Live Review – Atlanta, GA’s ATLive welcomes Eric Church, Luke Combs and more

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Nov 212019
 

By Joshua Wallace
Photography By Joshua Wallace

This past Sunday November 17th, 2019, I had the opportunity to see Eric Church, Luke Combs, Brothers Osborne and Caylee Hammack live at the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, GA.  This was the second night of the ATLive concert series promoted in Atlanta by Falcons owner Arthur Blank’s AMB Sports and Entertainment. According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution, this night was a sell out with 52,414 fans.  This was one of the biggest crowds I have ever been a part of for a music concert and it was an amazing night of good country music.

Caylee Hammack opened the night.  She was probably the most pop oriented singer of the evening.  She didn’t get a very long set and maybe did 5 songs. She did originals like “Preciatecha” and “Family Tree”.  She also did covers of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and Tom Petty’s “Mary Jane’s Last Dance”. I came out of her set feeling sort of indifferent to her music as she did some good covers, but her originals didn’t really grab me.  I was however, pumped for the rest of the night.

The Brothers Osborne mentioned that this was their last show of the year and they couldn’t have picked a bigger crowd to do it in front of.  The band kicked off their set with “Drank Like Hank” which is one of my favorites off their last studio album. They rely heavily on long jams during their set and John Osborne is one hell of a lead guitar player in that respect.  The longer jams help space out their more pop leaning songs through their set. During the nearly hour long set, they got to songs like “Shoot Me Straight”, “I Don’t Remember Me (Before You)”, “Burning Man” and wrapped it up with “It Ain’t My Fault”.  This last song was a killer jam that I feel like lasted at least past the 15 minute mark. There was an epic keyboard solo followed by John’s longest solo of the night. This song is one of those epic closing songs that will make anyone a fan that sees this live, even if you were on the fence throughout the rest of the set.

Luke Combs was the first double headliner for the night.  He played an hour and fifteen minute set full of hits and songs from his new record that are sure to be hits in the future.  This wasn’t a full set you would get at one of his own concerts, but I feel like we only missed a small portion of his usual set.  He came across very humble on stage and very real. The band kicked the night off with one of my favorite tracks from his first album titled “Honky Tonk Highway”.  He then immediately went into the hits with one of his biggest in “When It Rains It Pours” and you could hear the entire stadium singing along. In fact, it was like this the whole set for Luke Combs.  

Some highlights included the hit song “1, 2, Many” where after the line “So whatcha say we shotgun one?” he actually paused for a bit to shotgun a beer before going back to the song.  He performed “This One’s For You” largely acoustic before the band came back out to finish the song with him. He did one of my favorite tracks off the new record titled “Angels Workin’ Overtime” and I’m sure that one will be a hit at radio.  

Speaking of radio hits, Luke Combs announced that “Even Though I’m Leaving” is his 7th straight number 1 at country music radio.  That is an amazing run for any singer, let alone someone who is only on his second full album. He closed the set out with a Brooks and Dunn cover of “Brand New Man” and “Beer Never Broke My Heart”.  Before playing his final song, he announced that due to a bet with his keyboard player who was from Atlanta, he had to wear an Atlanta Falcons jersey for the final song of the night. Atlanta played his time the Carolina Panthers and beat them soundly earlier that day.  This was the first time I had ever seen Luke Combs live and this set only made me a bigger fan. I can’t wait to see him again but hopefully more up close next time.

The final act of the night was Eric Church.  I had seen him perform previously on the “Holdin’ My Own” tour in 2017 where he performed two sets in one night so I knew we were in for a long evening still.  He kicked the night off at the front of the stage on acoustic guitar doing a rendition of “Drowning Man” from his latest record Desperate Man. Eric Church’s live band brings a heavier rock and roll sound to the proceedings so it’s no surprise that he does things like add a tease of Black Sabbath’s “Sweet Leaf” to the end of “Smoke a Little Smoke”.  He also did an exceptional version of “Creepin’” from his The Chief album with his lead guitar player Jeff Hyde handling the dobro for the song. Before he got to one of his older hits “How Bout’ You”, he discussed playing a smaller venue in Atlanta called Wild Bills and how crazy it was to be at a sold out Mercedes Benz Stadium on this evening. Also, during “How Bout You” he did a full cover of Waylon’s “Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” and a tease of Ram Jam’s “Black Betty” before closing out “How Bout You”. 

He performed one of my favorite songs called “Mr. Misunderstood” largely acoustic before the band joined him again halfway through the song.  It is my strong opinion that Eric Church is at his best in a more intimate acoustic setting. Following that, he kicked off a series of a few of my favorite songs of his.  He did a great tease of an “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” cover. Then he went into a string of songs that included “Cold One”, “Record Year” and “Round Here Buzz”. He did a spot during “Record Year” where he signed vinyl records that fans had around the stage.  He held up each one to the camera, including a vinyl record of Bruce Springsteen’s famous Born In The U.S.A. album which he signed. Before “Homeboy”, one of his guitar players came up front and did an awesome metal interlude with the band that was the heaviest bit of music of the night.  The set also heavily featured the vocal talents of his back-up singer Joanna Cotten. She was featured on the track “Mixed Drinks About Feelings” which features Susan Tedeschi doing a verse on the album cut. We got an amazing dueling guitar solo during the closing moments of a rousing rendition of “Pledge Allegiance To The Hag” that was awesome.  He closed out the night with “These Boots” where he signed a bunch of boots around the stage and one of his most popular songs in “Springsteen” which he says is his ode to a moment and the influence music can have on that moment and the power of a song to take you back to a specific moment in time. I know many people who were at this show will go back to this particular moment in time when they hear any of these songs that were played this night.  He came back out for a one song encore of the Jackson Brown song “The Load-Out” which is a perfect encore song for any band.

This was an amazing night of performances and while no one got to do a full set, it was a full night of great music.  Eric Church and Luke Combs were of course the highlights, but Brothers Osborne was awesome as well. I didn’t really get a chance to hear much of Caylee Hammack with her short set.  Overall, this was a great night and I can’t wait to hear many of these artists again. You can find out a full tour itinerary for all of the artists involved in this show on their respective websites.

Live Review – Ward Davis, Lucero and Cody Jinks in Albany, GA

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Nov 122019
 

By Joshua Wallace
All Photography By Joshua Wallace


Ward Davis

This past Thursday on November 7th, 2019 I had the chance to see Cody Jinks live with Lucero and Ward Davis as opening acts.  I arrived at the Albany Civic Center shortly after 6pm.  That was the time printed on the ticket and on everything on social media, so I assumed it meant doors were at 6pm.  Nope, the show started at 6pm and I could hear Ward Davis already going as I got my ticket at Will Call. I walked into the Civic Center as Ward was playing “Old Wore Out Cowboys” from his 15 Years In A Ten Year Town album.  This song normally features Jamey Johnson and Willie Nelson on the record, but this time we had an early guest appearance from Cody Jinks who graced the stage for a verse in the song. The crowd was still filling in at this point as like me, I assume most people thought the show started at 7pm.


Ward Davis feat. Cody Jinks

Ward Davis put on a good set this evening with tracks like “Get To Work Whiskey” and his cover of “Big River”.  He also got around to “Good and Drunk” which is my favorite track off the Asunder EP he released last year. He rounded out the set on the keys playing tracks like “15 Years In A 10 Year Town”, “I Got You” and a rousing rendition of The Eagles hit “Desperado”.


Ward Davis

Lucero was up next and I admit, I’m not the biggest fan of theirs and I was hoping to get a better feel for the band in a live setting, but it didn’t work out that way this evening.  Between Ward and Cody, they were kind of the odd band in the sound mixing department and I don’t think that worked in their favor. I did pick up on a few songs they played like “On My Way Downtown” which is my favorite track from the 2012 Women and Work album. Ben Nichols did a stripped down version of what I think was “The War” from the 2005 release Nobody’s Darlings.  They also did “Texas & Tennessee” from their 2013 EP of the same name. They also played a newer song called “Hello My Name Is Izzy” which has been released as a single. They finished the set with a track from the 2002 release Tennessee titled “The Last Song”. I hope to be able to catch this band live again soon and catch a full set next time.


Lucero


Ben Nichols

You could tell this crowd is ready for Cody Jinks by the time he hit the stage.  Before we get into Cody’s set, I have to commend whoever was playing music before Cody came on.  They mixed classic country hits with songs from current artists like Paul Cauthen, Alex Williams, Whitey Morgan and others who many in this crowd might not have heard of as Albany, GA is a fairly new market for Jinks.


Cody Jinks

Cody Jinks started right away with music from his new records.  He kicked the set off with “Same Kind Of Crazy As Me” from The Wanting.  This set was heavy on new tunes, but he plays a long enough set list that you still get everything you want.  Speaking of the set list, he is doing something interesting with his set lists as of late. He has lines with two songs listed instead of one.  It seems like these are parts in the set where he has two songs in the same key lined up and can select either one. This is a very cool way of doing things.  It gives the band flexibility to read the room and it potentially gives fans a different experience each night instead of just having the same old set.

Jinks then went on with the title track off the Lifers album and followed that up my personal favorite off that record “Big Last Name”.  More new songs followed with “Tell Em What It’s Like” and “The Wanting”. After those tracks we got into “I’m Not The Devil” which had a special appearance from Ward Davis who sang a verse.  Albany, GA was also the site of the very first live version of “Where Even Angels Fear To Fly”. I really dig this one live and it is quickly becoming a favorite of mine off The Wanting album.


Cody Jinks feat. Ward Davis

We also got another favorite track of mine off The Wanting album with “Which One I Feed”.  I was especially looking forward to this one as it was one of my favorite preview tracks leading up to the albums release.  More new music soon followed with “Ain’t A Train”. This song is huge for the fiddle solo that hits you hard every time it drops in the song.  Well, the live band does not have a fiddle player so Austin “Hot Rod” Tripps grabs a dobro instead. While it’s a good track live, it’s just not the same without that hot fiddle solo.  Jinks mentioned that this is one of his most upbeat setlists he’s ever done before going into one of his biggest tear jerker tracks in “David”. It still hits hard in a live setting.


Cody Jinks and The Tone Deaf Hippies

Another new track followed with “Wounded Mind”.  This isn’t one that I had anticipated hearing live, but it’s a good one.  It’s a very good deep cut from The Wanting. Up next we had “Holy Water” from Lifers and “Think Like You Think” from After The Fire.  There is a bit of irony singing a song like “Think Like You Think” in front of a drunk and rowdy crowd on a Thursday night, but it’s a damn good song live.  “Cast No Stones” was one of the highlights of this night for me. It’s one of my favorite Jinks tracks overall, but this is especially good live as he brings the house lights up for an extended sing-a-long with the crowd.  “Must Be The Whiskey” and “Hippies and Cowboys” closed out the regular set. “Must Be The Whiskey” is a huge fan favorite off the album Lifers and it feels like a hit every time I hear it live. Jinks came out for a two song encore which included the acoustic leaning “The Raven and The Dove” and one of his biggest fan favorite songs “Loud and Heavy”.

This was my third time seeing Cody Jinks live and his show never disappoints.  From seeing him at the Ryman a couple of years ago to this show, he keeps getting better.  He’s upped his showmanship a lot recently. He picks out kids in the crowd and gives them guitar picks and acknowledges signs and interacts with the crowd in a meaningful way.  A lot of independent artists don’t do this level of crowd interaction but it is a must for bigger stages and crowds. Cody Jinks is riding high and the sky’s the limit. He’s always on tour and I can’t wait till the next time I get to see him live.  You can find out if he’s coming to a town near you at this link.

Album Feature – Luke Combs – What You See Is What You Get

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Nov 082019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Luke Combs is on a monster tear through country music history off the heels of his last album titled This One’s For You and it’s deluxe packaging titled This One’s For You Too.  Earlier this year, he released the mega successful EP titled The Prequel. That EP featured the first 5 songs on this new album titled What You See Is What You Get. What You See Is What You Get is finally the follow up to This One’s For You that the world has been waiting for.  Does it live up to the hype? I’m here to tell you that yes, yes it does. If his last album is any indication, Luke Combs has another massive collection of hits on his hands.

The album kicks off with the mega hit “Beer Never Broke My Heart”.  The track kicks off with a quick banjo riff before going into heavy twangy guitars that are often the signature of this album.  It’s a fun track that is both fun to throw on at a party and fun to experience live. Another great single released ahead of this record is “1, 2, Many”.  This is more of a honky tonk drinking song and the chorus is infectious. Brooks & Dunn make a fun cameo near the end of the song. It’s great to hear something like this getting radio play.

The track “Every Little Bit Helps” is a bit of a smoother throwback to 90’s country radio.  This song was released by Luke as an acoustic video back in July and at that time it was a slower acoustic demo.  It’s fun to hear how the song has changed since then with this final version of the track. Another track that got that same early release is “Dear Today” which has an acoustic live version floating around out there.  It starts off like that on the record, but the band slowly creeps into the track and it’s such a smooth tear jerker of a song. This will be a mega hit on country radio before this album cycle is up, it’s that good of a song plus I love the solo on this one.

Another track that fans are looking forward to eagerly is “Does To Me (feat. Eric Church)”. It’s more of a feature than a duet as Eric Church doesn’t come in till the end.  He gets to name drop Don Williams which is cool in my book and it’s a damn good song to boot. “Angels Workin’ Overtime” takes the 90’s country sound and brings into more southern rock territory on a track about being overworked and underpaid. “Nothing Like You” is a ballad about being on the road but missing what you have back home.  It’s a stripped down affair and is one of the softer Luke Combs moments, until you get to the finale of the record. “Better Together” a song dedicated to Luke’s fiance Nicole and it’s just him and his big voice against a piano. This is one of Luke’s better moments on this record and I can’t wait to hear it live.

Luke Combs is on a run like none other in country music and I don’t think he’s stopping any time soon.  What You See Is What You Get picks up where his debut album left off and it’s another collection of hits waiting to happen.  I hope I get to see Luke live sometime in the near future and if I do I will report on it here. The sky’s the limit for Luke Combs right now and it’s only getting crazier from here.  What You See Is What You Get is out everywhere on Friday November 8th, 2019.

Favorite Tracks : Beer Never Broke My Heart, 1, 2, Many, Every Little Bit Helps, Dear Today, Does To Me (feat. Eric Church), Angels Workin’ Overtime, Nothing Like You, Better Together

Luke Combs – What You See Is What You Get (2019)

  1. Beer Never Broke My Heart
  2. Refrigerator Door
  3. Even Though I’m Leaving
  4. Lovin’ On You
  5. Moon Over Mexico
  6. 1, 2, Many (feat. Brooks & Dunn)
  7. Blue Collar Boys
  8. New Every Day
  9. Reasons
  10. Every Little Bit Helps
  11. Dear Today
  12. What You See Is What You Get
  13. Does To Me (feat. Eric Church)
  14. Angels Workin’ Overtime
  15. All Over Again
  16. Nothing Like You
  17. Better Together

Album Feature – Erin Enderlin – Faulkner County

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Nov 052019
 

By Joshua Wallace

If you’re a fan of sad country songs with thick pedal steel, this album is for you.  Erin Enderlin has issued her follow up to 2017’s amazing Whiskeytown Crier with Faulkner County.  This album picks up where that left off with some of the saddest country songs you’ll hear all year.  The pedal steel is thick throughout this record with tracks with Dan Dugmore, Paul Franklin, and Smith Curry handling the instrument throughout the record.  Let’s dig into some of these tracks.

One of my favorites is the track “Whatever Gets You Through The Night”.  I dig the smooth jazz sounds on this one as Erin Enderlin goes through all the different ways you can try to get through a rough night.  I love the way the piano plays with the pedal steel here. If you’re looking for more great piano licks, look no further than “The Queen Of Marina Del Rey”.  It’s a song about a woman trying to make it famous out in L.A. and struggling to do so. It’s a great tune and I dig the guitar solo on this one. One thing to note, there is a track “Till It’s Gone” that repeats from the Whiskeytown Crier album.  It appears to be a re-recorded version of the original with a shorter run time. It’s a good inclusion here though as it does fit with the overall sound of this album.

Who doesn’t love a good trucking song?  “A Man With 18 Wheels” provides just that but from the truck driver’s wife or significant other’s perspective.  I love the line in this one that says “His home away from home is in the house that Peterbilt”. Another favorite is “These Boots”.  This version is listed as the “Full Band Version”. An earlier cut of the track was released as a single in 2018. This version is smoother and the acoustics fit in with the album as a whole better.  Finally, “Old Flames (Can’t Hold A Candle To You)” is a twist on the traditional country music cheating song in that it’s about not cheating. You don’t hear songs like this often enough and I’m happy to hear it here.

This album was released as several EPs throughout the year, but I’m glad to have it as a whole.  The entire package makes sense as you can imagine these songs being about characters living in or being from a small rural county called Faulkner County.  I’ve been a big fan of Erin Enderlin since her 2017 record Whiskeytown Crier and this one doesn’t disappoint. Jim “Moose” Brown & Jamey Johnson returned to produce this new effort and you can definitely hear their influence on the sound here.  If you’re looking for a great traditional country record in 2019, look no further than Erin Enderlin’s Faulkner County which is out November 1st, 2019.

Favorite Tracks : Whatever Gets You Through The Night, The Queen Of Marina Del Rey, A Man With 18 Wheels, These Boots, Old Flames (Can’t Hold A Candle To You)

Erin Enderlin – Faulkner County (2019)

  1. I Can Be Your Whiskey
  2. Whatever Gets You Through The Night
  3. The Queen Of Marina Del Rey
  4. Tonight I Don’t Give A Damn
  5. Use Me Again
  6. Broken
  7. Hell Comin’ Down
  8. A Man With 18 Wheels
  9. Hometown Jersey
  10. Till It’s Gone
  11. These Boots (Full Band Version)
  12. Old Flames (Can’t Hold A Candle To You)
  13. Sweet Emmylou
  14. Run Baby Run

Album Feature – Micky & The Motorcars – Long Time Comin’

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Nov 012019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Alt-country band Micky & The Motorcars have returned with their first studio album since 2014’s Hearts From Above.  If you were a fan of that album, the new record Long Time Comin’ picks up where that left off with guitar heavy red dirt music with an alt country flare.  Micky and Gary Braun are still the centerpieces of this band, however Gary takes more time up front writing half the songs and singing them. Let’s take a look at some of the tracks you’ll find on the album.

One of the preview singles is the opening track “Road To You”.  It’s a cleverly written road song with a driving rhythm perfect for any road trip playlist.  It’s worth noting that Courtney Patton shares a co-write here with Micky. It’s a great opener to reassure long time fans that the band hasn’t changed anything.  Another favorite is “Lions Of Kandahar” which evokes middle eastern vibes in a track that describes a deployment in the middle east. It’s a first person story song that really showcases Gary’s songwriting ability.  I particularly love the last verse which addresses the PTSD soldiers experience after coming home from war.

The track “Thank My Mother’s God” was written by Micky and Jeff Crosby.  It’s a good tune that pays tribute to mothers and their devotion. I particularly love the line “Throw your heart in the river and hope it sees the ocean someday”.  Finally, the track “Stranger Tonight” is another rocking track that is that is about the search for comfort, even if it’s not in love. I love the grungy guitars throughout this track and it really highlights the alt country rocking part of their sound.

Micky & The Motorcars haven’t missed a beat since their last studio album 4 years ago.  If anything the band has improved with Gary taking more of an up front role on this album sharing those duties with his brother Micky.  I hope to see the band live at some point if they ever make it to the southeast. In the meantime, Long Time Comin’ is out everywhere you can find good music on Friday November 1st, 2019.

Favorite Tracks : Road To You, Lions Of Kandahar, Thank My Mother’s God, Stranger Tonight,

Micky & The Motorcars – Long Time Comin’ (2019)

  1. Road To You
  2. Rodeo Girl
  3. Alone Again Tonight
  4. Lions Of Kandahar
  5. All Looks The Same
  6. Thank My Mother’s God
  7. Break My Heart
  8. Run Into You
  9. Stranger Tonight
  10. Hold This Town Together
  11. Long Time Comin’

Album Feature – Stoney LaRue – Onward

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Nov 012019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Red Dirt country legend Stoney LaRue has returned with another studio album in Onward.  It is his first studio release since his 2016 covers album Us Time and his first album of original tunes since 2014’s Aviator.  I was a big fan of Aviator and I’ve been looking forward to another album of Stoney LaRue tunes. This new record Onward does not disappoint, so let’s get straight into some of these tracks.

“Hill Country Boogaloo” was one of the album’s pre-release singles and it’s a barn burner.  It’s a killer rocking track that takes you to a groovy honky tonk and it’s bound to be a live crowd favorite.  Another highlight is the Gary Nicholson cover of “Falling and Flying”. I’ve always been a fan of this song and this version does not disappoint.  “Evil Angel” might be my favorite track on the record. It keeps the funk of “Hill Country Boogaloo” while adding a hint of southern gospel to the mix.  The album rounds out with a duet version of Brandon Jenkins track “High Time” in tribute to the red dirt legend who passed away last year. It’s a nice tribute to a singer who left us way too soon.

Stoney LaRue does not disappoint with this new record Onward.  I only hope we don’t have to wait another 4 years for the next batch of new original tunes.  If you need some red dirt in your playlist this year, this album hits the spot. It has features from the likes of Brandon Jenkins and Tanya Tucker rounding out the album.  Once again, I highly recommend checking this out. It is out everywhere Friday November 1st, 2019.

Favorite Tracks : Hill Country Boogaloo, Falling And Flying, Evil Angel, Worry Be Gone, Let’s Chase Each Other Round The Room, Thought You’d Want To Know


Stoney LaRue – Onward (2019)

  1. You Oughta Know Me By Now
  2. Hill Country Boogaloo
  3. Falling And Flying
  4. Not One Moment
  5. Meet In The Middle feat. Tanya Tucker
  6. Message In A Bottle
  7. Evil Angel
  8. Drowning In Moonlight
  9. Worry Be Gone
  10. I Can’t Help You Say Goodbye
  11. Let’s Chase Each Other Round The Room
  12. Thought You’d Want To Know
  13. High Time feat. Brandon Jenkins

Double Album Feature – Cody Jinks – After The Fire / The Wanting

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Oct 102019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Cody Jinks is back with his follow up to 2018’s Lifers release.  This time around he’s releasing 2 different albums a week a part.  This is a different strategy from the typical double album release most artists would do with this kind of output.  However, I feel like these two albums stand out on their own. Each record has its own loose lyrical theme with After The Fire focusing on the aftermath of events and The Wanting focusing on opposites like light vs dark and good vs evil.  Jinks worked with some of his common co-writers on these albums. Names fans will be familiar with like Josh Morningstar, Ward Davis, Tennessee Jet and Paul Cauthen are all here. There really isn’t a bad track on either of these albums, but here are a few of my favorites.

After The Fire

This album kicks off with the title track “After The Fire”.  It describes the lows of a man who lost it all and the thing that potentially saves him in the end.  It’s a perfect introduction to the theme of this album which appears to be touching on the aftermath of certain events through one’s life.  I love the great pedal steel work on this one. “Yesterday Again” continues the theme with a song taking place after a breakup. Jinks is looking back and wanting to do “yesterday again” and hoping for the best the second time around.  It’s a great piece of songwriting and a track that will resonate with a lot of listeners.

Up next is the song “Think Like You Think”.  This track originally appeared on one of Cody’s early albums called Collector’s Item.  These are no longer in production, so this remake of the song is putting the track back out there.  It’s a great tune that follows a character after a drunken bender and his wife gets onto him because his actions do not follow his beliefs.  I love the message here and the play of light vs dark and good vs evil with this very sobering song.  

Another amazing song on this record is the tearjerker “William and Wanda”.  It follows an elderly couple finally meeting again in the afterlife. I won’t describe this one any further because it truly must be heard to appreciated.  “One Good Decision” picks the pace back up on a track that is sure to be a fan favorite live. It’s about a man who has had his night at the bar and isn’t really struggling with the decision he has to make on whether to go home or cheat because he’s got a good thing at home.  It’s a lyrical take on the end of the night at the bar song you don’t hear very often.

The Wanting

“Same Kind Of Crazy As Me” is going to be the anthem of these two records.  I expect this one to be on Jinks setlists for a while. It’s a great tune right in line with his other most popular songs and it will resonate with a lot of his fans.  “Never Alone Always Lonely” is a song that is about how you can always be lonely even in a crowd. I personally know this feeling very well.  Lyrically Jinks plays off that theme a lot with lines like “Easy to find, seldom seen”. It’s a very well written song that captures that feeling that a lot of people don’t always get.

I really dig the imagery in “Which One I Feed”.  It’s a song that highlights the lyrical theme of light vs dark and opposites in this album.  “It Don’t Rain In California” is another well written song about a breakup where “She said she needed sunshine / She had enough of clouds” and California represents the sunshine and the main character of the song is the clouds.  It continues the play on opposites that you see throughout this album and it’s really clever.

“Ramble” is a cover of the Chris Hennessee song from his 2018 album of the same name. Jinks does a great cover here and I love how he always represents artists who don’t always get their due on a big stage like this.  If you’re not familiar with Chris Hennessee, I highly recommend checking out his work. Finally the album closes out with “The Raven And The Dove”.  It’s another song of opposites about how some days can be good and some can be bad. The acoustic guitar work is the highlight here as it plays off a foot stomping beat and I can imagine this one being a live favorite as well.

Conclusion

These two albums include some of Cody Jink’s best work.  There isn’t a bad track in the bunch and there are some that many fans will call their new favorites.  Personally, I think The Wanting is my favorite disc of the two, but it is very close. I will admit, when he announced that he was releasing two separate albums instead of one double disc, my main concern was that these songs would be thrown on each of the albums with no rhyme or reason for them being there.  You can put that concern to rest as the track listings for each album make sense and carry their own lyrical themes throughout each record. As a final note, I hope to be able to catch Cody Jinks live next month and report back here with some live reviews of these new tracks so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, After The Fire is out October 11th, 2019 and The Wanting is out October 18th, 2019 and you can find them anywhere.

Cody Jinks – After The Fire (2019)

Favorite Tracks (After The Fire) : Ain’t A Train, Yesterday Again, Think Like You Think, William And Wanda, One Good Decision

  1. After The Fire
  2. Ain’t A Train
  3. Yesterday Again
  4. Tell ‘Em What It’s Like
  5. Think Like You Think
  6. William And Wanda
  7. One Good Decision
  8. Dreamed With One
  9. Someone To You
  10. Tonedeaf Boogie

Cody Jinks – The Wanting (2019)

Favorite Tracks (The Wanting) : Same Kind Of Crazy As Me, Never Alone Always Lonely, Which One I Feed, It Don’t Rain In California, Ramble, The Raven And The Dove

  1. The Wanting
  2. Same Kind Of Crazy As Me
  3. Never Alone Always Lonely
  4. Whiskey
  5. Where Angels Fear To Fly
  6. Which One I Feed
  7. A Bite Of Something Sweet
  8. The Plea
  9. It Don’t Rain In California
  10. Wounded Mind
  11. Ramble
  12. The Raven And The Dove

Album Feature – The Quebe Sisters – The Quebe Sisters

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Oct 082019
 

By Joshua Wallace

The Quebe Sisters are a Progressive Western Swing band out of Dallas, TX.  Instead of featuring the huge band lineup you would find in western swing outfits like Asleep At The Wheel, The Quebe Sisters are the three sisters on fiddle and vocal, Simon Stipp on guitar and Daniel Parr on bass.  This stripped down lineup allows them to do some different things with the western swing genre. The focus is always on three part harmonies and the fiddles, however there are some jazz and traditional country elements in there as well.

A favorite track on this record is “Pierce The Blue” which is more of a country waltz song.  The majority of the track features acoustic guitar and bass backing up the sister’s vocals and it’s a great stripped down song on this record.  “Lonesome Road” starts off slowly before picking up the pace. The guitar kicks into high gear and everything just comes together. This is a great western swing traveling song from the sisters  “Bluegrass In The Backwoods” is my favorite instrumental on the album. It feels like a bigger band is doing this, but it’s not. I love the fiddle work on this track and it is some of the best you’ll find on this album.  “Twilight On The Trail” closes out the record with the sisters delivering their take on the classic Perry Como western trail song. This is a great cover of this classic that often goes unheard. I love the use of the bass for the low end harmonies on this track.

The Quebe Sisters are one of the best bands in all of western swing going today.  They’re also one of the best sibling harmony groups going as well. I hope to get to see them live someday out here on the east coast, though I know that is rare.  Their self titled album is out everywhere you can find good music as of September 20th, 2019.    

Favorite Tracks : Pierce The Blue, Lonesome Road, Bluegrass In The Backwoods, Twilight On The Trail

The Quebe Sisters – The Quebe Sisters (2019)

  1. Always Seem To Get Things Wrong
  2. My Love, My Life, My Friend
  3. Piece The Blue
  4. Load at 7 (Leave at 8)
  5. Summer Of Roses
  6. Lonesome Road
  7. Lullaby of the Leaves
  8. The Waltz You Saved For Me
  9. Bluegrass In The Backwoods
  10. Twilight On The Trail

Album Feature – Jason James – Seems Like Tears Ago

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Oct 072019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Jason James has finally released the follow up to his highly acclaimed 2016 self titled debut album.  This record is called Seems Like Tears Ago and it is once again one of the most traditional country albums you will find this year.  You will hear him channeling the likes of George Jones and others throughout this great throwback record. Lets dig into a few tracks on this one.

The album kicks off with the title track “Seems Like Tears Ago”.  This one would fit right in with your classic George Jones playlist.  The pedal steel on this track is perfect along with the fiddle. Another favorite is “Move A Little Closer”  which brings in the twangy guitar on a faster track that changes things up a bit for this album. I love the solo that plays between the fiddle and guitar on this track.   “We’re Gonna Honky Tonk Tonight” is a song that reminds me of the songs like Hank Sr.’s “Setting The Woods On Fire” celebrating the old tradition of going honky tonkin with your favorite girl.  Finally, “Cry On The Bayou” also harkens back to a Hank Williams classic in “Jambalaya (On the Bayou)”. This is an original with some lyrical allusions to the Hank Sr. classic. I really love how Jason James pays tribute to those that came before him and inspired his style heavily on this record.

Jason James is quickly becoming a huge name when it comes to traditional country music in these modern times.  Seems Like Tears Ago is just another example of classic execution of styles of country music that you don’t always hear in their purest forms.  This album is available everywhere you can find good music as of October 4th, 2019. 

Favorite Tracks : Seems Like Tears Ago, Move A Little Closer, We’re Gonna Honky Tonk Tonight, Cry On The Bayou, Ole Used To Be

Jason James – Seems Like Tears Ago (2019)

  1. Seems Like Tears Ago
  2. I Miss You After All
  3. Move A Little Closer
  4. We’re Gonna Honky Tonk Tonight
  5. Achin’ Takin’ Place
  6. Simply Divine
  7. Coldest Day Of The Year
  8. Cry On The Bayou
  9. Foolish Heart
  10. Ole Used To Be

Album Feature – Dallas Moore – Tryin’ To Be A Blessing

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Oct 042019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Dallas Moore is back with his newest studio album Tryin’ To Be A Blessing.  This album is a follow up to 2018’s Mr. Honky Tonk. Country music has always had a Saturday night and Sunday morning kind of feel to it.  This record is the Sunday morning vibe compared to Mr. Honky Tonk’s Saturday nights. Here we find a much more sober and mellow Dallas Moore. I really dig the juxtaposition between this album and his last.

“Mama & Daddy” kicks off the album with Dallas paying tribute to his parents on a great honky tonk track.  I especially love the honky tonk piano on this one. It’s a great track that will be a fan favorite live. Dallas slows things down a bit with “Everything But You”.  This track finds Dallas longing for the one thing he’s missing. It’s a well written love song that has some great pedal steel work throughout.

The title track sees Dallas looking inward and trying to be a blessing through life, love and religion.  There is some nice harmonica work on this one that changes the sound from the previous tracks. This track certainly represents the Sunday mornings and does it well.  Another favorite track is “You Saved Me From Me”. This is another track that continues the religious themes from earlier. Dallas finds an angel that saves him from his darkest times.  It’s a really great track that combines the themes of love and religion that run through this album together.

There are also two great covers to end the album.  “Lovin’ On Back Streets” is a song first released by Mel Street in 1972 and covered by Daryl Singletary more recently.  The other is “Lodi” which is Creedence Clearwater Revival from their third album Green River. Both of these covers are great pieces to end the album with 

You can always count on Dallas Moore for a great album of country music and this one doesn’t disappoint.  This was his second album produced by Dean Miller and between this and Mr. Honky Tonk, I think Dallas has found his sound.  I highly recommend this record and it is out everywhere as of October 4th, 2019. Dallas Moore is always on the road touring and you can find out where on his website.

Favorite Tracks : Mama & Daddy, Everything But You, Tryin’ To Be A Blessing, You Saved Me From Me, Lovin’ on Back Streets, Lodi

Dallas Moore – Tryin’ To Be A Blessing

  1. Mama & Daddy
  2. Della and The Dealer
  3. Everything but You
  4. Tryin’ To Be A Blessing
  5. I Love You Woman
  6. You Saved Me From Me
  7. All I Need
  8. Lovin’ on Back Streets
  9. Lodi

Album Feature – Billy Strings – Home

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Sep 232019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Billy Strings is about to explode.  He’s already had an amazing 2019 selling out shows on his tour supporting this album and some amazing festival runs.  His music transcends bluegrass while keeping true to the roots of the genre. He is one of the best guitar pickers alive today and he’s got an amazing band that can keep up with him.  Home is his second studio album and it takes things to another level. There is more great songwriting, more longer jams that you can’t wait to hear live versions of and more lightning fast guitar picking.  This album certainly lives up to the hype.

The album kicks off with “Taking Water” which is one of the more traditional bluegrass tracks on the whole record.  I love the opening of the track with the use of John Mailander’s fiddle to create seagull sounds to help create the setting of the song.  I also dig the track “Running”. This one features some lightning fast picking and while it airs on the more traditional side, it sets the stage for things to come.  “Everything’s The Same” is another track in the same vein as “Running”. Super fast guitar licks here and I love the lyrics here about no matter where you go or what you do, everything’s the same.

There are two longer jam tracks on this album, the first of which is “Away From The Mire”.  The song starts off slow, but picks up pace after the first chorus and doesn’t let go. After the third chorus, the band goes into psychedelic overdrive with a solo that will knock you back a few feet.  When it is all said and done, it ties everything back together and refrains the first verse and chorus. It’s already a major hit live and I personally can’t wait to hear it myself. The second of the two longer jams is the title track “Home”.  This starts off with a very structured melody and some orchestral pieces sparsely sprinkled throughout. Like “Away From The Mire”, this track builds epicly to an amazing finale that is in my opinion, the best thing Billy Strings has put to record in this vein.  It keeps the orchestral element building while he incorporates electric guitar and a sound that is almost Santana inspired during the long solo. It’s really awesome and I cannot wait to hear this performed live.

Another favorite track is “Highway Hypnosis”.  It’s a hard driving bluegrass song about being on the road.  I love the mandolin solo from Jarrod Walker before the song breaks out into a psychedelic sound effect overload for a while before going back to the main tune.  It’s a great use of the trippy elements Billy has been incorporating on an otherwise traditional bluegrass tune.

The final two tracks on the album deliver something a bit different.  “Guitar Peace” is just over four minutes long and it’s a solo piece from Billy on his guitar.  It starts out slow, but builds and some psychedelic effects are thrown in as the pace picks up pace more and more.  It’s a great bit of very technical playing from Billy and I can’t wait to hear what he does with it in a live setting with improv.  Finally, the album closes with the most traditional tune on the record, a bluegrass gospel number called “Freedom”. It’s complete with harmonies from the entire band and ties the record back to it’s bluegrass roots.  Billy certainly isn’t a bluegrass traditionalist by any means, but he never forgets the sound that brought him to this point on this record.

With the release of Home, Billy Strings is set for bigger things.  He is already on tour supporting this record and many shows are sold out if not near selling out.  If that’s not a sign of the start of something huge, I don’t know what is. He’s making music that transcends bluegrass and he’s drawing crowds bigger than most modern bluegrass acts I have seen.  You can stay up to date on everything Billy Strings and pre-order this record at the band’s website.  Home comes out everywhere Friday September 27th.  

Favorite Tracks : Taking Water, Away From The Mire, Home, Highway Hypnosis, Love Like Me, Everything’s The Same, Guitar Peace, Freedom

Billy Strings – Home (2019)

  1. Taking Water
  2. Must Be Seven
  3. Running
  4. Away From The Mire
  5. Home
  6. Watch It Fall
  7. Long Forgotten Dream
  8. Highway Hypnosis
  9. Enough To Leave
  10. Hollow Heart
  11. Love Like Me
  12. Everything’s The Same
  13. Guitar Peace
  14. Freedom

Album Feature – Riley Green – Different ‘Round Here

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Sep 202019
 

By Joshua Wallace

The 90’s country throwback trend is in full swing and Riley Green’s debut full length release titled Different ‘Round Here will take you back for sure.  There is some good stuff here and if country radio sounded more like this overall, I might find myself tuning back in every now and then. Let’s take a deeper dive into this one and preview a few tracks.

The album kicks off with “There Was This Girl” which is pure 90’s throwback with the twangy guitars and fist pumping beat.  This one is pure rockin’ country made for your next backyard BBQ. I also dig “Same Old Song” which is about staying the same staying true even if you’re rich.  It’s a familiar theme, but with some good songwriting that makes it fresh. Speaking of good songwriting, look no further than “I Wish Grandpas Never Died”. I love the shoutout to Steve Earle’s “Copperhead Road” in the lyrics.

“Bettin’ Man” is a tune that starts off with some chugging guitars and a slow backbeat before turning up the twang on a song that is a clever break-up tune. I dig this one and it’s a song that would be a #1 hit in the 90’s.  Finally, another song that would be a hit in the 90’s is “Get That Man A Beer”. It’s another clever break-up song where Riley wants to get the man who stole his girl a beer because he did him a favor. It’s another great piece of songwriting on this album full of potential hits.

Riley Green’s Different ‘Round Here is another in a long line of great debut country albums that have come out in 2019.  He has released a steady stream of EPs and singles for a few years now, and some of these tracks were on those releases, but this album works as a whole much better.  Riley Green is currently on the Get That Man A Beer Tour and dates can be found at his website.  Different ‘Round Here is streaming everywhere as of Friday September 20th, 2019.      

Favorite Tracks : There Was This Girl, Same Old Song, I Wish Grandpas Never Died, Bettin’ Man, Get That Man A Beer, Outlaws Like Us

Riley Green – Different ‘Round Here (2019)

  1. There Was This Girl
  2. Different ‘Round Here
  3. Same Old Song
  4. In A Truck Right Now
  5. Hard To Leave
  6. I Wish Grandpas Never Died
  7. Bettin’ Man
  8. Numbers On The Cars
  9. My First Everything
  10. In Love By Now
  11. Get That Man A Beer
  12. Break Up More Often
  13. Runnin’ With An Angel
  14. Outlaws Like Us

Album Feature – Vincent Neil Emerson – Fried Chicken & Evil Women

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Sep 172019
 

By Joshua Wallace

If you want an album that is 100% Grade A certified classic country in 2019, look no further than Vincent Neil Emerson’s debut record called Fried Chicken & Evil Women.  This record hits all the notes of what you would want in a classic country album. Smooth country crooning, nice pedal steel, honky tonk piano, it’s all there. This 27 year old from East Texas has put together the complete package.  There isn’t a bad track on this record. Let’s take a dive into it.

The first highlight here is a great piece of song writing called “Willie Nelson’s Wall”.  It starts out with an amazing pedal steel riff and I love the opening line “I’m as high as a fly on Willie Nelson’s wall”.  It’s a great upbeat song about being high. Another highlight is the title track “Fried Chicken & Evil Women”. The pedal steel and honky tonk guitar are thick on this track, as it is on most of this album.

“Dade County Jail” starts off with some piano chords that will make you think you’re back in church.  But in reality, the song is a slow blues track about waking up in jail. I love the acoustic guitar solo on this one.  Some really good songwriting here. Finally, “Highway Shine” kicks off with some simple acoustic picking and great crooning from Vincent till the full band kicks in.  It’s a smooth track about wanderlust that closes out the album. There’s some more great solo work on this track and I love the shout out to Billy Joe Shaver.

Vincent Neil Emerson has released an impressive debut album with Fried Chicken & Evil Women.  In fact, this is one of the most country albums you will find in 2019. The playing and songwriting are top notch throughout and I cannot wait to see where this takes Vincent.  I hope to be able to see him live one day. Fried Chicken & Evil Women is available everywhere you can find good country music as of Friday September 13th, 2019.

Favorite Tracks : Willie Nelson’s Wall, Fried Chicken & Women, Dade County Jail, Highway Shine

Vincent Neil Emerson – Fried Chicken & Evil Women (2019)

  1. 25 & Wastin’ Time
  2. Willie Nelson’s Wall
  3. Fried Chicken & Evil Women
  4. The Bad Side Of Luck
  5. Cactus Blossom Special
  6. 7 Come 11
  7. Devil In My Bed
  8. Letters On The Marquee
  9. Dade County Jail
  10.  Highway Shine

Album Feature – Ottoman Turks – Ottoman Turks

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Sep 132019
 

By Joshua Wallace

I first heard about this band through Joshua Ray Walker whose Wish You Were Here record is still in my heavy rotation after reviewing it back in January.  He is actually the lead guitarist of this country and rock n roll outfit called Ottoman Turks. The rest of this Dallas, TX band is rounded out by Nathan Wells on rhythm guitar and vocals, Paul Hinojo on drums and Billy Law on bass and vocals.  This is one record you’re going to want to go out of your way to check out, here is why.

The album kicks off with a mid tempo number called “Apathy”.  It features Joshua Ray Walker’s slide guitar through the track and it’s a funky mid tempo that is a mix of the fuzzy rock and country music you can expect from the rest of the album.  The next two tracks dig into the yin and yang of this album. “Snake Song” is a fuzzy punk influenced rocker. I really dig Joshua Ray Walker’s solo work on this one and the smooth bass groove that the track strips down to for the last verse.  On the other hand, “Glass Bottles” is a classic country drinking anthem. From it’s sing-along chorus to the twangy guitar work on this track. I dig it.

The track “Red” is a slow almost heavy blues number with growly vocals from Nathan Wells.  As the track kicks into full gear, it morphs into a stoner rock sound that just gets faster and heavier as it goes.  This is one of the heavier tracks on the album. “Beer & Women” brings back some country vibes to the proceedings while still keeping the twangy guitars distorted.  It mixes the two sides of this band quite well in a track that maybe somewhat still leans to country.

This band does a great job of blending their heavy rock influences and their country influences into one cohesive sound.  I can only imagine how crazy the energy at a live show gets and hope to see them live at some point in the future. If you want to check this album out, it is available everywhere you can stream music as of August 23rd, 2019 and I’m sure the band still has some physical copies at live shows.

Favorite Tracks : Apathy, Snake Song, Glass Bottles, Red, Beer & Women, Hands Tied, Mas Amigos

Ottoman Turks – Ottoman Turks (2019)

  1. Apathy
  2. Snake Song
  3. Glass Bottles
  4. My Dog
  5. Red
  6. I Find Myself More Lonesome Every Day
  7. O C P
  8. Can’t Promise Nothin’
  9. Beer & Women
  10. Hands Tied
  11. You’re Only Pretty When You’re Sad
  12. Mas Amigos

Album Feature – Zach Bryan – DeAnn

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Sep 062019
 

By Joshua Wallace

I discover new artists in a lot of different ways these days.  I first discovered Zach Bryan from a tweet from Parker McCollum. It read  : “Sitting at a bar in Nashville with my agent telling him about this Zach Bryan kid…. “fucking sign him… just trust me””.  That was a ringing endorsement if I ever saw one. So I looked him up. I didn’t find much. No website, no promotional Facebook page.  Just a personal Facebook, a Twitter account and some YouTube performance videos. Then I found this album DeAnn. It just came out on August 24th, 2019 but the numbers on Spotify are what got me.  His songs are climbing to over 100k listeners fast and as of this writing he’s got 41,759 monthly listeners. That is impressive for a Spotify account that didn’t even have music 2 weeks ago. So what is it about this album that is drawing people in? Let’s take a deeper dive and find out.

The first highlight of this album is “God Speed”.  It’s a song looking inward at Zach’s wants and needs from love, life and everything between.  It’s a great song that sends the message that no matter what you want in life, you’re moving at God’s speed and “Only God and my mama know what I need”.  Another favorite is “Doing Fine” which is a well written track where Zach laments about people he used to know and places he used to go. Songs like this live on the imagery and descriptions and Zach does a good job of painting a picture and taking you back. Whether it’s people he let down or good times he had, this song takes you there.

“Shivers Down Spines” is a great love song on this record.  This is one of the songs where Zach gets to showcase some of his range in both vocal ability and songwriting.  He can be intimate when the song calls for it. I also love the sudden stop at the end of this one as it’s done to a great affect with the song.  Another great love song on this record is “Moon In Oklahoma”. This is another track where the imagery shines. Zach’s lyrics paint a picture that takes you back to scenes from his past.

I could say something about every song on this record, but it’s worth it to seek this one out and listen.  It is raw, rough around the edges and straight up acoustic. Just a man and his guitar. Zach even kept the outtakes like the fit of laughter that ends Condemned.  Zach Bryan shows some skills here and while there is room for improvement, this is a very impressive record for a debut. I cannot wait to hear more from this young man.  He currently does not have much social media presence, or even a website, but you can find his music on Spotify, Amazon, iTunes and other digital services. I highly recommend seeking this record out.  It is available as of August 24th, 2019.        

Favorite Tracks : God Speed, Doing Fine, Shivers Down Spines, Moon In Oklahoma

Zach Bryan – DeAnn (2019)

  1. Flying Or Crying
  2. Hope Again
  3. God Speed
  4. Don’t Give Up On Me
  5. Doing Fine
  6. Letting Someone Go
  7. Shivers Down Spines
  8. Snow
  9. Man That’s Never Known You
  10. Moon In Oklahoma
  11. Condemned
  12. Sweet DeAnn

Album Feature – Paul Cauthen – Room 41

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Sep 052019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Paul Cauthen burst onto the scene with his 2016 debut My Gospel.  That album showcased an amazing baritone singer with incredible vibrato and a knack for laying down funky country tracks that would make Jerry Reed dance in his grave.  In 2018 he released the Have Mercy EP which reinforced the country funk sound with tracks like “Resignation”. Now in 2019, he is back with Room 41, a record that expands on the country funk sound that Cauthen is known for.

The album kicks off with “Holy Ghost Fire”, which is a funky track that really sets the stage for the rest of the record.  It’s a hot track with foot stompin’ beat that will get the body moving. I dig how the track builds till the fire electric guitar solo at the end.  Another hot one is “Cocaine Country Dancing”. That one just starts off funky and doesn’t let go. The riff that starts with the bass line and builds throughout the track is straight fire.  It’s a simple song that brings back memories of “Saddle” from My Gospel, and that’s a good thing.

“Slow Down” does just that and slows down the proceedings a bit.  This track focuses more on Cauthen’s vocals and his amazing vibrato.  I dig the use of the trippy sound effects throughout this track. It keeps the proceedings funky, even on this slower track.  Another favorite is the track “Big Velvet”. This track is Cauthen looking at all of the indulgent stuff he has done in the past and putting it on a character called Big Velvet that he morphs into when things get crazy.  The bass line on this track is one of the funkiest things I’ve heard this side of the 70’s and the groove is heavy and deep, just like Cauthen’s baritone vocals that almost stretch to bass notes on this track.

Another super funky track is “Freak”.  It’s a synth heavy track that pulls from R&B influences.  I know in the past, this hasn’t necessarily worked for other artists, but Cauthen and his production team make it work on this record.  It’s another track that revels in self indulgence and acknowledges that we’re all freaks in some way. Finally, “Give ‘Em Peace” takes things back to the subject of faith that Cauthen has explored in the past.  I really love the opening lines and how it’s a different feel from the rest of the track. It’s a funky gospel inspired number that slowly builds to a crescendo with an amazing solo.

This album is a great second LP from Cauthen that builds on the foundations he laid down on My Gospel.  Cauthen has found the right kind of groove to keep everyone moving. Whether you’re here for the funky bass lines, grooves that are fun to dance to or his amazing vibrato, Paul Cauthen brings the full package.  I highly recommend checking this one out tomorrow when it drops everywhere you can find good music. Paul Cauthen is about to hit the road supporting Randy Houser on his Magnolia Tour. I highly recommend checking out one of those shows if you can.

Favorite Tracks : Holy Ghost Fire, Cocaine Country Dancing, Slow Down, Big Velvet,  Freak, Give ‘Em Peace

Paul Cauthen – Room 41 (2019)

  1. Holy Ghost Fire
  2. Prayed For Rain
  3. Cocaine Country Dancing
  4. Slow Down
  5. Big Velvet
  6. Can’t Be Alone
  7. Freak
  8. Angel
  9. Give ‘Em Peace
  10. Lay Me Down

Florida Welcomes Josh Ward at Jack Rabbits in Jacksonville, FL

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Aug 212019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Photography By Joshua Wallace

This past Thursday evening on August 15th, 2019, I had the pleasure of finally seeing Josh Ward live.  I have been a fan of his since his 2015 album Holding Me Together. I was a big fan of his 2018 release More Than I Deserve.  I have been waiting for a long time to see him come through Florida. He opened for Cody Johnson in the state before, but this was the first date of his first true headlining run in the state.  The crowd for the evening was somewhat small at around 50 – 75, but they showed up for some good Texas country music and that is what they got.

J.R. Ward opened the evening with a set of mostly original tunes.  This was my first time seeing J.R. Ward and I was impressed. He played some songs I recognized from Spotify such as “90 Proof Sunrise” and “Turn Your Eyes To Jesus”.  Tom Bennett backed him up on keys. J.R. mentioned that he’s not a usual feature in his live show but I thought Tom did a fine job on it. There were a couple of Waylon Jennings covers sprinkled in the originals.  All in all, it was a good set and a good first impression. I hope to see more of J.R. Ward in the future.

Josh Ward wasted no time in kicking off his own set shortly after J.R. left the stage and everything was swapped out.  He kicked the set off with a song from his Holding Me Together record “You Don’t Have To Be Lonely”. This track set the pace for a rockin’ night of good country music that did not disappoint.  He followed that up with one of my favorites “Home Away From Home” from his More Than I Deserve album. Up next was another favorite in “Whiskey and Whitley”. This was one of many ballads throughout the night.

A bit later in the set he got to a couple more favorite songs of mine back to back. Both are highlights from the More Than I Deserve album.  “All About Lovin’” was a rockin’ number for the ladies and he slowed it down a bit with “A Cowboy Can” which was well received by the live crowd.  I must point out the pedal steel player whose name I missed during band introductions. He was a highlight throughout the evening and a joy to watch play.


Another highlight of the evening was the band’s live rendition of “The Devil Don’t Scare Me”.  This is probably the best cut on the More Than I Deserve record and it’s chart performance shows that.  Josh mentioned how proud he was of this song and pointed out that the guy who wrote it, Jason Hursey was in the crowd.  This track is every bit as good live as it is on the record. This band does not disappoint.

The band closed out the night with two more favorites.  First up was a rocking rendition of “Highway” from the Holding Me Together album and finally the band closed the night out with my favorite Josh Ward tracks in “Promises”.  From the first song to the end, this band was on point and in the mood to bring some good Texas country tunes to this crowd. The crowd wasn’t as big as what they would expect in Texas, but they brought it and surely made the band feel like they were back in Texas with the responses they from the crowd.

Josh Ward is always on the road.  He just wrapped up his first headlining run through Florida and Josh is constantly on the road.  You can see his current tour dates at the band’s website.  However, if you can’t make it to a live show, he did just release  his own contribution to the Live At Billy Bob’s Texas series and I highly recommend you check it out.

Album Feature – Mike and The Moonpies – Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold

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Aug 052019
 

By Joshua Wallace

This album came out of nowhere.  I was expecting a Mike and The Moonpies album this year, but not any time soon, especially not the same weekend as a big release from Tyler Childers.  This album is simply amazing. From start to finish, there is not a bad track here.  Mike and The Moonpies have been around for over a decade now and while last year’s Steak Night At The Prairie Rose was a good album, this is a country masterpiece.  This eight song album was recorded in London’s Abbey Road Studios with help from the London Symphony Orchestra. Yes you read that right, and yes it’s awesome. The result is a classic album in the style of the 60’s and 70’s countrypolitan hits.

The album kicks off with a heavy dose of the orchestra right in the first track.  “Cheap Silver” is perhaps the best use of the orchestra in the whole album. The band blends in well and the production creates an amazingly layered track with cool vibes that anyone will enjoy.  Listen to this one with headphones.  “You Look Good In Neon” takes us back to the honky tonks and I love the lyrical turns here. It’s a track about that girl that is still there at closing time and you’re trying to decide if she’s as hot as she looks underneath the neon lights.  That is followed by a great outlaw country track in “Danger” which features a guest vocalist spot by Shooter Jennings. This track probably makes the least use of the strings on this album and it sounds like one that could be a favorite in live sets.

I really dig the Sinatra vibes on the “Young In Love” cover and Mike Harmeier gets to test his crooning chops on this one.  “If You Want A Fool Around” is a killer Texas style honky tonk tune with a great double entendre for a title. They make a nice use of that in the phrasings in the song too.  Finally, my personal favorite track is “Fast As Lightning”. I can’t be the only one that hears elements of Willie Nelson’s “Bloody Mary Morning” here. The back-beat especially brings back good memories of that track.  I’m sure it’s going to be a dance hall classic for Mike and The Moonpies for many years.

This is one of those albums that surprises you with how good it is.  You wouldn’t think Texas honky tonk band and the London Symphony Orchestra would work well together, but it does. And boy does it.  8 tracks with 2 covers and all the good stuff. There’s variety here from Sinatra inspired crooning to outlaw country to Texas honky tonk.  You’ll find something to like here. If you have never been a fan of Mike and The Moonpies before, this is a good album to jump in on. Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold was surprise released Friday August 2nd and you can hear it anywhere you listen to good music.

Favorite Tracks : Cheap Silver, You Look Good In Neon, Danger, Young In Love, If You Want A Fool Around, Fast As Lightning

Mike and The Moonpies – Cheap Silver and Solid Country Gold (2019)

  1. Cheap Silver
  2. You Look Good In Neon
  3. Danger
  4. Young In Love
  5. Miss Fortune
  6. If You Want A Fool Around
  7. Fast As Lightning
  8. London Homesick Blues

Album Feature – Tyler Childers – Country Squire

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Aug 022019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Tyler Childers is back with the much anticipated follow-up to his Hickman Hollar Records debut release titled Purgatory.  This time around, Country Squire features 9 tracks that have all been road tested. Fans of Tyler Childers live should be very familiar with these songs.  Some of these tracks can even be traced back to live shows from before Purgatory was released. That is one thing I love about seeing Tyler Childers live, he doesn’t stick to songs on a record.  Whether you prefer the live version or the album version is a debate for the ages, I’m here to tell you what to expect with this record.

Country Squire picks up right where Purgatory left off.  If you liked that record, you’re almost guaranteed to like Country Squire.  The opening track “Country Squire” quickly puts any worries you had about this record to rest.  It’s pure grade A solid gold country. I love the honky tonk piano that eventually settles into the mix here.  One track that was highly anticipated on this record is “Bus Route”. It’s a fan favorite live and it does not disappoint here.  I love the story about young love told on this song and the obstacles it often finds.

Another highlight is “Creeker”.  You can feel the Sturgill influence in this one as it takes a psychedelic bend in the instrumental.  This track is about a country boy trapped in a city and how he longs to get back to the country. A fun track on the record is “Ever Lovin’ Hand”.  It’s about the ways a man might relieve himself spending long nights on the road. It’s a song about masturbation, but it’s more tasteful than anything Wheeler Walker Jr. did.  Finally, on the completely opposite end of the spectrum, “All Your’n” was released as one of the albums singles. This song was a fan favorite live leading up to the release. The full album version does not disappoint.  It’s a sweet love song and Tyler’s songwriting is strong on this one.

There isn’t really a bad track on this album.  Sure, the early release track “House Fire” can get a bit repetitive, but it’s still a fun listen and in the context of the entire record, it’s a good one.  If you are a fan of real, raw country music and liked either Sturgill Simpson’s more country records or were already a fan of 2017’s Purgatory, this record is for you.  Keep an eye on Gary Hayes Country, we will likely have some live coverage of Tyler during this run supporting Country Squire. The album is available everywhere as of August 2nd, 2018.

Favorite Tracks : Country Squire, Bus Route, Creeker, Ever Lovin’ Hand, All Your’n

Tyler Childers – Country Squire (2019)

  1. Country Squire
  2. Bus Route
  3. Creeker
  4. Gemini
  5. House Fire
  6. Ever Lovin’ Hand
  7. Piece Of Mind
  8. All Your’n
  9. Matthew

Album Feature – Jim Lauderdale – From Another World

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Jun 282019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Jim Lauderdale has released From Another World which is the follow up to 2018’s excellent Time Flies album.  Jim has been on a run of great albums as of late and From Another World is no different. Inside you’ll find some good country, good songwriting and a great album.

The track “The Secrets Of The Pyramids” is a somewhat psychedelic country love song that compares the mysteries of the pyramids to the mysteries of the heart.  It’s a great example of the good songwriting you find throughout Lauderdale’s career. “Like People From Another World” keeps that theme and talks about two lovers as if they’re from different worlds, and that’s good.

“For Keeps” is a great ballad on this album.  I love the instrumental with the piano and pedal steel.  There is also a nice classical guitar solo on this one. “I’ll Forgive You If You Don’t” kicks off with some great pedal steel work for this heartbreak love song.  This entire record has some great pedal steel work to dig into. Finally, “Are You Trying To Make A Song Out Of Us?” picks up the tempo for the album closer. The song compares a couple in love with all of the interconnected parts of a song that work together.  I love the lines “You can play my heart like it’s your guitar / Tune me up and let it rock and don’t you ever stop”. Like the rest of the album, it all just works to create a great track and a great overall experience.

From Another World is another gem in the late career of Jim Lauderdale.  I highly recommend this record if you’re a fan of good country. Lots of great pedal steel work throughout the album and great songwriting too.  From Another World is out everywhere you can find good music as of June 21st, 2019.  

Favorite Tracks : The Secrets Of The Pyramids, Like People From Another World, For Keeps, I’ll Forgive You If You Don’t, Are You Trying To Make A Song Out Of Us?

Jim Lauderdale – From Another World (2019)

  1. Some Horses Run Free
  2. When You Can’t Have What Your Heart Wants
  3. The Secrets Of The Pyramids
  4. Like People From Another World
  5. One Away
  6. Listen
  7. For Keeps
  8. Slow Turn In The Road
  9. I’ll Forgive You If You Don’t
  10. Graceland Horses
  11. Ever Living Loving Day
  12. Are You Trying To Make A Song Out Of Us?

Album Feature – Aaron Watson – Red Bandana

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Jun 272019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Red Bandana is Aaron Watson’s first studio LP since 2017’s Vaquero.  This album picks up where Vaquero left off and is 20 tracks deep with good country music.  Aaron Watson continues to produce good stuff and Red Bandana is looking like it will be high on my year end album list.  When an album has 20 songs, it often means there can be a few duds in the bunch, but that is not the case here.

“Ghost Of Guy Clark” kicks things off with an nontraditional song that is more of a recitation.  Don’t let that fool you, this song will still get your blood pumping and get you excited about the rest of the album to come.  If that track gets your blood pumping, “Dark Horse” takes hold of that adrenaline and doesn’t let go. I love the banjo riff that opens this upbeat track that almost sees Aaron rapping through the verses, but it’s done in a way that just fits this track.  It reminds me a bit of “Freight Train” from The Underdog, and it should be a similar hit for Watson.

Switching things up a bit, “Legends” is a great song about country music heroes and legends gone by.  It’s a tasteful callback to those old songs that just never die. “Am I Amarillo” is a very George Strait inspired love song about possibly moving on and trying to make that decision.  “Live Or Die Trying” is another favorite that is somewhat in the same vein as “Dark Horse”. It’s a song about never giving up until you’ve achieved your dreams which is something Aaron Watson has done his entire career.

“Riding With Red” is a tearjerker about an old cowboy that has passed but Aaron looks up to highly in this song.  It’s an amazing example of the great songwriting you find throughout this album. “Home Sweet Home” is another great ballad on this album.  I love the line “My illusion’s delusion has come to conclusion / This world’s not what it seems”. Finally, “You On My Hands” is a smooth country love song like only Aaron Watson can do these days.  He’s written a few good ones over the years and this is another.

This album is a long one, clocking in at 69 minutes, but it’s full of good tunes and none of it disappoints.  I saw Aaron Watson back on his tour for Vaquero back in 2017 and it may be time to catch a show again with all of these new songs.  Red Bandana is available everywhere you can find good music as of June 21st, 2019.

Favorite Tracks : Ghost Of Guy Clark, Dark Horse, Legends, Am I Amarillo, Live Or Die Trying, Riding With Red, Home Sweet Home, Shake A Heartache

Aaron Watson – Red Bandana (2019)

  1. Ghost Of Guy Clark
  2. El Comienzo del Viaje
  3. Dark Horse
  4. Heartstrings
  5. Old Friend
  6. Kiss That Girl Goodbye
  7. Country Radio
  8. Legends
  9. Am I Amarillo
  10. Blood Brothers
  11. Live Or Die Trying
  12. Riding With Red
  13. Red Bandana
  14. Trying Like The Devil
  15. Home Sweet Home
  16. Burn Em Down
  17. Shake A Heartache
  18. You On My Hands
  19. To Be The Moon
  20. 58

Album Feature – Willie Nelson – Ride Me Back Home

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Jun 262019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Ride Me Back Home is the 69th studio album for Willie Nelson.  This album completes the “mortality trilogy” which started with God’s Problem Child in 2017 and also included Last Man Standing in 2018.  This is overall a more mellow record though there are still a few faster tracks here. Most of the tracks on this album were written by Buddy Cannon and Willie Nelson, but there are covers here from Guy Clark, Billy Joel and Mac Davis.  It’s another great album in a series of albums in the past couple of decades that proves again and again that Willie still has it.

The album kicks off with the cowboy tune “Ride Me Back Home”.  It’s a western leaning tune that is a cowboy’s bittersweet ode to his horse and one of the many great examples of good songwriting on this album.  “Come On Time” picks up the pace a bit on a track that heavily features Mickey Raphael’s harmonica. It’s almost lamenting and celebrating the passage of time at the same time.  It’s one of my favorites on this record.

“Stay Away From Lonely Places” is a more mellow tune that kicks off with some nice piano work.  It features more of the smooth jazzy sound that Willie has developed over the years. It urges the listener to “stay away from lonely places, for a while”.  “Nobody’s Listening” is another tearjerker about it can feel like no one is listening when life is at its worst. The track asks “But what good is the song that he has to sing / When nobody’s listening?” and then adds  “But I know why he has to try to sing / ‘Cause he believes that somebody’s listening” so there is always hope that someone is listening in the end.  Finally, “It’s Hard To Be Humble” is a great cover of the Mac Davis original and features Willie’s sons Lukas and Micah on the track also. It’s a great addition and almost a throwback to the great Willie and The Boys : Willie’s Stash Vol. 2 LP.

Willie Nelson continues to release great albums later in his life and it doesn’t look like he’s going to slow down any time soon.  Ride Me Back Home is a great conclusion to the “mortality trilogy” of albums. It will be interesting to see what is next for Willie as he usually follow up these releases with a covers album in the same year.  Ride Me Back Home is available everywhere you can find good music as of June 21st, 2019.

Favorite Tracks : Ride Me Back Home, Come On Time, Stay Away From Lonely Places, Nobody’s Listening, It’s Hard To Be Humble

Willie Nelson – Ride Me Back Home (2019)

  1. Ride Me Back Home
  2. Come On Time
  3. My Favorite Picture Of You
  4. Seven Year Itch
  5. Immigrant Eyes
  6. Stay Away From Lonely Places
  7. Just The Way You Are
  8. One More Song To Write
  9. Nobody’s Listening
  10. It’s Hard To Be Humble with Lukas Nelson and Micah Nelson
  11. Maybe I Should’ve Been Listening

Album Feature – Matt Woods – Natural Disasters

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Jun 252019
 

By Joshua Wallace


Matt Woods is back with his new album titled Natural Disasters.  It is his first release since 2016’s How To Survive. This album is full of good driving rock n roll, smooth country ballads and just good Americana.  Woods has developed his signature style over the years and Natural Disasters is one of his best releases to date.

The album kicks off with “Blue-Eyed Wanderer” which is a fun country rock track that also serves as the album’s lead single.  It really sets the vibe for the rest of the record.  If you’re looking for hard driving rock n roll, look no further than “The Dream”. It’s a song about a favorite car from days gone by and it’s something everyone can relate to.  Songs like “My Southern Heart” take the album into more ballad territory where Matt Woods gets to do the kind of tearjerker ballads he’s known for. The range of Wood’s songwriting is really strong on this album as he writes both great rock tracks and great ballads.

The track “Drive-Thru Town” is another slower number about those small American towns you drive through in America.  The kind of town where if you blink as you go through it you might miss it. It’s another great example of great songwriting on this album. “Jailbird Song” picks up the tempo in a good track about life in a jail.  It’s another great example of some of the killer riffs and nice solo work that is present throughout this album on the more rocking tracks. Finally, the album closes with the ballad “Corner Of The World”. It’s a track about finding your own corner of the world

Matt Woods continues to release amazing records and Natural Disasters is no different.  He’s constantly touring and you can find out where he will be next and when he will be near you at his website.  Natural Disasters is available everywhere on June 28th, 2019.

Favorite Tracks : Blue-Eyed Wanderer, The Dream, Drive-Thru Town, My Southern Heart, Hey, Heartbreaker, Jailbird Song, Corner Of The World

Matt Woods – Natural Disasters (2019)

  1. Blue-Eyed Wanderer
  2. The Dream
  3. Drive-Thru Town
  4. My Southern Heart
  5. Hey, Heartbreaker
  6. Cold Civil War
  7. Jailbird Song
  8. The Devil Drinks Scotch
  9. Sitcoms
  10. Corner Of The World

Album Feature – Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Servants Of the Sun

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Jun 202019
 

By Joshua Wallace

If you like your southern rock a little on the psychedelic side, then Chris Robinson Brotherhood is a band for you. Servants Of The Sun is the band’s first full length studio album following 2017’s Barefoot In The Head. As a side note, this is the band’s last album with long time keyboardist Adam MacDougall.  He left the band after it’s recording. This album in general is upbeat, funky and it feels like a good road trip record.

The record kicks off with “Some Earthly Delights” which features a nice keyboard riff in the opening moments.  It really sets the tone and lets you know what you’re in for here. I also dig “Venus In Chrome” which is another upbeat track that features some nice playing.  The solo that starts about 4 minutes in is a great example of the jamming this band can do. One of the early singles was the catchy “Comin’ Round The Mountain” and it’s the perfect road trip tune.  Finally, I really dig the slower number “Dice Game”. This track has great guitar work and songwriting. It’s a nice change of pace from the rest of the album.

I highly recommend checking out Servants Of The Sun if you’re into trippy southern rock.  This album has everything you look for in a good jam band record. I hope to be able to see some of these tracks live in the future.  Servants Of The Sun is out everywhere as of June 14th, 2019.

Favorite Tracks : Some Earthly Delights, Venus In Chrome, Comin’ Round The Mountain, Dice Game, A Smiling Epitaph

Chris Robinson Brotherhood – Servants Of the Sun (2019)

  1. Some Earthly Delights
  2. Let It Fall
  3. Rare Birds
  4. Venus In Chrome
  5. Stars Fell On California
  6. Comin’ Round The Mountain
  7. The Chauffeur’s Daughter
  8. Dice Game
  9. Madder Rose Interlude
  10. A Smiling Epitaph

Album Feature – Ian Noe – Between The Country

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May 242019
 

By Joshua Wallace

I first became aware of Ian Noe when I saw him open for Colter Wall in Jacksonville, FL back in 2017.  I compared him to a young Bob Dylan then and was amazed at how his songwriting can draw you in. He crafts stories and writes about subjects with a hint of gritty realism that no one else is doing right now.  That still holds true on his debut LP Between The Country. Seriously people, this record gives me the same feels that records like Sturgill Simpson’s Hightop Mountain, Colter Wall’s self titled LP and Tyler Childer’s Purgatory have in the past. Let’s take a deeper look at some of my favorite tracks on this album.

“Irene (Ravin’ Bomb)” grabs you from the opening chords.  It’s a folksy number about the life a junkie and while it’s kind of sad in a way, the title character tries to keep a happy outlook on things.  It’s an example of the kind of songwriting you can expect throughout the record. “Junk Town” is a bittersweet tune about a man and his wife making it with what they have in a “junk town”.  They just seem to be passing time till they pass on to something better. It’s a story that is too common about people living in the same place and waiting for death to bring something different or something better.  “Letter To Madeline” is a great outlaw folk tune about a bank robber who is recounting his tale while longing for his Madeline. It’s an amazing tune that let’s Ian’s storytelling shine. This is probably my favorite track on the album.

“That Kind Of Life” celebrates the odd balls.  Whether it’s people ready to help at the drop of a dime or quiet people who get high and don’t have a care in the world, it celebrates people who live the kind of life that nobody lives anymore.  Another favorite, “If Today Doesn’t Do Me In” has been a favorite of mine ever since I heard it live. It’s a good slice of life story song about several characters such as a hitchhiker or a gas station clerk who are facing pivotal moments in their lives.  Finally, everyone who has heard Ian Noe has likely heard of “Meth Head”. It’s one of his more popular numbers that goes into darker folk territory about a meth addict. The song represents the realism that Ian brings to each of his songs and that hits very hard with anyone who listens to this track for the first or hundredth time.

Ian Noe is a once in a lifetime talent as a singer / songwriter.  While many are out there claiming to be outlaws or such, Ian’s music is real and gritty and deeper than most any outlaw country you can find.  His lyrics alone are enough to capture a room full of rowdy concert goers, but his sound is perfect for the 60’s psychedelic folk throwback that Dave Cobb has brought to Between The Country.  Think of this record as a modern take on a mix of 60’s Dylan, Townes Van Zandt and Neil Young. You will hear elements of all three at different points throughout this album. I can’t wait to hear what is next for Ian Noe.  Between The Country is out everywhere on May 31st, 2019. You can catch him in Nashville at The Basement on June 1st and check out his website to see everywhere you can catch him live. I highly recommend it.

Favorite Tracks : Irene (Ravin’ Bomb), Junk Town, Letter To Madeline, That Kind Of Life, If Today Doesn’t Do Me In, Meth Head

Ian Noe – Between The Country (2019)

  1. Irene (Ravin’ Bomb)
  2. Barbara’s Song
  3. Junk Town
  4. Letter To Madeline
  5. Loving You
  6. That Kind Of Life
  7. Dead On The River (Rolling Down)
  8. If Today Doesn’t Do Me In
  9. Meth Head
  10. Between The Country

Album Feature – Justin Townes Earle – The Saint Of Lost Causes

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May 242019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Justin Townes Earle is back with his new LP The Saint Of Lost Causes.  It’s his first release since 2017’s Kid’s In The Street and eighth full length LP overall.  With his eighth record, Justin Townes Earle has honed in on his sound which is a mix of country, blues and folk.  There’s always a bit of that classic rock n roll sound present on his records as well.

The album kicks off with the title track and the first thing you notice is that bass line.  It’s smooth and serves as a backdrop to this track which sounds like it belongs in the smallest blues dive bar you can picture.  I love the guitar solo and how it plays with the atmospheric riffing done across the rest of the track. Another favorite is the more rockin’ blues number “Flint City Shake It”.  Flint, MI is used in songs a lot, but not quite like this. This rockabilly track references the cities troubles with GMC, but paints the people of the town as too tough to give up.

Another great track is the honky tonk number “Pacific Northwestern Blues”.  This is a traveling tune which features the great pedal steel work you can hear throughout this album.  The murder ballad “Appalachian Nightmare” is one of my favorite songs on this album. Justin writes good story songs and this one is one of his best.  Finally, another great testament to the song writing skills of Justin Townes Earle is the track “Ahi Esta Mi Nina”. This is a beautiful one sided conversation between a father and his daughter.  Both this and “Appalachian Nightmare” are new Justin Townes Earle favorites for me.

I highly recommend giving this record a listen.  It’s his strongest effort since 2012’s Nothing’s Gonna Change The Way You Feel About Me Now.  It doesn’t quite hit the highs of Harlem River Blues, but there are plenty of highs here and no real lows.  Justin’s incredible knack for storytelling through song comes through here with a couple of his best. The Saint Of Lost Causes is out everywhere you can find good music on New West Records.  Check out Justin’s website for a full list of touring dates and go to a show.

Favorite Tracks : The Saint Of Lost Causes, Flint City Shake It, Pacific Northwestern Blues, Appalachian Nightmare, Ahi Esta Mi Nina

Justin Townes Earle – The Saint Of Lost Causes (2019)

  1. The Saint Of Lost Causes
  2. Ain’t Got No Money
  3. Mornings In Memphis
  4. Don’t Drink The Water
  5. Frightened By The Sound
  6. Flint City Shake It
  7. Over Alameda
  8. Pacific Northwestern Blues
  9. Appalachian Nightmare
  10. Say Baby
  11. Ahi Esta Mi Nina
  12. Talking To Myself