By: Matt Bjorke
This week we take a look at ten new singles from the likes of Gary Allan, Darius Rucker, Billy Ray Cyrus, Levi Riggs, LiveWire, Brett Eldredge, Jaida Dreyer, Clay Walker and Craig Campbell. Our favorite new song of the week comes courtesy of Mercury Nashville newcomer Kacey Musgraves. The best single from a veteran is a tough one to call so we'll give it a three-way-tie between Gary Allan, Darius Rucker and Craig Cambpell. Take a look at what we think of these 10 new singles (some which are linked to audio previews as well). As always, we would love to hear your thoughts on these songs as well.
Darius Rucker - "True Believers"
Already a Top 30 hit in just one week on the charts, "True Believers" finds Darius sounding completely invested in the lyrics of the song in a way that wasn't often heard on Charleston, SC 1966's singles. It's refreshing and this song, written by Darius and Josh Kear, showcases one of Darius strongest lyrics to date. These lyrics talk about staying true to the relationship and love of a couple, through ups and downs, and how their belief in each other has helped them become one. Because of this, "True Believers" feels like one of the best singles of his career to date.
Billy Ray Cyrus - "Change My Mind"
Always one to bring the bluesy and rock-y sides out of his music, Billy Ray Cyrus returns with this sing-a-long tune that just is too loud for even today's brand of country radio. The band certainly plays well and Billy sings good but the mix is just too high. It is hard to pull his laid-back vocal delivery out of the rock guitars and that's a shame because there really is a good song in here, but it's just too hard to hear it because of the way everything is mixed.
Levi Riggs - "There's Still A Place For That"
His last single was the cute "My Best Friend's A Girl" and the Indiana native's latest is a song straight out of the Craig Morgan/Montgomery Gentry Playbook. Levi Riggs sings with charm and an ease that many newcomers fail to ever achieve. This should find an audience if given the chance by radio programmers but it may not given those similarites to the already established stars.
Gary Allan - "Every Storm (Runs Out Of Rain)"
It's been a while since I've heard Gary Allan but I've always been a big fan of his ability to meld different sounds (Bakersfield country early in his career, haunting rock ballads in the middle and emotive rockers in the past few years). Now dipping his toes into the haunting ballad pool for this single, the California native brings oodles of charisma to a melodic heartbreak of a story that uses a storm as a metaphor for the life of a relationship. Strong lyrics are joined by a vocal that rivals the best of Gary Allan's career. This is one cool song.
Craig Campbell - "Outta My Head"
Another song with a percussive beat and interesting atmospheric melody, "Outta My Head" feels like the perfect storm for Craig Campbell as this modern hat wearing country star should have no problem getting himself a hit with this mid-tempo that is as good as anything that's come from Luke Bryan or even Brooks & Dunn's latter hits. Keith Stegall and Matt Rovey's production is stellar and gives Craig Campbell the right of contemporary muscle to go with his neotraditional country roots. While Craig can't get a girl outta his head on this one, it'll be hard for us to get this song outta ours.
Kacey Musgrages - "Merry Go 'Round"
If there was an award for the most clever debut single, "Merry Go 'Round" would certainly get it. Musgraves has a voice that recalls fellow Texan Miranda Lambert and while that could be bad for most, it works really well for Kacey here as she sings a song so lyrically interesting that it's almost difficult to realize that it's about the cycle of life that happens in small town life. This is an observational tune that says the same ole thing in a very interesting way and with the strong production from Luke Laird and Shane McAnally (and Kacey), the song stands out from the pack of sameness that sometimes befalls newcomers.
Livewire - "Lies"
It's always tough for an independent label's artists to stand out yet Way Out West has managed to find artists like Livewire to join interesting label co-owner Shawna Russell. On "Lies" we have a clearly country song with a strong percussive melody (and audible steel guitar cries) backing up a strong lyric that finds the narrator describing how he wants his ex to describe their relationship after he heard her version of events through mutual friends. The song feels like something that could've been a hit in the 80s, 90s, the 2000s and certainly now. LiveWire had a strong self-released EP before signing on to Way Out West Records and if this is any indication, LiveWire may just become another strong country radio staple.
Clay Walker - "Jesse James"
Always a strong singer, Clay Walker's career since signing with Curb Records about five years ago has been interesting as he's been able to score a few Top 10 and Top 30 hits through his tenure with the label. Always one of the best songs on She Won't Be Lonely Long, the biggest surprise is that Curb Records is releasing the song at all, over 2.5 years since the album came out. Still, it's a fun song that is contemporary yet feels like something that could've been released by Clay Walker when he was at the height of his radio stardom in the 1990s. It mixes in some high lonesome styles in the chorus that sounds great too so here's hoping there's room for a great song on the ever tight radio playlists.
Brett Eldredge - "Don't Ya"
Blessed with one of the purest and strongest voices in country music, Brett Eldredge brings out a soulful groove here as he sings about the way he feels when a woman at a bar starts playing a game with him to get his attention. It's a hook-filled song (repeated words in the chorus) and while there's that R&B groove, the song never abandons modern country sounds either. That should be enough to give Brett his true breakout hit (Which will then allow the brillant hit to be "One Mississippi" to become a radio staple, much in the way "Storm Warning" helped label mate Hunter Hayes's "Wanted" become one).
Jaida Dreyer - "Confessions"
This one reminds me of the sultry kiss-off kind of songs that were Lorrie Morgan and JoDee Messina's stock and trade 10-15 years ago. It also is stylistically and thematically similar to Katie Armiger's "Better In A Black Dress." It is a well-produced song that showcases Jaida as a spitfire of a singer but I don't know if country radio is ready for more than one of these songs at the moment. This is a shame because it's clear that Jaida Dreyer has a boatload of vocal talent and this song is pure fun.