Thompson Square - "If I Didn't Have You"
An instantly memorable vocal and lyric that is relatable to anyone in a deeply committed marriage. True love is what is being described in the lyrics here and I'll be if Shawna doesn't remind me a little bit of Pam Tillis and that's nothing but a good thing in my view. Combine the strong harmonies of her husband Keifer, the stellar production from New Voice along with Shawna's exceptional lead vocal and what we have is a killer lead single from Thompson Square's upcoming sophomore album for Stoney Creek Records.
Brantley Gilbert - "More Than Miles"
Brantley's score a pair of #1 hits from his soon to be Platinum Halfway To Heaven album and he and his record label, The Valory Music Company, are hoping to have this track become his third of four songs to hit the #1 slot (#3 single "Kick It In The Sticks" stalled but it was already quite well known to fans in most of the country before release, it was originally released by Average Joes before Valory took over the album distribution and promotion). One of the newly recorded tracks with Dann Huff in the Producer's chair, "More Than Miles" is perhaps Brantley Gilbert's best radio-ready track. Huff keeps his rock vibe while making Brantley's love it or hate it vocals sound better than he's sounded on any other single thus far into his career (He may be a more emotional vocalist on the ballads like "More Than Miles" than the rockers).
Hayden Panettiere - "Telescope"
This song could do well or it could completely fail. Much of this depends on whether "Nashville" is able to garner much traction on ABC TV. Chances are it'll be around for a season but I just don't know if country radio is ready to embrace an actress who is "playing" a country singer on TV. The melody is strong and the vocal delivery is solid but again, I don't' know if country radio's quite ready for this.
Billy Dean - "A Seed"
One of 10 new tracks on A Man Of Good Fortune, "A Seed" is just about the best new story song that I've heard in 2012. Performed with gripping emotion by Billy Dean, "A Seed" is the kind of acoustic story song that country radio used to be littered with and here's hoping there's a place for a great song like this somewhere on radio. It is too damn awesome to not get even a shot in the dark to be a radio hit.
Jerrod Niemann - "Only God Could Love You More"
Jerrod Niemann's Free The Music is a sonically diverse collection of country songs and it'll be an interesting case of whether country radio is ready for a different sounding ballad like "Only God Could Love You More." The melody and production are exquisite and clearly more unique than nearly any other song to hit country radio stations this year. Here's hoping the programmers like this as much as I and many of Jerrod's fans do!
Sarah Darling - "Home To Me"
The first song from her upcoming Dann Huff produced third release with Black River Entertainment, Sarah Darling also has her biggest chance for a radio hit with "Home To Me." While she's recorded great songs before this, none of them truly was given a big push at radio so it'll be interesting to see of country radio will take to this ear-worm of a song with a great lyric and pleasing banjo-driven laid-back melody. Darling is one of country music's purest, most pristine vocalists and showcases that here as well while passionately performing the lyrics. This one is already a hit on SiriusXM's The Highway.
Thomas Rhett - "Beer With Jesus"
Thomas Rhett is experiencing a break-out of sorts with "Beer With Jesus." Not only has country radio embraced the song already but the singer, whose debut "Somethin' To Do With My Hands" hit Top 20 but barely sold anything, the singer is finding people engaged enough to pick up both this song and Thomas Rhett's self-titled EP. Well written and strongly produced by Jay Joyce, "Beer With Jesus" is the kind of songs country music does better than any other genre. There's a grace to the whole thing that just feels right.
Mac Powell - "One Mississippi"
Currently getting played on SiriusXM, "One Mississippi" is a track from Powell's solo debut. The lead singer to Grammy Nominated, Multi-Platinum Christian rock band Third Day, Powell showcases himself to be a natural country/rocker in the Travis Tritt mold. Production from Jason Hoard is sturdy with mandolins and acoustics flilling the sound as much as the slide guitar, givng Powell a completely engaging melody from which to sing his lyrics about a guy who is walking out on a bad relationship. This is a promising song from an engaging, promising singer/songwriter so here's hoping that he can get some more traction with his self-released self-titled album.
Adam Hood - "Hard Times In The Land Of Plenty"
Blessed with a strong soulful voice, Adam Hood has experienced some success of late with artists like David Nail, Frankie Ballard, Josh Abbott Band, and Little Big Town cutting his songs. On this vibe-y slide guitar filled song we find Adam Hood seeing the positive of a bad situation, "Get loose from the hang ups and spend a little time with you." Fans who like Casey James would do well to check the album which features "Hard Times In The Land Of Plenty." This one's a hit on the Texas radio charts and in a wide-open country music world, it'd hit some sort of mainstream country chart too but sometimes I don't know if Adam Hood really wants that.
Jason Aldean - "Night Train"
The title track to the just-released album for Broken Bow Records (an album expected to sell near 500,000 copies), "Night Train" is currently the best-selling track from the album - even better than "The Only Way I Know" a song with Eric Church and Luke Bryan - and that gives it a strong chance to be a potential single. A moody mid-tempo, the song finds Aldean singing about going to a spot with his girl so they can enjoy the view of the moon and stars while listening to the rhythm of the train driving by. Once again, this is a song that's about feeling and emotion and doing something. A hallmark of many of Aldean's songs and just one of the 15 strong tracks on the album.