My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

In Memoriam: Lynn Anderson (1947-2015)

Classic Rewind: Ray Price ft Buddy Emmons – ‘Night Life’

Legendary steel guitarist Buddy Emmons died on Wednesday.

Here he is at his peak, backing up the late Ray Price:

Album Review: Courtney Patton – ‘So This Is Life’

so this is lifeCourtney Patton, wife of Jason Eady, is a singer-songwriter with an alto voice reminiscent of Holly Williams, but more traditional country inclinations. Fellow songwriter Drew Kennedy produces tastefully, showcasing Courtney’s warm vocals and outstanding songs.

The excellent story song ‘Little Black Dress’ opens the set, and is the first of a series of convincing portraits in song. Set to a stately waltztime beat, it relates the story of a woman going through a disillusioning dating process. Later we meet the wearied wife pondering ‘Her Next Move’ but stuck in a holding pattern.

More personally, ‘War Of Art’ tackles the struggle between pursuing a musical career with life as a wife and mother, possibly inspired by the failure of her first marriage to a non-musician. Written soon after her marriage to Eady, the autobiographical ‘Twelve Days Out’ is about enduring the separation from a touring musician husband, with some sweet lonesome fiddle and quotes from ‘Marina del Rey’ and ‘Little Green Apples’. ‘Sure Am Glad’ is a love song which may also be rooted in real life.

The title track is an agonized dissection of the long drawn out death of her parents’ marriage after over 30 years together. ‘But I Did’, also autobiographical, is more positive in mood as Courtney reflects on her childhood.

The gorgeous steel-drenched waltz ‘Need For Wanting’ (probably my favourite track) is a bar room weeper with the narrator rejecting a man’s advances:

Lately my world has been crumbling around me
And sometimes it scares me to death
So thanks for the whiskey and the lingering glances
But your chances aren’t looking too bright
I’ll entertain you but
Don’t misinterpret my need for wanting tonight

You look like a lesson I learned long ago
And I know more than I care to say
‘Bout how men like you will work on a woman
Till you win or she walks away
So the longer I sit here the more you believe
That you’ve convinced me that it be alright
But I’m leaving alone so you shouldn’t mistake
My need for wanting tonight

But with a cynical little twist by the end of the song and the evening’s drinking, she lets him take her home after all.

The shuffle ‘Killing Time’ sees Courtney satisfied that an ex is paying for his bad behaviour with prison time. ‘Battle These Blues’ is an account of heartbreak, while the thoughtful ‘Maybe It’s You’ reflects gently and rather sadly on struggling with a troubled relationship:

It’s easy to forgive but nowhere as easy to forget
How you were wrong and let it be alright

The one song Courtney did not write, ‘Where I’ve Been’, was contributed by her husband Jason Eady. It is an excellent song about a woman taking comfort where she can while her marriage falls apart, and confessing wearily:

This is not what I wanted
I’d rather be home
But a home takes more than me
So if you ever get tired of lonely Just remember
I’m only as gone as you want me to be
Cause you ain’t been giving me the kind of love I’m needing
And you just ain’t been living like the man that I once knew
So I’ve given up and given in
Taken what I need every now again
And if you ever decide that you ever want to try again
Well, I’ll be here in the morning
Just don’t ask me where I’ve been

This is a wonderful record full of mature songwriting about real people and their complicated emotional lives. I strongly recommend it.

Grade: A+

In Memoriam: Buddy Emmons (1937-2015)

Buddy Emmons, one of country music’s greatest steel guitarists, has died at age 78:

http://www.msn.com/en-us/music/news/buddy-emmons-steel-guitar-legend-dies-at-78/ar-AAdGHho?ocid=ansBillboard11

Classic Rewind: Jo Dee Messina – ‘Burn’

Single Review: Jennifer Nettles – ‘Sugar’

SugarThe first time I heard Sugarland on the radio, I thought that they were the best band I’d heard in quite some time. Unfortunately, I grew to like them a little less with each subsequent album, with 2010’s The Incredible Machine being the last straw. It’s been five years since they released any new music and I can’t honestly say that I’ve missed them. My expectations for Jennifer Nettles’ new solo release, therefore, were low. But I was pleasantly surprised after hearing ‘Sugar’, her first single for EMI Nashville, which is to say, it’s actually pretty good.

‘Sugar’ was written by Nettles with Brandy Clark and Jessie Jo Dillon. While it’s still more pop than country, a healthy dose of dobro can be clearly heard above the fuzzy electric guitars, and this gives this piece of ear candy a rootsy feel. Although the production is a bit more heavy-handed than I would like, and the background vocals are particularly intrusive, the tune itself is infectious and Nettles is in good vocal form. This sounds a lot like something Sugarland would have released a decade ago, during the Twice The Speed of Life and Enjoy The Ride years, before they ventured off into steampunk and totally went off the rails. Nettles sounds positively gleeful as she flirts with her admirers and plays hard to get. Traditional it is not, but it’s a nostalgic look back at how mainstream country was not too many years ago before hick-hop and bro-country took hold. I never thought that I’d consider the music of Sugarland as part of the “good old days”, but if it came down to a choice between ‘Sugar’ and anything else that radio is playing these days, it’s a no-brainer. I’m cautiously optimistic about Nettles’ next full album. I sincerely hope that ‘Sugar’ is the beginning of a return to form and not just a one-off.

Listen to it here:

Grade: B+

Classic Rewind: Jay Lee Webb – ‘She’s Lookin’ Better by The Minute’

The song starts a couple of minutes in.

Reissues wish list part 2: MCA and Decca

webb pierceFor most of the Classic Country era, the big four of country record labels were Decca /MCA, RCA, Columbia and Capitol. Of these labels, MCA/Decca has done the poorest job of keeping their artists’ catalogues alive in the form of reissues.

When speaking of the big four labels we will need to define terms.
MCA/Decca refers to recordings released on MCA, Decca, Brunswick and for some periods, Vocalion.

During the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, Decca (later MCA) can be argued as having the strongest roster of artists. Such titans as Ernest Tubb, Red Foley, Webb Pierce, Conway Twitty, Jack Greene, Bill Anderson, Jimmy Martin, The Osborne Brothers, Bill Monroe, Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells and Loretta Lynn frequently dominated the charts with many strong second tier acts such as The Wilburn Brothers, Jimmie Davis, Roy Drusky, Jimmie C. Newman, Johnny Wright, Cal Smith, Bill Phillips, Crystal Gayle, Jeanie Seely, Jan Howard and Red Sovine passing through the ranks at various times. Crystal Gayle, of course, became a major star in the late 1970s and 1980s

In the early digital days MCA had virtually nothing of their classic artists available aside from some Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe and Conway Twitty discs. Then in 1991 they started their County Music Hall of Fame Series, showcasing artists elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, because of industry politics, their biggest stars, Webb Pierce and Conway Twitty, had not yet been elected.

Each of the discs contained fifteen or sixteen tracks or about 38 minutes of music. Many of the CDs featured artists who had not been on Decca for many years, and many featured artists who just passed through on their way to bigger and better things or had been bigger stars in the past. Among the CDS in the series were The Carter Family (on Decca 1937-1938), Jimmie Davis, Red Foley, Grandpa Jones (with Decca in the late 1950s – several remakes of King label hits), Loretta Lynn, Uncle Dave Macon (a real old-timer), Tex Ritter (1930s recordings), Roy Rogers, Sons of The Pioneers (with Decca during the 1930s and again in 1954), Hank Thompson (ABC/Dot recordings of the late 1960s and 1970s – MCA purchased the ABC & Dot labels – Hank never actually recorded for MCA/Decca). Floyd Tillman (1939-1944), Ernest Tubb, Kitty Wells, Bill Monroe and Bob Wills (Bob’s best years were on Columbia and MGM). The Bob Wills recordings were 1955-1967 recordings on the Decca & Kapp labels – the Kapp recordings usually featured Nashville session players with no real feel for swing and are the least essential recordings Wills ever made.

Each of the CDs mentioned above are undeniably worthy, but are either inadequate or not representative of the artists’ peaks.

Some MCA/Decca artists have been covered by Bear Family, most notably Ernest Tubb, Kitty Wells, Bill Monroe, Bill Anderson, Jimmy Martin and The Osborne Brothers. One could wish for more on some of these artists, but what is available generally is enough; however, it is expensive. Good two-disc sets would be desirable.

During the 1960s, Decca had their artists re-record their hits in order to take advantage of modern stereo technology, since for artists who peaked before 1957, such as Kitty Wells, Ernest Tubb, Webb Pierce and Red Foley, their biggest hits were recorded in monaural sound. An additional consideration for Ernest Tubb was that his then-current band was larger and better with musicians such as Billy Byrd and Buddy Emmons (to name just two) being members of the band. In the case of Ernest Tubb, the re-recordings were superior to the original string band recordings.

In the case of most other artists, I think the originals were better BUT for many years the original recordings were not available and listeners of my generation grew up hearing the stereo remakes whether on records or on the radio. Since the digital era began the stereo remakes have been unavailable except on Bear Family sets. It would be nice if the stereo remakes were available, and it would be nice if MCA/Decca artists were available on decent domestic collections.

Webb Pierce – several domestic releases of Webb Pierce’s hits are available but they generally contain about a dozen songs, all from the 1950s. There is a Bear Family set that covers up to 1958 – it’s great but it misses all of Webb’s lesser later hits. Webb was the #1 country artist of the 1950s according to Billboard, and while he slipped thereafter, he was still the sixth ranked artist of the 1960s with many hits, including a couple of Record World #1s. None of this has been released on CD. What is needed is a good three CD set gathering up Webb’s 1960s (and early 1970s) chart hits plus key album tracks and the stereo remakes of the fifties hits.

For as widely popular as she was. you would expect much of Barbara Mandrell‘s output to be available. Barbara moved from Epic to ABC/Dot and when ABC/Dot was absorbed by MCA, her music was issued on that label. Barbara had 30+ hits for ABC/Dot/MCA with many #1 and top five recordings. Currently, not much is available and she warrants a boxed set.

Jack Greene and Cal Smith both had fairly late starts to their solo careers. While there exist a few hit collections for each artist (on foreign labels), neither is very complete, leaving off key songs. For Cal Smith, since Kapp and MCA are both owned by the same company, a two disc set collecting Cal’s Kapp & MCA/Decca singles should suffice (possibly a single disc with about thirty tracks would be okay).

For Jack Greene, more is needed since Jack had over thirty chart singles for Decca and issued at least fourteen albums plus a hits collection while on MCA/Decca. Jack was a superior vocalist and his albums contain recordings of others’ hits that often were better than the original hits. While not a hit for Jack, his version of “The Last Letter” is the definitive recording of the song.

The Osborne Brothers were bluegrass innovators, developing an almost unique (Jim & Jesse were doing something similar) bluegrass and country hybrid with bluegrass instruments augmented by electric guitar, steel guitar and sometimes other amplified instruments. After leaving MCA/Decca for CMH and other labels, the Osborne Brothers went back to a more traditional bluegrass approach. Almost none of that classic hybrid material is available except for a gospel CD and an excellent but short (ten songs) collection titled Country Bluegrass which seems randomly put together. No bluegrass group ever has huge numbers of hit records on the country charts, but the Osborne Brothers did chart quite a few and they should be available domestically. I would think a single disc set of thirty tracks would be acceptable, although more would be better, of course.

Johnny Wright is better know as part of the duo Johnny & Jack (with Jack Anglin), but after Anglin’s death in 1963, Wright embarked on a successful solo career which saw the release of at least six albums on MCA/Decca plus twelve chart singles including the #1 “Hello Vietnam” , the first chart topper for a Tom T. Hall song. Johnny’s wife was Kitty Wells, and while he never reached her level of success as a solo artist, apparently it never bothered Wright as he and Kitty were married from 1937 until his death in 2011 at the age of 97. A good single disc collection would suffice here.

The bulk of Little Jimmy Dickens’ career occurred for another label, but his time on MCA/Decca saw the release of two albums of new material plus an album featuring remakes of his earlier hits. The Decca albums featured a staple of Jimmy’s live shows “I Love Lucy Brown” and an amusing novelty “How To Catch An African Skeeter Alive”. I think most of this would fit on a single CD.

Wilma Burgess was an excellent singer who came along about four decades too soon. While Wilma did not flaunt being lesbian, neither did she particularly hide it. Consequently, she never got much of a commercial push from her label. Many have recorded “Misty Blue” but none did it as well as Wilma Burgess. She recorded at least five albums for MCA/Decca plus some duets with Bud Logan, former band leader for Jim Reeves. A decent two disc set of this outstanding singer should be easy to compile.

I would like to see a collection on Loretta Lynn’s siblings, Peggy Sue and Jay Lee Webb. Since Loretta’s other well known sibling started on MCA/Decca as well, it should be possible to do a good two CD set of Loretta’s kinfolks. Jay Lee Webb’s “She’s Looking Better By The Minute” is an all-time honky-tonk classic.

Classic Rewind: T Graham Brown – ‘I Wish That I Could Hurt That Way Again’

Album Review: Jo Dee Messina – ‘Me’

meJo Dee’s latest album, released last year on her own label after she was released from her longstanding contract with Curb Records, was crowdfunded thanks to a Kickstarter campaign by her fans. It is broadly in keeping with Jo Dee’s work on Curb, contemporary pop-country which sounds positively understated compared to some of the current fare, but lacking even token nods to more traditional country instrumentation.

The lead single ‘Peace Sign’ is an assertive response to a breakup, with the protagonist cheerfully calling herself “dumb” for falling for the kind of man who dumps her by e-mail. While not the subtlest of songs, it should appeal to Jo Dee’s fans. It is one of two songs co-written by Jo Dee’s former Curb labelmate Amy Dalley, the other being ‘Breakin’ It Down’, another well-written (though unfortunately over-produced and sung) breakup song with an upbeat edge, although this time she is the one breaking away.

The assertive second single, ‘A Woman’s Rant’, is a self-penned plaint about the specific difficulty of modern life for women trying to juggle motherhood and career while getting paid less than male counterparts:

There’s so many things I can’t begin to understand
The differences that are between a woman and a man
You see, women they do twice the work and get half the pay
Men they climb the ladder while the women pave the way
They say that we’re the weaker sex
I’d have to disagree
I’d walk a mile in his shoes if he’d walk a half a mile in these

This is one of the best songs on the album, and it may be excessively self-deprecating to call it a rant, although it’s certainly unapologetically feminist.

In contrast, Jo Dee also wrote ‘Say Goodbye To Superman’, my favorite track on the album. This tearjerker is about a woman trying to explain to her young son why his idolised daddy isn’t coming home any more. It begins gently sad, building into a big ballad.

Jo Dee wrote two songs here with Alyssa Bonagura, daughter of Kathie Baillie and Michael Bonagura of 80s group Baillie & The Boys. The defiant country-rock opener ‘Not Dead Yet’ is about being a survivor, possibly addressed to her former label as she declares,

You’re the one who stopped believin’
While I’m still in the chase.
You shattered my feelings,
But you won’t shatter my faith

The other Bonagura co-wrote, ‘He’s Messed Up’, is more pop-rock than country of any variety, and it comes as no surprise to learn that it was written for rocker Pink. It is rather too loud and shouty for my taste, although I think there’s a decent lyric buried there, warning girls against a player (apparently based on a real life example).

Bonagura’s mother co-wrote the title track with Jo Dee. It is a pretty melodic tune about feeling inadequate. Jo Dee also co-wrote ‘Love On A Maybe’, a busily produced pop-rocker about a potential relationship with a guy paying hot and cold, and the rather boring ‘I’m Free’.

‘Strong Shot Of You’, written by Australian country singer-songwriter Sherrie Austin with Clay Mills and Weston Davis is energetic pop-rock-country with over-processed vocals. ‘Take It’, written by Hillary Lindsey, Brett James and Angelo Petraglia is even more horribly processed and more or less unlistenable. The wistful ‘Like A Kid Again’, written by Adrienne and Keith Follese and Tammy Hyler is better.

The arrangements and production aren’t the kind of country music I personally like, but it is very well done, with Jo Dee singing well on some strong material. I do applaud her for making the kind of music she wanted to, and fans of Jo Dee’s 90s/early 2000s peak should find much to like about this record.

Grade: B

Classic Rewind: Merle Haggard – ‘Wake Up’

Album Review: Ashley Monroe – ‘The Blade’

the bladeAshley Monroe’s second Warner Brothers release has been among my most-anticipated albums this year. While it lacks the immediate charm of the wonderful Like A Rose, the Vince Gill/Justin Niebank-helmed set has substance and beauty which grows on repeated exposure to reward the listener. Ashley’s delicately pretty voice is perfect for the vulnerable emotions expressed in many of the songs.

Ashley co-wrote every song but one. That outside contribution is the title track, written by Marc Beeson, Jamie Floyd and Allen Shamblin. It is a truly outstanding song about the disillusonment of finding one has always loved more than one’s partner, and is now left high and dry:

I let your love in, I have the scar
I felt the razor against my heart
I thought we were both in all the way
But you caught it by the handle
And I caught it by the blade

That’s the risk you run when you love
When you love and you give it all you’ve got to give
Knowing all along there’s a chance
There’s a chance you’ll reach and they won’t
You’ll bleed and they don’t

For you, it’s over; for me, it’s not
I kept tryin’ and you just stopped
Now I know how you can sound so brave
Cause you caught it by the handle, baby
And I caught it by the blade

Gill and Niebank’s understated production perfectly backs up Ashley’s hushed vocal. The whole thing is quite stunning.

The exquisite ballad ‘Has Anybody Ever Told You’ (written with Tyler Cain) is a charming love song supported with lovely steel guitar.

Another highlight is one of two songs written by Ashley with Chris Stapleton and Jessi Alexander, the traditional country lament ‘If The Devil Don’t Want Me’, in which a broken heart fails to find comfort anywhere:

I’ve heard stories ’bout honky tonk angels
Pickin’ up pieces of broken strangers
I’m at rock bottom with a smoke and a sin
When the party is over, then I’m lonely again

If the devil don’t want me
Where the hell do I go?
If I can’t see the light
In the neon glow
If there ain’t enough whiskey
To kill the fire in my soul

This writing partnership also produced the rapid paced bluesy rock ‘Winning Streak’, backed with wild honky tonk piano, on a similar theme, down and out with not even the devil interested. This is less to my taste musically than the other song, but well written and performed.

Alexander also co-wrote the contemporary ballad ‘If Love Was Fair’ with Ashley and with Steve Moakler. Miranda Lambert joined Ashley and Jessi to write the closing track, ‘I’m Good At Leavin’’, another excellent country tune, this time about an unapologetic rambling soul and free spirit, given a Celtic style arrangement.

Justin Davis and Sarah Zimmermann of the dup Striking Matches joined Ashley to write two songs. The gently pretty ‘From Time To Time’ has a tender lullabyish mood, while the memorable up-tempo ‘Dixie’ has a retro feel and a dramatic southern Gothic storyline:

It was the mines that killed my daddy
It was the law that killed my man
It was the Bible Belt that whipped me
When I broke the Fifth Command
I don’t hate the weather
I don’t hate the land
But if I had it my way I’d never see this place again

When I cross that line, man I’ll sing a brand new song
Instead of sitting here by the railroad tracks whistlin’ Dixie all day long
And I’m so tired of paying, praying for my sins
Lord get me out of Dixie Land
Jesus’ name, Amen

When I tread out of these parts
Look me up on the other side
Cause I’ll be damned if I go down in Dixie when I die

‘Bombshell’, written with Steve McEwan and Gordie Sampson, is about facing the guilty decision to tell a lover she is leaving, and knowing there is never going to be a good time to do it. Very good indeed.

Producer Gill co-wrote ‘Weight Of The Load’, a nice song about sharing the burdens of doubt and fear. Ashley’s friend Brendan Benson of the rock band The Raconteurs helped her with the pretty folky ballad ‘Mayflowers’. The first single, the upbeat and catchy ‘On To Something Good’ is agreeable listening if one of the lighter tracks.

The one track I didn’t much care for was the repetitive minor-keyed moody ‘I Buried Your Love Alive’ (a co-write with Matraca Berg), and even this grew on me a bit.

Overall, this is a great album which should raise Ashley Monroe’s profile.

Grade: A

Classic Rewind: Buck Owens – ‘Satan’s Got To Get Along Without Me’

Week ending 7/25/15: #1 singles this week in country music history

images-41955 (Sales): I Don’t Care/Your Good For Nothing Heart — Webb Pierce (Decca)

1955 (Jukebox): In The Jailhouse Now — Webb Pierce (Decca)

1955 (Disc Jockeys): A Satisfied Mind — Porter Wagoner (RCA)

1965: Before You Go — Buck Owens (Capitol)

1975: Touch the Hand — Conway Twitty (MCA)

1985: Dixie Road — Lee Greenwood (MCA)

1995: Any Man of Mine — Shania Twain (Mercury)

2005: As Good as I Once Was — Toby Keith (DreamWorks)

2015: Girl Crush — Little Big Town (Capitol)

2015 (Airplay): Love You Like That — Canaan Smith (Mercury)

Classic Rewind: Carrie Underwood covers Jo Dee Messina’s ‘Because You Love Me’

From American Idol:

Classic Rewind: Daron Norwood – ‘If I Ever Love Again’

Minor 90s artist Daron Norwood has died aged 49. This was one of his singles.

Single Review: Ronnie Dunn – ‘Ain’t No Trucks In Texas’

unnamedThe bottom line on Ronnie Dunn’s debut single for Nash Icon? “Ain’t No Trucks In Texas” has been done before. Jamie O’Neal took the thematically similar “There Is No Arizona” to #1 fourteen years ago. Fourteen years before O’Neal’s hit, George Strait scored a chart topper with another play on words, “Ocean Front Property.”

In this latest rendering, a guy is morning the end of his latest romantic relationship with a laundry list of ‘there ain’t no…’ phrases leading up to ‘their ain’t no trucks in Texas and I ain’t missing you.’ He’s seeping sarcasm in order to make a point to his ex, just like the guy who’ll gladly throw in the Golden Gate Bridge along with that Ocean Front Property in Arizona.

I will give Dunn and his team a lot of credit. “Ain’t No Trucks In Texas” is among the finest examples of modern country music we’ll likely hear all year. The song has everything – a well-worn theme, little lyrical imagination, bombastic colorless production, and an artist at their most generic. Seriously, what more could you ever want out of a song?

Nash Icon is currently 0-2 with giving their signees intriguing radio offerings to lead their respective projects. In retrospect, at least Reba injected her infectious personality into “Going Out Like That.” Bland as it is, the song still sounds like her.

The same can’t be said for “Ain’t No Trucks In Texas.” It could literally be anyone singing it. There’s nothing about this recording that’s distinctively Ronnie Dunn. Not even his vocal, which is as watered down as I’ve ever heard him.

Hopefully Dunn’s album will have stronger material. It’s criminal how far he seems to have fallen since “Cost of Livin.’” He and the greater good of country music deserve better.

Grade: C

Classic Rewind: Tanya Tucker – ‘One Love At A Time/Pecos Promenade’

Album Review: Alan Jackson – ‘Angels and Alcohol’

81S0JZvN9pL._SX522_After a pair of non-commercial albums that found him venturing into gospel and bluegrass, Angels and Alcohol, which was released last week, is both a return to form for Alan Jackson and his strongest collection since he parted ways with Arista Records five years ago.

Like the vast majority of Jackson’s catalog, Angels and Alcohol was produced by Keith Stegall. In many ways it is reminiscent of their best work from the 90s; there are no concessions to current trends and no attempts to chase radio hits. The current single, “Jim and Jack and Hank”, which I reviewed earlier this month, currently resides at #47 on the charts. Despite being a fun and catchy uptempo number, it’s unlikely to rise much higher in the current commercial environment.

Although I stand by the B+ rating I gave the single, I would not include it among one of my favorites from the album, because there are other more substantive songs which which a fluffy lightweight song simply cannot compete. With all due respect to Alan Jackson the songwriter, who penned seven of the album’s songs, my favorites are the three he didn’t write. Troy Jones’ and Greg Becker’s “When God Paints” is a beautiful ballad, with lyrics that are rich with imagery about life’s simple pleasures. Even better is “The One You’re Waiting On” by Adam Wright and Shannon Wright, which finds the protagonist sitting in a bar, admiring his love interest from afar, knowing that he doesn’t stand much of a chance but wondering exactly what she is holding out for. “Gone Before You Met Me”, an uptempo number by Michael White and Michael P. Heeney is about a free spirit who has long since settled down, and when he finds he is still rambling, is relieved to discover that it was only a dream. Country music needs more songs like this.

Jackson’s own compositions are nothing to sneeze at, either. The opening track “You Can Always Come Home” finds him reassuring a child who is about to leave the nest, and the title track is a beautiful ballad that is vintage Alan Jackson. It would have been a huge hit 20 years ago, and even ten years ago it might have been given a fair shot by radio. The closing track “Mexico, Tequila and Me” finds Jackson switching back to Jimmy Buffett mode, and is reminiscent of “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere”.

I can’t find anything to complain about with this album. The current crop of singers who are doing their best to ruin country music (and largely succeeding), could learn a lot from Alan Jackson. There are no stretches or surprises here, just good old country music that will not leave Jackson’s fans disappointed. Sometimes that’s enough.

Grade: A

Classic Rewind: Jo Dee Messina – ‘Lesson in Leavin’

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