I have always been a fan of songwriters. They are the soul of the music. Without songwriters, there would be no country or Southern Rock stars. And for the record, I really prefer hearing the songwriter sing their own songs. That goes all the way back to my youth. Many of the greatest songwriters were not really singers in the traditional sense, but they put their heart and soul out there for all to see and hear. People like Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen and Tom Waits.
Words & Music collects ten of Nashville’s finest songwriters (who are all good singers, by the way) performing some amazing tunes. It’s all the brain child of producer Jim Tract, and what an idea it is. The record label is called Adroit, defined as “skillful and adept under pressing conditions.” The label is dedicated exclusively to raising awareness and exposing the vast quantity of extraordinary music written by Nashville singer-songwriters.
The set opens with “Dirt,” a true working man’s song from Lucas Hoge, who was named “Best International Country Male Artist” at the Toronto Exclusive Magazine Awards. Craig Monday sings his “Heaven is a Small Town” beautifully. The song about “Uncle Jack,” a man who dies in the hospital but comes back from the brink of death with a beautiful message that Heaven is a small town. Just amazing lyrics of an amazing vision of the after life.
Perhaps the biggest hit (so far) on this collection is the Trisha Yearwood (with Don Henley, #2 on the Billboard charts) classic “Walkaway Joe,” performed by writer Vince Melamed. Vince was honored with the “Song of The Year” award” by Music Row Magazine in 1993. Melamed has played, toured and recorded with Jimmy Buffett, the Eagles’ Hotel California Tour and Live album, Bob Dylan’s Knocked Out Loaded Tour and Empire Burlesque albums. He has written countless hits and has been recognized with an array of awards for his talents.
Every song here is a number one in my book, from the almost Dan Penn feel of Ray Sisk’s very excellent “Memphis,” to Joshua Rush’s “I Found Myself Dancing.” Lusa Carver’s “Bullets,” Karleen Watts’ “I’m Not Ready,” Mason Douglas’ “Home Free,” Cheley Tackett “Play The One I Like,” and one of my favorites, “Yeah She Does” by Brendan McKinney. They all help to make this a simply beautiful disc.
Great songs from great writers. Some of the best in Music City.
-Michael Buffalo Smith