“Sidelong” may find itself in a dark and troubled place much of the time, but it’s good old country music at its heart. You know, country music? That stuff they used to make before Music Row lost its everloving mind? Music that said something, and conveyed a feeling that bred a sense of commiseration and shared grief with the audience resulting in a strange healing? Yeah, that stuff.
John Howie Jr.
John Howie Jr. is one of those artists you don’t have to spend any time warming up to. Right off the bat you know this is real country, and real good. Pedal steel, a true country voice, and rock solid songs suck you in and have you saying to yourself, “Now this is what I mean when I say country music.” No need for “alt” or “Americana” qualifiers here, this is country music how it’s supposed to be.
Nope. And that’s how you know it’s good. If you like country, and I mean country, then Jonathan Parker’s They’ll Never Play My Songs In Nashville has you covered. This guy has a country growl that’s like Waylon Jennings mixed with the DNA of a hard-nosed bulldog. This is hard country, honky tonk music in its purest incantation. No frills, just lean forward and belt it out.
“Leavin’ Yesterday” is a brilliantly-written, steadfastly country old school tearjerker that doesn’t relent on the heartaches once in the album’s 13 stellar tracks. Just a glance at song titles like “I’m So Happy I Could Cry” and “That Makes 3 Of Us” lets you know you’re in store for a stone cold and felonious hard country heart stabbing.