Album Feature – Daniel Donato – A Young Man’s Country

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Aug 112020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Now this is what I call a guitar record.  Daniel Donato comes in hot with his debut album called A Young Man’s Country.  He calls his brand of country music “cosmic country”.  When you cover the likes of John Prine, Waylon Jennings and Grateful Dead on a debut record, you better bring it and Daniel Donato does.  This record is honky tonk blended with psychedelic sounds.  Daniel Donato has a great signature guitar sound that fits the tone he’s going after and he rocks the house on just about every track.  Here are some of my favorites.

The album kicks off with “Justice” which is a fun love song.  The chorus sounds like something you would hear on the radio in country music’s golden age.  When you combine that with Daniel’s signature guitar licks, this song is a great preview for the rest of the album.  Another favorite is “Meet Me In Dallas”.  It’s one of the longer songs of the record clocking in at almost seven minutes so you know it’s a jam.  The song starts off as a ballad about being alone before it goes into a trippy interlude that leads into a long multi-layered jam session that is sure to be a fun extended live jam.  Daniel Donato gives similar treatment to Grateful Dead’s “Fire On The Mountain”.  He uses this track to showcase how his brand of cosmic country can apply to the more rock side of this sound and it’s a killer jam.

Another straight banger on this album is “Diamond In The Rough”.  It has a similar feel to “Justice” in that it was made for radio but decades ago.  It’s a toe tapping number that actually gets to stretch its legs out a bit.  I love how the band seems to kick it up a notch at different points in the song till the solo comes in and breaks out into another multi layered jam that builds to a stunning crescendo before bringing in the final chorus.  Finally, we have Daniel Donato’s Waylon Jennings cover “Ain’t Living Long Like This”.  It’s an amped up version that applies Daniel’s signature sound to the Waylon classic.  This song brings something different to the table with some killer honky tonk piano in the mix.  It adds another layer to the jam session at the end of this one.

This may be his debut studio album, but Daniel Donato and his band come across as a well seasoned country jam band.  They dabble into southern rock and psychedelic elements that add layers to their jam sessions on record.  I can’t wait to hear what some of these songs sound like live where I’m sure the band plays much longer than what you get here.  A Young Man’s Country is available digitally everywhere you can buy and stream music as of August 7th, 2020.  You can find out more information on Daniel Donato’s website here.        

Favorite Tracks : Justice, Meet Me In Dallas, Fire On The Mountain, Diamond In The Rough, Ain’t Living Long Like This

Daniel Donato – A Young Man’s Country (2020)

  1. Justice
  2. Always Been A Lover
  3. Meet Me In Dallas
  4. Fire On The Mountain
  5. Luck Of The Draw
  6. Broke Down
  7. Angel From Montgomery
  8. Sweet Tasting Tennessee
  9. Diamond In The Rough
  10. Forgotten Days
  11. Ain’t Living Long Like This

Album Feature – Charley Crockett – Welcome To Hard Times

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Aug 052020
 

By Joshua Wallace

I have been a fan of Charley Crockett’s for a long time.  He has become quite prolific and has produced five albums since 2017’s Lil G.L.’s Honky Tonk Jubilee.  Earlier this year he produced an album called Field Recordings, Vol. 1.  It’s steeped in old time music with plenty of traditional and a few original tunes as well.  Welcome To Hard Times is an album of mostly original tunes with a cover of Red Lane’s “Blackjack County Chain”.  This is Charley Crockett’s best album yet and I’m here to tell you why.

The album kicks off with the title track “Welcome To Hard Times”.  I love this song.  The piano riff is simple, catchy and takes you straight to the old spaghetti western movies.  This album goes for that psychedelic western motif a lot and it helps to tie the entire thing together.  Another great tune is “Run Horse Run”.  It picks up the gambling theme and runs with it a bit on a song that sounds like a train going down the tracks.  This one is sure to be fun to hear live.  “Don’t Cry” is a song about leaving that was co-written by Dan Auerbach and Pat McLaughlin.  This tune is a song about a man who is always bound to leave, but promises his girl that he’s always coming back home.  It’s a great ballad that continues the western themes that run throughout this album.

“Lily My Dear” is a song that sounds like a traditional banjo tune but it was written by Charley with Vincent Neil Emerson, Colin Colby and Tyler Heiser.  It’s a song about a woman who visits a man who is down on his luck in prison.  It’s a great tune.  “Paint It Blue” is another great tune about an outlaw on the run who is missing the woman he left behind. I love the pedal steel throughout this track.  Nathan Fleming does a great job on pedal steel throughout this album.  “Blackjack County Chain” is another great tune that is a cover of a Red Lane song made famous by Willie Nelson.  Willie Nelson saw some success with it, but this song was eventually removed from radio play because of the lyrics about slavery.  Charley Crockett does a great job with this one and it fits right in on an album with tunes about outlaws, drifters and gamblers.  Finally, “The Man That Time Forgot” is a song that sounds like it came right from an album out of the 60’s or 70’s with it’s superb pedal steel and solid country gold sound. 

Charley Crockett comes off as someone with a deep knowledge of country and old time music.  There’s lots of piano driven honky tonk here mixed in with solid country gold and pedal steel.  This album is full of stories of outlaws, prisoners, gamblers and ramblers and all of them have some kind of heartbreak.  It’s my favorite record of 2020 so far.  Charley Crockett is definitely on my short list of names to see live when live shows start happening again.  In the meantime, you can follow Charley on his website here.  Welcome To Hard Times came out on July 31st, 2020 and is available everywhere you can find good music.

Favorite Tracks : Welcome To Hard Times, Run Horse Run, Don’t Cry, Lily My Dear, Heads You Win, Paint It Blue, Blackjack County Chain, The Man That Time Forgot

Charley Crockett – Welcome To Hard Times (2020)

  1. Welcome To Hard Times
  2. Run Horse Run
  3. Don’t Cry
  4. Tennessee Special
  5. Fool Somebody Else
  6. Lily My Dear
  7. Wreck Me
  8. Heads You Win
  9. Rainin’ In My Heart
  10. Paint It Blue
  11. Blackjack County Chain
  12. The Man That Time Forgot
  13. The Poplar Tree

Album Feature – S.G. Goodman – Old Time Feeling

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Jul 232020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Old Time Feeling is the debut album of western Kentucky native S.G. Goodman.  This debut is a record that presents itself as Americana on the surface, but there are dashes of country, alt rock, blues and some psychedelic flares throughout that keep you listening and you will not want to skip a track.  It’s an impressive debut and I highly recommend checking it out if you have not already.  Here are a few highlights of the record.

The album opens up with “Space and Time”.  It sounds like something you would find on a 1960’s country radio station.  It’s a slow almost psychedelic love ballad.  I love the subtle tempo change in the lone verse of the song, it’s a nice touch to the overall sound.  Up next is the bluesy rocker “Old Time Feeling”.  S.G. Goodman’s vocals feel at home over the rock beat here and I wish there was more like this on the album. It’s one of the better tracks and serves as a break from the slower ballads throughout.

“The Way I Talk” features a chugging guitar and drum beat that sounds a bit like indie folk amped up and put through an alt country filter.  The track is innocent enough till it slides into a feedback heavy rock solo at the end that just works with the overall groove of this album.  “Burn Down The City” starts out as an electric folky track and morphs into an alt rock groove.  It starts out subtle, but the guitar slowly gets more distorted till it turns into a chugging alt rock riff that eventually gets the whole band involved.  I dig the transitions in this track.  Finally, “Kitchen Floor” is a track leaning more to country music and has thick pedal steel throughout.  There is a slow waltz-like pace to the drums and when that is mixed with the high lonesome vocals and the pedal steel on this track it creates an amazing soundscape.

S.G. Goodman has created a record that carries an interesting mix of sounds throughout and you can hear her southern influences clearly.  Folk, country, alt rock and blues are all mixed in here with artistic flares of psychedelic and retro sounds throughout.  It’s a promising debut that should sound amazing live.  S.G. Goodman is currently scheduled to open for John Moreland on his 2021 tour and I’m planning on making it to one of those shows when shows are happening again.  In the meantime, you can check out S.G. Goodman’s website here and Old Time Feeling was released everywhere as of July 17th, 2020.

Favorite Tracks : Space and Time, Old Time Feeling, Tender Kind, The Way I Talk, Burn Down The City, Kitchen Floor

 

S. G. Goodman – Old Time Feeling (2020)

  1. Space and Time
  2. Old Time Feeling
  3. Supertramp
  4. Tender Kind
  5. Red Bird Morning
  6. The Way I Talk
  7. Burn Down The City
  8. It Ain’t Me Babe
  9. Kitchen Floor
  10. Big Girl Now

Album Feature – Kyle Keller – All It Does Is Rain

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Jul 162020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Kyle Keller has released his debut full length LP with All It Does Is Rain.  This is straightforward acoustic folk music.  This album is raw and real with no bells and whistles.  Just a man and his guitar and a few other instruments spread throughout.  This album is full of lost love, sad songs and some good songwriting.  That’s what it pretty much comes down to with a record like this.  Does the artist’s singing voice grab your attention and is the songwriting good? Both are true in this case.  Kyle Keller has a gritty and sometimes deep singing voice that gets the emotions across in every song.

The album kicks off with “Memories & Scars”.  It’s a good introduction to the album in that you know what to expect from here on out.  It’s a good heartbreak song in an album full of heartbreak songs.  “The Devil’s Hammock” changes things up a bit in a ballad where the narrator wishes the black water would carry his worry out to sea.  This song has always been one of my favorites to hear live and I’m glad he has recorded it here.  There is a sense of urgency as the narrator almost begs the sea to take his worry away but leave his flesh and bones.  It’s a great track for anyone who has seen darker times.  “I’ve Known Love” is another favorite about losing that special kind of love.  At the same time, it’s also about knowing all kinds of love, both good and bad.  This is one of two tracks that features Laurence Kingston on piano and that simple addition adds to the production of this track.  Finally, the album closes with “The Spark”.  This song was inspired by events that happened in Charlottesville, VA a few years ago, but it still rings true with events that are currently in the news.  I always lean more to protest songs that while they are inspired by certain events can stand the test of time and be applied to similar things in the future.

Kyle Keller has released one great raw and gritty folk album.  I highly recommend giving this one a spin if you’re a fan of sad songs of all colors.  There’s a bit of variety throughout this record to keep it interesting throughout and you will almost surely find something that draws you back for further listens.  I also have to give a shout out to Abe Partridge for the killer cover art on this one.  You should check out his art if you enjoy the album cover.  Kyle Keller is based out of Gainesville, FL and will be playing shows in that area when they re-start.  Until then, you can find him on Facebook or Twitter and his album is for sale on Bandcamp.  All It Does Is Rain is available everywhere you can stream music as of June 27th, 2020.

Favorite Tracks : Memories & Scars, The Devil’s Hammock, Singing Down In Georgia, I’ve Known Love, Susannah, The Spark

Kyle Keller – All It Does Is Rain (2020)

  1. Memories & Scars
  2. I Hope You’re Gone
  3. I Don’t Love You Anymore
  4. Mama Please
  5. The Devil’s Hammock
  6. Singing Down In Georgia
  7. I’ve Known Love
  8. Susannah
  9. Diamond Eyes
  10. Afraid Of Change
  11. The Spark

Album Feature – Joshua Ray Walker – Glad You Made It

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Jul 152020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Joshua Ray Walker is back with his second solo album following his stellar 2019 release Wish You Were Here which landed at number four on my 2019 Albums Of The Year List.  Where Wish You Were Here was mostly full of slower songs and sad country tunes, this album picks up the pace and is much more of a rocking country record.  It still features Joshua’s amazing vocals and songwriting but this time there is more variety in the soundscape and that makes for a better record this go round.

The album kicks off with “Voices” which is one of the slower tracks on here.  The high lonesome cries on the chorus of this track are a great showcase for the amazing vocals you can find throughout this album.  Another favorite is “Bronco Billy’s”.  It’s a honky tonk tune that starts off slow and builds to a fast pace with some killer pedal steel work from Adam Kurtz who is on pedal steel throughout this album and is a true standout in the band featured on this record.  “Boat Show Girl” shows off some of Joshua Ray Walker’s songwriting ability on a track about a girl who wishes someone would look at her the way people look at the boat she is trying to sell.  

Another great track is the bluesy rocker titled “User”.  There are some great blues riffs with some killer slide guitar work and even a horn section.  You wouldn’t think a horn section would work on a track about blues rock track about substance abuse, but it does.  “Loving County” is another slow track that features some great yodeling and an almost cosmic soundscape with some trippy guitar throughout.  It’s a fitting sound for a song about going to one of the most lonesome off the grid places you can think of.  Finally, the album ends with the rock number “D.B. Cooper”.  The lyrics are a short two verse song about D.B. Cooper after his escape.  The slower backdrop gives way to some thick riffs that are bound to be a rocking jam live.

This album really slaps.  It features a huge variety in sound that goes from high lonesome ballads to honky tonk bangers to thick riffs and jam worthy rock n roll.  If you felt Wish You Were Here was a bit one note with a lot of ballads, this album won’t do you wrong.  I highly recommend giving this one a spin as Joshua Ray Walker has released another album of the year contender here.  Glad You Made It is out everywhere as of July 10th, 2020.  While Joshua Ray Walker can’t tour anywhere right now, you can get yourself a copy of this record on his bandcamp page

Favorite Tracks : Voices, Bronco Billy’s, Boat Show Girl, User, Loving County, D.B. Cooper

 

Joshua Ray Walker – Glad You Made It (2020)

  1. Voices
  2. True Love
  3. Cupboard
  4. Bronco Billy’s
  5. Boat Show Girl
  6. User
  7. Play You A Song
  8. One Trick Pony
  9. Loving County
  10. D.B. Cooper

Top 20 Albums Of 2020 So Far

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Jul 022020
 

By Joshua Wallace

This has been a strange year to release a new record in, but that hasn’t stopped folks from releasing some great albums.  Here is a list of my Top 20 Albums of 2020 So Far.  I know I could have included more artists here, but I am working on a Top 50 list that will be published at the end of the year.  I have included links to previous coverage of albums when we have it.  Check these records out and support these bands while they cannot tour for their new records by buying merch or tipping during a livestream.

 

1. Kyle Nix – Lightning On The Mountain And Other Short Stories

Review

 

2. Mike and The Moonpies – Touch Of You : The Lost Songs Of Gary Stewart

Review

 

3. American Aquarium – Lamentations

10 More Albums We Are Looking Forward To In 2020

 

4. Hill Country – Hill Country

 

5. Randy Rogers, Wade Bowen – Hold My Beer Vol. 2

 

6. Jessi Alexander – Decatur County Red

Review

 

7. The Panhandlers – The Panhandlers

Review

 

8.  Ashley McBryde – Never Will

Review

 

9. Aubrie Sellers – Far From Home

Review

 

10. Jaime Wyatt – Neon Cross

10 Most Anticipated Country Albums Out This Summer

 

11. John Baumann – Country Shade

10 Most Anticipated Country Albums Out This Summer

 

12. ROOKIE – ROOKIE

 

13. Hailey Whitters – The Dream

 

14. Kyle Keller – All It Does Is Rain

10 Most Anticipated Country Albums Out This Summer

 

15. Zach Bryan – Elisabeth

 

16. Hellbound Glory – Pure Scum

10 Most Anticipated Country Albums Out This Summer

 

17. Sammy Brue – Crash Test Kid

 

18. Chancey Williams – 3rd Street

 

19. Jesse Daniel – Rollin’ On

 

20. Whitney Rose – We Still Go To Rodeos

 

Album Feature – Kyle Nix – Lightning From The Mountain and Other Short Stories

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Jun 302020
 

By Joshua Wallace

I know a lot of folks are big fans of Turnpike Troubadours and you will be familiar with Kyle Nix from his fiddle work with the band.  While there is plenty of good fiddle work showcased on this album, we have never heard Kyle Nix as a singer-songwriter or as a frontman of his own band.  I was excited about this album from the moment it was announced.  The premise of an album treated as a collection of short stories had me intrigued.  Then you throw in the fact that his backing band are fellow members of the Turnpike Troubadours.  I had a strong feeling that this record would turn out to be a highlight of the year and I’m here to say that I was not disappointed.  Lightning From The Mountain and Other Short Stories delivers some good fiddle driven, knee slappin’ and story centered country music.  

The first single released from the album was the title track “Lightning From The Mountain”.  This is a story of revenge after a bad deal over some bootleg liquor.  It’s a fast track with some great fiddling that you would expect from a fiddle player as good as Kyle Nix has shown he is on the Turnpike Troubadour records.  This song also features some great storytelling and it’s a good introduction to Kyle Nix as a singer and songwriter.  Another favorite from this record is the track “Graves”.  I love the opening riff and the track almost has a gothic sound to it.  There is more nice fiddling on this track.  I love the line “ Pretty girls make graves / But a fool will dig his own”.

The track “Shelby ‘65” brings forth rightful comparisons to the Jerry Reed classic “Eastbound and Down”.  It’s another banger of a track on this record and it’s got a killer banjo riff mixed in with some hot guitar licks.  It’s a song about a couple on the run in the titular hot rod.  This one is bound to be lots of fun live.  Another great track is “If Ruby Ain’t Happy”.  There are plenty of songs about Ruby in country music.  This song is about a man trying to make Ruby happy.  I particularly love the line “She don’t like them country songs that run down her name / She catch you singin’, Oh Lord, it’s Judgement Day!”.  This song has an old time country feel to it with more of the great fiddle playing you have come to expect from this album by now.  Finally, I will touch on “Lonesome For You (Widower Pt. 1)”.  This song opens up with an amazing 40 second pedal steel intro that leads into one of the slower songs of the record.  It’s a song about how a widower remains lonesome for their lost love and it truly captures those emotions in this great track.

Kyle Nix has released an amazing debut record that puts him as a front runner for album of the year in my opinion.  I could go on about every song on this album as there is not a bad one here.  Every song tells a short story and the album is successful in delivering on that promise.  I can’t wait to see Kyle Nix live once bands are able to tour again.  In the meantime, you can find everything Kyle Nix is up to on his website.  Lightning From the Mountain and Other Short Stories is available everywhere as of June 26, 2020.

Favorite Tracks : Lightning From The Mountain, Graves, Shelby ‘65, Little Miss Jones, If Ruby Ain’t Happy, Lonesome For You (Widower Pt. 1)

Kyle Nix – Lightning From The Mountain and Other Short Stories (2020)

  1. Intro
  2. Manifesto
  3. Lightning From The Mountain
  4. Sweet Delta Rose
  5. Prelude : Meet Your Match
  6. Graves
  7. Blue Eyes
  8. Shelby ‘65
  9. Josephine
  10. The Wolf At The Door
  11. Little Miss Jones
  12. Good Girl Down The Road
  13. If Ruby Ain’t Happy
  14. Woman Of Steel
  15. Lonesome For You (Widower Pt. 1)
  16. Old Joe Clark
  17. Reprise : Hacia El Ocaso 

Album Feature – Blackberry Smoke – Live From Capricorn Sound Studios EP

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Jun 182020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Blackberry Smoke are releasing a Live From Capricorn Sound Studios EP that honors the history of southern rock.  If you’re not familiar with Capricorn Sound Studios, the studio is in Macon, GA and has hosted many of the greatest southern rock bands including but not limited to The Allman Brothers, The Marshall Tucker Band and Wet Willie.  It’s a great companion piece to their planned Spirit Of The South Tour which is scheduled to start next month in St. Louis, MO.  The tour is going to be a celebration of southern rock music with support from The Allman Betts Band, The Wild Feathers and an appearance by original Allman Brothers Band member Jaimoe.  Due to COVID-19, these plans are currently up in the air at the moment.  This release will have to do until we can see the live celebration as it was intended.

The album kicks off with a killer rendition of The Allman Brothers’s hit “Midnight Rider”. A really cool feature with this cover is that Charlie Starr gets to play Duane Allman’s iconic Goldtop Les Paul guitar in this new version.  Another highlight is the band’s cover of The Marshall Tucker Band hit “Take The Highway”.  This track features current Marshall Tucker Band member Marcus Henderson on the flute.  While there have been some good Marshall Tucker Band covers without the flute, you kind of need a flute on the record to truly match the Marshall Tucker Band sound.  I’m glad that we have that here.

Another favorite is “Grits Ain’t Groceries” which was originally done by Little Milton and covered by southern rock act Wet Willie.  I am happy to see Wet Willie featured here as they are often overlooked in the discussion of great southern rock acts.  Another Wet Willie song featured on this album is their track “Keep On Smilin’”.  This track features Wet Willie vocalist Jimmy Hall and it was recorded some 46 years after the original, in the same studio.  If you would like to check out more Wet Willie, my favorite records of theirs tend to be Wet Willie II and Keep On Smilin’.  Finally, this record features a cover of Little Richard’s hit “Southern Child”.  This track along with a few others on the record features backing vocals from The Black Bettys.  It also features Jimmy Hall on the harmonica.  There is lots of great solo work with this one and it is a great tribute to Little Richard who passed away this year at 87.

This EP is a great homage to the history of southern rock.  I’m glad to see a lesser known band like Wet Willie have such a big feature on this album.  The Spirit Of The South tour sounds like an amazing show for fans of Blackberry Smoke and southern rock in general.  I hope it has a chance to happen sooner or later.  You can keep up to date on everything Blackberry Smoke on the band’s website.  The new EP Live From Capricorn Sound Studios is available everywhere June 18th, 2020.

Favorite Tracks : Midnight Rider, Take The Highway, Grits Ain’t Groceries, Southern Child

Blackberry Smoke – Live From Capricorn Sound Studios EP (2020)

  1. Midnight Rider (The Allman Brothers)
  2. Take The Highway ft. Marcus Henderson (The Marshall Tucker Band)
  3. Keep On Smilin’ ft. Jimmy Hall and The Black Bettys (Wet Willie)
  4. Grits Ain’t Groceries ft. The Black Bettys (Little Milton & Wet Willie)
  5. Revival ft. The Black Bettys (The Allman Brothers)
  6. Southern Child ft. The Black Bettys (Little Richard)

Album Feature – Craig Gerdes – Tough As Nails

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Jun 092020
 

By Joshua Wallace

I have been a fan of Craig Gerdes since his 2018 release Smokin, Drinkin and Gamblin.  That record featured some good rockin’ country music with some great songwriting on tracks like “Dead In A Box In Kentucky” and “Red Neck Sonsaabitches”.  His new record Tough As Nails picks up where that one left off with plenty of hot guitar pickin and good country songs.  Let’s take a dive into some of these new tracks.

The title track “Tough As Nails” starts off acoustic with focus on Gerdes’s vocals.  It’s the calm before the storm though as the full track kicks in hard with driving guitar riffs that echo the rocking country sounds of the late 70’s or 80’s.  Be sure to check out the alternate bonus track version with longer jams.  Up next on the album is a cover of the Roger Alan Wade cut “If Guitars Were Guns”.  This song appeared on the 2012 Roger Alan Wade album Southbound Train and it was a favorite of mine off that record too.  Gerdes takes the mostly acoustic Wade track and turns it into a barn burner that honors the spirit of the original while keeping it in the style of this record.  Be sure to check out the extended 7 minutes plus bonus track version of this one also.

Another favorite is “Highwayman” which is an ode to life on the road.  I particularly dig the guitar solo on this track and can imagine it being a longer affair when played live.  The sound changes up a bit on the country blues inspired “The Hard Way” which is about the rougher side of a country singer’s life.  The solo work on this one is a highlight with it’s bluesy sound and great pickin.  The song “Tonight’s Not The Night” is another great rockin honky tonk tune that starts out with a hot guitar riff and doesn’t let go, just like the rest of the album.               

This is a record that will be fun to hear live when live shows start up again.  A lot of these tracks would play well in a live honky tonk setting with a rowdy crowd.  The album has two bonus tracks that are extended versions of album tracks.  I like that these songs get this kind of treatment, however I get the feeling that you could extend most of these songs with longer solos and jams with alternate arrangements.  I can’t wait to see Craig Gerdes live again with some of these songs.  Until then, you can support the band at their website with this link.  Tough As Nails is out everywhere as of April 24th, 2020.

Favorite Tracks : Tough As Nails, If Guitars Were Guns, Highwayman, The Hard Way. Tonight’s Not The Night

Craig Gerdes – Tough As Nails (2020)

  1. Tough As Nails
  2. If Guitars Were Guns
  3. Between The Cradle And The Grave
  4. Pennies, Feathers and Dimes
  5. Highwayman
  6. The Hard Way
  7. Most Times I Lost
  8. That Little Girl
  9. Tonight’s Not The Night
  10. Only The Road Knows
  11. Tough As Nails (Bonus)
  12. If Guitars Were Guns (Bonus)

10 Most Anticipated Country Albums Out This Summer

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May 262020
 

By Joshua Wallace

As uncertainty becomes more and more a part of the new normal, it’s good to know that we can still count on some great country music albums coming up in the near future.   We’ve got some quality records coming out in 2020 and it’s shaping up to be a big release year.  COVID-19 has changed up the release schedule a bit, however, I have included albums with as solid of a release date as I can on this list.  Check out our 10 most anticipated country albums out this summer.

Mike & The Moonpies – Touch of You – The Lost Songs of Gary Stewart – May 28th

Mike and The Moonpies just announced this release last week.  It’s a collection of unreleased songs written by Gary Stewart and as soon as I heard about this record, it jumped to the top of my list.  The Moonpies are one of the best honky tonk bands around and I’m looking forward to what they can do with some lost Gary Stewart songs.  It’s a good thing we only have to wait a couple of days for this one.  It comes out Thursday May 28th.  This album is only available digitally at first, with physical items to come in the future.

 

 

Jaime Wyatt – Neon Cross – May 29th

Shooter Jennings has been on a tear lately as a producer and this new Jaime Wyatt album is looking to be no different.  This album features guest appearances by Shooter Jennings himself and his mother Jessi Colter.  I was a big fan of her 2017 album Felony Blues and cannot wait to see what she has as a follow up.  This one is out in a couple of days on May 29th.

 

John Baumann – Country Shade – June 5th

I first discovered John Baumann with his 2017 album Proving Grounds.  I was a huge fan of tracks like “Lonely In Bars” and “The Trouble With Drinking”.  Baumann was also a part of the Texas country super group The Panhandlers who released one of my favorite albums of 2020 so far.  I’m really looking forward to this solo record and if songs like “Next Ride Around The Sun” and “The Country Doesn’t Sound The Same” are any indication, Baumann has another big record here.  I’m looking forward to this one out in early June.

 

Hellbound Glory – Pure Scum – June 5th

I have been a fan of Hellbound Glory for a long time.  Their last album Pinball was a big favorite here at Gary Hayes Country and it sounds like Pure Scum will be the same.  Shooter Jennings is producing this record (his second on this list).  If singles like “Dial 9-1-1” and “Ragged But Alright” are any indication, this record will be high on our year end Top 50 lists.  This one is out in June.

 

Bryan James – Politics or Religion – June 11th

I first became a fan of Bryan James with his 2017 record “Between The Devil and The Angel”.  This album featured a pure country sound and had many great songs across it’s 19 tracks.  Fast forward to 2020 and we have his highly anticipated follow-up album Politics Or Religion coming up in June.  Check out a preview of the album here.

 

Kyle Nix – Lightning on the Mountain & Other Short Stories – June 26th

When I heard Kyle Nix of the Turnpike Troubadours was going solo, I knew this would be a good one even before I heard the first single.  If that’s not enough, when you hear that members of Turnpike Troubadours serve as his backing band, then you know this will be a good one.  That was all confirmed when “Lightning On The Mountain” was released as the first single.  Now I can’t wait for the end of June for this record to come out.

 

Kyle Keller – All It Does Is Rain – June 27th

I have been a fan of Kyle Keller for a while.  His 2017 EP was a collection of raw and real acoustic tracks.  You can expect more sparse instrumentation here on All It Does Is Rain as the sad songs and stories are at the forefront of Kyle Keller’s music.  If you’re a fan of good songwriting and slow acoustic sad country and folk songs, this album is for you.  Look for it everywhere you can stream music on June 27th.  I have also heard we might be getting a single released from this one soon.

 

Joshua Ray Walker – Glad You Made It – July 10th

Joshua Ray Walker blew me away with his 2019 debut album Wish You Were Here.  He’s got an amazing voice and great songwriting skills to match.  Earlier this year he released a new song called “Voices” that allows him to stretch his vocal chords out even further.  I can’t wait to hear this entire album and we will be able to in early July.

 

S.G. Goodman – Old Time Feeling – July 17th

I first came across the music of S.G. Goodman through Spotify’s Indigo playlist.  I was immediately drawn in by her voice which is very raw and unique.  Her music comes across like a mix of Kentucky influences and a blend of rocking Mississippi delta blues.  I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the album as her early release singles have been very solid.  This one is out in July.

 

The Texas Gentlemen – Floor It!!! – July 17th

Finally, we have a new record from the Texas country funk outfit The Texas Gentlemen.  You have most likely heard The Texas Gentlemen serving as Paul Cauthen’s backing band on his albums like his 2019 release Room 41.  They also have a previous album out called TX Jelly from 2017 that you should check out.  This band is recommended if you like heavy doses of funk in your country.  Check out the single “Bare Maximum” and the album is out in July.

 

 

Be sure to check back here at Gary Hayes Country for coverage on all of these and more great albums coming out soon.

Album Feature – Caleb Caudle – Better Hurry Up

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May 192020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Better Hurry Up is the follow up to Caleb Caudle’s 2018 album Crushed Coins which was a favorite here at Gary Hayes Country.  While that album was more Americana leaning, this album takes Caleb Caudle in a more funky and soulful direction while still keeping things grounded in Americana.  I would go as far as saying that Better Hurry Up is the best Caleb Caudle album yet.  Read on and find out why.

I dig the groove in the title track “Better Hurry Up”.  It sets the stage for a funky and soulful trip throughout this record.  Another favorite is the track “Dirty Curtain”.  It’s a track that takes you down the road of country music’s dark side with plodding drums and haunting pedal steel.  It’s about a place you don’t want to go, but sometimes you have to and you have to encounter life’s more seedy and dangerous elements.  Finally, “Let’s Get” is a catchy and more mellow tune.  I really dig the piano’s groove on this track.  The harmonica is also a nice touch.  This entire album has a nice range that goes from funky to soulful while still keeping things country and Americana and I dig it.

This truly is the best Caleb Caudle album yet.  I cannot wait for the day when I can hear some of this album with a full band.  I was going to potentially catch him live in Macon, GA last month but everything suddenly changed.  This record came out April 3rd, 2020.  Check it out and you can find out everything Caleb is up to at his website.

Favorite Tracks : Better Hurry Up, Dirty Curtain, Let’s Get, Monte Carlo, Reach Down

Caleb Caudle – Better Hurry Up (2020)

  1. Better Hurry Up
  2. Call It A Day
  3. Regular Riot
  4. Dirty Curtain
  5. Let’s Get
  6. Monte Carlo
  7. Feelin Free
  8. Reach Down
  9. Front Porch
  10. Wait A Minute
  11. Bigger Oceans

Album Feature – Ashley McBryde – Never Will

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May 192020
 

By Joshua Wallace

I have been a big fan of Ashley McBryde ever since her hit song “A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega” came across my radar way back in 2017. 3 years later we’re getting the follow up to the 2018 album that contained that song with her new record titled Never Will.  This album continues where Girl Going Nowhere left off with a mix of solid country gold and 90’s country influenced tracks.  This album is sure to be a favorite and will likely land at the top of many country fan’s album charts when 2020 is all said and done.

The first song anyone heard from this record was “One Night Standards.” It’s a great track with a smooth sound meant for the radio.  It’s an interesting twist on classic cheating songs that you don’t often hear these days.  Another interesting track is “Shut Up Sheila”.  It’s a very simple guitar track with some interesting percussion in the background.  It’s a song about not letting go of who you are, even in the toughest of times.  I dig the rock riff that comes in in the final third of the song.  Another great song is “First Thing I Reach For”.  From the awesome opening riff, you know this is a great country track.  I love the pedal steel throughout this one.  It’s all about how we keep going back to the things that we shouldn’t, especially in relationships.

My favorite track on this record comes in the revenge murder ballad “Martha Divine”.  It’s a great story telling song with a classic rock and 90’s country inspired sound.  You don’t always hear murder ballads that are this dance-able.  I love how the title track of both of Ashley McBryde’s major label albums have been about how she has denied critics throughout her career.  This song in particular is about not selling out to get where she is and how she “Never Will”.  Finally, the last song on the record is a fun and different kind of song to end the album on.  It’s the only song she didn’t write on the album and it is written by Randall Clay.  It’s a funky song and she kind of raps the verses but it works because it is a bit of a silly tribute to “Styrofoam”.

This album is the perfect follow-up to Ashley’s great 2018 album Girl Going Nowhere.  It features the same classic country mixed with 90’s country and classic rock sound.There is some good songwriting here and I love how she tells a story that can center around a place, an object or a person.  I can’t wait to hear some of these songs live and see what is next for Ashley McBryde.  Never Will is out everywhere as of April 3rd, 2020.  You can support Ashley McBryde and find out everything she is up to on her website.    

Favorite Tracks : One Night Standards, Shut Up Sheila, First Thing I Reach For, Martha Divine, Velvet Red, Never Will, Styrofoam

Ashley McBryde – Never Will (2020)

  1. Hang In There Girl
  2. One Night Standards
  3. Shut Up Sheila
  4. First Thing I Reach For
  5. Voodoo Doll
  6. Sparrow
  7. Martha Divine
  8. Velvet Red
  9. Stone
  10. Never Will
  11. Styrofoam

Album Feature – Jessi Alexander – Decatur County Red

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Apr 022020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Decatur County Red is Jessi Alexander’s third record following her 2014 album titled Down Home.  This is actually my first time listening to Jessi Alexander and you might be saying the same thing as it has been six years since her last album.  However you possibly know her music as she has written several songs that have been both great deep cuts on mainstream albums and country radio hits.  She has written songs for the likes of Dierks Bentley, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton and even newer artists like Travis Denning. While she has written for a good list of top country radio names, this record is more in the traditional country realm and it has a really good sound in that respect.  Let’s take a dive through some of the cuts on this album.

First up is the first single from the album titled “Mama Drank”.  This is a great songwriters song that makes great use of setting and character to tell a story.  The song has a bit of fun with the subject and I dig the low key electric guitar riff on this track.  The next track is a song that originally appeared on a Tim McGraw album by the same name called “Damn Country Music”.  I wanted more from McGraw’s cut of the song when I heard it and Jessi Alexander has delivered what I was hoping for here.  The McGraw cut of the song sounded like something was lost in translation. However, you feel it here and Alexander’s cut has the solid country gold sound you would want from a song called “Damn Country Music.”

The album isn’t afraid to have fun either.  The cut “Country Music Made Me Do It” featuring Randy Houser is a fun tongue in cheek duet about the influence of country music on good or bad decisions.  It’s a fun and dance-able track that is fun to throw on during your living room quarantine dance parties. Finally, the song “Lonely Out Of Me” is a great vocal performance from Jessi and it’s a slower track that takes you back to classic country songs of the 60’s and 70’s.

This entire record is solid country gold and at only eight tracks you only get the good stuff.  Jessi Alexander’s career up to this point may be defined by the songs she has written for others, but this is a top notch record that deserves to stand on its own.  I hope that I get to see her live at some point in the future. In the meantime, you can check out her website and social media to find ways to support her during these crazy times.  Decatur County Red is out everywhere as of March 27th, 2020.         

Favorite Tracks : Mama Drank, Damn Country Music, Country Music Made Me Do It, Lonely Out Of Me, How I’m Going Out

 

Jessi Alexander – Decatur County Red (2020)

  1. Decatur County Red Feat. Johnathan Singleton
  2. Mama Drank
  3. Damn Country Music
  4. I Should Probably Go Now
  5. My Problem Is You
  6. Country Music Made Me Do It Feat. Randy Houser
  7. Lonely Out Of Me
  8. How I’m Going Out

Album Feature – Porter Union – Loved & Lost

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Mar 242020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Porter Union are husband and wife duo Cole and Kendra Porter.  We were a big fan of their 2017 debut self titled record here at Gary Hayes Country and this new record Loved & Lost is no different.  This album continues the strong traditional country sound that recalls some of the great duo records of the 70’s and 80’s. There is an honesty and real quality to the songwriting you’ll find with their ST debut and Loved & Lost that cannot be found in many of today’s albums.  Loved & Lost is a more upbeat affair overall and I really dig a lot of the performances on this record.

The album has a fun opener in “We Got It Right” and this song really gives you that classic country duet feel.  It’s all about how they’ve both got things wrong before so many times they know when something is right. It’s a fun and upbeat country jam with two amazing performances.  Another favorite performance on this album is “River”. Cole Porter is great on this track about the typical southern small town that has seen better days. Kendra has a similarly great moment with “Laundry”.  It’s a stripped down track about a woman discovering her significant other is cheating on her by doing the laundry. The song is clever in that it takes a lot of common relationship issues about a woman doing everything and not feeling appreciated at the same time and she makes a discovery that changes everything.  Finally, “Curb Appeal” features a guest vocalist in Kayla Ray on a fun song about how things aren’t always how they seem. I particularly love the pedal steel solo on this track.

While their debut album featured slower tracks, this new record Loved & Lost finds Porter Union picking things up with more upbeat songs.  I love that this duo is switching things up on this record. If you wish to support Porter Union, you can find their website here and buy merchandise directly from them.  Loved & Lost is available everywhere as of March 06th, 2020.

Favorite Tracks : We Got It Right, River, Pennies, Laundry, Curb Appeal, Where Are You

Porter Union – Loved & Lost (2020)

  1. We Got It Right
  2. Loved & Lost
  3. Leave As Lovers
  4. To Have and To Hold
  5. That’s The Spirit
  6. River
  7. Pennies
  8. I’ve Got You Covered
  9. Banded Together
  10. Laundry
  11. Curb Appeal (feat. Kayla Ray)
  12. Looking For Love
  13. Where Are You

Album Feature – The Panhandlers – The Panhandlers

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Mar 232020
 

By Joshua Wallace

The Panhandlers are a Texas country super group featuring William Clark Green, Josh Abbott, John Baumann and the front man of Flatland Cavalry Cleto Cordero.  This project was produced by Bruce Robinson and it marks the first outing of this mega collection of Texas and Red Dirt country singers. This album was cut live straight to analog and done in a very lo-fi fashion so the production values might not be what you’d expect, but it is a very good record with lots of great performances. Whether you’re a fan of these four singers or not, you’ll find something to like here.

The album kicks off with “West Texas In My Eye” which is a love letter to west Texas where these singers are from.  All four of the singers trade verses on a track written by west Texas songwriter Charlie Stout. It’s a great mellow start to the record and I dig the pedal steel here on this one.  The title track “The Panhandler” is another great track that tells the tale of a panhandler. The banjo that rings throughout this track makes it a great upbeat number. I also love the harmonies on the chorus for this one.  Finally, “This Is My Life” is an ode to the life on the road that these four singers live year round. It’s extra special because of everything going on in the world right now that is preventing these singers from living the life they describe in this song.  I particularly love the final verse where Josh Abbott goes through and talks about all 4 of the singers on the record including himself.

The Panhandlers has been one of our most anticipated records of 2020 and it lives up to the hype.  The lo-fi straight to analog production gives the album a live in the studio feel and these four singers live up to their billing of being a part of a Texas country super group.  Time will tell if this ends up being a side project for these four or something they revisit from time to time. I hope I get the chance to see this band live as it seems like it would be a fun show.  Check out The Panhandler’s website for ways you can support the band by buying merch straight from the band. The Panhandlers is out everywhere as of March 06th, 2020.

Favorite Tracks : West Texas In My Eye, No Handle, West Texas Girl, The Panhandler,  This Is My Life

The Panhandlers – The Panhandlers (2020)

  1. West Texas In My Eye
  2. This Flatland Life
  3. No Handle
  4. Panhandle Slim
  5. West Texas Girl
  6. The Panhandler
  7. Lonesome Heart
  8. The Panhandler
  9. This Is My Life
  10. Caprockin’

Album Feature – Sadler Vaden – Anybody Out There?

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Mar 162020
 

By Joshua Wallace

You might know Sadler Vaden as the guitar player for Jason Isbell’s band The 400 Unit.  You might even know him as a former member of Drivin’ N Cryin’. However you know his music, you should check out his solo work.  His latest album is titled Anybody Out There? and it’s a follow up to his self titled 2016 debut. This record is actually my first exposure to his music as a solo artist and I’m digging it.  He reminds me a lot of Tom Petty and the country leaning rock sound that he often brought. He also brings the same thought provoking lyrics that Petty often brought to the table. However you are familiar with Sadler Vaden, this is one record you should check out.

The opening riff to “Next To You” kicks off like a long lost Tom Petty B-side.  It’s a fun classic American rock song that gets you pumped for the rest of the album.  The second track “Don’t Worry” slows things down a bit. I love the smooth guitar work that is a direct contrast to the opener.  I love the line “Honey, wake up and see the dawn / ‘Cause that amber sky, it don’t last long”. It’s a song about taking time to appreciate the small things and not letting stuff bog you down.  It’s a great track that is an example of simple songwriting you don’t see much these days.  

The title track “Anybody Out There” has a bit of a trippy vibe to it.  The song starts off with some drums that have some spacey effects to them before settling into a great rock rift.  The track “Peace + Harmony” opens with more great riff work and it settles into a groove that is smooth and rocking at the same time.  “Be Here, Right Now” is a smooth slow track with some nice slide guitar throughout. This one adds to the country/folk vibe on the album and it’s about getting away and being here, right now.  The solo reminds me of something out of Tom Petty’s playbook.

This whole record has cool vibes all over it.  If you’re missing the brand of country-ish and southern fried rock n roll that Tom Petty used to bring to the table, this album from Sadler Vaden hits the spot.  This is where I would normally tell you how to find tour dates, but with everything up in the air on that front, I will direct you to Sadler Vaden’s merch store where you can buy this record and other items.  Anybody Out There? is available everywhere as of March 06th, 2020.

Favorite Tracks : Next To You, Don’t Worry, Golden Child, Modern Times, Peace + Harmony, Be Here, Right Now


Sadler Vaden – Anybody Out There? (2020)

  1. Next To You
  2. Don’t Worry
  3. Golden Child
  4. Anybody Out There?
  5. Curtain Call
  6. Modern Times
  7. Peace + Harmony
  8. Good Man
  9. Be Here, Right Now
  10. Tried And True

Album Feature – Brandy Clark – Your Life Is A Record

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Mar 092020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Brandy Clark has returned with the follow up to her 2016 release Big Day In A Small Town.  This album is titled Your Life Is A Record and thematically it’s about endings and beginnings.  Overall, it’s a slower record than her previous album with more somber moments although there are some upbeat breakup songs on this record as well.  Brandy Clark is a great songwriter and her ability to tell stories shines through on this one. Here are a few of my favorites.

The album kicks off with “I’ll Be The Sad Song”.  This is kind of the title track in that it’s about if a life is a record, the break-ups and sad times brought by the narrator provide the sad songs.  It’s a great tune that really sets the vibe for this record. The album does have some more upbeat numbers throughout, though still not upbeat lyrically. “Long Walk” is probably my favorite song here and it’s a great lyrical turn with “take a long walk / off a real short pier / take a cinder block with you as a souvenir”.  It’s a great infectious revenge / break-up song that gets stuck in your head easily.

Another favorite is a great story song in “Pawn Shop”.  It’s a song about a wedding ring and how it ended up in a pawn shop.  It’s a great tune centered around the emotions that go along with it all.  On a similar note is “Bad Car” and it plays into the sentiments of things we keep around because they’re familiar even if we know they’re long past their prime and in need of an update.  Finally, “Can We Be Strangers” is another break up song acknowledging that a bad relationship is probably best if the two parties never even met. It goes through all of the emotions of a bad relationship turning worse until you just don’t want to know a person anymore.  You don’t even want to miss them.

This record further cements Brandy Clark as an amazing story telling songwriter.  She does what she sets out to do with every song. Whether it’s telling a story, evoking an emotion or taking you to another time and place, she is a master songwriter.  If you have been a fan of 12 Stories, Big Day In A Small Town or anything else she has done, you’ll be a fan of this. Be sure to check out her website for tour dates and this record is out everywhere as of Friday, March 06th, 2020.

Favorite Tracks : I’ll Be The Sad Song, Long Walk, Pawn Shop, Bad Car, Who Broke Whose Heart, Can We Be Strangers

Brandy Clark – Your Life Is A Record (2020)

  1. I”ll Be The Sad Song
  2. Long Walk
  3. Love Is A Fire
  4. Pawn Shop
  5. Who You Thought I Was
  6. Apologies
  7. Bigger Boat (Feat. Randy Newman)
  8. Bad Car
  9. Who Broke Whose Heart
  10. Can We Be Strangers
  11. The Past Is The Past

Brent Cobb Pulls Double Duty With Acoustic Shows In Atlanta, GA

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Mar 022020
 

By Joshua Wallace
Photography By Joshua Wallace

I had the chance to catch Brent Cobb’s A Night Of Fine Acoustic Country Music Tour this past Wednesday night February 26th, 2020 in Atlanta, GA at Terminal West.  Brent Cobb actually had two shows this evening due to the initial show selling out quickly. These were duo shows featuring Brent on acoustic guitar and his regular guitar player Mike Harris on electric.  It was set up like the two were on their own front porch picking songs and hanging out with a few hundred friends. The opening act for this tour is Maddie Medley. I didn’t have much experience with her music before the show.  She only has one song out on Spotify with the promise of more to come soon. She played the same set both shows so I will cover her music once.

Maddie Medley was a solo act for these shows with an electric guitar.  Her voice is deep and rich and her songs are very personal. A stand out was “Edith” which she says is about if she has a daughter.  She sings about the things she would teach her future daughter about and how she would raise her in this world. The song she ended with was “Coming Of Age” which is the song you can hear on Spotify.  It’s a bit more upbeat than the rest of her set, but still a very personal song that looks inward. I hope to be able to hear more of her music in the near future.

Brent Cobb’s set began shortly after Maddie Medley’s set and you could tell it was going to be a fun evening from the start.  It was a very loose affair and the first show of the evening even had no set list. He kicked things off with a brand new song called “Keep ‘Em On Their Toes” which you can hear a snippet of in a video from the recording sessions of his next album on Twitter.  From there he got into a couple of songs from his last new album with “Mornin’s Gonna Come” and “Sucker For A Good Time”. Mike Harris was a great accompaniment for this set as he made the smooth songs still slow and smooth and the rocking songs still rocked out.  I particularly enjoyed hearing “Solving Problems” in this setting and the story that went along with it. Brent did another new song called “Shut Up And Sing” which I got a video of. It’s got a great message to it and I hope lots of folks hear it. After a rousing rendition of “Digging Holes”, Brent got a request from the crowd for “Old Shit” which is a song he wrote that Miranda Lambert recorded.  It was great hearing his version of this song and it’s refreshing to see an artist take requests in a setting like this as long as the audience is respectful about it.

I particularly enjoyed this version of “Providence Canyon” stripped back.  It was very smooth and laid back. We got another new song in “Soapbox” in the first set.  Brent does have a new album coming out in the fall and after hearing these new songs live, I’m particularly looking forward to having them on a record.  We got a version of “Black Crow” from the No Place Left To Leave album and it’s cool hearing those older songs live some 14 years after they were initially released.  From there, we got a cool instrumental segway into “Let The Rain Come Down” which was eventually recorded by The Steel Woods. I’m torn on which version I prefer, but Cobb’s acoustic version is great here.  A highlight of the early show was Brent Cobb doing a rendition of Tenacious D’s “Tribute” into “Down In The Gulley” when it got to the part in “Tribute” where you have to play the best song in the world. It was a great off the cuff moment that is what fans come to these stripped back acoustic shows for.

When it came time for the second show, those who were staying for both had to go back outside and come back in with the new crowd of people who were not here for the first.  Maddie Medley performed essentially the same set as she did the first time around so I won’t rehash that. Brent Cobb however performed a different set with a few duplicate songs but an almost entirely different order.

Brent started things off with another new song which I think was called “Ain’t That Enough” before going into one of my favorites from the Shine On Rainy Day album called “Traveling Poor Boy”.  There was also a rendition of “Come Home Soon” from Providence Canyon in the second set that was nice to hear here. There was another new song in this set called “The World Is Ending”. This was my personal highlight of the night.  Sometimes you hear a brand new song live and it just floors you. I’ve had that experience a few times with different artists and I cannot wait to hear this one on the album and for everyone else to hear it. From there, an audience member surprised Brent with a song he said no one requests from the Providence Canyon album called “Lorene”.  I was happy to hear this one live as it’s been a recent favorite of mine and it should be a regular part of the set list, especially on a stripped down acoustic set like this.

I can’t say enough about Brent having Mike Harris on guitar for these shows.  He adds another element to the sound that makes these more than just your regular acoustic sets.  This is especially apparent in heavier songs like “High In The Country” and “.30-06”. Mike Harris got to rock out on these numbers with extended solos and killer riffs that kept these songs rocking but still stripped down from what you would normally get in a full band setting.  The night ended with Brent Cobb starting up “Richland” from No Place Left To Leave before changing up to the slower, appropriate closer of “South Of Atlanta”. I was happy to finally get to hear this one as it’s one of my favorite Brent Cobb songs from any of his records.

I highly recommend going to this tour if it comes near you.  Brent Cobb is a great performer and entertainer in this unique setting.  The tour is set up like two guys picking on their front porch in front of a few hundred friends and it comes off like that.  You get to know Brent between the songs and get to know a little about the songs that you might not hear otherwise. If for some reason you can’t make it out to this tour, there is apparently a new record coming in the Fall for folks like me who can’t get enough Brent Cobb.  I’m already looking forward to the next time I get to see Brent Cobb live because it’s a good show whether it’s stripped back or full band.  Be sure to scroll down to the bottom and get the dates for the rest of this tour.  You can also check Brent’s website for the most up to date tour information.

 

Railbird Festival Announces Their 2020 Lineup

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Feb 192020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Railbird Festival has announced their 2020 lineup and it’s a good one.  This event takes place at The Grounds at Keeneland in Lexington, KY from August 22nd – 23rd.  Tickets for this stacked lineup go on sale Friday at 10AM EST.

Check out http://www.railbirdfest.com for more information.

Here are some highlight videos.  There are great artists on this lineup from top to bottom.

 

Album Feature – Aubrie Sellers – Far From Home

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Feb 172020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Aubrie Sellers is back with the follow up to her 2016 debut record called New City Blues.  This new record is called Far From Home and it amps up the garage country style Aubrie introduced in her debut.  It goes into more space rock and psychedelic country and fleshes out the style she started with on her debut. I particularly dig this brand of country music and this album has quickly become my favorite of 2020 so far.

The album kicks off with the title track which is a spacey ballad about how we wander aimlessly into loneliness.  The melody is the kind of thing you’d normally hear with a fiddle and smooth guitar playing in the background, or in some cases A Capella.  However, I really dig the spacey guitar sounds as it creates a feeling of loneliness that echoes the sentiment of the track. Up next is “My Love Will Not Change” which features Steve Earle on a banger of a track that would see lots of radio play if things were right in the current landscape of country music.  It has a groovy fuzzy guitar riff and a foot stomping back beat. Steve Earle is a nice feature on the track as trades lines with Aubrie on the second verse. Definitely check this one out when you get a chance.

One of my personal favorites on this album is the track “Glad”.  It leans into the fuzzy country rock vibe with heavily distorted guitars and a thick groove that screams cool.  It’s a catchy revenge song where Aubrie is glad that an ex broke her heart. The thick riffs and groovy back-beat make for a really good dance-able track with this one.  “Troublemaker” leans further into the fuzzy space rock country sound Aubrie is creating on this record. This track has my favorite riff on the album and that creates a fun vibe especially when paired with over cuts like “Glad”.  I particularly dig the psychedelic solo work on here and I love the transition back into the next verse. I can’t wait to hear that live. Finally, “Under The Sun” is a great smooth ballad in the later half of the album. It’s still somewhat spacey guitar rock that leans into pop rock and country rock territory.  This is another song that should get lots of radio play from this album. I particularly dig the hook in this one and it still has the smooth groovy vibe you get in the rest of the album.

Aubrie Sellers has released a sophomore LP that improves every bit on her debut release which was already a great album in itself.  Here, she’s further defining her brand of “garage country” by leaning further into the elements of that sound that made her first album special.  This has me looking forward to seeing her band live. I think I will get that chance very soon as she just announced a co-headlining tour with Lillie Mae which kicks off very soon.  You can find more info on that at her website. Far From Home is available everywhere as of Friday February 7th, 2020.

Favorite Tracks : Far From Home, My Love Will Not Change, Drag You Down, Glad, Troublemaker,  Under The Sun, One Town’s Trash

Aubrie Sellers – Far From Home (2020)

  1. Far From Home
  2. My Love Will Not Change feat. Steve Earle
  3. Lucky Charm
  4. Worried Mind
  5. Drag You Down
  6. Going Places
  7. Glad
  8. Haven’t Even Kissed Me Yet
  9. Troublemaker
  10. Run
  11. Under The Sun
  12. One’s Own Trash

Album Feature – The Cadillac Three – Country Fuzz

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Feb 102020
 

By Joshua Wallace

I have been a fan of The Cadillac Three for a while.  They bring a sound similar to ZZ Top but with modern aesthetics which bring that sound forward.  They always have a mix of rocking numbers and smoother songs meant for country radio. This album is much heavier on the fuzzy rock tunes as the title implies.  For those who are not familiar, The Cadillac Three have been around since 2011 and are Jaren Johnston on lead vocals and guitar, Kelby Ray on bass guitar, steel guitar and vocals, Neil Mason on drums and vocals.  Let’s check out some of the good stuff from this record.

The album kicks off with “Bar Round Here” which is a fun rockin number about your local watering hole.  I dig the electric slide guitar solo on this one. You know you’re in for a fun record. The track “Slow Rollin’” is a slower track that brings the heavy fuzz rock sound you would expect from this record.  I dig the groove this track has and it’s sure to be a fan favorite live. “Crackin’ Cold Ones With The Boys” has some fun lyrical turns with the laundry list style of songwriting. It has an infectious hook and some groovy beats that will pull you in much like the rest of this album does.

On a different note, the ballad “Raise Hell” is a song about how hard it is to get to Heaven if you want to raise hell.  This track is a ballad, but it keeps the heavy fuzzy rock aesthetics that run through the album and I dig that in a song like this.  “Jack Daniel’s Heart” is a fun spin on the typical Jack Daniels song. It asks the question who broke Jack Daniel’s heart to make him want to make a whiskey so strong.   The dobro on this track is groovy and infectious. It will have anyone dancing once this one comes on. Finally, we have the heaviest song on the album “Whiskey and Smoke”.  The riffs are heavy and thick with this one and it goes more into stoner rock territory than southern rock. I dig it as there is nothing else really like this in The Cadillac Three catalog.

This is the best record from The Cadillac Three in my opinion and leans stronger on the southern rock heavy sound that makes them unique from other bands on country radio.  If you have slept on this band for any reason, Country Fuzz is a good place to give them another look. This album was out everywhere as of Friday February 7th, 2020.

Favorite Tracks : Bar Round Here, Slow Rollin’, Crackin’ Cold Ones With The Boys, Labels, Raise Hell, Jack Daniel’s Heart, Whiskey and Smoke

The Cadillac Three – Country Fuzz (2020)

  1. Bar Round Here
  2. The Jam
  3. Hard Out Here For A Country Boy feat. Chris Janson, Travis Tritt
  4. Slow Rollin’
  5. All The Makin’s Of A Saturday Night
  6. Crackin’ Cold Ones With The Boys
  7. Labels
  8. Raise Hell
  9. Back Home
  10. Dirt Road Nights
  11. Blue El Camino
  12. Jack Daniel’s Heart
  13. Why Ya Gotta Go Out Like That
  14. Heat
  15. Whiskey and Smoke
  16. Long After Last Call

Album Feature – Brent Cobb – No Place Left To Leave

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Feb 082020
 

By Joshua Wallace

No Place Left To Leave is an important album for Brent Cobb.  It’s also one that the majority of his fan base probably hasn’t heard yet so this is a good re-release.  Brent Cobb released this record in 2006 before he truly hit the national scene with his 2016 album Shine On A Rainy Day.  This record was produced with his cousin Dave Cobb who he had just met at the time. They made the record with Shooter Jenning’s then backing band including Jason “Rowdy” Cope on guitar and Chris Powell on drums.  This album features his first two cuts that were recorded by another artist also. These songs are “Bar, Guitar and a Honky Tonk Crowd” which was recorded by Whiskey Myers and “Hold Me Closely” which was recorded by The Oak Ridge Boys.  He has since gone on to have songs cut by the likes of Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney, Miranda Lambert, The Steel Woods and Lee Anne Womack. This is actually my first time hearing his first album so let’s dig into some of these songs.

The album kicks off with “Richland”.  It’s an upbeat shuffle about the place where Cobb comes from called Elleville, GA.  This is a small town in southwest Georgia and this song is about the life you’d find there.  I really dig the harmonica work throughout the track and you can tell this will be a fun record right from the start.  “Lavenders and Loving Gestures” is another highlight and it’s a wonderful break-up ballad. I really dig the pedal steel guitar throughout the track.  This version of “Bar, Guitar and a Honky Tonk Crowd” plays more like a demo tape than the version Whiskey Myers recorded on their debut album. It’s still a great rocking tune though that plays into the southern rock sound you would find on Cobb’s Providence Canyon album.

“Black Bottle” continues the southern rock sound and it’s a tune that reminds me of some of the 90’s era grunge bands but more acoustic leaning than that era of rock could be.  “Dirt Road In Georgia” is probably my favorite track on this record. This song really captures small town Georgia life better than most others who have tried. I dig the smoothness of this track and I can’t wait to hear a live version of this in the future. “Black Creek” is another smooth ballad on the album that is often a fan favorite.  There is some great acoustic picking and it is a great example of the songwriting you would find on his bigger releases. 

Even back in 2006, Brent Cobb was showing some promising talent. This re-release of his first album shows me that he will be around for a while whether he is doing a singer songwriter style or a low key southern rock style.  You can see Brent Cobb on his acoustic tour if your date isn’t already sold out. I highly recommend seeing him live whether it is acoustic or with his band. You can find out where he will be here. The reissue of No Place Left To Leave is out everywhere as of Friday, February 07th, 2020.

 

Note: The Charlottesville, VA venue has since been upgraded to The Jefferson

Favorite Tracks : Richland, Lavenders and Loving Gestures, Bar, Guitar and a Honky Tonk Crowd, Black Bottle, Dirt Road In Georgia, Black Creek

Brent Cobb – No Place Left To Leave (2020)

  1. Richland
  2. No Place Left To Leave
  3. Butterfly
  4. Lavenders and Loving Gestures
  5. Bar, Guitar and a Honky Tonk Crowd
  6. Don’t Want To Leave
  7. Black Bottle
  8. Dirt Road In Georgia
  9. Black Creek
  10. Hold Me Closely

Album Feature – Possessed By Paul James – As We Go Wandering

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Feb 072020
 

By Joshua Wallace

I have been a fan of Possessed By Paul James for over ten years now.  For those who are not familiar with his music, he is a multi instrumentalist who is a one man band live, but his later records are recorded with a full band.  He plays guitar, fiddle and banjo and is an incredible vocalist. His live shows are truly an experience because you are focused on him as a performer and it draws you in.  This album is a follow up to his 2013 release There Will Be Nights When I Am Lonely. Even though there are seven years apart from these releases, nothing has changed when it comes to the full band sound of Possessed By Paul James’s recorded output.  Let’s take a look at some of my favorite tracks.

I particularly enjoy “In The Dark Of Morning”.  It’s an upbeat acoustic tune with some really good fiddle work.  It’s a song about running back home and particularly enjoy the line about “We’re running home to lovers or we’re running from our graves” which indicates the dual nature of running back home.  You can either be going for good or bad reasons. Another standout is “I’m So Good At Absolutely Nothing”. It’s an awesome banjo tune that’s about accepting failure and facing it head on. “Dance With Me Tonight” starts off with some killer fiddle work on a simple tune about a man approaching a woman and asking her to dance and be with him as he thinks they were once lovers.  The fiddle playing on this tune is great to dance to and I love that about this track.

Possessed By Paul James never disappoints with his albums, however his live show is where you will be blown away as he performs these songs solo with enough power and conviction to match anyone out there.  You can often find PBPJ live at the Muddy Roots music festivals. If you are nowhere near those festivals, you can find his touring schedule at his website. He can’t always tour everywhere though as he is a special education teacher as well as an amazing musician.  As We Go Wandering is out everywhere as of January 31st, 2020.

Favorite Tracks :Come Back In My Mind, In The Dark Of Morning, I’m So Good At Absolutely Nothing, When It Breaks, Dance With Me Tonight, I Didn’t Know You When 

Possessed By Paul James – As We Go Wandering (2020)

  1. Come Back In My Mind
  2. In The Dark Of Morning
  3. Your White Stained Dress
  4. I’m So Good At Absolutely Nothing
  5. I Come From SW Florida
  6. Be At Rest
  7. When It Breaks
  8. Dance With Me Tonight
  9. Don’t Tell Me
  10. I Didn’t Know You When
  11. Asleep With Both Eyes Open
  12. As We Go Wandering

Top 10 2020 Country Music Releases To Look Forward To

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Feb 062020
 

By Joshua Wallace

Feb. 7: Aubrie Sellers, Far From Home

We are big fans of Aubrie Sellers here at Gary Hayes Country.  Her first album New City Blues introduced us to her low fi grungy brand of garage country and we’re looking forward to hearing more.  I particularly dig “Drag You Down” from the pre-release singles.

Feb. 15: Billy Don Burns, The Country Blues

There is a new Billy Don Burns album out this month.  While there is no pre-release single out yet, you can expect this album to be as real as it gets.  A new Billy Don Burns album is always on our most anticipated albums list.  This album includes some updated versions of some classic Billy Don Burns tunes such as “Runnin’ Drugs Out Of Mexico”, “Wild Dogs” and “Stranger”.  “Wild Dogs” was recently covered by Colter Wall and “Stranger” was recently covered by Cody Jinks.  Since there is no pre-release track from this ablum, I will include a link to hear the original version of “Runnin’ Drugs Out Of Mexico” from the Heroes, Friends and Other Troubled Souls album.



March 6: Brandy Clark, Your Life Is a Record

Brandy Clark is quickly becoming one of the top female country artists you should know.  Her new album Your Life Is A Record promises more somber moments as indicated in pre-release tracks “Who You Thought I Was” and “I’ll Be The Sad Song”.



March 6: The Panhandlers, The Panhandlers

I think most of our Texas Red Dirt fans probably already have March 6th circled on their calendars.  That is the release date for the new super-group The Panhandler’s debut self titled album. If you don’t know, this group features the likes of  William Clark Green, Cleto Cordero, Josh Abbott and John Baumann. Check out the track “No Handle” for a preview.



March 27: Lilly Hiatt, Walking Proof

Lilly Hiatt’s 2017 album Trinity Lane was one of our favorites that year and her new record Walking Proof is probably going to continue that streak.  Pre-release tracks “P-Town” and “Brightest Star” showcase a rock forward country sound.

April 3: Ashley McBryde, Never Will

This is a big one.  If “A Little Dive Bar In Dahlonega” did big things for Ashley McBryde, “One Night Standards” and the trilogy of songs that it begins has been even bigger.  I’m particularly a fan of the rocking murder ballad “Martha Divine” which is the middle part of that trilogy. This is one of our most anticipated albums of 2020.

 

April 3: Caleb Caudle, Better Hurry Up

Caleb Caudle is back with a follow up to his 2018 album Crushed Coins.  This record was recorded with a bit of the soul of Johnny Cash at the Cash Cabin.  The title track is out now and I’m really digging the sound he’s taking on with this one.



April 10: John Anderson, Years

One of the biggest surprises early this year was a new single from John Anderson.  Years is an entirely new release produced by mega producer Dan Auerbach. Auerbach was already responsible for one of our favorite 2020 albums with Marcus King’s El Dorado.  Some are comparing this record to Johnny Cash’s American Recordings albums and it could be a similar career revival for John Anderson. Check out the title track everywhere now.

April 18: Whey Jennings, Gypsy Soul

Whey Jennings has a new record coming out this year called Gypsy Soul.  You might have heard of Waylon’s grandson as a touring act performing mostly cover songs and a few originals.  As far as I can tell, this is his first recorded LP and I’m looking forward to hearing the entire record. The title track “Gypsy Soul” is out now and you can get a copy of the album at it’s album release show on April 18th at The Nashville Palace which is one of Whey’s favorite venues to play.

April 24: Whitney Rose, We Still Go To Rodeos

Finally, Whitney Rose has announced the follow up to her amazing 2017 album Rule 62.  This one is titled We Still Go To Rodeos and you can hear the single “Believe Me, Angela” now.  It’s not a typical cheating song in that it’s more about compassion than revenge. This has me looking forward to hearing the entire album in April.

The Inaugural Born And Raised Festival Has A Killer Lineup

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Feb 052020
 

By Joshua Wallace

The inaugural Born And Raised Festival has announced it’s lineup and this one might be worthy of a road trip.  This festival is being held in Pryor, OK at the Rocklahoma Festival site.

Willie Nelson & Family and Hank Williams Jr. will headline a lineup featuring a lot of our favorite country singers.  We have Jamey Johnson, Whiskey Myers, Blackberry Smoke, Margo Price, Shooter Jennings, Paul Cauthen, Mike and The Moonpies, Zach Bryan, Kendell Marvell, Elizabeth Cook and more on this amazing lineup.  I hope they have minimal overlap between sets so folks can get a chance to see everyone they want to here.  You can find out everything you need on the festival’s website.  Tickets start at $89.50 and go on sale February 14th, 2020 at 10 am CT.  This one is sure to sell out with that lineup.  We will have more information here at Gary Hayes Country as it becomes available.

Album Feature – Hayden Haddock – Red Dirt Texas

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Feb 032020
 

By Joshua Wallace

I first came across Hayden Haddock when I heard his track “Honky Tonk On” as a pre-release single for this record.  As a first impression, it was a really good track. It reminded me of a cross between Aaron Watson and Randall King.  Hayden Haddock certainly represents the red dirt sound perfectly. This is actually his second album that I can find. His first release was First Rodeo which was a seven song effort from 2018.  Red Dirt Texas is the name of his new release and it’s a better effort in every way. There is better production across all ten tracks here and a more confident sound. Let’s dig into a few of my favorite tracks.

The album kicks off with the title track, “Red Dirt Texas”.  It’s a great ode to Texas red dirt country and it’s a fun way to kick off the album that lets you know what you’re in for over the next thirty minutes.  “Still Dancin’” is a great country love song and Hayden Haddock gets to showcase his smooth vocals on this track that would fit in nicely on any Aaron Watson record.  “Honky Tonk On” is a good Texas honky tonk track. You can’t really go wrong with this one and it’s a perfect introduction to Haddock’s sound. Finally, “Take You Home” is a song about taking the right one home to mamma, but in a rocking country number.  I dig the guitar work on this track and I’m sure it’s a live favorite.

Red Dirt Texas makes a great first impression to the music of Hayden Haddock.  If you’ve never heard his music, I highly recommend giving it a spin. If you’re out in Texas, Hayden Haddock is playing live all over that state so there are plenty of chances to check him out live there.  If you’re not in Texas, check out this new release and let us know what you think on social media. Red Dirt Texas is out everywhere as of Friday January 31st, 2020.   

Favorite Tracks : Red Dirt Texas, Still Dancin’, Honky Tonk On, Whiskey Did You Miss Me, Take You Home 

Hayden Haddock – Red Dirt Texas (2020)

  1. Red Dirt Texas
  2. Friends Like These
  3. Where You Come In
  4. Better Than It’s Ever Been
  5. Still Dancin’
  6. Honky Tonk On
  7. One By One
  8. Whiskey Did You Miss Me
  9. Take You Home
  10. America