My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Sonny Burgess – ‘Have You Got A Song Like That?’

Texan Sonny Burgess is one of those relatively obscure artists who are still making traditionally-rooted country music. This is his third album, and although it was released some months ago, has only recently come my way. It is produced by successful songwriter Kerry Kurt Phillips, who does a fine job. Sonny’s voice is light but pleasant.

Things get off to a solid start with the amusing honky tonker ‘Beer-i-cide’, a song about the perils of drunken (and music-fuelled) behavior, written by Sam Tate, Kathleen Wright and Greg Barnhill:

Well there’s a biker in the corner who thinks I stole his girl
And man I swear he’s itchin’ for a fight
If this bar would just stop spinning like some gin soaked tilt-a-whirl
I’d show him who’s the big dog here tonight

There’s a tiny little Johnny telling me to walk the line
Tiny Waylon’s yellin’ “hit him from behind”
I put that bottle to my lips before I follow him outside
And it’s got the whole bar betting that I’m committin’ beer-i-cide

Well now I guess I should be leaving cause they’re turning off the lights
And my eye’s gone down enough that I can see
I might stumble home a broken man but there’s one ray of hope
That six-pack waitin’ in the fridge for me

And now Hank senior’s on my shoulder singing “Bless your cheatin’ heart “
Meanwhile Johnny’s telling Waylon “told you so”
I take that bottle from my lips to kiss my next ex-wife goodbye
I’ve used all the rope she’s given
I’m committing beer-i-cide

And I really will be sorry, least until tomorrow night
When once more I’ll be here sitting
Still committing beer-i-cide

It is followed by one of my favorite tracks, the plaintively sung ballad ‘The Request’, specially written for the album by D.J. Gleason, Kevin Haynie and Dave Gibson, and which provides its title, as a heartbroken woman (mixing her tears with whiskey) asks a singer for a special song:

I said “I’m taking last requests”
She walked up with a note wrapped in a dollar
And this is what it said

Said, “I’m tired of being someone second best
And I’m sick of counting on promises never kept
And I’ve been thinking ‘bout burnin’ all the bridges to my past
Hey cowboy, have you got a song like that?”

She was searching for some healing’ that some old heartbreak song could bring
Oh I knew just how she was feeling but I couldn’t think of one damn thing
So I told the band I’ll do the last one with just my guitar and the note
And I ordered up another cold one
I just sang what she wrote

Perhaps surprisingly, Kerry Kurt Phillips has only one songwriting credit here, the entertaining ‘Grain Of Salt’, which he wrote with Patrick Jason Matthews and Richie Jones. This is a paean to the soothing powers of alcohol to help with life’s disasters:

My septic tank is backing up
One of my six dogs just had 12 pups
And I ain’t even had my breakfast yet
The IRS is on the phone
The bank’s hitching up my trailer home
Lately I’ve been having sharp pains in my chest

I guess I really oughta be upset
But I take life with a grain of salt
I don’t get worked up at all
I’m never down, no I’m always flying high
When folks ask how I maintain a zen-like state of mind
I tell them
I take life with a grain of salt and a little slice of lime

Tomorrow Is Gone is a nicely downbeat ode to alcohol-soaked self-pity co-written by former Lyric Street artist Kevin Denney:

Don’t hand me the bright side, cause I know there ain’t one
My glass ain’t half full, it’s a dry
You say I shouldn’t try to drown my sorrow
You say there’ll always be tomorrow

Tomorrow packed up
Tomorrow walked out
Tomorrow burned the tyres off her Chevrolet
Moved back to Mama’s
Left me here all alone
So don’t tell me about tomorrow, man
Tomorrow is gone

A slightly livelier look at heartbroken drinking comes in the up-tempo fiddle-led ‘Plain Ol’ Pain’ which co-writer Jason Matthews recorded on his own CD in 2008:

Cowboy pulls his hat down
Drunkard drinks his wine
A Preacher reads a bible
A poet writes a line
Me, I’m fillin’ up this jukebox with a pocketful of change
We all got our way of dealing with this plain ol’ pain

A bottle full of whiskey can ease the sting a bit
For those of us who’ve been there
But it’s a temporary fix

I also really like the sensitive and low-key ‘Every Now And Then’ which closes the album with a faintly melancholy air. The song is written by Trent Willmon, Bobby Pinson and Jeremy Spillman, and has the now happily narrator recounting his occasional forays reminding himself of wilder times in the past

Every now and then
I go out with a friend or two
Have a few rounds
I make it home by 10
But I remember when I used
To close that place down
The whiskey and the smoke
And a couple tasteless jokes
Don’t taste the way they did
I just do it every now and then
To remind myself why I just do it every now and then

Every now and then
I surrender to a whim
My wheels wind up west of town
And I turn on that street
It just turns out to be a road I shouldn’t go back down
All those memories have turned to ghost and weeds
I don’t wanna hurt like that again
I just do it every now and then
To remind myself why I just do it every now and then

The few songs not referencing alcohol are less good, starting with the zippy but silly ‘Thing Thang Thing’, written by the usually estimable Jerry Salley and Wil Nance. It leads into a brace of pleasant but forgettable songs, ‘She Don’t Make it Easy On Me’, a slightly awkwardly phrased love song about domestic bliss, ‘All Kinds Of Beautiful’, a heartfelt tribute to the beauties (to a native of the area) of flat west Texas, which has a pretty tune, and ‘Cowboy Cool’, which has a nice western sound. These are all lyrically dull and collectively drag down the second half of the album. ‘I Can’t Think Of One’ is the most mainstream sounding track, a not very interesting Brett James/Ashley Gorley/Chris Farren song which has the protagonist not able to think of a reason not to be with his love interest.

Overall, though, this was an enjoyable listen with some very good songs, and a welcome reminder that real country music can still be found.

Grade: B

You can listen to the whole album here.

One response to “Album Review: Sonny Burgess – ‘Have You Got A Song Like That?’

  1. country lady February 20, 2010 at 3:41 am

    I haven’t seen walk the line yet, but I guess I will have to see it. Most of the reviews I read say it is really great.

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