The pedigree that runs curiously through country music did not pass Georgette Jones up, and her talent for singing and finding songs that embody all that’s great about the country genre is on full display on her latest record, Skin. This album has not scored the insatiable buzz some other records from women in country have this year, because to many, Georgette Jones is considered a known quantity. But she’s put a really inspired work together here with one great song after another, some excellent performances by Georgette and all the players involved, and a few really excellent guest appearances resulting in something begging to be paid more attention to, and considered one of the better titles released in all of 2019.
If you thought it was tough for Hank Williams Jr. and Rosanne Cash to live in the shadow of famous fathers and have the world lump unrealistic expectations upon their careers, imagine doubling up on that burden. That is what Georgette Jones has dealt with for her entire life. As the only child of George Jones and Tammy Wynette—and named after both—the expectations for her have been borderline insurmountable. Georgette Jones is like the daughter of country music. Add on top what a difficult relationship her two Country Music Hall of Fame parents had, and how both of their estates have been embroiled in battles of one sort or another over the years, and it’s a miracle she’s even survived.
Georgette says Skin is the record she has always wanted to make, and the results speak for themselves. The album starts off with the intimate and personal title track co-written by Georgette herself about finally finding acceptance within yourself of who you are, as opposed to seeing yourself through of the eyes of the judgemental world. Bobby Braddock, who wrote many of those legendary songs for Georgette’s parents, lends another touching song to the album about not wanting to get hurt in a relationship called “End It With Hello.” Skin really is a tour de force of songwriting, and underscores the importance of being patient and thorough in your hunt for compositions as opposed to taking what’s easy like so many performers unfortunately do. In a just world, multiple songs on this album would be radio hits.
As enjoyable as the heartfelt songs are, it’s the energy and enthusiasm found on multiple tracks that make Skin such an gratifying listen, and really sets it off against the dizzying list of new titles being released in country lately. Georgette Jones isn’t slowing down, she’s mashing on the gas on tracks like the rambunctious “I Known What You Did Last Night,” the twangy “Call It Gone,” and the rockin’ “Goodbye Going Down.” If 90’s country that combined a little bit of a rock edge with twang is the hot commodity everyone is claiming it is, then Georgette’s Skin should be raising a blip on everyone’s radar. So well-produced and expertly played and arranged, there’s nothing to second guess here. It’s a record that’s both fun and fulfilling.
Possibly one of the best elements of Skin is the guest appearances. We haven’t heard Vince Gill sing as enthusiastically as he does on “I Know What You Did Last Night” in years. The delicate croon and texturing Dale Watson uses to sing the well-written “Cigarettes and You” (written by Ashlee Hewitt) is the kind of care we wish Dale would expend more of on his own records. And Dean Miller might be Georgette’s Ace in the Hole on Skin. Not only does he pen three of the album’s best tracks (“Goodbye Going Down” and “Make A Little Love”), he also sings with Georgette. As both a producer and a songwriter, Dean Miller is really starting to emerge as a name you should keep tabs on if you want to be on top of some of country music’s best projects.
What you want to say when you hear the name Georgette Jones is, “Oh, I know her. George and Tammy’s kid.” But what she illustrates on Skin is that you don’t know her, you only thought you did. That’s the theme of the title track, and it couldn’t be any more true about this record. Skin may be one of the best albums released in 2019, or it may not be. That’s up for the listener to decide. But it’s certainly one of the most surprising. You dive in and are very pleasantly surprised by what the daughter of George and Tammy has turned in here. And it’s a good reminder that no matter what her name is, Georgette Jones is her own woman.
– – – – – – – –