Album Review – Wayd Battle’s “Powerless”
“Battle” is about the perfect last name for Wayd. Eternally situated between sin and redemption, rich and poor, sauced and sober, successful and forgotten, this is where you’ll find Wayd’s soul and songs, with these weighty forces constantly fighting for supremacy, and Wayd stuck right in the middle narrating it all in moving moments perfectly suitable for country music with an emphasis on rich songwriting.
Maybe you’ve seen the name before drifting here and there in the liner notes of Jamey Johnson or Jerrod Niemann records, or heard him on stage with these men and others playing guitar. Or maybe you haven’t. As someone that has made a living standing just outside the spotlight, if nothing else, Wayd Battle has earned the respect of many of those that stand in it. When you have award-winning artists primarily known for songwriting like Jamey Johnson, Adam Hood, and others selecting you as a co-writer, you know you stand the test.
For years, the left-handed Tuscaloosa native has been laboring away as a writer for BMG Nashville and a side player hustling on the stage, or maybe fronting his own band upon occasion. But his new album Powerless finds the attention squarely on him, and it’s well-earned from the assemblage of strong songs he compiles that for some other writers and singers would be as loaded as their Greatest Hits collection.
Making reference to the push and pull of forces beyond his control, Powerless captures a songwriter and performer you’re frankly shocked we haven’t heard more from over the years. A perfectly worn and weathered voice for country, but confident in its delivery, and songs that take nothing off the edge, it’s right up the alley for fans of hard country in a traditional style. Battle leaves you no opportunities to come up for air. There’s no light and winsome ditties, or attempts at humor. Mercilessly, it goes to work on your emotional armor and prevails in 13 songs, 12 of which are self-penned.
And Wayd Battle doesn’t waste a whole lot of effort on instrumental breaks or fancy production. The songs and his voice are the centerpiece in tracks that usually last no more than three minutes, and leave you emotionally spent and reflective. One could say this renders Powerless less accessible to a general audience. But for those who’ve built up a heavy tolerance from listening to hard-hitting country heartbreakers, this record contains those potent shots to push past your limit so you can feel them once again.
It’s fair to point out that Powerless is hindered somewhat by what sounds to be mastering issues. As you listen through, the volumes and production style sometimes changes abruptly, like the album may have been a compilation of various sessions years apart or EPs smashed together. But this slight distraction doesn’t keep you from the power of the individual songs or performances. This is the only active album out there you can find from Wayd Battle, but he did release a now out-of-print debut in 2000.
With a life’s full of inspiration and perseverance to compile a healthy catalog of songs, Wayd Battle puts a record together in Powerless that makes for a powerful testament to his talent for true country music, and a moment where this lifer of side gigs and songwriting sessions gets his own deserved opportunity as the center of attention.
1 3/4 Guns Up (8/10)
August 10, 2020 @ 8:37 am
I will check out the album but that picture really makes him look like a Muppet.
August 10, 2020 @ 8:01 pm
I thought the same. It’s Mahna Mahna
Andrew Scott Wills
August 10, 2020 @ 8:47 am
I got to know Wayd during one of his low points and this is so great to see. He’s fought more than his share of demons and has a deep well of things to write about. He’s a talented writer, guitarist all while playing his guitar upside down like Hendrix. I still stand by my opinion that his live cover of “Boys of Summer” is the best version I’ve ever heard. Great record!
August 10, 2020 @ 9:14 am
Powerless is chock full of *powerful* tunes. The more I listen to this album, the more certain songs resonate. Wayd’s gritty and heartfelt voice is a perfect instrument to make you feel the weight of the lyrics.
August 10, 2020 @ 9:16 am
If his beard is any indication of the quality of this album it’s gonna be a masterpiece
August 10, 2020 @ 9:46 am
I hope this guy has air conditioning.
I’m still building my “tolerance from listening to hard hitting country heartbreakers,” but these songs sound interesting enough to checkout the rest.
Damn, you’re not kidding though, even between these 2 songs….they could have recorded different sessions and still have mastered them to at least have similar levels. I know budgets can be tight, but decent mastering isn’t that expensive, and not an area you want skimp on.
August 10, 2020 @ 6:54 pm
Down in Fraggle Rock
August 10, 2020 @ 7:13 pm
Let the music play.
August 10, 2020 @ 10:02 am
👍👍👍👍This is what I come to this site for (in spite of people expressing unfortunate right wing opinions and dragging pop country artists I really like.) Does his record company know it’s not available for streaming on Amazon? (It is on iTunes though…)
August 10, 2020 @ 10:06 am
Record company? My guess is he’s his own record company.
August 10, 2020 @ 10:24 am
Ah. People like to stream, so he should do whatever it is you have to do to get Alexa to recognize your album…
August 10, 2020 @ 10:38 am
Like give it away for free? Same as Amazon and Spotify and Apple, unless you have a million streams. 🙂
August 10, 2020 @ 11:06 am
It streams on itunes….
August 10, 2020 @ 10:39 am
Way to “drag” politics into an article that has nothing to do with it 👍 👍👍👍
I believe there’s a word for that, but I can’t quite think of it right now. I think it has something to do with fishing. Luring? Baiting? Damn, it’s on the tip of my tongue. Any help here?
August 10, 2020 @ 11:41 am
It was a compliment to SCM. Relax.
August 10, 2020 @ 11:59 am
Can’t think of a topic more relaxing than fishing. 🎣
August 10, 2020 @ 11:53 am
If you purchase the MP3 album in Amazon, it should become available to you in Amazon Music.
August 10, 2020 @ 11:12 am
Never heard of “Wayd” before, but there are a few things I’d like to know.
1. Has he payd his dues?
2. Have all the recordings he’s mayd been good?
3. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but does he brayd his hair?
4. How long before his appeal fayds?
5. Do you think he will become jayded?
August 11, 2020 @ 6:08 am
Jayden, Kayden, Ayden, and Brayden. If I had a nickel for every 5 year old kid with one of those names or a close variation, I’d have a lot of nickels.
August 10, 2020 @ 11:29 am
Thank you for covering this album! It’s definitely one of my favorites this year.
August 11, 2020 @ 4:01 pm
Sounds good to me; and without the burden of an industry hype machine to heighten skepticism. Also, as a left-handed (and left-footed) drummer, I welcome any southpaw artist who arrives on the scene.
August 11, 2020 @ 4:57 pm
Not to mention, he plays left handed AND upside down.
August 11, 2020 @ 6:05 pm
LOL! If only I could do that with a drum set! 🙂
August 11, 2020 @ 4:39 pm
Great songs with great themes. Especially relevant in these hard times.
August 11, 2020 @ 8:32 pm
HOW CAN I BUY THIS??
August 11, 2020 @ 9:14 pm
Unfortunately, I do not have any physical purchase link. I believe it’s only available digitally, but it is available through most services. This is underground, DIY.
August 12, 2020 @ 3:59 am
He said physical copies will be available soon, likely from his website or Amazon. But for now, it’s digital only.
August 12, 2020 @ 5:57 am
Okay thanks. I hope it gets a physical release. I’ve waited years for him to release an album, assuming he never would
August 12, 2020 @ 9:42 am
Gritty, confessional writing.
The album does track like an autobiography, and by the end he’s gone full circle, like the prodigal son.
Maybe the production could have stood a little more polish, but for me the songcraft trumps that, and the album is a great listen all the way through.
August 16, 2020 @ 9:06 am
Wayd has made a classic country album. Not only are the songs “lived in” by the artist, it comes out at a time when real country is not popular. Wayd is a good guy overcoming struggling with having lived in these songs. Orginal, True, classic.
Stream the hell out of it!
August 20, 2020 @ 9:02 am
This album quickly vaulted into my “Best of 2020” list – thanks so much to SCM for giving it attention. It often echoes Jamey Johnson’s writing style and sadly reminds me how much I miss having new music from him. “Coal Country War” is a highlight, and resonates more deeply than anything I heard on Steve Earle’s full album of coal country stories (sorry Steve, I still love you). “Devil in the Mirror” should be a radio hit, if radio would actually play songs from guys like Wayd. Consistently strong, heartfelt songwriting, with twists of phrase that carry his stories to new depths. I sent it to my brother, and he immediately thought of Billy Joe Shaver – right on, high praise, much deserved.