NASHVILLE SKYLINE: Some Cool Sounds This Week

Brad Paisley, the Dynamites, Merle Haggard, Lori McKenna and More

(NASHVILLE SKYLINE is a column by CMT/CMT.com Editorial Director Chet Flippo.)

This is some new stuff I’ve been listening to and enjoying lately:

  • “Determined” is the title cut of a new CD by CO3, a duo made up of former Carrie Underwood sidemen Chad Little and Dave Romero. If Tim McGraw or Kenny Chesney were singing Christian music, this is what it might sound like. The song is a gritty, lyrical, unashamed declaration of faith. I hate wimpy Christian songs that are really just love songs to a chick with her name crossed out and Jesus’ name written in. But these guys sound genuinely sincere. “I’m not ashamed of Jesus,” they shout. Bravo.
  • “Way Down South” by the Dynamites. You know, Nashville is home to a lot of music other than country. And funk and soul have always been a big part of it. Now they’re back. The Dynamites are a Nashville black-and-white group evoking the glory days of James Brown and the Flames. But they’re not retro. Lead singer Charles Walker, who is a true funk veteran, shouts and wails above a funkified rocking band with some wailing modern arrangements. The album is Kaboom!. Get funked.
  • “All I Wanted Was a Car” by Brad Paisley. I really don’t care for the song “Ticks.” Because it sounds like something I might write, if I could write songs. But that song would make me come across as really creepy. So far, “All I Wanted Was a Car” is my favorite cut on his new 5th Gear CD.
  • “Faster Than Angels Fly” sung by Big & Rich from Between Raising Hell and Amazing Grace. This is one of the best-written country songs I have ever heard (written by Billy Henderson and John Phillips Jr.). “Well they burn the candle at both ends/As they danced into the flame/Making love and making plans/Driving Mother Mary insane/Strong as the beads of a rosary/Never too young to die/Some souls only know one speed/Faster than angels fly.”
  • “Drinkin’ Problem” by Lori McKenna. If Faith Hill could write songs like this, she would be Lori McKenna. And if Lori McKenna sang and looked like Faith Hill, she would be Faith Hill. Thank God, they’re who they are, for I value them both very much. McKenna is one of the world’s great singer-songwriters. This cut is from McKenna’s forthcoming CD, Unglamorous, due Aug. 14.
  • Jason Isbell came by our offices the other day to say hello and to play an acoustic set. The former Drive-By Truckers member will be out this summer with a solo tour and a new solo album, Sirens of the Ditch, due July 10. I especially like “Dress Blues,” a heart-wrenching tale about his Marine friend who was killed in Iraq.
  • “Like a Train Left the Tramp” by Merle Haggard. The man is amazing. He’s still writing and singing workingman anthems. This is from his new CD Working Man’s Journey, which has six new cuts. Available only at Cracker Barrel.
  • “Die by My Own Hand” by Halfway to Hazard. H2H are an impressive, earthy new duo from Kentucky (hence the album title). Their self-titled CD is due Aug. 14. Their sound? Think Little Big Town minus the two women.
  • “You Can’t Outdrink the Truth” from Walt Wilkins and the Mystiqueros. I’ve always liked Wilkins’ quirky writing and singing. He’s carrying on in the great Texas tradition of guys like Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt. The new CD is Diamonds in the Sun, coming July 24.
  • “Salt of the Earth” from Tracy Nelson. Decades ago, with her trailblazing album Mother Earth Presents Tracy Nelson (in 1969), she helped create what became known as Americana. She returns to country with You’ll Never Be a Stranger at My Door, coming July 24. Nelson wrote this cut with Guy Clark and Alice Newman Vestal. Nelson has one of the great voices in all of music.