Once again Slim Cessna’s Auto Club have turned in an effort that touches parts of the musical palette you never knew existed, challenges the listener with adroit lyricism and structure, and offers a musical experience so unusual that it’s hauntingly riveting and hypnotic.
In the country music department, the amount of emphasis on Christmas releases in 2016 has been nothing short of astounding, and maybe even historic. And I’m not just talking about “Rascal Flatts Sing The Chipmunks” or whatever crap that’s out there. Even independent artists and country legends have showered the country music listening public…
It’s always worth a chuckle when you hear someone say that country music must “evolve” to stay relevant, or hear an artist bellyache about how constricting country music is to their creativity. And then you put on a record like this and hear just how much a true artist can do with a simple message and melody, and three chords and the truth.
If Willie Nelson and Arlo Guthrie are remembered for nothing else in music, perhaps they’ll be notable as the sires of the musical progeny Amy Nelson and Cathy Guthrie, known collectively as Folk Uke. A unique project to say the least, you might be surprised to hear that the 2nd generation musicians have been making music together for nearly 20 years now.
Whether one may ultimately settle upon ‘The Weight of These Wings’ with a more positive or negative take, what is next to indisputable is that it is a significant release. ‘The Weight of These Wing’s is the symbolic entry of Miranda Lambert—the biggest female country star for the last six or so years—into the Americana/independent/east Nashville mindset
You never know what Jesse Dayton may have his hands dirty with at any given moment. He could be playing guitar for Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings right before they pass away, or collaborating with Rob Zombie on some horror flick, or producing a record with Eddie Spaghetti. Last year he was touring around with the band ‘X’ filling in for Billy Zoom on guitar.
Ronnie Dunn has the voice and the name to where if he wanted to transition into a legacy act or do like Tim McGraw and make the best of the opening up of the format to better songs, he could really do some damage. But he has to really commit to it. His days of #1 hits and CMA Awards are unfortunately in the past.
What’s going “outta style” is Bro-Country and songs that chase trends, while traditional country has once again proved to be the timeless influence in country music that always comes back to the forefront. This should bode well for an artist like Aaron Watson if he sticks to what he does best.
Full of true-to-life stories run through a gritty filter, ‘Downhearted Fools’ is Chris Stalcup singing about what he finds right smack dab under his nose—the adversities and self-doubts that smack him in the face like every rising sun so rudely blasting through tattered shades, reminding one of the heartbreaks and sordid affairs of the night before.
“Better Man” is interesting for many reasons. Unfortunately, most of those reasons have little to do with the music itself. But this track is far from the worst transgressions on country radio, and it is refreshing to hear song that’s not all rosy targeted to the mainstream set. It will perform well as a cozy winter single tiding over Taylor Swift fans.
One of the most difficult undertakings for a music reviewer is to share your opinion on a record that you ultimately favor more than fault, but happen to have more critical observations for than positive ones, especially when public sentiment is tilting so favorably towards it already. It just becomes a recipe for misunderstanding.
‘Heart of a Flatland Boy’ is refreshingly raw and energetic, with tightly-wound songs all written or co-written by Dylan, and a straightforward but effective production approach, blurring the lines between country and heartland rock in both the sound and themes, and painting a mental picture of places and people that are filled with a meaningfulness…
There may be no better example of how the mainstream country music industry has completely bought into the shifting of the paradigm to more traditional and more substantive music than the signing of the band Midland to Big Machine Records. It’s this pretty strange development that speaks to just how deeply rooted this movement has entrenched itself into the industry now.
Memory is the human mechanism that helps us learn and grow, while also being a rich place of positive emotions through recollection. But for many, the mental scars they hold are their greatest burdens, and only through sheer willpower can they hope to break the cycle of bad choices that many times span generations.
Neotraditionalism has given way to plain old traditionalism as a trend in country music, Hank Williams III is nowhere to be found, and many of those fans from the 90’s and early 00’s now have kids and mortgages and can’t make it out to every show. But “The Train” rolls on just like he has for over 20 years now.
Brett Young and his rising single “Sleep Without You” is just the latest in a line of preordained male country debut singles looking to launch yet another heartthrob music franchise with lots of sizzle and extremely little substance. “Sleep Without You” isn’t the premise of a country song, it’s the whining of a P-whipped moron missing his snuggle buddy.
Zane Williams is a smart one, and like many others are recognizing, he understands that the new trend in country music, is actual country music. And this has been exemplified in the Texas scene as much as anywhere. Zane Williams senses that people want by God country music again, and that’s exactly what he delivers on the aptly titled ‘Bringin’ Country Back.’
It’s within the anticipation her first record inspired that the sophomore effort ‘Country Songs’ from Karen Jonas comes spilling out of her songwriting pen just as fervent and hungry as her first effort, yet with more refined and deliberate results due to the wisdom won through the experience of her debut.
If I were Tracy Byrd, I wouldn’t have released an album in the last decade either. What would have been the point, just to have it summarily ignored by an industry obsessed with youth and debauchery as some of the best country music voices of our time get shoved out to pasture?
“Today” isn’t particularly great, but it’s actually aimed at adults instead of children, features steel guitar, mandolin, and fiddle, and if we’ve figured out nothing else about Paisley’s still unnamed upcoming album (of which this is the second single), it appears he’ll at least have opportunities to unsheathe the Telecaster again.