My Kind of Country

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

Album Review: Tracy Lawrence – ‘Good Old Days’

If popular culture is to be believed, it seems the 1990s is the hottest decade right now. Most of the ‘new’ television shows are reboots of classics from the era, including Full House and Will & Grace, with the originals casts reprising their roles. In popular music, if you were a major player 20-25 years ago, then its suddenly fashionable to return with new music and slews of concert dates.

In country music, this trend extends to the return of Faith Hill and Shania Twain with their first new music in more than a decade while Garth Brooks is wrapping up his massive three-year tour this month in Nashville. Even Dixie Chicks came home to the United States with their first tour in ten years. What’s old is new again or rather the music that defined my childhood is suddenly hip again.

It would be a stretch to place Tracy Lawrence at the same level since he was never a global superstar or wheeled much influence on an international stage. But he was one of the most consistent and traditional artists in his day, with a catalog that more than stands up to anything released by the artists who may have eclipsed him in status.

To celebrate this resurgence, Lawrence has released Good Ole Days, which recognizes what he refers to as a ‘hunger for the music from my era.’ The album pairs him with modern day country artists singing his hits. The whole concept does seem like a gimmick, a cash grab for the gullible fan unaware they are likely only lining the pockets of the executive who dreamt up this project. But really it’s a chance to finally hear country’s current class sing real well-written songs for the first time in their careers. I jumped at the chance to review this album simply so I could hear how these artists sound when forced to interrupt the actual country music. I’ve always had a theory that there is talent there if these artists had the proper vehicle to show it off.

This is the proper vehicle because instead of the artists making these songs their own, with their typical non-country producers and such, they have to stick within the confines of the original arrangements, including the steel, fiddle, and twang. Without the ability to hide, every weakness would be on the table.

Luke Bryan tackles Lawrence’s 1991 debut “Sticks and Stones” and handles it well. I wasn’t impressed with Jason Aldean’s take on “Just Can’t Break It to My Heart,” his voice was a bit too dirty, but the energy was good.

I remember reading in Quotable Country, on the dearly-departed Country California, Justin Moore says if he had a say he would make an album in the vein of I See It Now. He goes back a bit further here with “Alibis” and knocks it out of the park. Moore is a great country singer and it’s a shame he has to reside in this current climate.

Dustin Lynch sounds exactly like a young Lawrence on “Texas Tornado,” which is kind of scary. His performance isn’t excellent, but it’s damn close. I was surprised Miranda Lambert, who has been known to belt this out in concert, wasn’t singing it but that could’ve been label politics.

Probably the newest artist featured here is Luke Combs, who just hit number one with “When It Rains It Pours.” There’s no mistaking he’s a country singer and he easily pulls this off. The same is true for Chris Young, but he sounds like he’s just going through the paces on “If The Good Die Young.” If he had just let go the results could’ve been incredible.

The legend of Tim McGraw is he moved to Nashville on May 9, 1989, and has always said he’s more of a storyteller while Keith Whitley is a singer. I agree wholeheartedly, but his performance of “Time Marches On” is bland. In contrast, Easton Corbin shines on “Paint Me A Birmingham.”

Kellie Pickler’s talent is wasted on “Stars Over Texas,” which finds her regulated to singing the chorus. As the sole female voice on the whole album, you would’ve thought she’d be allowed more of a presence. I didn’t care for her vocal either, which makes her sound like a little girl.

There are two new songs in the mix. Brad Arnold, the lead singer of Alternative Rock band Three Doors Down (think ‘Here Without You’) joins Lawrence on the title track, which is being billed as his “country music debut.” The song, which also features Big & Rich, is a faux-rock disaster. The military-themed fiddle drenched ballad “Finally Home,” which features Craig Morgan, is better but not really for my tastes.

Good Ole Days is a great concept with lousy execution. These tracks are collaborations between the singer and Tracy Lawrence which doesn’t work on any level. Get rid of Lawrence entirely and turn this into the proper tribute album it’s screaming to be. His nasally twang is insufferable and pointlessly distracting. The lack of female artists in the mix is also troubling, as you don’t need just men to sing these songs.

Grade: B-

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6 responses to “Album Review: Tracy Lawrence – ‘Good Old Days’

  1. Luckyoldsun December 8, 2017 at 5:35 pm

    The whole review seemed to celebratory of the past achievements and talent of Tracy Lawrence–while somewhat questioning of the country cred of his current successors. Then the tenor completely changes in the final paragraph–and in the penultimate sentence you drop in, seemingly out of nowhere, an extremely harsh rip of Tracy Lawrence. (I’m not even a Lawrence fan, and I didn’t see where that was coming from.) Not sure if you really meant to say what you said or if there was an editing glitch.

    • Jonathan Pappalardo December 8, 2017 at 7:17 pm

      No glitch per se, but I should’ve added his voice TODAY is insufferable. I don’t care for how it’s aged. As far as this album goes, you don’t need the man himself. It would’ve been a lot stronger as a tribute album like, say, the Don Williams one from May. I would’ve much perferred they go that route here. His contributions vocally take away from the other artists, at least on the classic hits. I completely stand by my comments regarding his past achievements.

      • Occasional Hope December 9, 2017 at 3:44 am

        His voice has, sadly , definitely deteriorated significantly on this showing.

        • Luckyoldsun December 9, 2017 at 7:35 pm

          In the ’90s, I considered Tracy Lawrence to be rather similar to Mark Chesnutt, though I always liked Chesnutt a whole lot more. I thought Chesnutt sounds fabulous on his most recent CD, “Tradition Lives,” from last year. I haven’t heard anything from Lawrence recently, but I’m surprised to hear that his singing would have deteriorated markedly–especially since Lawrence is younger than Chesnutt and their contemporaries like Joe Diffie, Sammy Kershaw, Aaron Tippin. In fact, he’s about the same age as Kenny Chesney, who’s still in the “big leagues.” Lawrence and Chesney don’t hit the 5-0 until early next year.

        • Ken December 9, 2017 at 9:07 pm

          It’s not just an artist’s chronological age that affects their voice – it’s how they’ve lived their years. Many engage in an excessive or abusive lifestyle that can age them way beyond their years. Ray Price and Mel Tillis continued to turn in worthy performances into their 80’s as Willie Nelson does today. But near the end of their lives both Johnny Cash and Johnny Paycheck appeared and sounded about two decades older than their actual age.

  2. Razor X December 9, 2017 at 9:47 pm

    I’d rather listen to the original recordings. I have no interest in listening to most of these “artists” sing anything.

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