Perhaps no album review that I have ever written has required context or background information as much as this album. This album although never released before this past Friday was actually recorded way back in 2002. Joey Feek who was actually Joey Martin at the time was set to release her major label debut with Sony only to have the album put to the side after there was reshuffling at her label. For those of you that aren’t aware, Feek lost her battle with cervical cancer last March and Gaither Music Group has made the decision to release this 15 year old album.
The introduction to the album starts off with Joey Feek’s mother singing the classic song “Have I Told You That I Love You” before fading into the first song on the album “Strong Enough to Cry.” A wife is telling her husband that it’s okay for him to cry. She can tell that he is going through something internally but he refuses to express his emotions. She informs him that sometimes a woman needs a man that is strong enough to cry and that it doesn’t mean you are showing weakness. “That’s Important to Me” describes the things in life that are important to her like paying bills on time, staying out of debt and God and family. There is some great pedal steel and fiddle play on this song as well as the entire album showing how different country music was in 2002.
One of the few uptempo tracks on the record is “When the Needle Hit the Vinyl.” This is about Joey’s parents and how they would come alive when the record player was playing in their house. This fun uptempo sound is quickly changed when we get to “Nothing to Remember.” A woman runs into her ex in town one day and is reminded of the time that they spent together. It makes her sad that it didn’t work out but she doesn’t regret the relationship. It’s better to have the memory than to have never been with him. This is the idea of it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
The next uptempo track on the album is “The Cowboy’s Mine.” This song has great country instrumentation and a catchy sound however the idea for the song is a little troubling. The woman in this song’s man is with another woman at a bar buying her drinks, dancing with her and kissing her. Apparently this is a regular thing for him to do this sort of thing but, his girlfriend is okay with it because she knows that when the bar shuts down he is still going home with her. She has attempted to as she puts it “tame him” but, he refuses to change. I have to say I don’t like the premise of this song at all. The woman continues to put up with this man despite what he is doing and she doesn’t even seem to mind it at all.
Two rather sentimental tracks on the album are “If Not For You” and “Southern Girl.” The first one is about her husband and how she doesn’t know where she would be without him while “Southern Girl” shows a love for the southern lifestyle despite her not being from the south herself. She is a country girl at heart even if geographically she was from Indiana.
The worst song on this album is without a doubt “Red” which is a song that lists off what makes you a redneck. It’s incredibly generic and boring and really is nothing more than filler on the album. The album improves greatly with songs like “Like a Rodeo” and the best song on the album “See You There.” “Like a Rodeo” has beautiful fiddle play to begin the song and throughout the song. The song compares her relationship to a rodeo the way it has ups and downs and falls along the way. They could quit this rodeo at any time but, they don’t because they love the rodeo too much. Just like any relationship you have to fight for it. “See You There” is by far the best song on the album. A little girl in this song remembers the day that her father was killed in a car accident. Before she left the house to go to the county fair her father tells her that he will see her there. Unfortunately, on his way to the fair he is in a horrible car accident and dies shortly thereafter. The soft piano play adds to the sad feeling of the song.
Honestly, I expected this to be a better album. The best part of the album was the instrumentation which was undeniably country however, I thought there were a number of mediocre tracks on this album. I have made the decision not to give the album a grade because, I don’t feel you can accurately grade an album that was actually recorded 15 years ago.
Best Songs: That’s Important to Me, See You There, Strong Enough to Cry