Wow! CMA Songwriters was incredible, dare I say, one of the best ones we’ve seen yet! We always knew we were going to be in for a treat with this stellar line up but the talent on that stage was incredible! Host Brett James introduced each writer before Luke Combs kick started the night. They did 5 rounds and once again it was a night filled with laughter. Luke played a lot of new songs that are not on his album including a song called Houston We’ve Got A Problem which he explained was written about going to Houston and really liking it but whilst he was there he was really missing his girlfriend back home. In a later round he played another new song Beautiful Crazy which he said was about the same girl. Of course the audience sang along loudly when he played his hit single When It Rains It Pours.
Natalie Hemby was the next in line. Natalie is one of my favourite writers, I’ve seen her a couple of times in Nashville and have been trying to get an interview with her for quite a while now so was delighted when she was announced on the line up and she agreed to have a chat (stay tuned for that!). The first song she played was You Look Like I Need A Drink which was a number one hit for Justin Moore and the sixth number one of Natalie’s and Justin’s careers. As Brett said, it sounded different with Natalie singing it, like the song held a slightly different meaning. I think to be a songwriter you also have to be a comedian as all the writers made us laugh throughout the night and when Hemby talked about the song Pontoon the Indigo was in uproar. Another number 1! She also played us a song off her solo album Puxico and White Liar her first number one written with Miranda Lambert. I always get emotional during CMA Songwriters Series and sure enough I did once again when Natalie sang Jealous a song co-written and cut by Labrinth. It was such an emotional performance and the whole room was stunned into silence, captivated by her rendition of the song which charted in 8 different countries. All night Natalie’s vocals were flawless and the other writers commented on how disappointing it was that we don’t hear her voice on the radio. The crowd were on their feet applauding!
Kip Moore sat in the middle seat, he kept saying how he’d had quite a bit to drink and after saying at the start people could shout out suggestions to him, he actually said no to most of them! He did however play my personal favourite of his More Girls Like You. He was funny, he kept telling us stories, going off on a tangent, forget what he was originally saying and then forgot what he was supposed to be playing! It was endearing though and the crowd was interacting with him all the time though not always in a good way by the look on Kip’s face when he misheard a comment someone shouted from the back of the room. However that did lead to a few funny stories from Kip and the other writers. He went back to his second album and played That Was Us and from his first record Crazy One More Time. The last song he played he did take a request and played Guitar Man. What I like about this set up is the writers play the songs how they originally wrote them and in a relaxed, stripped down setting can talk about the origins of the song. In Guitar Man halfway through Kip stopped singing and carried on the guitar lick whilst he told us quite a long story about how the next verse came about.
Nicolle Galyon was another writer on the line up who I knew was going to surprise a few people in a very good way. She has a wonderful voice, again it’s a shame we don’t hear more of it! She began with We Were Us and that wasn’t the only Keith Urban cut she played tonight as later on she played Female and as she said it’s not number one…yet! It was fitting she sung that on International Women’s Day. But a song she played which was number 1 on the Country Airplay charts just recently was All The Pretty Girls which Kenny Chesney released. She sang a lovely song she’d written that wasn’t a Country song but was on Camila Cabello’s album and that was called Consequences. It was my favourite she sang tonight purely because with Nicolle’s vocals and the emotion she put into the song it was really beautiful. In the last round she sang Boy which she said was the most personal song she’d ever written and was released by Lee Brice.
Brett James our host went last in each round, the banter between him and Kip was entertaining. I think every year the host has brought a lot of humour to the round and Brett didn’t disappoint. He played We Went Out Last Night and told us how everyone has to write at least one drinking song especially in Nashville as it’s a drinking town with a music problem! He’d written that and another song in the same day, both went on to become number one songs. He also played one of my favourite Jason Aldean songs The Truth before he sang Mr Know It All which was made famous both here and in the States by Kelly Clarkson. He really belted those notes out, he’s a fantastic singer as well, in fact the whole line up not only brought great songs to show but great vocals too. He also played a new song that he’d written only last week called Reason Or Rhyme which showed off his vocal ability in the chorus. He closed the night with the smash hit he wrote for Carrie Underwood Jesus, Take The Wheel.
All in all it was a fantastic start to the weekend. One of the best nights of all round entertainment - fantastic songs, some of the best in Country music, brilliant vocals from all five writers and a lot of jokes and banter which had the whole room laughing. What a night!