Album Review – Aaron Raitiere’s “Single Wide Dreamer”

photo: Alysse Gafkjen

Take a little stroll towards the the poorer and more destitute side of life, where cold soup is considered a sacrament, your own craziness is built-in entertainment, and where even a single wide trailer can feel like its own Shangri-La of sorts. This is the world of songwriter Aaron Raitiere, who despite his long list of credits, and the famous cohorts and champions in his corner, is just now getting around to releasing his debut album. Oh but it’s worth the wait.

Part of what inspired Single Wide Dreamer is when Raitiere’s house burned down and he moved temporarily into a house trailer with his buddy. Taking the opportunity to delve into the idea of gratefulness and how so many have so much less, the inspiration for this album surfaced, which resulted in songs about being down and out and dealing with bad women, but ones that never sounded so appreciative and fun.

Single Wide Dreamer may have been sitting on a shelf for a while. It was produced by Miranda Lambert with Anderson East, who was Miranda Lambert’s beau some two or three beau’s ago. Don’t ask who was in between; it’s still a sore subject with Turnpike Troubadours fans. But regardless of when it was recorded, good songs never go stale, especially when their touched by the hands of folks like Robert Randolph, Dave Cobb, Bob Weir, Ashley Monroe, and Waylon Payne who all contributed to this record.

The reason Raitiere is able to cobble together such talent is from the success and respect he’s received penning songs in Nashville circles. You know that killer song from Midland called “Sunshine Tells The Story”? Yeah, that’s a Raitiere co-write. How about one of the best songs from Ashley McBryde’s last album called “Sparrow”? It’s Raitiere’s handwork too.

So are standout songs cut by Miranda Lambert, Shooter Jennings, the Oak Ridge Boys, and a host of others. And when you’re a songwriter who gets covered by or collaborates with other high-caliber songwriters like Brent Cobb and Hayes Carll, that’s how you know you’ve got the right stuff. It’s pretty clear Aaron Raitiere has the right stuff.

But enough about Aaron Raitiere’s songs for others, what about the ones on Single Wide Dreamer? Well “For The Birds” and “Cold Soup” are the kinds of songs that make other songwriters jealous—the 1st one which he wrote with Miranda Lambert and was inspired by hanging bird feeders around the previously-mentioned single wide until his world was swarmed with wings and feathers. The 2nd one “Cold Soup” is about being homeless. Aaron Raitiere has got this favorable disposition for a songwriter of not taking himself too seriously, and this interesting knack for always being able to see the bright side of things, even if there really isn’t one.

Single Wide Dreamer is a musical attitude adjustment. Nothing is painted rosy—far from it. But that’s still the outcome in an Aaron Raitiere tune. If you lose the roof over your head, “It Can’t Rain All The Time” he declares in the album’s 9th track. If you tattooed the name of your ex-girlfriend on your hip bone, well, “At Least We Didn’t Have Kids,” he says, and he can get the signature changed into the state of Kentucky, where Aaron happens to hail from.

Single Wide Dreamer is a fun listen with a deceptive amount of life lessons to be had. It’s not especially country in sound, but it’s adjacent enough to not make an issue of it, and with songs that are super easy to warm to, even maybe a couple you could hear on the radio, and don’t be surprised if you do with so many mainstream names looking for Raitiere tracks.

But this album and Aaron Raitiere aren’t looking to hit the big time. Single Wide Dreamer is all about the song, and all about trying to remind you that despite all the hard times and hiccups in life, you better get to living and enjoying it, because like he says in “Time Will Fly,” it’s all quickly passing into the rear view, and a big element to your happiness is how you choose to look at it.

1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)

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