Jamey Johnson Releases First New Recording in 8 Years

Unexpectedly and without any explanation, Jamey Johnson has released his first truly new recording in over eight years. On Friday, October 16th, Johnson’s take on “America The Beautiful” populated on streaming sites without any fanfare or media push. And though it’s not an original song, it comes as a welcome surprise to Jamey Johnson fans who’ve been starved for anything new from the songwriter for a long time.

Starting off sedated, slow, and acoustic, with just Jamey and his guitar, the five-minute rendition builds to a full band that includes saxophone and flute, and all of the original verses of the patriotic song written by Katherine Lee Bates in the late 1800’s, and popularized in modern times by Ray Charles.

Though Jamey Johnson has said nothing in accompaniment of the release, perhaps he’s saying exactly what he wants to say simply by releasing the song at a time when political acrimony is at an all-time high in the modern era, and racial tension in the United States is at fevered levels. Having served in the Marines for eight years before launching his country career, Johnson has commonly shown both his patriotism and appreciation of songs from the American songbook, regularly singing Woodie Guthrie’s “This Land Is Your Land” in concert.

Despite launching a successful major label career in the mid aughts that saw Johnson mint a Platinum and Gold record, and win two CMA Awards, Johnson’s been mostly quiet on the new music front for an extended period. His last full-length project was a tribute to Hank Cochran in 2012. Before that, the double LP The Guitar Song from 2010 was the last time we heard truly new original music from Johnson.

In early 2015 after Jamey Johnson started his own label Big Gassed Records, he did release a couple of singles he had sitting on the shelf exclusively to iTunes, one called “Alabama Pines,” and another called “You Can” that was written around 2004 with Dan Couch. In 2017, Jamey cited a concussion he suffered years before for his lack of creative output, but said he was working towards improvement.

Despite the lack of his own output, Jamey Johnson continues to collaborate with other artists. Just recently he appeared on a single by Nick Norman called “The Cock Crows.”

No indication that the new track from Jamey Johnson will be linked to a bigger project. But it is good to hear Johnson recording music again, and he sounds as good as ever on “America The Beautiful.”

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