My Kind of Country

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

Album/EP Review: Jeff Bates – ‘Troublemaker’

I’m a fan of Jeff Bates’ deep voice and strong songwriting, so I was pleased to see he had released a new 7 track recrd, halfway between an album and an EP.

‘If I Get Drunk Tonight’ is an emotional ballad well suited to Bates’ vocal abilities. It is an excellent lost love song in which the protagonist wonders if he can drink away his pain:

If I get drink tonight
Will I find relief?
Will I close my eyes
And finally get sleep?
Will I stop hurtin’,
Or does the whiskey just lie?
I’ll know tomorrow
If I get drunk tonight

This is great, and my favorite track.

Another excellent song, ‘Leaving Town’ is a closely observed look at a dying small town where there are no jobs or futures left.

They built a bypass and it passed us by
All our hopes and dreams dried up and slowly died
We boarded up our memories one window at a time
Now nobody ever comes
Even the river runs from this leaving town

Also very good with a great vocal is the regretful ‘Ain’t Goodbye Good Enough’, about an ex who seems annoyed he isn’t begging her to come back:

You don’t want me, I know
But you won’t let me let you go
You cut me deep and you keep cutting more
You already took your love
Ain’t goodbye good enough?

You’re so angry and I really don’t know why
You’re the one who wanted it this way

The title track, about a hot girl, is disappointing – lacking in melody with too much echo on the chorus and annoying production elements. Also suffering from intrusive production was the otherwise attractive love song ‘Rest Of My Life’.

Much better, ‘Meetin’ My Maker’ is a sweet song about a grandpa with little time for organised religion but who finds God “out in the wild wood”. The set closes with ‘Judging Judas’, a powerful mid-tempo critique of hypocrisy:

Got my religion and I pray religiously
Then I do what I want to
When I get up off my knees
I search my brother and I don’t like what I find
He sees the same thing when he looks into my eyes
And we keep judging Judas while we hang from the same tree
Your sin is greatest cause you don’t sin like me
Reap what we sow and we sow what we reap
And we keep judging Judas while we hang from the same tree

We’re all born innocent then we learn to feel the shame
And then we hide our guilt behind a wall of blame…
We teach love and peace then we take our hate to war

It’s a shame this is not a full length album, but with the exception of one or two tracks it is worth catching up with.

Grade: A-

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