My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Joe Nichols – ‘It’s All Good’

Joe Nichols is one of Music Row’s underrated journeymen performers. His sixth studio album, released last week is a mostly quiet affair, more rooted in tradition than the music of most his contemporaries, with a few concessions to contemporary tastes that should give him a shot at some radio airplay. As with his last few albums, he’s opted not to put all his eggs in one basket by using just one producer. This time around Mark Wright shares the honors with Buddy Cannon, with each contributing five tracks.

Things get off to a rocky start with the lead single, “Take It Off” a mediocre number that attempts but does not succeed in recreating the winning formula of 2005’s “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off”. Written by Dallas Davidson, Ashley Gorey, and Kelly Lovelace, the song is ultimately done in by the lack of subtlety in the lyrics, namely the part that goes:

You’re a pretty little country thing
But giddy under them cut-off jeans
Take ’em off, come on mama, take ’em off

Presumably these words of poetry are the handiwork of Kelly Lovelace, since they sound like something we’d normally hear from Brad Paisley. Released in August and reviewed by J.R. Journey shortly thereafter, “Take It Off” is currently at #25 on the charts.

The second track, “The More I Look” is a little better. It doesn’t contain any tasteless lyrics, but the production is a little cluttered and loud for my liking. Thankfully, this is the only production misstep on the album. I imagine that this track is earmarked for release as a single at some point, since it seems more radio friendly than most of the other songs on the album. Another likely single is “Somebody’s Mama”, a tune written by David Lee Murphy and Kim Tribble that finds Joe in the midst of covering up a tattoo that reminds him of an old flame. The couple apparently split up because Joe wasn’t ready to settle down:

She used to say all she wanted was babies
And I was too young to slow down
But I figure she’s probably somebody’s mama by now.

He goes on to speculate that she’s also dripping in diamonds and driving an expensive car, which seems odd because nothing else in the lyrics suggests that she was particularly materialistic. On the contrary, the fact that “she used to say all she wanted was babies” suggests quite the opposite. Still, it’s a pleasant song that stands a reasonable chance of success on the charts.

Things improve considerably from the fourth track on, with Joe sounding a lot at times like a younger George Strait, in both his vocal style and choice of material. The Strait influence is particularly evident with the title track written by Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman. “It’s All Good” is the most traditional and the best song on the album and probably not what radio wants, so it will likely linger in obscurity as an album cut. “No Truck, No Boat, No Girl” is also quite good and slightly more radio-friendly. The mood continues to get more mellow as the album progresses, with inoffensive filler like “Never Gonna Get Enough” and “She’s Just Like That.” The closing track “How I Wanna Go”, is a particularly laid-back tune that finds Joe contemplating an easy life on a sailboat with his guitar and lady, and again sounding very much like King George.

Nichols has had inconsistent success on the singles charts and there’s probably not anything here that is going to change that. It’s All Good is not an outstanding album, but it is very good above-average effort that deserves a listen. It is currently on sale for $5.99 at Amazon MP3.

Grade: B

6 responses to “Album Review: Joe Nichols – ‘It’s All Good’

  1. Occasional Hope November 17, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    I was a big fan when Joe emerged on the scene, but recently he seems to have stalled a bit; there seems to be a lack of ambition artistically, settling for good but not great. I still like his voice and musical approach a lot, but I wish he would pick material of a consistently high quality.

  2. Ben Foster November 17, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    I mostly agree, both with the review and with Occasional Hope’s above comment. There are a few pieces in place here for a strong album, with great vocals and solid traditional-leaning arrangements, but the song material is not of a high enough caliber for the album as a whole to be a truly outstanding effort.

    “Somebody’s Mama” didn’t strike me as a potential hit single, but it’s probably my favorite track on the album, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it sent to radio. I didn’t care for the title track though, as it reminded me too much of disposable efforts like Josh Turner’s “Everything Is Fine” and Darius Rucker’s “Alright” – It just seems like that kind of song has been done too much.

  3. Leeann Ward November 18, 2011 at 8:54 am

    I like Joe enough to have 30 songs of his on my iPod. I enjoy his voice and he’s capable of making good music. Unfortunately, you’ve got to find them as album tracks rather than hearing them as singles most of the time. My favorite song on this album is the final one.

    On a different note, I’m noticing that moe and more albums only have 10 songs on them these days. I kow that used to be the standard, but I guess I’ve been spoiled in the last decade and a half, because I can’t help but feel an album is slight if it doesn’t at least have 11 songs.

    • Razor X November 18, 2011 at 2:21 pm

      I was thinking the same thing, Leeann. There does seem to be a trend lately to going back to just 10 songs per album. I guess we’ve gotten a little spoiled by bonus tracks and deluxe editions.

      • luckyoldsun November 18, 2011 at 11:59 pm

        Ten songs was the standard in the CD era. The classic country albums by Strait, Randy Travis, Garth, Clint, Alan Jackson and others from that era like Tritt, Chesnutt, Diffie, Lawrence, Tippin, Patty all had 10 cuts. I’ll take those over 20 cuts from Joe 5-cents.

  4. bob November 18, 2011 at 1:10 pm

    My favorite songs so far are the title track and “How I Wanna Go” but a few others may grow on me. I agree with OH that overall his material could be better. I passed on his last album, “Old Things New” and still consider “Man with a Memory” to be his best effort.

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