Album Review – Jamey Johnson’s “The Guitar Song”
This is going to be a long one. So for those short of attention, let me summarize by saying that compared to most of the independent/Outlaw/underground country I am used to listening to and reviewing, this album is somewhere between mediocre and average. But compared to the rest of the material coming from major labels in Nashville, this album is remarkable.
Some of you might wonder with a name like “Saving Country Music,” why more albums and artists like this are not covered here. It’s because my charter is to find the obscure stuff and shine a light on it, not contribute to the large pile of coverage these artist already get from mainstream outlets. But since this is such a hyped album, I’m making an exception.
I first must give Jamey and Mercury Records high praise for the cover and approach of this album. The cover art is nothing special, but the bi-fold CD case is indicative of vinyl packaging, which this album was also released on. Independent country artists have released on vinyl for years, but to see such a vinyl commitment from a mainstream artist is refreshing. Full liner notes with lyrics, writers, and players for each song are appreciated. Releasing a double album at this spot in Johnson’s career was very wise, with the extra intrigue for such a large project allowing for it to cut through the crowd instead of being just the next offering from an artist in the middle tier of mainstream popularity.
I noted while looking through the liner notes that even though Jamey Johnson is sold as a songwriter, only one song on these two LP’s is his alone, with some covers included, and a large list of co-writers that includes Bobby Bare and Bill Anderson.
As for the music itself, there are some great songs here, and overall the album has its moments. Standout tracks for me were “Can’t Cash My Checks,” “California Riots,” and “Macon.” For a Nashville-based album put out in 2010, the songs and arrangements are surprisingly tasteful and true to the roots of country, with heavy pedal-steel from “cowboy” Eddie Long, and even the appearance of upright bass and some B3.
This is not a “concept” album in the traditional sense that there is one theme or story tying all the songs together, though there are small bursts of music and sound between most songs that give it a concept album feel; a more accessible approach to the concept album maybe. The idea is the black album is about darkness–you can guess what the white one is about–but this doesn’t always hold up in the themes of the songs. With the songs lacking a thematic bond to each other, I would not think of this in the same way Willie Nelson’s Red Headed Stranger was a concept, for example.
The problem with this album for me is that many of the songs either lose their magic quickly, or there’s never any magic there to being with. And with so many songs, the standouts and marginal songs get buried. A lot of these songs can be boiled down to one little twist of words or a simple concept, and the soul or musicianship is just not there to carry them further. Songs like “Playing the Part,” “Even The Skies Are Blue,” “By The Seat of Your Pants,” “Front Porch Swing Afternoon,” are like the plots of Kilgore Trout novels. Yes, they’re whitty, but they can be explained in one sentence, and no amount of musical effort can help them stick to your bones. This is a problem with many songs that come out of the Nashville songwriting clan-they focus on mining that one whitty line that can be sold to a producer or executive quickly, instead of one with deep, thematic meaning.
Jamey takes this to the extreme with “Dog in The Yard,” where he draws parallels between how his woman treats him like a canine, drawing out easily-anticipated turns and similarities. “Poor Man Blues” also got my druthers up. Jamey is not poor, and I was not sold on his sincerity. I like songs that give the poor pride instead of envy, and this song also clashes in theme with a pretty good song “Lonely At The Top,” again emphasizing the lack of cohesiveness that may have taken this album to the next level. “Heartache” is another “pretty good” song, but if you listen to this album cover to cover, as the artist intended with the way the music and the vignettes in between are set up, I’m afraid you attention would be lost before you get to track 10.
Though I like the message of “That’s Why I Write Songs,” it comes across as hokey, like some other of these songs do. “Baby Don’t Cry” is almost unforgivably hokey. It also illustrates an underlying problem with Jamey, that he is a pure songwriter first, and a performer second. The songwriting part is great, but I’m worried he doesn’t have the natural performing talent that could take him to the next level. I’m not saying he is a bad performer, but his gift is songwriting. His endearing “aw-shucks” attitude is not always going to come through on recorded tracks. I’ve heard many comparisons to Jamey and Waylon. Waylon was a performer first, and a songwriter second. This gave Waylon the ability to command a song, on stage or record, and make you believe a song, even if the concept was thin. You don’t think of Jamey first as a singer either–he’s no Dale Watson or Waylon–though I will say he has his moments on this album where his vocal performance does stand out.
Where this album finally drew me in was the last few songs, which accomplished a pretty good ramping up of mood to the finale of “My Way To You,” which might be the best song on the album, and I fear destined to be overlooked.
I like this album, but there is nothing new here. Despite all the five star reviews I have seen for this, it breaks no new ground. With Willie Nelson’s concept albums, or Waylon’s Honky Tonk Heroes, Hank III’s Straight to Hell, or even an album like Emmylou Harris’s Wrecking Ball, there was something new, a fresh approach that had never been tried before. A grand vision. As good as this album is, it is not as epic as some would sell.
Honestly, listening to this, it makes me sad to think of the people who live in a musical world where this is the most exciting thing in years. There is so much more out there. It sounds to me like living in a two-dimensional world. On the flip side, there’s some good songs on here, and I feel similar for people who cannot swallow their prejudice and appreciate the quality songs this album offers.
For me, Jamey is like the political candidate that you didn’t vote for in the primary election, but you back 100% in the general election because he represents your party. I do not think Jamey Johnson is like the rest of mainstream country artists. I do think he’s true to the roots and traditions. I would LOVE to unite underground/independent country behind this man in a unified effort to kick pop country out of Nashville. But I can’t, at least not because of this album. Still, Jamey is on our side, and in my opinion, deserves tremendous respect for doing it his own way, in a town known for not allowing this.
September 21, 2010 @ 9:22 am
Fuck this fuckin guy, and fuck Justin Townes Fuckin Earle too, for that matter. I hope we’re done with this bullshit and we can get back to Hellboung Glory and Scott H. Biram,.357 etc.
September 21, 2010 @ 9:39 am
I also enjoyed the album. I’m stunned to see how divided people are on him. Oh well, can’t please ’em all.
Let the in-fighting and bickering in the comment section begin…again.
October 26, 2010 @ 1:35 pm
Meet me in a parking lot somewhere, so I can wash your mouth out with my fists.
Cowboy E L
January 9, 2011 @ 5:08 pm
Ok you fuckin tone deaf faggot,let me hear what you can do then !! Come on with it ! Tell me this..What qualifies you as a critic anyway ? And when did faggots start listening to country music? I didn’t know that ladies like yourself were even aware of REAL country music,much less stupid enough to criticize it and show their ignorance !!!
Cowboy E L
January 9, 2011 @ 5:13 pm
I’ll hold the aids infested cock suckin faggot down with a back hoe for ya while you doe it !! just make sure you wear some gloves !!
Cowboy E L
January 9, 2011 @ 5:15 pm
Go listen to your own faggot infested girl music and let us men tend to the country !
January 9, 2011 @ 10:37 pm
Keep flapping your gums Cowboy, you’re playing right into the hands of Jamey Johnson’s critics.
January 19, 2011 @ 12:24 pm
triggerman, are you gettin raped with the aids-infested cock or am I? just wonderin if i need to stock up on antibiotics or what.
HARVEY R WALLACE
December 1, 2020 @ 10:19 am
GOD DAMN RIGH
September 21, 2010 @ 9:39 am
Another example of a main-stream artist I’d probably never have heard of if not for this site. I went and listened to the previews on amazon and thought it was ‘ok’ sounding, from what you can tell from 15 second clip of a tune… I certainly wouldn’t gag if it came on the radio like most of the junk they play now a-days but it’s not something I’d spend my money on either. I think he sounds more like DAC, vocal-wise, than Waylon… Thanks for doing the work to review the record Trigg!
September 21, 2010 @ 12:14 pm
I don’t get where folks say he “sounds” like Waylon. He doesn’t sound a damn thing like Waylon. He loves Waylon and may have some tendencies, but I think vocally he sounds closer to Jones with a bit of Hank Jr.
September 23, 2010 @ 2:54 pm
Sounds somewhat like Vern Gosdin also, I think. Vern was great artist. Waymore is my all time favorite artist. I love his outlaw music and his songs with Jessi.
September 21, 2010 @ 9:41 am
And now the Jamey Johnson flame war begins!
September 21, 2010 @ 10:00 am
Great Review Triggerman! This is exactly what I expected from you. Honest critique of a mainstream artist. I believe that Jamey may not be the saviour of real country music but he’s the best there is in Nashville at this time and for him to get widespread attention for country music that is not the “norm” in mainstream country is a great start for turning the tables on bringing country music back to its roots.
A friend of mine mentioned that he didn’t care for the album because it wasn’t upbeat and happy go lucky. He said it all seemed mediocre and boring. I’d have to say look at real country music from the past. Most country music was not “the white album” like most mainstream music today. Old country were songs about the sad, cheating, dying, and depressed type songs…the hardships that a real person goes through in life. It is not all flowers and fairies like the new mainstream country pushes down our throats.
I commend Jamey on keeping country music his way like his idols did in the past.
September 21, 2010 @ 10:01 am
I think this review was fair and balanced, I say hats off to you Triggerman for having the balls to tell it like it is even when you know you’re going to get crap from both sides of the fence. I really like Jamey but was a little underwhelmed by this album. It is better than most of what is coming out of Nashville but didn’t live up to That Lonesome Song for me.
Thanks again and keep up the good work!
September 21, 2010 @ 10:11 am
The number of comments on this post might break a record. I need to give it a listen for myself before wading into the fray. Great analogy with the primary/popular election distinction.
September 21, 2010 @ 6:14 pm
I don’t know, the Justin Townes Earle story had so many comments, it broke the comment section for a bit. 130-something and counting. That’s a pretty big mountain.
September 21, 2010 @ 10:13 am
Great Blog Triggerman
September 21, 2010 @ 10:33 am
This is the most sensible and realistic review of this album I’ve read. It seems like too many people either absolutely love it and can’t understand why someone else wouldn’t, or feel the complete opposite. I personally think That Lonesome Song is much better and fits in more with some of the other music covered on this site.
September 21, 2010 @ 6:02 pm
I totally agree with the Lonesome Song being a much better release. That is why I don’t understand the hype around this one.
September 21, 2010 @ 6:16 pm
The double album. It was brilliant marketing.
September 23, 2010 @ 2:58 pm
Its the first by a newer artist, this soon into their career, that I am aware of. Great honest blog Triggerman.
September 21, 2010 @ 10:43 am
Thanks for the review! Personally, I’ve been pretty into this album over the last few days. A couple of negatives. I was disappointed the “themes” weren’t more cohesive. The first side is a little darker and the second side is a little lighter, but not the epic dichotomy I was hoping for. Also, there are some pretty forgettable and borderline cheesy songs, like you mentioned…”Dog in the Yard” for one.
However, I am pretty damn excited about this album and it hasn’t left the player in 3 days. To me songs like “Even the Skies are Blue,” “Heartache” and “Lonely at the Top” are classics that will endure. Also, the way he let’s the band play a song out and not cutting off solos, extending the endings, gives this album a live feel in parts and a much grittier, real feel to it. So, I would disagree that this is just a great Nashville release, I think it stands up with some of the best albums in the last 15 years.
September 21, 2010 @ 11:19 am
Yeah, liked the drawing out of the stronger tracks as well. Was going to mention that up top, but the review was getting too long as it was. Brevity is not one of my strong suits.
September 23, 2010 @ 3:00 pm
Lonely at the top is great, an old song from Keith Whitley, I think
September 24, 2010 @ 9:28 am
Your correct. It was a Whitley tune that never was put out by anyone. Funny how something from so long ago fits today perfect. Whitley was a good one.
September 21, 2010 @ 11:37 am
Quality review Trigger. Not that you need my validation, but very fair.
I might mention a couple things:
“Baby Don’t Cry” he wrote for his daughter. Can’t really fault a guy for wanting it on a record he has control of. Does it fit, probably not, but it was for his daughter. Waylon made a song with Alvin the Chipmunk. (he actually made it pretty cool though, but that is how cool Waylon is)
“Poor Man’s Blues” Is anyone that is recording music that gets more than regional exposure really poor? (maybe due to their own indiscresions) Sure Jamey isn’t poor right now, but he wasn’t always rich either. Ground breaking song, no, but certainly more in step with underground country vs. Nashville.
I agree with you on “My Way To You”. That song is top notch. I am afriad to it got lost in the suffle with the strange release date of Aug. 2009 and it being last on the album.
I am surprised you didn’t comment on “Good Morning Sunrise” I thought that was a standout tune. Not to deep, but different spin on the simple idea of trying to drink someone away.
September 21, 2010 @ 11:45 am
I was actually gonna make the same comment about “Poor Man’s Blues.” Merle Haggard was pretty well off when he was singing “Working Man’s Blues,” but it doesn’t change the message. He wasn’t exactly living the blue collar lifestyle, but he could relate to them. If Eric Church sang “Poor Man’s Blues” I’d want to kick him in the balls, but from Jamey Johnson it seems genuine.
“Good Morning Sunshine” was a standout for me as well.
September 21, 2010 @ 7:51 pm
Re: “Poor Man’s Blues”– The idea that “you have to have lived it to write about it” seems to only apply to music…even more so for country music…not so much for other kinds of writing. Does Stephen King write all his characters from personal experience? I’m sure there’s some of his life in each character, but he hasn’t lived every character’s life exactly. Think about it as Jamey writing about another person. A good writer can write with empathy as well as from personal experience.
(Disclaimer: I haven’t heard a chance to hear Jamey’s CD yet. Just commenting on the process of writing in general.)
September 21, 2010 @ 10:03 pm
I agree. Somebody doesn’t have to live something just to write about it, though it might help. And technically, Jamey has lived the Poor Man Blues at one point, and I think it’s fair to say he could draw from those memories. My issue with this song is more my issue with all these prole anthems. They just seem self-centered, with a worn out theme. I dont encounter many people in limos or in high rise buildings in my life, but when I do, I think joke’s on them.
September 22, 2010 @ 7:49 am
I completely agree with the review. As for Stephen King. I’m as big a Stephen King fan as I am a country music fan & most of his books are very much based on real life experiance.
September 21, 2010 @ 12:33 pm
I wish artists would mention in the liner notes . . . unless he did, hold on a sec . . OK he didn’t , that they are writing songs for their children, because I think that is always the artist’s right. Looking at it from that sense the song makes more sense and is forgivable. I made the same mistake with Shooter Jennings’ “God Bless Alabama.”
I admittedly take these “Poor Man” songs a little differently from most, because of a philosophical approach to life. Envy is a sin, but I understand this song will speak to a lot of people, including people who come here often.
“Good Morning Sunrise” is a good one. There’s lots of songs here. Couldn’t comment on them all. I’m a little confused how to take that song though, but I kind of like it that way.
September 21, 2010 @ 1:07 pm
I understand you couldn’t comment on all the songs, I just thought “Good Morning Sunrise” would jump out to get a comment.
I agree with the disclaimers on songs for children. I only caught that in an article that when he commented on that song. I saw him sing it live, and he doesn’t say shit live… he sings and that is all. So many may not realize the reason for the song. And I don’t think Jamey cares.
(It is actually pretty intense at his shows, and he puts on great shows. But he doesn’t say “hi” he doesn’t “bye” he literally just sings. The band plays and draws songs into the next, but the band generally knows the first and last song they will play. All the rest just happens.)
September 21, 2010 @ 6:03 pm
Waylon also stars and sings along side Big Bird in “Follow that Bird”
September 30, 2010 @ 10:47 pm
And Katy Perry got her boobs out for Elmo!
September 21, 2010 @ 11:57 am
Great review Triggerman. Don’t let the bastards get you down. I have yet to hear a note from Jamey Johnson, but I’m curious for sure. I’ve just got so much other music I’m digging these days that I haven’t taken the time to check him out. From what I’m hearing here I’ll probably look into “The Lonesome Song”.
Totally unrelated, but I cannot get enough Split Lip Rayfield lately! Fucking good band!
September 21, 2010 @ 12:14 pm
Standouts for me on this album are Lonely At The Top, Can’t Cash My Checks, Good Morning Sunrise, and My Way To You. Heartache was cleverly written in my opinion.
September 21, 2010 @ 12:18 pm
I like Heartache, I think the perspective he took was very unique, but given that perspective, I thought he could have done a lot more with the song.
September 21, 2010 @ 12:22 pm
I agree, it’s a killer theme and a great song, but it could have been developed WAY more. Needed another verse or something.
September 21, 2010 @ 12:36 pm
I kind of felt that way about a few of the songs. Great themes but kind of incomplete.
After listening/reading Jamey past interviews (which he doesn’t do many of) I think it is kind of his method to leave a song a bit open ended for the listener to complete with their own ideas. Does it always work? Maybe not. I’d like to hear the songwriter complete it.
BUT great example where it does work is “My Way To You”. Who/What is the “you”? He leaves that to fit anyones experience.
September 21, 2010 @ 12:58 pm
Well. I decided to give it a listen via Rhapsody today and I gave up after 4-5 songs. BOOOOOORRRRRRRRRRING.
September 21, 2010 @ 6:04 pm
doesn’t get better after those first 5 songs Nix.
September 21, 2010 @ 3:19 pm
I don’t like your reviews. You take all of this way too seriously. Shelton didn’t do anything new. He ripped off Wayne Hancock. wayne doesn’t either. nobody really does. no one. they all use the same notes, the same language. no one here is making up new languages or sounds. so- called artist these days are just piecing together a really tired old puzzle. some people do it well, others suck. most everyone sucks. review caitlin rose, or have you already? i am new here.
September 21, 2010 @ 4:12 pm
Shelton didn’t rip off Wayne Hancock with Straight to Hell. This hippies and hipsters got ripped off when they thought they were going to get Wayne Hancock, and the got a screaming, cussing hellbilly freak.
September 21, 2010 @ 4:28 pm
your link doesn’t work. i bet you would love to suck shelton’s cock.
September 21, 2010 @ 4:39 pm
Huh, works for me. Maybe its user error.
Try filling out a trouble ticket with our technical services department. Link below:
September 21, 2010 @ 4:45 pm
get off this site
September 21, 2010 @ 5:40 pm
ohhhhhK there, sheriff Jammin! i’ll be outta here in a jiffy, just let me find ‘ma horse!
September 21, 2010 @ 4:55 pm
Soco is pissed because the latest Billy Currington album hasn’t been reviewed by Triggerman
September 21, 2010 @ 6:03 pm
Ian, that is NOT true. I only liked that ONE billy curlyington song called: “Ian my Lass, Fuck me in the Ass”.
September 21, 2010 @ 6:06 pm
haven’t heard that Billy Currington song yet. I look for it on iTunes, sounds pretty different from his radio friendly stuff.
September 21, 2010 @ 5:36 pm
the link does’nt work but i’m sure you would’nt love to suck anyones cock
September 21, 2010 @ 4:42 pm
nice way for a someone to introduce themselves soco…what a clown.
I look forward to checking it out–for oh so many reasons. I heard the first album, wasn’t moved to buy it, but didn’t complain when someone turned it on. from your review, sounds like this will have the same effect for me…which, I’m sure I agree with you on the sentiment that it makes it better than most things Nashville releases…sad, ain’t it??
September 21, 2010 @ 5:39 pm
why thank you!
September 21, 2010 @ 6:30 pm
RE: Soco That tired old every note shit really! If this is the way to look at music when listening then why even listen? That sounds alot like having blinders on. Why even take the time. To me YOU take this too seriously. If you dont care cause it the SAME ole notes why care to shit on Triggerman’s review? One last time….YOU take this too seriously.
Oh Jamie J. SUCKS. Thanks Trigg for the review and i respect your thoughts but its a drink coaster to me…..
September 21, 2010 @ 6:40 pm
i really don’t listen to much music anymore. so, for the record – i am not going to check back here anymore. no one scared me off, i just have nothing good to say. momma always told me, “if ya aint got nuthin good ta say, then dont say nuttin at all”.
yall have fun now, hear?
September 22, 2010 @ 4:58 am
I guess soco’s a drifter- movin from site to site down the information highway!
September 21, 2010 @ 10:01 pm
“I wish artists would mention in the liner notes . . . unless he did, hold on a sec . . OK he didn”™t , that they are writing songs for their children, because I think that is always the artist”™s right. Looking at it from that sense the song makes more sense and is forgivable.”
OK…. I wish people who wrote criticizing reviews would actually do their damn job and research before you type shit. I mean my god, he put out shit explaining most of the songs on here weeks before it was released. Seems like you would of seen that before a damn liner note.
Say what you want about the album and the man, but its the best and realest country album put out since, well, Lonesome Song.
Maybe he is a songwriter at heart, but at least he is a performer of the songs he writes and because of this, he makes you feel what he writes.
Name me 5 country albums that you didn’t have to search underground for in the past 5 years that bring this kind of realism to country music. Your site is fighting for real country music right? How f*cking real do you want it.
Its not about sounding like Waylon or George or blah blah blah. Thats his musical roots, their in him and will come out of him. Waylon comparison? Yeah he had to go against the idiots of Nashville to produce his music also.
September 22, 2010 @ 7:23 am
I like the banter on blogs sometimes…so I didn’t cut to the chase like you have. But your so fucking dead on man….very well said.
If Jamey had stayed in Alabama and put this record out from there, a lot of these folks on SCM would be going crazy about it.
I will dig underground for good music, but there is some staring ya’ all right in the face here.
September 22, 2010 @ 7:30 am
I saw those previews to this album, and purposly didn’t watch them. I wanted to get the album and listen to it fresh, to try to get the best reading on it void of other’s opinions or the marketing push behind it.
If you want to kick me in the nuts, I also put that he co-wrote a song with Keith Whitley before realizing my mistake. Unfortunately we all can’t be perfect like you.
I spent 5-6 hours writing this review, and there’s probably not a review I took more seriously that I’ve written this year. All that effort, and you selectively read it and take it as negative, even though I said:
“But compared to the rest of the material coming from major labels in Nashville, this album is remarkable.”
“For a Nashville-based album put out in 2010, the songs and arrangements are surprisingly tasteful and true to the roots of country,”
“Jamey is on our side, and in my opinion, deserves tremendous respect for doing it his own way, in a town known for not allowing this.”
In fact I pretty much said what you say in your comment. Hmm. Maybe you should have actually spent more time reading before criticizing me!
And saying he was a songwriter at heart was a compliment.
I am a critic. It is my job to be critical.
Next . . .
September 22, 2010 @ 7:42 am
Oh, and take note of the multiple comments here roasting my take on this album because I was too nice to Jamey. And really, for every comment like that, there are multiple people who didn’t comment, that think I’m a sellout bastard for even reviewing this album on this site.
Here’s another line you apparently didn’t read:
“Some of you might wonder with a name like “Saving Country Music,” why more albums and artists like this are not covered here. It”™s because my charter is to find the obscure stuff and shine a light on it, not contribute to the large pile of coverage these artist already get from mainstream outlets.”
September 22, 2010 @ 7:53 am
As you explained it, your charter does make since when your fighting the “pop-country” music scene. Shedding light on obscure acts that play more “real country” vs. the media driven pop country.
However, to those that call you a sellout for reviewing this album, solely because it comes out of Nashville or has some media buzz, I think you would be doing a dis-service, and not your dudiligence in the fight to save country music. If your fight is for artists that don’t get much media buzz… maybe change the name of the site to “Saving Country Music for Artists That Need The Exposure”.
This album shouldn’t be ignored by Nashville, nor by purists. Your reviewing it had to be done, and not reviewing it would have been the sham.
October 19, 2010 @ 3:21 pm
“I wish artists would mention in the liner notes . . . unless he did, hold on a sec . . OK he didn”™t , that they are writing songs for their children, because I think that is always the artist”™s right. Looking at it from that sense the song makes more sense and is forgivable.”
OK”¦. I wish people who wrote criticizing reviews would actually do their damn job and research before you type shit. I mean my god, he put out shit explaining most of the songs on here weeks before it was released. Seems like you would of seen that before a damn liner note.
The above was the only thing directed towards you as the writer of the article, everything else was stating my opinion on the issue.
September 21, 2010 @ 10:25 pm
Hind sights 20/20 aint it soco? Thanks for the review Tiggerman, the little ten second teasers didn’t do much to convince me to run out and buy this album but I appreciate your insight and will try to find some of the songs for a better listen.
September 21, 2010 @ 10:36 pm
Here’s some of the better tracks. (Until they get taken down)
September 21, 2010 @ 10:59 pm
Just made me wanna go listen to some Whitey Morgan. He’s not bad, but something about it just doesn’t quite reach me. Still, there is a lot worse out there, that’s for damn sure.
September 22, 2010 @ 6:50 am
September 22, 2010 @ 9:27 am
You play bass for the 78s don’t you Jeremy? Well you’re welcome, just bein’ honest. Nothing wrong with JJ, I just think there’s others out there doing it better. Can’t wait for the new album man!
September 22, 2010 @ 10:52 am
Jeremy, the new Whitey album is some kick ass stuff! Aran, you’ll dig it man. Great hanging with both you guys on the Hellbound Glory tour. Cheers, Drew
September 22, 2010 @ 11:07 am
Hey, when they’re handing out advanced copies of the new one, don’t forget your boy down here in Texas! I’ll see y’all in about 3 weeks.
September 22, 2010 @ 12:10 pm
yup, I’m the bass player….Triggerman, don’t you have one coming from Bloodshot?? If not, let me know…
September 22, 2010 @ 12:17 pm
what great couple back to back months for country music. Above or below ground.
Sept. “The Guitar Song” Oct. Whitey Morgan’s new one!
September 22, 2010 @ 8:47 pm
Heard an advance copy today. Lots of great stuff. Should make my top 5, if not the top, of my albums of the year.
September 23, 2010 @ 6:29 pm
Damn, looking forward to hearing it, the new songs on myspace kick ass! Drew, I had the time of my life with you guys, come back soon, keep that Hellbound train rollin’!
September 23, 2010 @ 6:30 pm
And yeah, this has been a great year for country music releases!
September 22, 2010 @ 3:38 am
You got it right Triggerman. Perfect review. I could not have said it better myself.
September 22, 2010 @ 6:36 am
It seems as though Triggers review, fair and balanced, and Jamey’s album has left us all in the same spot. Those that liked him still do, and those that didn’t, weren’t convinced of anything.
I disagree that the tracks don’t fit any real concept. I think the concept is very subjective. Kind of like looking at an obscure painting. Some say “why is that part there?” Others say “that fits perfectly.” And I think that is part of Jamey’s overall philosophy with music. He writes/sings what he wants, and let the listener find their way and how it fits for them….and if it doesn’t fit at all, he doesn’t care.
I might add this as something to think about and Trigger elluded to it when he mentioned getting independent/underground to unite behind Jamey.
Perhaps Jamey is the one to kick in the door closed for the past 20-25years. An artist that is true country rather than pop-county can now look to Jamey and say “He did his thing in Nashville, maybe I can?” And that artist goes to Nashville, and the next one and the next, and possibly it starts to turn. Jamey won’t do it alone, but others can’t do it with out someone kicking in the door.
Unfortunately, and all being honest here, no one else has kicked in the door to the exposure Jamey has. Respectively, not Hank III, not Wayne Hancock, not Ryan Bingham, not Dale Watson (and I am missing many more).
They may have knocked on the door, peaked in, and then had it slammed shut. Jamey has kicked it in. If you have read any limited interviews he has done, you realize he simply doesn’t care about an executive saying “no you can’t do that”. Maybe he has the money from other ventures to afford the luxury of being able to ignore that exec. and put out his own albums. Maybe he has the talent that can’t easily be ignored.
Either way, he is doing it his way and showing that it can be done.
…and Soco, you had a point until you started to think. I generally don’t tell someone they are a fucking dipshit, but you are. Go back to your chatrooms, and steer clear of Chris Hanson.
September 22, 2010 @ 10:41 am
September 22, 2010 @ 10:16 am
I gotta say, the thing I like most about this album is the way he lets Eddie Long just go off on that pedal steel. Wish they would let that steel flow free on every country album. Some of the runs on this album give me chills. Cowboy Eddie is easily one of the greatest pedal steel players of all time
September 22, 2010 @ 10:44 am
If all you bastards can stop your bickering for a second, this is kind of cool. As I said this was released on vinyl, one black, one white, one half and half. Here’s a video of them making the vinyl:
These are some of the images on the inside of the cover. I think this is really cool, thoughts on the music aside.
September 22, 2010 @ 11:04 am
While your at it, for some of the naysayers, click on the 3rd video down on the right “Jamey Johnson- The Guitar Song” It is a performance from 2007.
Tell me that ain’t just a guy who wants to cut REAL country music all the way back in 2007 when he was getting shut out by the record labels.
September 22, 2010 @ 9:26 pm
Awhile back someone on here didn’t understand why I didn’t like Jamey Johnson. I had to admit that I had only heard a few songs and said I’d give him more of a chance… Well I have, and as many on hear have said, it leaves me cold. I can’t imagine ever listening to this stuff when I have Hellbound Glory, Scott H Biram, J.B. Beverly, etc. that I can spin. I think that I might look at it differently if I ever bothered listening to the radio anymore. But I don’t. That ship has sailed. Being better than the worst music ever made doesn’t make your music good.
September 23, 2010 @ 8:49 pm
I appreciate the review here! I don’t totally agree with it…but I’m glad to see the publicity for Jamey’s music. I am a fan and I do love his music. What I love is that Jamey does his own thing — he’s not the one that brought the Waylon/Outlaw comparisons, media/Nashville did that. He’s said he writes and sings his songs, not because he wants to…but because he has to – thats coming from within him and I believe it. It shows in his concerts – true he doesn’t talk, he just comes out and plays some incredible country music – whether his own or a cover classic. He doesn’t appear to give a damn what anyone else thinks, he does his thing for him — we’re just along for the ride and are being gifted with incredible music (my opinion, I know not all ya’ll agree). Most of this album was written and recorded before UMG even released “That Lonesome Song” — if you don’t “feel it” or “believe” his lyrics…thats fine – I get that…I don’t feel or believe in a lot of current country artists.
Stand outs on this album to me:
“My Way to You” – my favorite song I’ve heard Jamey perform. This is just one of those special songs that reaches out and grabs at you. I don’t know what makes it so special, to me it just is one of the best songs I’ve heard in a long, long time. Someone mentioned above he never clarifies what “you” is – many think its God…I think its him finding his way to who he is now…(or was when he wrote the song). Past the polished, packaged deal of his first album to the outlaw comparisons…to being just Jamey, as he is.
“Cover Your Eyes” – another one that just reached out to me. No special reason, haven’t been in that situation in my life…but its the whole production — the lyics, the music (another big fan of Cowboy! and Rowdy Jason Cope), the delivery…listen to the wavering in his voice when he sings “forever” in the first chorus…and that little growl when he’s saying, “well, hey…listen”…thats the little things that draw me into a song…the little nuances, the feeling.
“Front Porch Swing Afternoon” – might be trite to some, or cheesie…but when I hear this song…I’m right there beside him on that swing…you can smell the blackberry pie and hear the Hank Sr music in the house…and visualize the tractor in the field. Another song that makes you feel it…to me that makes a great song.
I’m not overly fond of “Baby Don’t Cry” either…but I love that he wrote it for his daughter…how special she must have felt hearing that song…I think its sweet he shared it with us and have heard from a lot of fathers touched by it.
Again, thanks for the review…I just wish Nashville would throw out the Waylon comparisons…he’s not the 2nd coming…he’s not Waylon…I don’t think he’s a poser, I think he’s just doing his own thing and shows his appreciation for the past/current greats.
September 24, 2010 @ 9:15 am
Nice break down.
I agree with you on “My Way To You”. For those that don’t like Jamey much, I wonder if they got to this song? It is pretty good. Not a “traditional sound”, but a nice journey of revisiting roads we all go down. Good or bad, trying to get to a person or goal in our life. It is all about just getting there. I mentioned he left the “you” open ended, which allows the listener to fill it in to any life circumstance. Not sure he planned it that way, but….
“Front Porch Swing Afternoon” this thing is like swimming in a giant pitcher of vodka lemonade!
“That’s How I Don’t Love You” is pretty powerful too. I think a lot of guys could relate to that whether they admit it or not.
September 24, 2010 @ 10:06 am
The problem for anyone who is not already a Jamey fan with this album is going to be the best songs to introduce people to Jamey, or to introduce people to this album are buried. With his “black” concept, the album starts off with slow, sparse songs that don’t get the blood pumping. I have no doubt that if you played “California Riots” for half these people that say the album left them cold, and you didn’t tell them it was Jamey Johnson, they would like it.
September 23, 2010 @ 10:04 pm
I have yet to hear the album but the review definetly has my curiosity piqued, and I realize that this may be off the subject but did you call Straight to Hell a concept album. Tommy and The Wall were concept albums. I’m not sure I understand. Maybe it’s because I heard the songs in concert for years before the album came out, but I don’t really get it.
Ant clarification would be helpful.
September 24, 2010 @ 9:25 am
I wasn’t sure how “Straight to Hell” got in the conversation about concept albums either. At least not with the albums mentioned in that paragraph.
Disc 1 of Straight to Hell is solid, “Country Heroes” is fantastic!!! One of the best songs around.
disc 2, “Lousianna Stripes” is an awesome song too. BUT I don’t do drugs, so the rest of disc 2 isn’t worth a damn to me.
That disc didn’t exactly break any new ground or new sounds either. (besides a horse breathing and a train rolling by for 5min. of disc 2)
Pretty hard to come up with new sounds on any level in country.
Shooter is breaking some new ground with some of his ideas and use of technology to put things out (i.e. his “living album concept), although his new stuff is pretty questionable, but he is trying.
I don’t think Jamey was trying to do anything new with this album. Just putting out his music, his own way, in Nashville. That maybe the biggest “new” (old) concept of the whole deal.
September 24, 2010 @ 10:11 am
I think Disc 2 was definitely a concept, and I don’t think you have to be on drugs to appreciate it. But the point I was trying to make there was not about concepts necessarily, but more about grand projects that offered something new in country that had never been heard before, no matter if people like it or not. STH Disc 2 had never been done before. Wrecking Ball, which was heavily criticized by traditionalists, was something new. Even Shooter Jenning’s new album is something new. There’s nothing groundbreakingly new here. That’s not necessarily a criticism, more an observation for one who might see a double album and five star reviews and think that country will be reinvented with this album.
September 24, 2010 @ 3:59 pm
You certainly don’t have to be on drugs to appreciate “Straight to Hell” disc 2. I think the stripped down arrangements and old-time feel is such a brilliant counterpoint to the rowdy first disc. I won’t lie though, the 5 minutes of train noise and other non-music gets old fast. I love to listen to disc 2 on record, where you can just skip to the songs.
I dislike pop music greatly, because I don’t think of it as music. It’s a product designed and marketed to sell the most copies and make the most money. The little bit of Jamey Johnson I’ve heard does not fit that mold to me. It’s just not as good as other bands I’m in to, or saving my hard earned bread to get into. If someone gave me this album, I bet it would grow on me. But I’m not inspired to go pick it up. Nonetheless, I wish Jamey good luck, and I hope this is part of real music blowing the doors off the Nashville machine.
There, that’s my 2 cents.
September 23, 2010 @ 11:39 pm
I think Jamey Johnson is the second coming of Christ personally.
But I still find his music boring.
September 24, 2010 @ 10:11 am
Quit playing with your food!
September 29, 2010 @ 12:06 pm
I think the album is great, but there are a lot of songs I could do with out. I loved That Lonesome Song, and this one just doesn’t compare. Still, hats off to Jamey for an album that is 100% better than most of the Nashville junk.
September 30, 2010 @ 11:00 pm
Arghhhhh, it’s ‘Dad rock!’ The kind of stuff my old man would listen to when I was a kid in the late ’70s. He’d have a glass of Coruba and coke in one hand and be whistling along loudly whilst slapping his thigh in time with the music. And burping the alphabet. Well at least I now know what to get him for Christmas. Next!
October 1, 2010 @ 8:01 am
That doesn’t sound to bad… late ’70’s Waylon, Willie, DAC, Paycheck in their prime! A vacation in a glass and relaxing to some music.
October 1, 2010 @ 4:31 pm
Oh if only it were that cool Waylon4ever! Sadly here in New Zealand my dad was not that hip and it was usually really bad kiwi versions of those guys. Although my very first concert when I was about 7 was Willie Nelson, so credit where credit is due to my old dad! My bro was only about 3 and was on dad’s shoulders. He had bright red hair and waved out to Willie and Willie took his hand off his guitar and waved back to my little bro. Epic!
October 2, 2010 @ 8:57 am
Just listened to The Guitar Song for the first time, and I have to say I really liked what I heard. Not brilliant all the way through, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if this had tiurned out to be an undiscovered gem from let’s say 40 years ago. Never mind if he sounds more like Waylon or Jones, he’s got his voice, and he uses it as good as he can. I thought about Waylon, because of the sound of the songs.
Anyway, I really liked his previous efforts, but my attention for JJ’s new cd was drawn by the discussion after Justin Townes Earle’s newest cd. It almost overtook talking about JTE himself. And me personally, I can see no other point of comparing these 2 cds but the fact that both were hyped.
So maybe both albums don’t quite live up to the high expectations, they are both good albums.
If I still would have my radio-show, I would play then both.
December 1, 2010 @ 12:41 pm
I just don’t understand how people on this board can not like Jamey Johnson. I’ve been a fan of real country music for years, had the privilege of meeting George Jones, he along with Vern Gosdin, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and Keith Whitley are my favorites of all time. They are some of the greatest of all time, and no one doubts that, and Jamey pays tribute to those artists and keeps their music prominent in his live shows while still bringing his own real country music to the table… All you people on here claiming you listen to better “country” music, name the artists??? I haven’t seen one you have named as talented as Jamey, not one. I like Hank 3, enjoy his music, but its definitely hit and a miss. His last album “damn right, rebel proud” had about 3 good songs on it, the rest was junk and thats my opinion, but its a damn honest opinion. On the other hand, “Straight to Hell” was a fantastic album full of real country music; the concept part is junk with all the yelling and train noises, if you call that country music you are a joke….I’ve seen Hank 3 and Jamey Johnson both live….heres the difference………. Jamey Johnson plays an hour and a half of his own music, and then another hour and a half of Hank Jr., Waylon, Vern, Jones, David Allan Coe, Merle, Paycheck, and hank sr….Hank 3 plays an hour or so of his own music mixed with a few covers, and then plays “assjack” or whatever that shit is called….Which is more country?? Thats what I thought.
December 5, 2010 @ 8:28 pm
I still haven’t heard THIS album, but I did get “That Lonesome Song” from the library and I dig it. At the end of the day he still seems like a weaker version of Whitey Morgan, but I like this kind of country and I don’t mind his voice. It’s nice to know someone singing this kind of music can get this big.
March 15, 2014 @ 11:31 pm
I agree with your sentiment about songs like “Poor Man’s Blues,” if not necessarily your sentiment on that particular song. For instance, what did you think of Ronnie Dunn’s “Cost of Livin'” from 2011? I thought that the song was very good but also an uncomfortable listening experience. I’m not against a musician giving a voice to someone other than themselves through song, but like Jamey Johnson, Ronnie Dunn isn’t poor. Even worse is the fact that he’s loaded; regardless of how he’s doing now, it’s more or less well known that Jamey has had some hard times in the recent past. Not that Ronnie hasn’t, but it’s been at least 20 years and long before Brand New Man dropped in the early nineties. I’d argue that Jamey probably isn’t a millionaire and also might have written that song before finding fame.
On another note, it’s been a while since you wrote a “Flashback” review. I know that you have a lot of music to wade through at any given time, but maybe a review of Jamey’s 2006 album The Dollar isn’t out of the question? And, if you feel like downloading it from a torrent, his 2002 self-released album They Call Me Country might be worth a listen (as of this post I haven’t heard it, myself).
November 4, 2016 @ 7:08 pm
I don’t know who this critic is but he’s full of shit and close minded to what is the real feeling in country TRUE COUNTRY is.I have turned so many of my friends into fans of Jamey Johnson. He has a story or a down to earth feeling that he shares in his music. He may just not want to be part of the commercialize country of today. Come on answer me this what the hell is country turning into to have Beyonce on the 50th anniversary of the CMA? Really??? So if your a Jamey fan your a special kind of person in my mind and found something special that not everyone opens their ear or mind up to. Jamey thank you for the great tunes and I got you back.<3
November 14, 2022 @ 5:37 pm
Well twelve years later and still a great album, but it struck me a few months back heartache sure sounds similar to huricane by band of heathens, like really similar. Both great songs, by great artists.