There are some really excellent stories down through the annals of country music history. Some of them are even true. It really was a flat tire in Fort Gay, West Virginia that resulted in Ralph Stanley discovering Keith Whitley and Ricky Skaggs back in the 70s.
A similar situation resulted in Miranda Lambert discovering Adam Hood in New Braunfels, Texas in 2007. It didn’t result in a wolfman mullet and super hits on the radio for Adam Hood like it did for Keith and Ricky, but he did land a songwriting deal with Carnival Music where Hood wrote some hits for others, and was able to pursue his passion for music full time.
Adam Hood is a songwriter’s songwriter, doing it for the love of the craft as opposed to the commercial application of whatever he comes up with. Similar accusations can be made of his buddy Brent Cobb who came on as a producer for this new album that is full of the kind of Southern country soul these two cats are known for. Add Blackberry Smoke to the cast as the album’s backing band, and you’re quickly running out of excuses why not to pay attention to it.
This is the kind of country music that helps reset your mood and perspective. It’s a midlife awakening to the most important things in life. You don’t have to be a religious person to get swept up in the revival aspect of Adam Hood’s song “Business with Jesus.” It’ll have atheists singing along, and wanting to drop Benjamins in the collection plate. His duet with Miranda Lambert called “Harder Stuff” is a smartly-written take on how to wisen up to get something more out of life than just a good time.
The lessons of Bad Days Better may all be universal, but the stories feel very personal to Adam Hood, like in the song “The Speed of the South” where he’s caught mulling over decisions he’s made over his career, wondering why he’s not a bigger name, but realizing selling out wouldn’t be true to himself, and wouldn’t confer a sense of accomplishment even if he was successful.
But the lesson that most underpins this album is the one from the title track, which teaches that often it’s not how well life is going, but the attitude that you bring to it that determines your mood and prospects. Maybe stuff isn’t going so great. But if you’re still on the right side of the ground, you’re doing a shade better than some. And sometimes outlook is tied to outcome.
Enough about all the lessons here though, Bad Days Better is also just a damn good groove album, and a tasty listen. Use the lyric sheets to line the birdcage if you wish, but “Flesh and Blood” and “Livin’ Don’t Give a Damn” are just fun as hell to listen to. This is where lining up all those big names like Brent Cobb and Blackberry Smoke to help produce and record your album pays off, instead of going with Earl from across the street, and whomever answers a Craigslist ad.
Dedicated country fans may want a little more twang from this more soulful approach to country that swaps keys for the steel guitar. But the sound of Bad Days Better sits right down in the well-worn groove Brent Cobb and Adam Hood have created for themselves, and it fits the frame of mind of the written material.
Adam Hood and Company did not record and release this record hoping to end up on some big Billboard chart. They made it for themselves and for you. Nonetheless, by pulling out all the stops, pooling together some of the best songs of his career, and calling in favors from his musician buddies, Adam Hood hoped to turn in a career effort, and he very well may have.
1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)
– – – – – – – – –
Purchase from Adam Hood