Sunday Morning Time Capsule

Image result for falling again don williams

Hello all! Welcome to the this week’s feature of Sunday Morning Time Capsule which is a weekly feature here at Critically Country. In this feature I do a throwback spotlight on a song, album or subject. I say spotlight instead of review because I won’t be giving grades for this feature just discussing the piece of work. Nostalgia can be a powerful thing so hopefully you all enjoy this piece as much as I do. I am happy to take requests for the Time Capsule if you have any so speak up if you do.

Last week on the Sunday Morning Time Capsule we went back to 1951 for Hank Williams hit song “I Can’t Help It (If I’m Still In Love With You).” This week we move up to the year 1981 for Don Williams’ hit song “Falling Again.” “Falling Again” peaked at 6 on the Billboard Country charts in 1981 and was the second single from his album I Believe In You. In this track a man is following old habits by falling for a woman too soon after his heart was broken by a previous woman. He knows that he should take his time and let his heart recover but then a woman smiles at him and he returns to the same cycle. The song was written by Bob McDill.

Charlie Worsham Beginning of Things Album Review

Image result for beginning of things

Count myself among the people who like Charlie Worsham. Besides the fact that he comes across as an extremely likable guy, he makes great music. He’s not afraid to be different from the crowd and release music that although still country, is innovative and unique. Charlie’s debut album Rubberband was released in 2013 at the height of the bro country era when quality music did not fit in well on country radio (it still doesn’t). Prior to releasing his first album since 2013, Worsham released a few songs from the upcoming album basically an ep’s worth of material. I have to say I was very intrigued by the sounds that I was hearing and even wrote a review for the title track  The Beginning of Things.

This album although country definitely pushes boundaries and includes something that is becoming more common on country songs and that is horns. We hear the horns loud and clear on one of my favorite tracks on this album “Call You Up” which tells the story of a man who plans to call up his ex one day if he ever gets over her. He wants to call her to find out how she’s doing, if she ever met anyone and to laugh about the way that she broke his heart. He thinks about her all the time no matter what is going on. It’s a very smooth, catchy song which is the case with a number of songs on this album.

Worsham also displays a great sense of humor with songs like “Take Me Drunk” and “Lawn Chair Don’t Care.” The latter is a song I have seen that a lot of people don’t really care for and see it as label meddling however, I have to admit I kind of like it. It’s a catchy, relaxing song about all the stresses and problems in life. Despite all this he is going to just sit back in his lawn chair for awhile and not think about it. Is it a great song or one of the best tracks on the album? No, but it’s harmless.

One of the songs on the album that I agree with the consensus is “Birthday Suit.” What the hell is that?! I know that he was trying to be different with the album and Worsham has a sense of humor but what in tarnation? This is in stark contrast to “Beginning of Things” which displays excellent storytelling. This is the story of a man named Bill, his wife Samantha and their daughter. Bill only likes the beginning of things in life and shortly after marrying Samantha and having a daughter, Bill leaves them. Eventually, Sam’s mother gets dementia and has days where she doesn’t even remember who her daughter is. When she passes away the daughter and Bill show up to the funeral where she confronts her father about what he did to her mother. She tells him that Samantha never blamed you for what he did to them but she (his daughter) always did. To avoid the confrontation Bill grabs his things and leaves. He only likes the beginning of things and a funeral is of course the end.

The lead single “Cut Your Groove” is a great example of a fun, uptempo song that actually has something to say. This argues that if you have something to say, or a melody to get it out there. Make other people hear it even if you have to shout it out there. There’s a little bit of the idea of chasing your dreams as an artist which we get more clearly on “Only Way to Fly.” Chase your dreams and leave all your baggage behind, it’s the only way to live your life.

The most traditional track on this album is “Old Time Sake” which has some steel guitar and light acoustic guitar. The setting is a bar where the man meets a woman. He likes her and asks her to sit with him and talk for awhile. He is getting over a broken heart and is looking to start something new for old time sake. When a song comes on that they both like he asks her to dance. At the end of the night, instead of hooking up with her he simply walks her to her car because he doesn’t want to move too fast since this could be something special. It’s a refreshing take on the idea of two people meeting in a bar. With all the bar hookup songs circulating the last few years it’s nice to hear something like this. “Southern By the Grace of God” isn’t traditional sounding but is pretty standard country in theme with references to unlocked doors, crickets and a slow southern drawl. He even makes the joke that you can’t out country him.

“Please People Please” feels like a realization for Worsham in the mainstream country business. You can never please people no matter what you do and he’s not going to chase after trends and try and be something that he is not. He’s going to write and sing songs about what he’s feeling and if your music is going to just be a targeted, formulaic thing than what is the point?

“I Ain’t Going Nowhere” is a song that feels like one of the weaker tracks on the album even if it’s not a bad song. Two people in a relationship are having an argument but regardless of how bad it gets the man tells the woman he’s not going anywhere. The ah, ah’s in this song are incredibly annoying to me.

A really strong track “I-55” is one of the last songs on the album and one of the best. This is the story about returning to your hometown after being gone for a long time. The man in this song makes the long drive home any time he feels his life is getting to be to much or when he wants to catch up with old friends.

I like this album and I like that Charlie Worsham is doing something different while still remaining country. You will actually hear real music (not computerized) being played on this album and clever, non generic songwriting. This album was not perfect and there were a few songs I could have done without but overall this is an enjoyable album and a nice return for Charlie Worsham. Unfortunately, Charlie’s current single is struggling at radio but, the good news is radio is about to implode!

Grade: B- 7/10

Best Songs: The Beginning of Things, Call You Up, I-55

Re-Charting The Chart

Every week we will take a look at the top 30 Mediabase Country Chart. We will re-rank the songs on the chart based on the quality and overall enjoyment of each song. Next to each song I will provide the ranking that we would give it and the actual ranking on the Mediabase chart in parenthesis (From America’s Music Charts). Songs that are in the color red are songs that are either recurrent or in danger of going recurrent soon, while blue is for songs that I predict will go to number 1 at some point. At the end of each ranking there will be some thoughts about the current chart as well as any news or updates that are deemed important. I hope everyone enjoys this weekly post and feel free to comment/agree/disagree with anything you see.

  1. Zac Brown Band “My Old Man” (21) A
  2. Midland “Drinkin’ Problem” (24) A-
  3. Raelynn “Love Triangle” (28) B+
  4. Old Dominion “No Such Thing As a Broken Heart” (29) B
  5. Brothers Osborne “It Ain’t My Fault” (27) B
  6. Darius Rucker “If I Told You” (11) B
  7. Dan and Shay “How Not To” (9) 
  8. Josh Turner “Hometown Girl” (1) C+
  9. Jason Aldean “Any Ol’ Barstool” (4) C
  10. Luke Combs “Hurricane” (3) C
  11. Kenny Chesney “Bar At The End of the World” (10) C
  12. Trent Harmon “There’s a Girl” (18) C
  13. Lauren Alaina “Road Less Traveled” (14) C
  14. Justin Moore “Somebody Else Will” (22) C-
  15. Tim Mcgraw & Faith Hill “Speak to a Girl” (25) C-
  16. Billy Currington “Do I Make You Wanna” (30) C-
  17. Blake Shelton “Every Time I Hear That Song” (19) C-
  18. Rascal Flatts “Yours If You Want It” (12) C-
  19. Brett Young “In Case You Didn’t Know” (7) C-
  20. Cole Swindell & Sellout “Flatliner” (20) D
  21. Dylan Scott “My Girl” (17) D
  22. Thomas Rhett & Maren Morris  “Craving You”  (23) D- 
  23. Keith Urban & Carrie Underwood “The Fighter” (13) F
  24. Kelsea Ballerini “Yeah Boy” (5) F
  25. Dierks Bentley “Black” (6) F
  26. Lady Antebellum “You Look Good” (15) F
  27. Chris Lane “For Her” (26) F
  28. Brantley Gilbert “The Weekend” (8) F
  29. Florida Georgia Line “Boy Band’s Are Lit” (16) F
  30. Sam Hunt “Body Like a Backroad” (2) F

New To The Top 30: “Do I Make You Wanna”

Songs That Left The Top 30: “Fast.” Can we all take a moment and appreciate that for at least 1 week there is no Luke Bryan on the chart?

Songs In Danger Of Going Recurrent:  “Hometown Girl.” Congratulations to Josh Turner on his first number one hit in nearly 7 years. Not my favorite Josh Turner song but it’s great to see him have radio success after it appeared his radio days were numbered.

“There’s a Girl” refuses to die. It’s going to peak soon, perhaps they can stretch it to top 10 but that’s it.

“Any Ol’ Barstool”

“Road Less Traveled”

“Body Like a Backroad.”

Brad Paisley Love and War Album Review

Image result for brad paisley love and war

Brad Paisley’s last album Moonshine in the Trunk appeared to be the beginning of the end for Brad not only from a hit perspective but a creative perspective. His 10th album was far from his greatest work and the lead single from his 11th studio album Love and War failed to even crack the top 10 despite a collaboration with Demi Lovato. “Without a Fight” tried to garner crossover appeal and win over country radio which appeared to be tiring of Paisley and they were unsuccessful. The album was delayed multiple times before finally being released on April  21st.

I’ll be honest I didn’t feel “Without a Fight” was a bad song even though I really can’t stand when pop stars do collaborations with country artists. As a lead single I could absolutely have lived with it. It was however left off of Love and War because they wanted to market “Today” which was actually successful and a number 1 song as the true lead single which I understand. But, I think “Without a Fight is better than a few songs on Love and War which clocks in at a whopping 16 songs.

For years I was on the side of more songs is better but over the last few months I have reviewed albums that would be much better if they had just left some filler songs off completely and this album is no different. Songs like “Contact High” and “Go to Bed Early” are just a complete waste of time. These are Paisley’s sexy songs on the album but to me they are just generic filler tracks that the album would benefit from their removal.

In terms of collaborations I was less than enthusiastic when the album was announced and I learned of appearances by Mick Jagger, Demi Lovato (scrapped) and 2 songs featuring Timbaland. Again, I don’t enjoy when artists outside the genre are forced into “country” songs just to get crossover appeal or to gain radio attention. First, I’ll get to where the collaborations work. “Drive of Shame” is a fun uptempo track featuring Mick Jagger. The song starts out with the two talking in the studio about the song which is something I’m starting to hear on a number of albums. It’s about a one night stand in Vegas that the guy regrets after the woman kicks him out of the hotel room the next morning. What follows is the walk of shame to his car and the drive of shame afterwards. Mick Jagger adds a coolness to this song and he isn’t simply a name on the track he actually has his own lines.

Another collaboration that stands out is “Love and War” which shines the light on the issue of the way that we treat our veterans. They go off to war and when they come home they are forgotten. This song in particular follows the story of a man who went to fight in Afghanistan and came home with a lost leg. He suffered from PTSD when he got home and he has trouble sleeping because of the nightmares.

“They say all is fair in Love and
But that ain’t true, it’s wrong
They ship you out to die for us
Forget about you when you’re done.”

Although I like the 2 songs as a whole I don’t see any enhancement that Timbaland gives to “Grey Goose Chase” or “Solar Power Girl.” “Grey Goose Chase” is a slightly bluegrass inspired song about trying to get over a girl by drinking away his sorrows. I love the instrumentation on this song (i’m a sucker for the fiddle) and Brad Paisley is an exceptional guitarist of course. “Solar Power Girl” is a cool idea and the song describes a girl leaving home for college. She was raised by her mother after her alcoholic father abandoned her and she needs to get away from home and go where there is sunshine away from the darkness that is her home.

“Dying To See Her” with Bill Anderson is another strong collaboration and describes a man who misses his wife and is literally dying to be reunited with her in heaven one day. She was his reason for living and when she passed away he died soon afterwards. The doctors had no idea why he was dying suddenly but it was clear that she was the reason. It’s an incredibly touching love song.

The two singles from the album thus far are “Today” and “Last Time For Everything.” I tend to agree with most people about the lead single. I think it’s a good song but I don’t think it’s a great song. No doubt this song will be played as the wedding song at a number of weddings. “Last Time For Everything” reminds us that there is a last time for everything in our lives. It’s a song that relates to older people as they can look back and reminisce about the days gone by. As a young person myself it makes me think about cherishing the time that I have when I am young because you don’t know when the things/moments that you take for granted will be over.

My personal favorite track on Love and War is the Johnny Cash Poem turned song “Gold All Over the Ground.” This was originally a poem that was written by Johnny Cash to his wife June and was released to the public in 2016. This is a sweet love song/poem about how if he could he would turn the ground gold for the woman he loves. He would give her everything she wanted and he would do anything for her.

“One Beer Can” and “selfie#theinternetisforever” display Brad’s humorous side. “One Beer Can” is literally about one beer can that is left after a party that a teenager throws at his house when his parents are away. When they see it he gets into huge trouble while nothing happens to his friends who attended the party. The ladder talks about our social media addiction and this selfie culture that we find ourselves in. All those pictures that you are taking of yourself will be on the internet forever and you will probably regret a lot of them.

One of the last tracks on the album is another strong track in my opinion but, I seem to have a different view on what Paisley is trying to get across and that track is “The Devil is Alive and Well.” He is talking about all of the horrible stuff going on in the world and how there is so much pain and anger in the world. He concludes that we can all agree that the devil is alive and well. The confusing part about this is that in the chorus he is reaching out to people that believe in heaven/hell and those who don’t.

“I don’t know
If you believe in Heaven
I don’t know
If you believe in Hell
But I bet we can agree that the devil
Is alive and well
Alive and well.”

So to me I believe that the devil is more of a metaphor than the actual devil himself because if we can all agree whether we believe in those things or not how could the devil be anything except a metaphor in this song?

I enjoyed this album and not just for a mainstream album. The instrumentation on this album really enhances it and as I said before Brad is a hell of a guitar player. But besides the guitar we actually get fiddle and steel guitar on a mainstream country album and we get a bluegrass influenced song which you know I love. I think the album could have been better if they just eliminated songs like “Heaven South,” “Contact High,” and “Go to Bed Early” and I didn’t feel all of the collaborations were necessary. All in all though i’m happy to see Brad Paisley get back to really good music. He was never the problem in the mainstream anyway.

Grade: B- 7.5/10

Best Songs: Dying To See Her, Gold All Over The Ground, Grey Goose Chase

Community Writing Piece (April)

Hello everyone and welcome to the second community writing feature. I want to give a special thanks to the people that contributed this month. Please feel free to comment with thoughts/opinions about the work that is displayed. Click here to see last months piece. Enjoy!

Hey Warren by Julian Spivey

You died on my birthday, but I didn’t know you yet

I had heard you howl, but there was so much more to get

And you spoke right to me with your humor and your style

Another excitable boy out here in the wild

Desperadoes often die too young, you proved it to be true

 You’ll always be in my heart and I’ll enjoy every sandwich too

Scarlett by Megan Bledsoe (Country Exclusive) 

Verse 1:
Women never cared for Scarlett.
Word around the county was
That Katie Scarlett’s a common whore.
The men always did love Scarlett.
They’d come from miles around
Just to sit and talk there on her porch.

Chorus:
I’m a little like Scarlett,
And if you read her book,
You’ll see there’s good inside her if you’re willin’ to look.
I’m a little like Scarlett,
She never knew what she had,
And there’s good down deep inside me, it’s just buried under all the bad.

Verse 2:
The war came, it didn’t faze Scarlett.
She always knew the South would win,
And she’d rather talk about her clothes.
But she loved the South, did Scarlett.
She shot a Yankee dead
Just to save the only home she’d known.

Chorus:
I’m a little like Scarlett.
As you read her book,
You’ll see there’s good inside her if you’re willin’ to look.
I’m a little like Scarlett.
She always fought for what she had,
And there’s good down deep inside me, it’s just buried under all the bad.

Verse 3:
Marriage never meant much to Scarlett,
Though she had three in her time.
She took one for fun and two for spite.
Children never came easy for Scarlett,
And though she loved all three,
She never could quite get it right.

Chorus:
I’m a little like Scarlett,
And if you read her book,
You’ll see there’s good inside her if you’re willin’ to look.
I’m a little like Scarlett.
She never knew what she had,
And there’s good down deep inside me, it’s just buried under all the bad.

Verse 4:
Love finally came to Scarlett.
She was just too blind to see
‘Til it walked out on her late one night.
I don’t wanna be like Scarlett,
Always drivin’ love away.
She never knew when it was right.
Oh, Lord, please help me know when it’s right.

Bro Country Satire by Robert (Roberts Country Opinion Blog)

“Bro ain’t dead… Nah, Bro be illin’
Up on ya grrrl, on my tailgate chillin’…
Six pack o’ Nati Light
Moon so bright,
Hank and Drake outta sight killin’

Up. Down. Downtown.
Left side. Right side. All night. Yeah.
Grrrl, git up in my truck, get drunk, get stuck
Woooo-Whooa-oaoaoa !

Holy, holy, holy ! Dirt roads and Backstreets.
Drink it up ! Crank it up ! Hank it up! Sweet !
Blake it up ! Drake it up ! Rap it up ! Slap it up !
Whooooa-oooa-ooooo ooo ooa.

Curves like a dirt road,
No stop sign in sight.
Bro’s on the radio,
So all green lights.
Whooooa-oooa-ooooo ooo ooa

Uh !

Bro ain’t dead… Nah, Bro be illin’
All up on ya grrrl, on my tailgate chillin’”

 

Someday by The Wide World of Country 

Seems like there’s no relief
From the hurt that leaves me in disbelief
Times like these rain till it pours
Wonder if well ever win the wars

Bridge
I don’t know what the future holds
Seems like something worse always unfolds

Chorus
I want to make it to the other side
The golden years here on earth
I got my doubts about up above
The man upstairs don’t give no love
Maybe someday I’ll understand…someday

I got to keep going try to find
The sounds of something better in my mind
Push on to the future for better or for worse
Hope my life don’t put me in a herse

Bridge
I don’t know what the future holds
Seems like something worse always unfolds

Chorus
I want to make it to the other side
The golden years here on earth
I got my doubts about up above
The man upstairs don’t give no love
Maybe someday I’ll understand…someday

Sunday Morning Time Capsule

Image result for hank williams i can't help it if i'm still in love with you

Hello all! Welcome to the this week’s feature of Sunday Morning Time Capsule which is a weekly feature here at Critically Country. In this feature I do a throwback spotlight on a song, album or subject. I say spotlight instead of review because I won’t be giving grades for this feature just discussing the piece of work. Nostalgia can be a powerful thing so hopefully you all enjoy this piece as much as I do. I am happy to take requests for the Time Capsule if you have any so speak up if you do.

Last week on the Sunday Morning Time Capsule we went back to 2006 for Carrie Underwood’s single “Don’t Forget To Remember Me.” This week we go way back to 1951 for Hank Williams hit song “I Can’t Help it (If I’m Still In Love With You).” The song reached #2 on the Billboard country charts in 1951 only 2 years before Hank’s death in 1953. As I have tried to become more familiar with country music history, I have been listening to greatest hits albums from artists like Reba, George Strait and most recently Hank Williams.

The song begins with heavy pedal steel guitar and describes a man who can’t help but still be in love with his ex. One day when he is walking down the street he spots her with another man. His heart sinks when he sees her and he is reminded of the past that they shared together. It pains him to know that she has moved on and he misses her a great deal.