We take a look at new singles from Love and Theft, Robbie Johnson, Tyler Farr, A Thousand Horses, Scotty McCreery, Erica Nicole, Sawyer Brown, Alan Jackson, Levi Riggs and newcomer Abbey Cone. Our favorite tracks this week belong to Cone’s stellar traditional country ballad and Farr’s career-making single. But we also really enjoyed most of the songs this week no matter how big or small the record label and known or unknown the artist was.
Erica Nicole - “I’m Making Mine” (GTR)
This is the first time where I’ve felt that the song fits the talent. Kent Wells production is tight and Nicole recalls the best female vocalists of the past couple of decades (Think Linda Davis, Reba and Joey Martin of Joey+Rory). This one can and should be a hit.
Love and Theft - “Whiskey On My Breath” (Hate & Purchase/Thirty Tigers)
The talented vocal duo features stunning harmonies here that recall the best vocal bands of the past few decades, including The Eagles and Diamond Rio with their passionate single, their first since leaving RCA Nashville. This is the kind of retro-cool country ballad that used to dominate country airwaves and the band deserves to do so with this powerful track.
Robby Johnson - “Shady” (Contrast Music Records)
He scored a viral hit with “South of Me” but this song, a Shane McAnally, Sam Hunt and Luke Laird-penned track, is easily the best song he’s ever released. Produced by James Stroud, the song shows off Robby’s soothing voice and the lyrics and melodies have clever turns of phrases, there’s a nice laid-back jovial melody that make this a tailor-made hit in waiting.
Abbey Cone - “Love Like Him Again” (Independent)
Do you remember where you were that first moment you heard Carrie Underwood sing on American Idol or the first time you heard Lee Ann Womack’s “Never Again, Again” or LeAnn Rimes’ “Blue”? Well, that’s the feelings that “Love Like Him Again” evokes. It’s a simple, 80s style country power ballad with loads of steel and acoustic guitar to drive the emotive vocal from Abbey Cone home.
A Thousand Horses - “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” (Republic Nashville)
The follow-up to “Smoke” showcases more about this talented band and their unique to country music style. “(This Ain’t No) Drunk Dial” finds the band playing narrator about a man who was drinking sorrows over a breakup before deciding that he really wants to give it one more try before everything goes away. A well-written, performed and produced song should = hit for A Thousand Horses.
Alan Jackson - “Jim And Jack And Hank” (ACR/EMI Nashville)
The superstar returns with a song that is everything you could want from Alan Jackson. It’s classic Alan Jackson, actually. Will radio actually play it? I don’t know. It’s not far from “Good Time” but country radio is far from what was popular in 2008/2009.
Scotty McCreery - “Southern Belle” (19/Interscope/Mercury)
For his first lead single from his forthcoming third studio album, Scotty McCreery comes back with a song that balances his traditional leanings with a contemporary country rockin’ song. There’s a thumping, percussive backbeat accompanying the lyrics which tell the story of a man who is in love with a girl from the south. There are a few production choices from Frank Rogers here (like slight use of autotune) that may turn off some but this is likely to satiate Scotty’s hardcore fans AND country radio alike.
Sawyer Brown - “We Got The Night” (Beach Street Records)
A moody, groove-filled mid tempo ballad that recalls the best of 80s rock and soul songs, “We Got The Night” is a song which could help this award-winning, well-known band regain a foothold on mainstream country radio if given a shot. With that unlikely to happen, this band could certainly score a secondary radio hit with “We Got The Night” as it’s very pleasant.
Levi Riggs - “Nothin’ I Don’t Love” (WindRidge Entertainment)
He’s released multiple singles in the past but this is clearly one of his best bets for secondary country radio airplay. The Indiana native has a pleasant voice and this one, written by Brett James and Steve Diamond, has a nice familiar feel to it.
Tyler Farr - “Withdrawals” (Columbia Nashville)
If you’ve ever heard an artist speak about a ‘signature song,’ well folks, this is what they’re talking about. Everything about this song is smoking hot. From the punk rock-inspired melody and guitars (which are accented by slide guitars and steel guitars) to the passionate, emotive lyrics, “Withdrawals” is the kind of song that artists dream of being able to record. Add in Tyler’s searing whiskey-smoked voice and you’ve got a potent combination of a track destined to break huge. A signature song.