In a true procrastinator’s fashion, I have waited until the final dying moments of the year to tackle 2023’s most difficult album to review, and the one that will include some of the most dissenting viewpoints from prevailing sentiments.
A Saving Country Music Song of the Year candidate is not just your favorite ditty that gets stuck in your head. These are songs that change hearts, change lives, rest in your head for years to come, open up new ideas, or unlock memories or emotions you haven’t felt in years.
Screw it all. You want to save country music? Put it on the back of the Buick City Badass Whitey Morgan along with his backing band The 78’s, and let them carry the whole damn genre. Whitey Morgan is like the embodiment of all the rage and frustration of true country music fans channeled into one hairy human vessel.
An album cut is one thing, especially in 2018 when most fans don’t even buy records anymore, and instead stream the top singles on Spotify or Apple Music, and ignore the rest. The real test would be if Kenny Chesney had the fortitude to release “Better Boat” as a single.
If Kenny Chesney hadn’t spent the last 20-something years of his career beating down the country music listening public with his barrage of island and beach songs, we probably would be talking about how his latest record ‘Songs For The Saints’ is a striking piece of conceptualized album making/
Nearly everything about “Better Boat” is right. The songwriters Travis Meadows and Liz Rose are right. The entirety of the instrumentation being performed by Mac McAnally on an acoustic guitar is right. Kenny choosing songwriter Mindy Smith to perform the song with instead of some pop star is right.
BJ Barham and American Aquarium have pulled off quite a feat with their latest album ‘Things Change.’ Not only did they write and record what has been the band’s most well-received and critically-acclaimed album to date. Now the initial sales numbers have been tabulated, and it has sold through better than any of the band’s records previously.
Editor’s Note: This is a contribution to Saving Country Music by Zac McDaniel who is a freelance writer. Zac is also a rancher and small business owner from Oklahoma. Along with immersing himself in the music of others he is also an aspiring songwriter. He enjoys spending time with his wife, children and Gibson guitar. […]
50-year-old country stars aren’t supposed to make records like these. They’re supposed to be trying to hold onto their glory days or make good use of the last dying gasps of somehow getting on the radio. Or they’re supposed to just give up the ghost and make sure they’re investing their money smartly. But nobody told Wynonna Judd that, or her husband, producer, drummer and songwriter Cactus Moser.
“Things That I Lean On” begins by acquiescing to the frailties of being human, and then singing the praises of the gifts life bestows to overcome them. Written by Travis Meadows and Daniel Sanders, it is a perfect song for the conditions Cactus Moser created to record in. Though it’s not her own song, the love and honesty Wynonna sings with let’s you know it is still very personal and true to her experience.
Saving Country Music has a rich, storied history when it comes to sharing opinions about Eric Church. Forget that just as much of the ink spilled for Church has been praising as it has been critical, when you’re dealing with an artist who enjoys a strong, grassroots fan base, you’re almost never going to win when you have something less than favorable to say.
Ahead of this self-titled release, the buzz was immense. There was a sense this wasn’t going to be simply another Wade Bowen album—that his experiences of the last few years helped Wade see himself for who he really is, instead of who everyone else wants him to be. Two songs in, and this album already delivers on any promises and expectations preceding it.