My Kind of Country

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

Tag Archives: Trent Tomlinson

Album Review: Trent Tomlinson – ‘That’s What’s Working Right Now’

thats-whats-working-right-nowOne-time Lyric Street artist Trent Tomlinson scored a couple of top 20 hits a decade ago, but has struggled since his departure from that label, issuing a series of singles. Now he has self-released a new album, although none of those singles have made their way on to the end product. The production is rather louder and less sympathetic to the material or Trent’s voice than I expected, or would have liked.

‘Dust’ is a decent if not spectacular song about regret for failing to save a relationship beneath the insensitive wall of sound production.

‘When She Goes There’ (though still a bit cluttered) is better, a strong mid-tempo song about denial, with the protagonist refusing to meet with his departing lover when she comes over to pick up her things:

I don’t wanna be here when she goes there
So I can’t see that she don’t care
If I don’t see the leavin’ all over her face
I can keep believin’ everything’s okay
If I don’t feel the hurtin’ hit
And hear goodbye rollin off her lips
There’s still a chance she ain’t going anywhere

‘One Way In’ is a nice ballad about falling in love and making a commitment that lasts in a small town. ‘Cry Baby’ is an attractive love song offering a shoulder to cry on and the prospect of new love, and I also quite liked ‘The Crying Game’ despite an intrusive electric guitar and unnecessary spoken section . Another love song, ‘For The Life Of Me’ is quite good too, although a string arrangement battles with the electric guitar.

Although far from traditional, I rather enjoyed ‘Don’t Blow My Cover’, a catchy tune addressed to the protagonist’s own heart as he tries to play it cool with a new love interest.

‘Eyes On You’ and ‘Right Where We Want It’ are too pop-rock influenced for me, and not particularly interesting lyrically. ‘Running Out Of Room’ might possibly be a good song under the layers of production.

Trent’s traditionalist tendencies get a show in the title track, an excellent song about drinking and denial to deal with a breakup:

I found a place where a grown man can hide
And not be ashamed if he breaks down and cries
I know I should go home but I know what’s in store
And who gives a damn if I just have one more…

I’ll just sit here and drink till I drown
Cause that’s what’s working right now

Inn similar style is the closing track, ‘I Called Up Hell’. This is a great song about heartbreak and drinking:

You see I live in a bottle
Down deep in a hole
But she’s got my heart
Lord I don’t need my soul
And I burn with a fever from every last kiss
So I called up Hell
Because it’s better than this

It’s better than drinkin’ til I fade to black
And waking up screamin’ ‘cause she ain’t coming back

So this is definitely a mixed bag, but the production issues made it overall a disappointment for me. Download ‘That’s What’s Working Right Now’ and #I Called Up Hell’, and one or two other tracks are worth checking out.

Grade: C+

EP Review: William Michael Morgan – ‘William Michael Morgan’

william michael morganOccasionally my faith in the future of mainstream country music is revived. That’s when an artist like William Michael Morgan emerges, signed to a major label (in this case Warner Brothers). When Razor X reviewed his debut single ‘I Met A Girl’ last year he praised Morgan’s song and country credentials, while noting, correctly, that the song was ‘generic and unmemorable’. It is saved by Morgan’s voice, which has tonal echoes of Keith Whitley, and his tender commitment to the song which makes it quite convincing. The single is slowly making its way up the chart, and has sold over 30,000 downleads, prompting Warner Brothers to issue this six-track EP, which gives us the chance to hear how he stands as an artist beyond that one song.

I was concerned when the record opened with the love song ‘Vinyl, which is similarly pleasant but underwhelming, and suffers from too many repeats of the word ‘girl’. It was written by Wade Kirby, Ashley Gorley, and Carson Chamberlain. ‘Beer Drinker’ (written by Wynn Varble, David Lee and Don Poythress ) raises the tempo a little, and is bearable potential radio fodder but a little dittyish and over-produced, at least by the standards of this record. None of these songs is bad, just not likely to set the world on fire.

But the second half of the set is much more like it. ‘Lonesomeville’ is an excellent sad song written by Morgan with Mark Sherrill, Ash Underwood, and former Lyric Street artist Trent Tomlinson, A steel guitar dominates the arrangement, complementing Morgan’s classic country vocal.

Just as good, the plaintive ‘Cheap Cologne’ has the protagonist sleeplessly fretting over the too-obvious signs of his wife’s infidelity:

She’ll get in from God knows where
I’ll smell that honky tonk in her hair
I don’t know if there someone she’s holdin’
But my suspicion keeps on growing
And a shower won’t cover it up when she gets home
She don’t smoke cigarettes and I don’t wear cheap cologne

But tonight she’s in for a surprise as he plans to be gone before she gets home. This song was written by Jimmy Ritchey, Odie Blackmon and another ex-Lyric Street performer who sadly never quite made it, Kevin Denney. (Incidentally I understand Denney is planning on releasing new music himself in the near future.)

Finally, the valedictory ‘Back Street Driver’ (written by Robert Counts, Nicolette Hayford, and Matt Willis) is a father’s good luck message for a departing son starting out on his new life:

There’s a Bible on the dash and a map tucked in the door
I can’t be your back seat driver any more

The only disturbing note is that he feels the need to pack a baseball bat in the back.

This is a very promising debut from an artist I very much hope to hear more from.

Grade: A-

Single Review – Trent Tomlinson – ‘Come Back To Bed’

unnamedWith a beat slightly reminiscent of Luke Bryan’s “I Don’t Want This Night To End,” and a lyric not too far removed from the bro-country of today’s mainstream radio, Trent Tomlinson marks his return with a whimper that should be a bang.

“Come Back To Bed” says it all through its title. Tomlinson plays the part of a man desiring his woman to drop the towel around her newly showered body and return to his embrace to be covered in kisses and fawned over. Unfortunately that’s about as deep as the song gets.

But unlike most songs of its ilk, “Come Back To Bed” is nicely restrained and features zero of the 80s rock trappings that has ruined mainstream country over the past ten years and Tomlinson’s Lee Brice-like vocal is crisp and clean, not dirty and gravelly, which I greatly appreciate. He also seems invested in what he’s singing, which for a marginalized lyric like this, wins him many points.

Is “Come Back To Bed” the second coming of “One Wing In The Fire,” his excellent number from eight years ago? Of course not, and I’m not at all surprised, especially given the course of our genre in that short span of time. But it’s not an offensive song to women, nor is it rock or hip-hop in any noticeable way. I’ll take this over 99% of radio offerings any day. At least he keeps it listenable.

Grade: B

Classic Rewind: Trent Tomlinson – ‘One Wing In The Fire’

A #11 hit from 2006:

Single Review: Trent Tomlinson – ‘A Man Without A Woman’

It’s been a while since we’ve heard from former Lyric Street artist Trent Tomlinson, best known for ‘One Wing In The Fire’ which just missed the top ten back in 2006. Now signed to independent label Skyville, he is back with a solid new single.

Structured as a simple three verse song with a different story presented in each, all on the theme of the helplessness of a man without a woman in his life. Apparently,

That’s a man without a woman
Lonely and lost, no use at all
A boat without an ocean
Talk about somethin’
That ain’t much good for nothin’

As so often with this kind of song, each of the stories feels a little underwritten individually, and their differing circumstances do feel a bit disjointed.

In the first verse we have a 25-year-old single man who spends his free time drinking and his working hours dealing with the consequent hangover. This is the least fleshed out section, because there is no indication of the back story: is he “without a woman” because his girlfriend has left him, or has he spent so much time partying he has never managed to settle down in the first place? In the second verse a thirtysomething is struggling to look after his home and kids while his presumably more competent wife is away. It is possible that this is a sequel to the first verse, with the same guy having grown up, as it follows on from the first verse and chorus with the lines,

Wakes up and he’s 36
Got a house, two cars and kids

However, Lonely Man #3, who carries the emotional weight of the song, is clearly a new character, a man in his eighties who has been widowed and misses the love of his life, and is just waiting to die.

But any lack of depth is compensated for by an attractive, gentle tune and the excellent performance. A fine, plaintively delivered vocal is sympathetically supported by the solidly country production with prominent fiddle and steel. This is really enjoyable listening, and there should be more singles like this on country radio.

Grade: A-

The song is streaming at Tomlinson’s Skyville artist page.

I bet you’re in a bar, listening to a country song …

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved country music. I’ll admit that I wandered into the genre in the 1990s, like most, a fairweather fan of hugely popular acts, and didn’t know anything about its past. It wasn’t long before country music, with its charm, simplicity, and oh-so-relatable themes had won me over completely. I’ve since spent a great amount of my time listening to and learning the makings of and history of country music. Likewise, I’ve began to love every cliche’ image commonly found in the country song, and I’ve made it a point to familiarize myself, at least to some degree, with everything from the neon signs of the smoke-filled barrooms to the wide open fields and even the prison cells.

Luckily, I’ve had no experience with prison cells (except what I see on Lockdown), and though I have enjoyed the view, I’ve not spent any great amount of time in corn fields either. No, my time under the country music atmosphere has mostly been spent at any number of watering holes on the east side of the Mississippi River. I can honestly say I know just how great it feels to plant your tired ass on a bar stool and order up a remedy for your broken heart. As any of my friends will tell you, the first thing I like to do upon arrival in a new city is to go visit their various restaurants and pubs. And then, after some sight-seeing or event-going, I’m usually the first one ready to sample the liquor at a different establishment the next night. I enjoy people, I enjoy socializing, and without sounding too god-awful pretentious, the modern-day bar scene is really the last bastion of the kind of face-to-face networking and general person to person contact that has all but vanished from society. How much of your contact with other people is limited to your time behind a screen, be it computer or cell phone?

For that reason alone, the occasion of listening to a great song with a room full of friends and strangers is a satisfying feeling. At least it is to me. But I’ve also found that atmosphere affects your listening experience, sometimes to the point that it can color your like or dislike for certain sounds and lyric combinations. Some songs just sounds better in different places. This is why I always stay put in those clubs that have elected to provide one of those dandy TouchTunes jukeboxes, instead of the now-standard karaoke deejay. Lately I’ve noticed there’s usually only a handful of us brave enough to risk alienating themselves to the entire room by taking the long walk over to that screen and choosing a handful of songs. I could categorize us, but I won’t. Depending on where we’ve stumbled into, I’m still likely to find another protege of Alan Jackson’s instructions to not rock the jukebox.

The American Legion’s Post 471 in Portsmouth, OH has an excellent club right downstairs from their meeting house. Now, most weekends, you’ll find the locals belting out the hits themselves, but if you go in on a weekday, you’re likely to find a nice little lady playing country sounds on that digital jukebox. And you’re just as likely to see me standing in line, dollar bills in hand, behind her waiting my turn to fill the room with my own favorite country songs, and even a few that aren’t so country. But they fit my mood at the time, so they work just as well as my country standards. On my most recent outing, I decided to jot down the songs I was playing on the old jukebox and wondered if everybody has pet songs to play on the jukebox, or just to a room full of people in general. I know I like to show off what I consider my own good taste in music, and I’ll bet you do too. Here’s what I played this week:

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