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