Texan neotraditionalist Curtis Grimes had a run on The Voice a few years ago, but his main musical success has been regionally. Produced by Trent Willmon, this new release is his most traditionally rooted by far, and it is well worth hearing.
Curtis is clearly an enormous Keith Whitley fan, showing his natural good taste. In ‘If You Ask Me’, a beautifully sung but otherwise ordinary statement of country philosophy-cum-love song, he is clearly referring to him when he says “The best of country music died in 1989”.
‘Everything Hank Did But Die’ was one of the songs recorded by Keith Whitley and never released (probably because it was thought to be a little too close to home to do so posthumously). Curtis sounds very much like Keith in his vocal stylings on this track, and it is great to finally hear a full produced version of the tune (Keith’s demo can be found on youtube.)
Old Hank was my hero, since I was a kid.
And I grew up relivin’ all the crazy things he did.
Whiskey drinkin’, honky tonk singin’, stayin’ out all night,
Livin’ hard and dyin’ young was just a way of life.
I’ve done everything Hank did but die
And it ain’t because I did not try
Sometimes it amazes me that I got out alive
‘Cause I’ve done everything Hank did but die
I didn’t know how dangerous that lost highway could be
Till one too many whiskey binges brought me to my knees
I saw the light that very night
Ol’ Hank is still the King
But I found out that I don’t have to kill myself to sing
Great song, excellent performance.
Much in the same vein is the somber ‘Had A Thing’, a superb self-written song in which he considers pain, sin, the life of a musician, and final salvation:
I had a thing for whiskey, women and weed
Seemed to be ‘bout all I’d ever need
Three vices with a visegrip on
Wouldn’t numb the pain for me…
I had a thing for a guitar and old dime bars
They can pay the rent or tear a home apart…
I had all I ever wanted
Thought I wanted a whole lot more
It takes a heavy toll on a Lone Star troubadour
When the price you pay ain’t worth the things you lose along the way
You come crawlin’ back to lay in the bed you made
I had a thing for sad old country songs
Tuggin’ on your heartstrings one by one
Puttin’ into words the way it feels to be alone
But having reached this low point, enduring religious faith saves him in the end, as the melody syncs into an outro of ‘Amazing Grace’.
He continues the religious mood with ‘Born To Die’, a nice song about Jesus.
The pacy shuffle ‘Right About Now’ is a highly entertaining song written in the second person, addressed to a stubborn man who prefers clinging to his hurstpride to backing down:
Well you were in the right and she was in the wrong
And sometimes a man’s gotta stand on principle…
You really kinda miss her but
You don’t wanta let her know
All you gotta do to bring her back is apologize
But hey, what’s a fella got if he ain’t got his pride
Right about now she’s out on the town
Without a reason not to be havin’ her a good time
And right about now
One of your pals is buyin’ her a third (fourth, fifth) round of applepie moonshine
You bit the bullet
You stuck to your guns
And I bet by golly you’re proud
You sure got somethin’ to be right about now
He ends wryly with the thought that the woman he has made cry has got the last laugh:
If you think she’s about to do you wrong
You just might be correct
You drew that line and she crossed it
I think you got yourself an Ex
‘Ten Year Town’ tackles Nashville and the state of country music:
I came out here so I could write and sing
Not rap on stage wearing skinny jeans
The lead single, ‘From Where I’m Standing’ is a mellow sounding romantic ballad written by Thomas Rhett, Chris Janson and Jaron Boyer, which is much better than one might expect with those origins. It’s attractive melodically, although the lyrics are a little cliche’d. ‘Put My Money On That’ is a bit generic and the album’s weakest entry, but it is pleasant enough listening.
The only real disappointment is that there are only eight tracks.