During Chris LeDoux’s 56 years on earth he recorded a whopping 36 albums, sold 6 million albums and was a rodeo champion. Chris never signed a record deal and accomplished as much as he did as an independent artist. Chris’ remarkable career was cut short after a fight with cancer ended in 2005 and now his son Ned has released a 5 song ep which continues his fathers legacy. The ep is not perfect but, for a debut ep it more than exceeds expectations.
The album begins with “We Ain’t Got it All” which is about a working class family who most of America would classify as poor. They owe their souls to the bank and they don’t have much but, they are happy. They have food in the refrigerator, a piece of land and most importantly, they have each other. Other people would look down on this family and maybe even feel sorry for them, when in reality they have it all. They have a different kind of wealth that no amount of money can buy. Next up is “Brother Highway” which has an infectious sound from start to finish with the guitars carrying the melody. The song is about the parallels between himself and the highway and all time the two of them have spent together. Like the highway he has seen it all through the rain, the sleet and the snowfall. There have been some rough patches and detour signs along the way and like the highway he keeps rolling on. “Forever a Cowboy” is an honest take on what it means to be a cowboy. The man in this song is tough, handy and doesn’t know when to quit. This man is a free spirit and will always remain a cowboy. I find it hard to believe listening to this song that it isn’t a salute to his late father who lived this song. In mainstream country we often see shallow representations of what being country or being a cowboy is. The difference with LeDoux is you feel like he has actually lived what he is singing about.
“Johnson County War” begins with the sound of horses galloping followed by a gun being fired. The time period the song takes place is 1882 in Wyoming during the time when people began to settle the west. “Johnson County War” is about the struggle of the people who settled the west and how many people did not survive. Droughts, winters and theft of cattle made surviving and sustaining a family a formidable task. The best song on the album “The Hawk” is a tribute to Ned’s father Chris. Before the narrators father passed away he had told him that he always wanted to fly just like a hawk. After he passed away the family began to notice a hawk on their ranch. What was so peculiar about the hawk was that hawk’s were almost never spotted on the ranch. This hawk was always watching over the family and never left. The narrator and his family believe that it is his father watching over all of them. It is a beautifully touching song about a family coping with loss. I almost never like hearing talk singing in a country song but, it actually adds to the idea of the story that is being told. It allows you to feel like LeDoux is talking to you about his father and the hawk.
I sincerely hope that this ep is successful and LeDoux is able to release a full length album soon. The ep is not perfect but, it is a terrific start to a career. What we get is a very personal, honest ep about the cowboy life and what it means. This is a unique style of country western that we just do not get to hear very often. LeDoux carries on his father’s legacy with grace and honor in this debut.
Album Grade: 7/10
Favorite Song: The Hawk