My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Neal Lowry

Album Review: Aaron Watson – ‘shutupanddance’

shutupanddanceshutupanddance was released in 2002, when Aaron was still known mainly in Texas. It was produced by Kym Warner, an Australian mandolinist. (It was incidentally during these Aaron Watson sessions that Warner met British-born fiddler Eamon McLoughlin, with whom he founded the Americana band The Greencards.) Aaron wrote every song, either solo or with Neal Lowry, and the results are very impressive.

The beaty opener ‘I Don’t Want You To Go (But I Need To Leave)’ is quite catchy, about a relationship with a woman who is just a bit too much of a party girl for everyday life together to work out:

It’s time we called it quits
You know you make fun for Saturday night
But the rest of the week is the pits

There is an excellent classic-style country cheating song set in ‘The Notel Motel’

In a room full of lies
Where love is stolen and put up for sale
If the walls could talk
You know they’d have some stories to tell
‘Cause there’s a vacancy at home
Not tonight at the Notel Motel

Also excellent is the sad story song ‘Stuck Between A Rock And A Heartache’ paints a picture of lonely young wife and mother talking refuge in romance novels and daytime soaps which remind her of her own past romance. An acoustic version of this song is added at the end of the set; since the non-acoustic version is very restrained anyway this seems unnecessary, but it’s a fine song.

‘Off The Record’, a regret-imbued song about a pending divorce, is also very good, with the protagonist still in love despite acknowledging it is all over. In ‘Wish I Could Say I’d Been Drinking’, the non-drinking protagonist feels guilty about the breakup of his relationship, with no one to blame but himself. In ‘Lonely Lubbock Lights’ the singer protagonist has chosen the barrooms he performs in over the straitlaced preacher’s daughter he loved, and now it’s too late to find her again.

‘Kentucky Coal Miner’s Prayer’ is yet another highlight, a powerfully empathetic portrayal of a man struggling with poverty and the terrors of the mines.

‘Heaven Help The Heart’ is an entertaining putdown of a femme fatale who enjoys breaking hearts. ‘Something With A Swing To It’ is, as you might expect from the title, western swing, and is a delight. Belying its title, ‘Shut Up And Dance’ is a pretty melodic love song about staying home with a loved one.

‘Some Never Will’ is well written, but has a slightly harder edge musically. ‘Wrangler Butts’ is a mildly amusing but rather silly tongue in cheek number about the appeal of a good for nothing cowboy’s posterior view. ‘Messing With A Man On A Mission’ is a cheerful up-tempo tune; unremarkable but pleasant.

This was an impressive album by a young artist, solidly country with a Texas feel. It’s a great shame it didn’t make a wider impact at the time of release.

Grade: A

Some hidden treasures of the decade

At the end of last year, I shared a list of my favorite 50 singles of the decade. Some of them were big hits, others more obscure, but at least in theory they got some attention at the time. Now that the decade is well and truly over, I thought I would mention some hidden treasures – album tracks that you probably only heard if you’re a fan of the artist, and purchased the full album. Some of them are from albums and artists that were more successful than others. I’ve omitted anything that made it to radio (even if it wasn’t a hit) as I considered those for my last list, and I have also left out anything from an album which made our collective Albums of The Decade list, although I have included tracks from other albums by artists who appeared on both of those lists. I have restricted my list to one track per artist named.

40. ‘Cold All The Time’ – Irene Kelley (from Thunderbird, 2004)
Songwriter Irene Kelley has released a couple of very good independent albums, showcasing her own very beautiful voice as well as her songs. This is a gently resolute song about a woman stuck in a bad relationship, summoning up the courage to make a move.

39. ‘All I Want’ – Darius Rucker (from Learn To Live, 2008)
There is still a chance that this might make it to the airwaves, as Darius’s platinum country debut is his current release. As a whole, the material was a little disappointing, but this great song is definitely worth hearing, and not only because it’s the mos country song on the album. It’s a jaundiced kiss-off to an ex, offering her everything as “all I want you to leave me is alone”.

38. ‘I Met Jesus In A Bar’ – Jim Lauderdale (from Country Super Hits Volume 1, 2006)
Songwriter Jim Lauderdale has released a number of albums of his own, in more than one country sub-genre, and in 2006 he issued two CDs on one day: one country, the other bluegrass. This great co-write with Leslie Satcher, a melancholy-tinged song about God and booze, also recorded by Aaron Watson, comes from the country one.

37. ‘A Train Not Running’ – Chris Knight (from The Jealous Kind, 2003)
Singer-songwriter Chris Knight co-wrote this downbeat first-person tale of love and a mining town’s economic failure with Stacy Dean Campbell, who also recorded a version of the song.

36. ‘Same Old Song’ – Blake Shelton (from Blake Shelton, 2001)
These days, Blake seems to attract more attention for his girlfriend Miranda Lambert and his Tweeting than for his own music. This song, written by Blake’s producer Bobby Braddock back in 1989, is an appeal for country songs to cover new ground and real stories.

35. ‘If I Hadn’t Reached For The Stars’ – Bradley Walker (from Highway Of Dreams, 2006)
It’s probably a sign of the times that Bradley Walker, who I would classify as a classic traditional country singer in the Haggard/Travis style, had to release his excellent debut album on a bluegrass label. This love song (written by Carl Jackson and previously recorded by Jon Randall) is all about finding happiness through not achieving stardom.

34. ‘Between The River And Me’ – Tim McGraw (from Let It Go, 2007)
Tim McGraw is not one of my favorite singers, but he does often have a knack for picking interesting material. It was a travesty that the best track on his 2007 album was never released as a single, especially when far less deserving material took its place. It’s a brooding story song narrated by the teenage son of a woman whose knack seems to be picking the wrong kind of man, in this case one who beats her. The son turns to murder, down by the river.

33. ‘Three Sheets In The Wind’ – Randy Archer (from Shots In The Dark, 2005)
In the early 9s, Randy Archer was one half of the duo Archer Park,who tried and failed to challenge Brooks & Dunn. His partner in that enterprise is now part of The Parks. Meanwhile, Randy released a very good independent album which has been overlooked. My favorite track is this sad tale of a wife tearing up a husband’s penitent note of apology and leaving regardless.

32. ‘It Looked Good On Paper’ – Randy Kohrs featuring Dolly Paton (from I’m Torn, 2007)
A forlorn lost-love ballad from dobro player Kohrs featuring exquisite high harmonies from Dolly. the ret o the record is very good, too – and you can listen to it all on last.fm.

31. ‘Mental Revenge’ – Pam Tillis (from It’s All Relative: Tillis Sings Tillis, 2002)
After her mainstream stardom wound down, 90s star Pam Tillis took the opportunity to record a real labor of love: a tribute album to her father Mel. This bitter diatribe to an ex is my favorite track.

30. ‘You Don’t Love God If You Don’t Love Your Neighbour’ – Rhonda Vincent (from The Storm Still Rages, 2001)
A traditional country-bluegrass-gospel quartet take on a classic rebuke to religious hypocrites, written by Carl Story. The track isn’t the best showcase of Rhonda’s lovely voice, but it’s a great recording of a fine song with a pointed message.

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