Kacey Musgraves’s golden hour

March 30th 2018. It was Springtime, and Kacey Musgraves was releasing her fourth album, “Golden Hour”. Since the very first moment I listened to it, I loved it and I considered it was a masterpiece. It was 7 am today, in France, when I read the news on my laptop and was informed that CMA had considered it was the best album of the year. To say that I was very happy would be an understatement. The truth is I was waiting for this result since I knew the album was nominated in this category. For me, this award was a foregone conclusion. Even though, I think it’s a very meaningful award. 

What music is and always should be: the mirror of an artist’s soul

“Golden Hour” is like a meteorite breaking through the atmosphere and giving us a glimpse of astral mysteries. I don’t say that because this album is celestial and even ethereal. I use this metaphor because I think that the high artistic quality of “Golden Hour” tells us about what music is and always should be: the mirror of an artist’s soul. What I feel listening to “Space Cowboy”, “Butterflies” or “Slow burn” is a mix of emotions because Kacey Musgraves chose to make an uncompromising album, reflecting who she is, regardless of musical industry reaction. In other words, it’s an independent album with very high standards. 

Some people criticized “Golden Hour” for not being a country album. I created this blog because I’m a country music lover, and I’m sure about one thing: if country radios were playing more songs of this album, they would gain in authenticity and quality. When we have such artistic quality, classify is not relevant. The only thing to do is listen and hope that Kacey Musgraves’ fifth album will fill us with enthusiasm as “Golden Hour” did all along this year. 

Nicolas Davelu

 

 

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Album review – Whitey Morgan’s “Hard Times and White Lines”

Whitey Morgan and the 78’s released their fourth studio album on october 26th, named “Hard Times and White Lines”… and it’s very difficult for a country music lover not to love it at first listen. This is surely one of the best country albums released this year.

Hard not to think about Waylon Jennings while listening to beautiful “Around here”, maybe the best piece of this album and indisputably one of the best country songs we have been listening this year.

“Bourbon and the Blues” is absolutely awesome. Its final instrumental part is great. An excellent song that we could easily consider as actual outlaw country.

“Fiddler’s in” is a beautiful ballad, in which pedal steel guitar and fiddle join to make us enjoy all the beauty of country music genre.

“Tired of the rain” and “Wild and reckless” are splendid songs that we could listen all day long. They are very representative of the band’s distinctive sound.

“Honky Tonk Hell” is a dark and bewitching song. Its rhythm, along with Whitey Morgan’s deep voice, make it particularly fascinating.

“Carryin’ on” is another outstanding song. Whitey Morgan’s version of Dale Watson’s beautiful song is really excellent, and the truth is I can’t help listening to it since the album was released.

Difficult, of course, not to speak about “Just got paid”. ZZ Top’s song is perfectly arranged. Heavy guitars are here, but with Whitey Morgan’s specific sound, making it somewhat darker. The result is one the best pieces of this album. Brilliant!

I’m also particularly impressed by the way Whitey Morgan sings “What am I supposed to do”, written by Detroit singer and songwriter Don Dutrie. This is maybe my other favorite song of this album, along with “Around here”, if it’s possible to talk about a favorite song when all pieces of this album are really outstanding. It’s very catchy.

We had excellent country albums all along this year, but this one stands out particularly. In a perfect world, each song of “Hard Times and White Lines” could be a single and would be played by country radios from dawn to dusk.

Nicolas Davelu

Annies are back

Five years after their last work, “Annie Up”, Pistol Annies are back. They just released three new songs, that will appear on their upcoming album, “Interstate Gospel”.

Which of these songs will be chosen as a single? No answer for the moment.

“Best years of my life” is a beautiful ballad. It has a perfect songwriting and a great sound. Instrumental part, between the third verse and the chorus, is very tuneful. Each of three Annies is very talented, but listen to them together is something very special and emotion runs through each verse, alternately song by Miranda Lambert (Lonestar Annie), Angaleena Presley (Holler Annie) and Ashley Monroe (Hippie Annie). This song is probably the best of the three released, but will it be chosen as a single for all that? It would be a good surprise.

“Got my name changed back” is another very good song, energetic and catchy, with important use of electric guitar and dobro. Focused on the theme of the divorce, celebrated as a victory – “I broke his heart and I took his money” – it’s exclusively sung by Lonestar Annie.

If freedom is one the main themes present all along “Got my name changed back”, it’s even more present in the third song, “Interstate gospel”. It’s obvious when you pay attention to the sonwriting – “These church signs, they light up these roads that I roam, they’re leading me closer, they’re calling me home, the further I get, the further I go, this interstate gospel is saving my soul” – but also through the music. This song is very catchy and could also be easily chosen as a single.

If the others songs of the album have the quality of these three ones, sure it will be one of the main country albums of 2018. Answer on November 2d, when it will be released.

Nicolas Davelu

With Jason Boland and the Stragglers, country music is more alive than ever

Jason Boland and The Stragglers released their new album, “Hard times are relative“, on May 18th, and it’s a masterpiece.

Three years after “Squelsh“, Oklahoma country band (now based in Austin, Texas), chose eleven awesome songs for their ninth studio album, still distributed by Thirty Tigers,  each one being a pearl for every country music lover.

The album was recorded in Yellow Dog Studios (Wimberley, Texas), and coproduced by them, by Adam Odor, who also brilliantly produced Mike and The Moonpies’ recent and excellent “Steak Night at the Prairie Rose” and by David Percefull.

“Hard times are relative”, the title track, is a very tuneful song, beautifully written. We just can’t stop from listening to it. It’s the kind of song that all country music lovers want to listen.

I don’t deserve you” and “Predestined” are two beautiful and sweet ballads, the first one featuring Sunny Sweeney, who is performing in the background.

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Rock sound is sometimes present, particularly with “Dee Dee Od’d”, but Honky Tonk is probably the main hallmark of this brilliant album, very present in songs as “Right where I began“, Searching for you” or “Bulbs“.

Going going gone” is another tuneful and catchy song, that particularly stands out for its brilliant use of fiddle.

Grandfather’s theme“, which is the largest track of the album, along with the title track, may surprise for its permanent beat changes, but it’s a very good composition too.

Jason Boland, Brad Rice, Grant Tracy, Nick Worley and Cody Angel keep on creating wonderful country music and made, undoubtedly, one of the best albums of 2018. With “Hard Times are relative”, we have the confirmation that Texas is definitely the land where country music is alive, for the happiness of all those who love this genre, all over the world.

Nicolas Davelu

Please, don’t “dixiechick” Brothers Osborne!

Country duo Brothers Osborne, deservedly awarded in 2017 by the CMA in 2 categories, “vocal duo of the year” and “music video of the year”, recently posted some tweets with political content. I’m not here to enter into the debate they created or to talk about this content. This blog is about music and nothing else. But let’s talk about country music and politics.

I’m a great fan of Dixie Chicks as I’m a fan of Brothers Osborne. That don’t make me a liberal guy. I’m a great fan of Granger Smith and I like Lee Greenwood or Hank Williams Jr. That don’t make me a NRA supporter nor a conservative or a republican guy. That’s simply not the point. It just makes me a country music lover.

All along country music history, artists talked about politics, including in their songs. That’s their right. Founding Fathers of USA fought for the freedom of speech and that’s why they voted the first Amendment of the Constitution. Artists can talk about politics or religion as they want, as each citizen can do. That’s not a problem. It’s the expression of what America is: a free country.

What I can’t accept is banning artists for their political opinions, because that’s not the point. We love country artists for their music, their lyrics, their style, because they make us forget, for a while, our everyday life. What’s important is their talent, their voice and our feelings when we are listening to them. What they think about politics or religion is not the point. They can express their ideas if they want but I won’t stop listening to them because of what they say. I’ll only stop listening to them if I don’t like more their music.

Censorship is never a good idea. The Founding Fathers never wanted that. When Natalie Maines talked about Iraq war in London, each one had the right to disagree, but that was not a reason to ban them from country radios. “Cowboy take me away” is and will always remain  a beautiful country song, notwithstanding Natalie Maine’s comments in UK.

USA is this country where freedom of speech always prevails and that’s why so many people around the world love it. So, let’s Brothers Osborne express their ideas, but above all, let’s listen to their awesome songs, particularly their last one, the masterpiece “Shoot me straight”.

Nicolas Davelu

2017 in 15 awesome country songs

With this publication, I’m starting a blog entirely dedicated to one of my passions, country music. It would have been quite unoriginal if I had been an American guy. But the fact is that I’m French and that France is not particularly a nation where country music is popular, unfortunately. Well, I wouldn’t be so wrong saying that French people know almost nothing about this genre. Luckily, Internet is here. Smartphone apps let me enjoy listening to my favorite genre from my city of Toulouse, in Southwestern France. And social networks let me share about this music on Twitter and Instagram (you can follow me at @countrymusicfr in both networks).

Of course, I will have the opportunity of explaining you how I came to country music, and why I love it so much, but for the moment, as the first week of 2018 is ending, I’d like to talk you about 15 country songs of the past year that I loved to listen. Of course, it’s a very subjective choice I made between so many songs released in 2017, and it’s far from being exhaustive. The truth is that it was difficult for me to pick up only 15, because there were so much more that I wanted to share here.

I remember a musical journalist who made talk a “veteran country songwriter” on condition of anonymity in an article published on the last days of november 2016, and making him say that he was “trying to think of any country act that’s being brave right now”. I still wonder if this “veteran country songwriter” really exists or if he’s a fictional person invented to back the journalist’s point of view. For me, 2017 was a year of excellent country music and those 15 songs are only a little sample of this tremendous quality.

Spotify users will find, at the end of this article, a playlist including these 15 songs.

Oh.. and the most important: happy new year 2018!

#15 Wildflower lane – Steven James & The Jaded

“Wildflower Lane”, released in october, is an awesome song of Steven James & The Jaded. South Texas band has a very typical sound, easily recognizable. This single represents it perfectly.  And the music video is awesome!

If you like it, don’t forget to listen at the other excellent single of the band released in 2017, “Dance with me tonight”.

#14 Who I wanted you to be – Julia Hatfield

This song was released at the end of the year 2016 but it’s included in the 2017 album “Hopeless romantic”, that’s why it appears in this list of 2017 songs. Julia Hatfield is a very talented singer and this song is representative of her traditional country style. Young Texan artist will have a great future if she keeps on singing as she does it in this awesome single.

#13 It ain’t my fault – Brothers Osborne

Brothers Osborne is now one of the main country music duos and their style is very characteristic. First, I listened to this catchy song. Then, I watched the awesome music video. And… is it my fault if I love both?

#12 Everywhere – Mo Pitney

This is a very inspired and catchy song, with beautiful lyrics. Illinois native Mo Pitney released his first album, “Behind the guitar”, in october 2016 and the single “Everywhere” is probably the most representative of the style and the talent of this young artist.

#11 God and George Strait – Rich O’ Toole

“George and Jesus have always been my best friends”. Released in the summer of 2017, this song is a masterpiece. Beyond its impressive musical quality, lyrics is why I love it. Rich O’ Toole’s message is very powerful. Texan artist’s song is very inspired and its success is completely deserved.

#10 Broken Halos – Chris Stapleton

Chris Stapleton released two albums in 2017 and this single is the first song included in “From a room volume 1”. It’s an excellent song, very representative of Kentucky artist’s style.

#9 My old man – Zac Brown Band

It’s a magnificent song, nostalgic, probably the best tribute members of Zac Brown Band could give to their fathers. Lyrics are beautiful and the way Zac Brown perform it is just hearthbreaking.

#8 Day of the dead – Wade Bowen

My Colombian wife is a latin music lover as strong as I am a country music one. So, this song means a lot for me. Wade Bowen’s “Day of the dead” is probably a perfect musical description of what Tex Mex culture is and it’s another reason for me to praise Texas country music. All the song is perfectly written and the final part is a fantastic tribute to Mexico Mariachis. Thank you, Wade Bowen, to let people know more about what represent “Day of the dead” for Mexican people. And for those who like this song as much as me, you can also listen to the other excellent single of the album, Acuña.

#7 Tin man – Miranda Lambert

Miranda Lambert’s voice is more beautiful than ever in this inspired song. The way she performs it is unique. Heartbreaking!

#6 Bottle by my bed – Sunny Sweeney

I just can’t understand why country radios played this song so little. It’s perfectly written, very well performed and musically excellent. The theme of this song, which concerns all of us who can’t have a child, is sad, but the way Sunny Sweeney talks about it is beautiful. This song is another example of what is the essence of country music… and what should play country radios.

#5 Every little thing – Carly Pearce

The debut single of Kentucky native Carly Pearce is beautiful. Lyrics are very inspired but what makes this song awesome is the way Carly Pearce performs it. 2017 ended with Carly Pearce’s first album, and with such a beautiful voice we are waiting with impatience her future works.

#4 Country music’s dead – Mike and the Moonpies ft John Baumann

If you love country music, you will love this song. Musically, it’s the essence of the genre, with all those characteristic instruments we love to listen. Mike and the Moonpies and John Baumann made a song very catchy that remains in our mind long after we’ve heard it. If radios were playing this kind of song here in France, I wouldn’t need my TuneIn app and I would turn on inmediatly my old radio! No, country music’s not dead. It’s more alive than never with this awesome song! Oh, if you like it, listen also to the other single of the band released in 2017, “Beaches of Beloxi” which will be included in their future album, “Steak Night at the Prairie Rose”. With its typical 80’s sound, it’s awesome too!

#3 The Housefire – Turnpike Troubadours

This song is undoubtedly one of the best surprises of 2017. The entire album of Turnpike Troubadours is absolutely excellent, but “The Housefire” stands out particularly. If country music bands or singers sometimes forget the importance of the harmonica, it’s not the case of Evan Felker and the result is an incredible authenticity. Oklahoma band, with this kind of song, is able to reconciliate traditional country disciples and modern country lovers. Awesome song !

#2 Drinkin Problem – Midland

Well… what can I say about this song that hasn’t been said before? Drinkin problem deserved all the success it had all along the past year for its impressive quality, its lyrics, its music, its video, the way Midland perform it… Months after it was released, we have no problem listening to it more and more. Special message to those of my readers who live in another galaxy and didn’t hear about Midland: stop reading this and listen inmediatly to this song.

#1 She ain’t in it – Jon Pardi

I’m a great lover of “Head over boots” and I couldn’t think that there would be antoher single from Jon Pardi’s album “California Sunrise” that I’d love more. Well, I was wrong. I loved this song at the first time I listened to it and I still think it’s one of the best country music songs I’ve ever heard. That’s why I chose it to lead this list. It’s because of this kind of  songs that I love country music and I created this blog. For its lyrics, its music, the way Jon Pardi sings it, it’s my very favorite song of 2017. Please, country radios, keep on playing the other singles of Californian artist if you want but never forget this one, that is the most representative of country music is and should be all the time.

Now waiting with impatience the music video!

 

Nicolas Davelu