The summertime has officially come for country radio and like all summer music cycles, the charts are loaded with light, airy summertime vignettes. Some artists, like Steve Holy, have chosen to release counter-programming in the form of ballads. As with the spring, the summer music cycle is filled with new artists, like Adam Gregory and 2007 Nashville Star alum Joshua Stevens. Here's a rundown of some of the new singles out at radio and our thoughts about their hit potential.
Chris Cagle - No Love Songs:
I have always liked Chris Cagle and most of his songs and I originally hated this Craig Wiseman tune but it's kinda grown on me since I added it to my 'radio singles' playlist on iTunes. I don't really care for the spoken verses but the chorus is catchy and the song will serve its purpose at radio, to keep passive listeners on the station between between the commercials, which is radio's goal. It's an inoffensive song that will probably hit Top 20 or even the Top 10. Grade: C-
Joshua Stevens - Rock 'N' Roll and Pensacola:
When Joshua was singing on Nashville Star last season I had the feeling that he was another pleasant, radio-ready artist but was otherwise interchangeable with a multitude of other artists. I still feel that way. Stevens has a smooth voice that recalls Keith Urban among other artists and has written a song about being in a bar band in Pensacola, Florida. It's a decent enough song but I doubt that it's a hit, especially coming from an upstart label in Nashville that couldn't get a great single from Rockie Lynne to do much of anything on the charts. Grade: C-
Rissi Palmer - No Air:
With a countrified remix remake of the Jordin Sparks pop hit, Rissi Palmer could have her first big chart hit with "No Air." Produced by Taylor Swift's producer Nathan Chapman, "No Air" places Rissi firmly in the Underwood/Swift camp of female country singers. She's singing a decent song that showcases her powerful vocals and since it's a remake of a pop hit that has a similar audience, it's likely to do well at radio, even if it's nothing more than a recording with banjos, mandolins and fiddles added to the mix.
Adam Gregory - Crazy Days:
Only 22 years old and already an eight year veteran of the music business, Edmonton, Alberta native Adam Gregory has followed fellow Canadian band Emerson Drive stateside with a record deal on Midas Records. With an expressive vocal that reminds me of a younger Gary Allan, Gregory has himself a monster of a hit with "Crazy Days." It's a song that details a couple still in love and in search of their wilder youth. Since Gregory is still very much a 'kid' himself, the lyrics aren't as believable as they'd be if someone like the Previously mentioned Allan would've sang the song but since Gregory's voice has matured into a fine instrument, he sells this song. Grade B+.
Ashton Shepherd - Sounds So Good:
With her debut single "Takin' Off This Pain'" barely finding a home within the Top 20 at country radio, Ashton and her label MCA have smartly decided to release the summer anthem "Sounds So Good." With a banjo driving the melody, Ashton sings about the kind of things that work with the country audience. Good music, good beverages, dirt roads and country life. This is a hit in waiting that should bring more fans to the wonderfully charming Shepherd. Grade B.
Steve Holy - Might Have Been:
Steve Holy first came on the country scene around 1999 but didn't have a major hit until the year 2001 with "Good Morning Beautiful." Five years later Steve had another hit with "Brand New Girlfriend" and now he returns with "Might Have Been." While I loved "Good Morning Beautiful" for it's simple message, I thought "Brand New Girlfriend" was a bit to much in the 'ditty' mold and was gonna be hard to follow-up. It was. Until now. "Might Have Been" has a strong lyric, an engaging melody and vocal from Holy that's the best of his career thus far. Grade A-
One Flew South - My Kind Of Beautiful:
With three-part harmonies that recall Crosby, Stills & Nash, One Flew South arrives on the country music scene with "My Kind of Beautiful," a song that was originally recorded by one of its writers, Andy Griggs on his "This I Gotta See" record. Another of the song's writers is One Flew South's producer Marcus Hummon. The melody is perfect for the summertime and those three-part harmonies are really good. They make Rascal Flatts sound like amateurs as well. Will radio spin the hell out of it? I don't know. Still, I like the song. Grade: A.