Album Review – Wade Bowen & Randy Rogers “Hold My Beer”
Some people may pass on this record because they’ve never heard of Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers before. Some will pass on it because they think Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers are animals of Texas country rock whose days of putting out traditional country records are in the past. And still others will pass because they thing a collaborative album spells a half effort.
But they will all be missing out on an opportunity to hear what will be one of the best traditional country records released in all of 2015.
Boy howdy did Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers absolutely clobber the ball out of the park with this one. When I first heard they were making a studio version of their laid back, and sometimes poorly-promoted and hastily-booked “Hold My Beer and Watch This” acoustic shows annually embarked on between bigger tours, I thought we’d get a bunch of stripped-down covers, a few acoustic collaborations, and maybe a studio track or two; something more for the serious Red Dirt fan as opposed to a wide swath of the country music population. Instead we get a completely fleshed out album full of original songs that rival or potentially surpass the work either of these Texas country stalwarts have done on their primary projects, or any traditional country album released in a while.
And when I say traditional country, I’m not speaking in hyperbole or close approximations. I’m talking steel guitar and fiddle, I’m talking twang and texture, with really no departure from the traditional approach at any point. But if you come for the music, you stay for the songs, and Hold My Beer Vol. 1 showcases some of the best writing you can find in the achingly bereft country music landscape of today.
First and foremost this is supposed to be a fun project capturing these two headliners swapping stories, and they don’t lose sight of this throughout the record. But the choruses deliver so strongly in songs like the opener “In The Next Life,” and in the semi-protest song and possibly strongest track “Standards,” you could almost consider Hold My Beer as a songwriter effort first. Even some of the lighter songs like “Lady Bug” still impress in their penmanship. As the song “Standards” explains, these songs are standards with standards, meaning I wouldn’t be surprised to hear quite a few of these songs being sung by others in the future.
As much as your ears want to gravitate toward “Good Luck With That” and “Standards” as the best songs, an extended listen might reveal “El Dorado” as the gem of the project. Though songs about the young man choosing to finally settle down have been done so many times before, I don’t know if they’ve ever been done this well. The structure of this song, and Wade and Randy’s cattle calls near the end really draw the emotion to the surface in a way few other songs accomplish. Put it in the “Pancho & Lefty” stratosphere of emotional impact.
And overall what makes Hold My Beer so special is just how personal the record is to both Wade and Randy, and to the friendship between them. 15 years is a long period to draw inspiration for songs, and this record works like a travelogue for these two men’s journey in the music business. It’s starts out talking about their early struggles while looking back with no regrets, is bisected by struggling with success and settling down, and ends with talking about growing old in a young man’s game.
Beyond whatever assurances to prospective country music purchasers of this music that I could convey, or whatever superlatives might be levied in support of this effort, what Wade Bowen and Randy Roger do in Hold My Beer Vol. 1 is offer hope for the future of authentic country music, and once again prove that Texas does it better.
Two Guns Up.
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April 21, 2015 @ 10:50 am
Original album name, I’ll pass
April 21, 2015 @ 11:06 am
Exactly, why listen to the music when you can just judge the whole thing by the NAME OF THE ALBUM!! What a great idea!! Wish I could un-listen to this and just base it off the title
April 21, 2015 @ 2:49 pm
That’s a pretty ridiculous reason to deprive yourself of great music.
April 21, 2015 @ 8:14 pm
It’s not very often Trigger gives 2 guns up to a record. And the review was great. It’s probably a really great album. But yea – that title just blows it for me. I’ll be over here listening to some shitty album with a minimum of 3 profundities in the title.
April 22, 2015 @ 9:04 am
There was a reason the first paragraph of this article was a warning not to disregard this album because of extraneous reasons. The title for this album was preordained 15 years ago before Wade or Randy even knew they would be making it. Saying it’s a bad title is like trying to tell a mother her baby is ugly.
April 21, 2015 @ 10:58 am
Bought it yesterday morning and let me just say, you’re 100% right on this review, if anything this is the first actual 90’s record in many years.
April 21, 2015 @ 11:04 am
Mind = Blown. Favorite record this year so far!!
April 21, 2015 @ 11:06 am
Trigger, have you lost count of the times you’ve seen Sean McConnell as writer or co-writer on these new songs this year?
April 21, 2015 @ 11:26 am
I love Sean McConnell. Seems like some and Randy and Wade’s best stuff are songs he’s written or co-written with. Haven’t seen the songwriting credits for this album so I don’t know which ones he had a hand on with these. Although I thought I heard ” Ladybug” was his written by/with Sean. I may be wrong though
April 21, 2015 @ 11:30 am
Sean McConnell has definitely been a part of some really good songs here lately.
April 21, 2015 @ 11:32 am
That’s it. Plus one on Will Hoge’s new one, and the Christina Aguilera single from Nashville “Shotgun”. And countless others over the last few years.
April 21, 2015 @ 11:17 am
I’ll second that J. Favorite album of the year so far for me. No fillers, all killers from top to bottom! El Dorado blew my mind when I heard it first. Like Trigger said a Pancho and Lefty feel. The whole country should know who these guys are. But then again, they don’t have lines cut in their hair ðŸ˜‚
April 21, 2015 @ 11:26 am
Purchased on iTunes, thanks.
April 21, 2015 @ 11:42 am
I love this album and have been looking forward to it for awhile.. I think the strongest track is “Till it does”. Im surprised you didn’t comment about that song. Good review.
April 21, 2015 @ 12:02 pm
Outstanding. I haven’t heard a traditional country record this solid, from top to bottom, since Daylight & Dark. Honestly, I think this is Wade and Randy’s best work to date.
April 21, 2015 @ 12:21 pm
I’ll listen to this and perhaps purchase it later today. Right now I’m busy with John Moreland’s new album, which is also out today (and also available on Bandcamp).
April 21, 2015 @ 1:08 pm
El Dorado is my favorite track of the album. It’s been on repeat all day today.
Toby in AK
April 21, 2015 @ 1:09 pm
I’ve been down on country music lately, this album came out at just the right time for me. Loving it, this one’s getting added to the library
April 21, 2015 @ 1:10 pm
Thanks for the review, can’t wait to grab this album. It goes without saying that Randy and Wade are some of the hardest working artist out there today., they just get it. They understand that they have to write songs or record songs that they can play live every night. I’m not saying every song they have is earth shattering or that they even write every song they have, but every song they sing is done at a very high level. And to top it off, they are stand up people. You don’t have to like all their songs or albums, but you have to give them credit for sticking to their guns on how they want to make music.
As terrible as “Country Music” is these days and that goes for a lot of the new “Texas Country” acts, we have a group of artist paving a new road. I’m to young to have experienced the Cosmic Cowboy days at the Armadillo, but it seems like something similar is happening, except this time its not held to one city or area or genre.
April 21, 2015 @ 1:12 pm
Thanks for the review, Trig. Really looking forward to this one. Is “It’s Been A Great Afternoon” a cover of the Merle Haggard song? (At work & can’t listen now.)
April 21, 2015 @ 1:35 pm
So is “Reasons to Quit.”
April 21, 2015 @ 2:22 pm
Awesome. I knew about “Reasons to Quit.” Both of those songs have always been favorites. 😀
We ordered the cd from Amazon and it hasn’t gotten here yet…
April 21, 2015 @ 1:27 pm
Only have heard two songs but already love it! Both of them have good solo work so look forward to listening to it all! I will have to pick it up sooner than later. Also, just wondering if you were planning a review on Jon Wolfe’s album Natural Man, parts of it are pretty traditional and some isn’t but it is really good from start to finish.
June 28, 2019 @ 10:56 am
Really liked Natural Man. Outrun Her Memory is a good one.
April 21, 2015 @ 1:40 pm
Wonder what Clint thinks.
April 21, 2015 @ 2:24 pm
Is.. Is that even a question?
April 21, 2015 @ 1:43 pm
Listening now on Bandcamp, will be purchasing in a few minutes. Love the cover of Joe Ely’s “I Got My Hopes Up High.”
April 21, 2015 @ 2:44 pm
It’s Been A Great Afternoon is one of my favorite Hag songs. The cover of it is fantastic. I’ll chime in on the chorus of the best album of the year (so far at least). It is amazing how depressing mainstream ‘country’ is but how awesome, vital and hopeful real country music is.
April 21, 2015 @ 2:54 pm
Ordered from Bandcamp. Outstanding stuff. Thanks as always for the heads up, Trig.
April 21, 2015 @ 3:53 pm
I purchased this album at midnight on Google play because for whatever reason I was up and realized the date and wow am I happy with it. I was hoping for some real songwriting and studio tracks from these 2 not just some live acoustics and I was not surprised sorry everyone but so far this my 2015 aoty
April 22, 2015 @ 1:26 am
Listened to two random tracks, “Good Luck With That” and “El Dorado.” Excellent songwriting and, yeah, the songs are a master class in what country is supposed to sound like.
April 22, 2015 @ 2:15 am
Best country album this year so far! It’s fantastic. Great review as always Trigger!
April 22, 2015 @ 4:45 am
Completely agree trigger. Appreciate the review
April 22, 2015 @ 6:17 am
I think something that gets overlooked about these two is how talented they are as vocalists, particularly Randy. He has a completely unique voice with the “moan” to it that people talk about in regard to country greats. Wade, on the other hand, has a wide range of skills that many aren’t fortunate enough to have, vocally. Yes, they’re fantastic songwriters, but for me their vocals have always taken them over the top as artists. Unique voices, many, many vocal skills, and they could sell the emotion of a song in their sleep.
April 22, 2015 @ 7:31 am
After listning to the preview I am digging it. Looking to buy this album..but where do I find a version with the two bonus tracks? On a completely different note I am pumped that Cody Jinks will be in my area tomorrow night.
April 22, 2015 @ 12:46 pm
I bought from band camp here: https://randyandwade.bandcamp.com/releases and it came with the two bonus tracks
April 22, 2015 @ 8:29 am
Thanks, I will be sure to pick this one up soon.
April 22, 2015 @ 8:45 am
El Dorado is one of the greatest songs I’ve heard in a while. At first listen, ‘Til it Does was my favorite. Now, I just can’t get enough of El Dorado. That song just pairs the music and lyrics perfectly. It’s one of those tunes that just immediately draws you in and puts you into the song. It paints a perfect picture in your head of the whole western cowboy outlaw theme. Put a mark in the win column for country music on this one. It’s rare that you see a couple of guys pair up this far in to their careers and put out something different from their original music and cometely nail it. This could have easily been an album just to feed their fan base some filler, but they hit it out of the park on this one.
April 22, 2015 @ 10:05 am
Some fun songs here! Very reminiscent of some of the stuff I liked in the early-to-mid ’90s. 😀
April 22, 2015 @ 12:03 pm
I’d of totally by-passed this project if I didn’t read your review, Trig. Great review, nice album.
April 22, 2015 @ 1:08 pm
I thought the “Hold My Beer” was a reddit reference but if it’s not, yeah, it’s an awful title. But the album is great! I think it knocked off all the other albums on my favourites of 2015. I’ve played it so many times I can pretty much sing along to most of the songs now.
April 22, 2015 @ 1:50 pm
Will you be reviewing William Clark Green’s new album Ringling Road? I’d like to know your opinion, so far it’s pretty good, the title track kinda reminds me of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s Choctaw Bingo.
April 22, 2015 @ 1:55 pm
Yes, this might have been the most clogged release date all year. Williams Clark Green, John Moreland, Jimbo Mathus, they’re all top of mind and I hope to post reviews soon. Thanks for the interest.
April 22, 2015 @ 5:06 pm
A good review, and I’m very in line with the thinking here. I will admit that the name of the album wasn’t the best choice, but that isn’t all that important.
I am wondering about a certain sentence though:
“Some will pass on it because they think Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers are animals of Texas country rock whose days of putting out traditional country records are in the past.”
What in the world is “Texas Country Rock”? I’m just curios here, really, because country rock isn’t exactly a great descriptor. I know its established, but to me, Bowen and Rogers don’t sound like country rock as I know it. Do they have more rock than pure traditional country? Of course. I just think that country rock is a weird thing to say.
I understand the reasoning behind saying it though, so ignore if you want!
April 22, 2015 @ 8:41 pm
I was just trying to illustrate one of the stereotypes you see about Texas country that it’s more rock than country, which is probably a valid observation when it comes to quite a few acts, including some of what Wade Bowen and the Randy Rogers Band do. The point was I know there’s going to be some country purists who completely pass on this album because of this, and they’re making a big mistake.
April 23, 2015 @ 1:42 pm
That’s how I understood it. I personally get particular on the naming of such things because I don’t want people to get even more closed up about country. Country purists, from what I’ve seen and heard, don’t really know what they want, exceptions exluded. I’ve heard many laud, for example, Hayes Carl or Kacey Musgraves as great traditional country. To me, they have just as much rock influence as any of the Texas acts. Less so Musgraves, but it comes through at times.
I don’t know, just a personal thing. Sitting here in Texas all the time, I have to fight to get people to listen to the Texas scene, because that is the closest they get to traditional country. I mean, hell, overall we have very little pure traditional country at all. The biggest name off the top of my head would be Wayne Hancock, and he’s far from popular.
April 22, 2015 @ 9:07 pm
About halfway through this album and its amazing. I’m pleasantly surprised.
April 22, 2015 @ 9:31 pm
I’ve heard nothing but great things about this album. I keep forgetting to pick it up though.
April 22, 2015 @ 9:50 pm
Excellent album. It’s hard to pick among so many great songs, but in my opinion the best one from a musical perspective is “Til It Does”. It is a gorgeous yet wistful throwback to late 80s and early 90s neotraditional country, and strongly resembles some of George Strait’s and Garth Brooks’s best songs. From a lyrical perspective, I definitely agree that “El Dorado” is the best, with unparalleled story-based lyrics.
By the way, Trigger, thanks for posting the full album.
April 22, 2015 @ 10:44 pm
If the full album is available I will post it. A lot of times that’s not to case.
April 23, 2015 @ 10:12 am
Good news from Wade’s camp on Facebook today: Cheers to y’all for making this week great! The new album from Randy Rogers and I got to #1 Overall on Amazon and #2 in Country on iTunes!
If you haven’t checked out the album, please consider doing so.
April 23, 2015 @ 4:16 pm
Brilliant album Trigger,thanks for highlighting it,I’d have missed it otherwise.Listened to it on a top quality Youtube link and immediately ordered a copy.
April 23, 2015 @ 9:12 pm
I listened to this album all day. My favorite songs: “‘Til It Does” and “El Dorado”. “El Dorado” is extremely well written in it’s 3/4 time. Such a refreshing break from the superficial lyrics of Bro Country. “‘Til It Does” is a sweet two-step reminiscent of an old George Strait song, complete with steel guitar. Wade’s voice brings this one home for me. There are quite a few gems on this album!
April 23, 2015 @ 10:04 pm
So I checked this album out today and it is real good. I think I have figured out the missing element from radio Nashville. It’s heart, and these guys have it. While it may be obvious to some, I just knew that there was something missing, and moved on when country radio failed to move me any more. But while listening to this album, I was thinking. It’s not a drastic departure from country radio, the subject matter, tempo, ect. Is very close, yet I like this (two artists I had previously never heard) but not radio country. why? Most of the country I follow has far less in common with radio country than this album. Then it hit me. These guys, just like every artist I love are playing from the heart. They aren’t in it just for the money, they won’t be following trends. Immediately after that, it hit me that every hit country song nowadays spawns three or four soundalike songs. This isn’t a coincidence, but a collaborative effort to have a hit. Artists that write songs because they want to, not because the last guy that wrote one like it got to number 1 will naturally be easier to listen to. This also explained the emergence of bro country. Somebody got a bro song to hit, spawning the inevitable 3 or 4 soundalike songs, which also must have hit, spawning three or four sound alikes each. This is just like network marketing pyramid scams. Am I rambling? Probably. But am I making sense? I hope so.
April 25, 2015 @ 11:41 am
Great, great album. I’ve been listening to it non-stop.
But I have to put in a plug for “Hangin’ Out in Bars,” which is a really strong track along with “El Dorado,” “Til It Does” and “Standards.” I think that might be my favorite song.
Actually, there isn’t a clunker on this album. In a just world, these two would be household names and the FGL guys would be parking cars somewhere.
Quotable Country – 04/26/15 Edition | Country California
April 26, 2015 @ 8:42 pm
[…] with Wade Bowen and Randy Rogers, whose buddy album Hold My Beer, Vol. 1 is getting plenty of positive notice. And rightly […]
May 12, 2015 @ 9:41 pm
Great album. Been listening to it since I bought this past week. El Dorado is a fantastic track. Takes me back to the old days of country music. Just a great song. No duds on this.
May 14, 2015 @ 8:56 pm
Mad respect to the Trigger. Without him I would have never heard Southeastern or any of Sturgill Simpson. I was a fan of pre-Nashville Pat Green (when I was very, very young), but I didn’t even find this album anyplace above average.
June 26, 2015 @ 11:53 pm
This album has been on my to buy list because of Triggs recommendation since this review was originally posted. I pretty much buy albums based on the order they enter that list. Although, if it’s something I’m stoked for, I’ll give it a few nudges forward as I did for this one because of the glowing review. However, I was a little hesitant because I have two other albums by Wade Bowen and his music isn’t always my style.
But boy was I floored with what a masterpiece this album is. It came in a week ago and hasn’t left my CD player since. On the production and mastering side of things, this is one of the most well mastered albums I’ve ever heard. To my ears anyway. Every single instrument, every vocal, perfectly adjusted (seemingly unmodified in any way). From a musical standpoint, 100% pure country (real country) gold. Every single track on the album, outstanding.
Thank you Trigger for this recommendation!
Now if I could only get my money back on “High on Tulsa Heat” 🙁
August 1, 2021 @ 7:24 am
Just circling back, revisiting this review. It’s 2021 now, the sequel to this album – Vol. 2 (also solid, but nowhere near as good as Vol.1) has been released, yet I still play Hold My Beer, Vol. 1 regularly. Your review was on point, Trigger. I would only say that I believe this album was not only one of the best country albums of 2015, but also one of the best of the 2010s.