The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [Dec. 2005]

220px-come_a_little_closer

This is the past pulse of mainstream country music. Each week, I take a look at the Billboard Country Airplay Chart (or, “Hot Country Songs” as it used to be called) from years ago and grade the top 30 songs. Each week will be a different year. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive one of the following scores: +5, +4, +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the past top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. The grade I would give it determines its Pulse score. The grading key: 10 [+5], 9 [+4], 8 [+3], 7 [+2], 6 [+1], 5 [0], 4 [-1], 3 [-2], 2 [-3], 1 [-4], 0 [-5].

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the past state of mainstream country music and determine if it was better or worse compared to now. To see the full list of the top 30 country airplay songs for this week, click here. This week I will take a look at the top 30 songs of the Billboard Hot Country Songs from December 24th, 2005.

  1. Dierks Bentley – “Come A Little Closer” +2
  2. Kenny Chesney – “Who You’d Be Today” +3
  3. Joe Nichols – “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off” -1 (sorry, this is way too corny for me)
  4. Garth Brooks – “Good Ride Cowboy” +3 (I don’t think Chris LeDoux would want to see the current pulse of mainstream country music…)
  5. Billy Currington – “Must Be Doin’ Somethin’ Right” 0 (more boring than anything else)
  6. Toby Keith – “Big Blue Note” -2
  7. George Strait – “She Let Herself Go” +3
  8. Carrie Underwood – “Jesus, Take The Wheel” +2
  9.  Faith Hill – “Like We Never Loved At All” +2
  10. Trace Adkins – “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” -4 [Worst Song]
  11. Little Big Town – “Boondocks” +3
  12. Keith Urban – “Better Life” +2
  13. Chris Cagle – “Miss Me Baby” +3
  14. Gary Allan – “Best I Ever Had” +4
  15. Tim McGraw – “My Old Friend” +4
  16. Brad Paisley & Dolly Parton – “When I Get Where I’m Going” +5 [Best Song]
  17. Sugarland – “Just Might (Make Me Believe) +3
  18. Josh Turner – “Your Man” 0
  19. Montgomery Gentry – “She Don’t Tell Me To” 0
  20. Keith Urban – “Tonight I Wanna Cry” +3
  21. Brooks & Dunn – “Believe” +4
  22. Gretchen Wilson – “I Don’t Feel Like Loving You Today” +3
  23. Big & Rich – “Comin’ To Your City” -3 (props for the Buffalo reference, but that’s it)
  24. Sara Evans – “Cheatin'”+3
  25. Miranda  Lambert – “Kerosene” +3
  26. Martina McBride – “(I Never Promised You A) Rose Garden” +2 (Wasn’t sure what to grade this one. I think the original Lynn Anderson version is overall better but Martina does good vocally here).
  27. Jamey Johnson – “The Dollar” +4
  28. Blake Shelton – “Nobody But Me” +3
  29. Terri Clark – “She Didn’t Have Time” +3
  30. Van Zant – “Nobody Gona Tell Me What To Do” +1

The Past Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: +58

Pretty good chart this week! Sure, there’s a couple awful songs here but overall, there’s some pretty good stuff here. The middle of the chart in particular features some truly excellent songs. Of course, that’s only my take on it. What do you guys think?

As always, if you have any questions as to why I gave a song a certain grade feel free to ask me. Also, let me know what you guys think of the chart in the comments!

The Hodgepodge: Country Radio’s 15 Minutes of Fame Strategy

This week’s opening will be short. I just started a new job this week so I haven’t had a ton of time to thoroughly think through this topic, but it’s something I want to dive into and would love to see readers’ thoughts on this.

Mainstream country labels seems to aim more and more for just one hit single. For all the radio hype Chris Lane got for “Fix,” his album sales tell a different story. Girl Problems hasn’t sold well out of the gate, debuting at #8 on Billboard last week and falling off the charts this week. Outselling Lane last week was Texas Country star Cody Johnson, who still remains on the charts this week. And Cody Jinks, who debuted at #4 this week with I’m Not the Devil sold more than Girl Problems did.

It’s not really breaking news that independent country stars have strong album sales, as we saw last year with Aaron Watson, Jason Isbell, Blackberry Smoke, and Turnpike Troubadours all reaching number one on the album charts. A main reason for this could be the fact that independent fan bases seem more willing to purchase an album to support their favorite artist. But being able to sell an album well, especially at the heels of a hit radio song, could signify the longevity for an artist. Yes, Cody Johnson and Cody Jinks have established careers and released multiple albums prior to Gotta Be Me and I’m Not the Devil, but strong album sales only cement their place with their fans and in the music industry.

However, with Chris Lane selling poorly after “Fix” hit number one just screams one-hit wonder. So many times, we see artists, particularly trend-chasing B/C-level artists, only perform well at radio with a song or two. Most albums seem to get delayed, or they simply just sell like crap. How do Chris Lane or Big Loud Records expect to see any follow-up success? Not that I want to hear another full-fledged pop song from Lane, but why wasn’t Girl Problems given the same type of promotion as “Fix”? I just don’t understand why they chose to play the short game for 15 minutes of fame. Chris Lane isn’t the first, and he won’t be the last. This is just one of many, many problems with mainstream country radio.

Country radio is in the pits, and these hot, one-hit wonder type songs is a short-sighted attempt to gain listeners and revenue. Labels and radio execs aren’t thinking of the long game to improve and crawl out of its self-dug hole. I don’t claim to be a programming expert, but this type of strategy screams short-term thinking. It’s treading on water without looking for a boat to help stay afloat. And as long as radio continues this thought process, we’ll be continually treated to trendy singles followed by poor albums. Artists and labels who think solely about the one single and not the album are not building a sustainable music career.

Upcoming/Recent Country and Americana Releases

  • Jack Ingram‘s Midnight Motel will be released tomorrow.
  • Whiskey Myers’ newest album, Mud will be released September 9.
  • Also coming out on the 9th is St. Paul & The Broken Bones‘ Sea of Noise.
  • Amanda Shires will release her new album My Piece of Land on September 16.
  • Erik Dylan‘s Heart of a Flatland Boy will be released on October 21.
  • Mack McKenzie is releasing his sophomore album A Million Miles on October 22.

Throwback Thursday Song

Merle Haggard’s “My Favorite Memory” This single from Haggard was released on this day in 1981, and would go on to become Merle’s 25th number one single.

Non-Country Suggestion of the Week

Frank Ocean Blonde In an act of defiance against the major labels and streaming, Frank Ocean left his label and self-released his highly anticipated sophomore album exclusively through Apple. With labels/streaming services/artists all at odds, this kind of move is big and could lead to more artists acting in the same fashion.

Tweet of the Week

It’s been a big week for Erik Dylan, who performed at this Guy Clark tribute with the likes of Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, Vince Gill, and others. Dylan’s upcoming album was also made available for pre-order.

iTunes Review for Florida Georgia Line

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This was left under Florida Georgia Line’s Dig Your Roots, which is due out tomorrow. I’ve only heard “H.O.L.Y.” and “God, Your Mama, and Me,” but I haven’t been crazy about either song. This review says it all!

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [August 22]

Dan + Shay From the Ground Up

Each week we take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart and grade the top 30 songs. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive one of the following scores: +5, +4, +3, +2, +1, 0, -1, -2, -3, -4, -5. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the current top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +150 and the lowest possible score being a -150. How do I determine the score for the song? The review grade it received on the site or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been reviewed yet, then I will make the call. The grade it has received or I would give it determines its Pulse score. The grading key: 10 [+5], 9 [+4], 8 [+3], 7 [+2], 6 [+1], 5 [0], 4 [-1], 3 [-2], 2 [-3], 1 [-4], 0 [-5].

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the current state of mainstream country music and determine if it’s improving or getting worse. Let’s take a look at this week’s top thirty…

  1. Dan + Shay – “From The Ground Up” +1 (Up 1)
  2. Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me” -4 (Up 1)
  3. Kelsea Ballerini – “Peter Pan” -1 (Up 2)
  4. Jake Owen – “American Generic Country Love Song” -2 
  5. Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need A Drink” +2 (Up 5)
  6. Dierks Bentley & Elle King – “Different For Girls” -3 (Up 3)
  7. Chris Lane – “Fix” -5 (Down 1) [Worst Song]
  8. Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.” -2 
  9. Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots” +3 (Down 8) 
  10. Blake Shelton – “She’s Got A Way With Words” -3 (Up 1)
  11. Tucker Beathard – “Rock On” -3 (Up 1)
  12. Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting The World On Fire” -2 (Up 5)
  13. William Michael Morgan – “I Met A Girl” +3 (Up 3)
  14. Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” +2 (Up 4)
  15. LoCash – “I Know Somebody” -5 (Down 2)
  16. Zac Brown Band – “Castaway” +1 (Down 2)
  17. Luke Bryan – “Move” -4 (Up 4)
  18. Cole Swindell – “Middle of a Memory” -2 (Up 2)
  19. Miranda Lambert – “Vice” +3 (Up 3) [Best Song]
  20. Brett Young – “Sleep Without You” -2 (Up 3)
  21. Big & Rich (feat. Tim McGraw) – “Lovin’ Lately” +2 (Up 3)
  22. Jason Aldean – “A Little More Summertime” (Up 3)
  23. Brad Paisley & Demi Lovato – “Without A Fight” +2 (Down 4)
  24. Tim McGraw – “How I’ll Always Be” +3 (Up 3)
  25. Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” +1 (Up 1)
  26. Old Dominion – “Song For Another Time” -3 (Up 2)
  27. Maren Morris – “80s Mercedes” -1 (Up 3)
  28. Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boots Fits” -4 (New to Top 30)
  29. Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song” (New to Top 30)
  30. Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer” +2 (Re-Entered Top 30 This Week)

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -25

The pulse drops 11 spots this week. 

Songs That Dropped Out of the Top 30 This Week (Radio’s Purge of Quality Week):

  • Eric Church – “Record Year” +4
  • Kip Moore – “Running For You” +2
  • Jennifer Nettles – “Unlove You” +3

Songs That Entered The Top 30 This Week:

  • Granger Dibbles Jr. – “If The Boot Fits”
    • Oh great, Granger is back. Yipee. I was kind of hoping he would just be a one-hit wonder and would go back to Texas. But we’re not that lucky. He follows up the irritating “Backroad Song” with a song that is slightly less annoying in the form of “If The Boot Fits.” This is straight up bro country with an embarrassing amount of auto-tune used on Granger’s voice. Then you have the half-assed modern country production and lyrics that center around a redneck Cinderella. It blows my mind a sub par, mediocre vocalist such as Dibbles is getting all of this airplay. But then again that’s right in country radio’s wheelhouse. Anyway it’s all very annoying and the song gets worse with each play. You can keep ignoring Mr. Dibbles. 1/10
  • Brett Eldredge – “Wanna Be That Song”
    • It feels like it’s been a while since Eldredge has been in the top 30. While he’s been going in the more trend chasing direction, I’ve found him to be one of the more palatable Nashville pop artists because of his strong vocals. Right up front I will say this song is an improvement over his previous two singles, although those weren’t going to be tough to top. “Wanna Be That Song” is a love song about a guy expressing his love towards his woman with various comparisons and analogies. It’s a tad on the sleepy side, but for a pop country song it isn’t half bad. If you listen closely you can hear actual acoustic guitars and dare I say some steel guitar too. You could do a lot worse, but this could have been better too if it didn’t rely so much on clichés. 5/10
  • Brothers Osborne – “21 Summer”

Song I Predict Will Be #1 Next Week:

  • Sam Hunt – “Make You Miss Me”

Biggest Gainers This Week:

  • Justin Moore – “You Look Like I Need a Drink” – Up 5 from #10 to #5
  • Kenny Chesney & Pink – “Setting The World on Fire” – Up 5 from #17 to #12
  • Billy Currington – “It Don’t Hurt Like It Used To” – Up 4 from #18 to #14

Biggest Losers This Week:

  • Eric Church – “Record Year” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)
  • Kip Moore – “Running For You” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)
  • Jennifer Nettles – “Unlove You” – Out of the Top 30 (& Done)

Songs I See Going Recurrent & Leaving The Top 30 Soon:

  • Florida Georgia Line – “H.O.L.Y.”
  • Chris Lane – “Fix”
  • Jon Pardi – “Head Over Boots”
  • Brad Paisley & Demi Lovato – “Without a Fight”

On The Hot Seat:

  • Drake White – “Livin’ The Dream” (It rebounded this week, but it could easily slip)

Next Four Songs I See Entering Top 30:

  • Florida Georgia Line & Tim McGraw – “May We All”
  • High Valley – “Make You Mine”
  • Chris Stapleton – “Parachute”
  • Thomas Rhett – “Vacation” (Country radio does not want to play this. Nobody with a sane mind wants to hear it. Just end it already!)

Note: As you can see we have a new best song this week. Ultimately I was deciding between Tim McGraw’s “How I’ll Always Be” and Miranda Lambert’s “Vice.” I ended up going with “Vice” because of the stronger lyrics and having such a vulnerable song at country radio is a pretty rare site. The way it’s going it should have a shot at top ten, which is cool to see.

 

As always be sure to weigh in on this week’s Pulse in the comments below. 

Album Review – BJ Barham’s Gut Wrenchingly Great ‘Rockingham’

BJ Barham Rockingham

If you’re looking for an album full of rainbows, sunshine and uplifting themes, you’re not going to find it with BJ Barham’s Rockingham. In fact you’re going to find the exact opposite. For those unaware, Barham is the lead singer of indie country-rock band American Aquarium. They’re a band known for their excellent live shows and their relentless touring schedule. Barham is most certainly not parting ways with the group, but felt it was time for his first solo release. The inspiration came to him last November when American Aquarium was doing a show in Belgium on the night of the terrorist attacks that took place in Paris, France at the Eagles of Death Metal concert. It really disturbed Barham that something like this could happen at a music venue, something he calls a safe space where everyone can forget their troubles. A couple of days later he had eight songs that just came to  him and that’s the songs that make up his new record Rockingham.

The album begins with “American Tobacco Company,” a song about the broken American dream and the illusion of hard work always paying off. Barham says his grandfather inspired this song, as his grandfather served four years in the military in World War II only to come home and work 42 years at tobacco company. His grandfather never got ahead, despite always being told that hard work will always pay off. It’s after years of backbreaking work that his grandfather realizes the American dream is a lie. It’s a depressing, sober song that will punch you right in the gut. The album’s title track is about Barham’s father realizing the same thing his father did about the American dream. Barham’s hometown of Rockingham, North Carolina is the other main theme of this song. It’s a small town that has long been passed by the rest of the world and offers very little opportunity for a good life. Rockingham is a perfect representation of many small towns across America where good, hard-working people realize that life is hard and your dreams don’t always pan out. As someone who has been through Rockingham multiple times, I feel like Barham perfectly captured the spirit of the town.

“Madeline” sees Barham singing to his yet to be born daughter. He imagines what it’s like holding his daughter in his arms and the innocence he sees in the eyes of a newborn child. He tells her about the world being a scary place and bestows advice he hopes serves her well in her life. It’s a theme we saw most prominently on Sturgill Simpson’s new album earlier this year. I can imagine for parents who just had a kid, this song really connects and Barham really delivers an excellent vocal performance on this emotional song. The entirety of Rockingham is one big, emotional gut punch, but it’s perhaps demonstrated best on “Unfortunate Kind.” Once again Barham’s inspiration comes from family, as he incorporated his own parent’s loving relationship into crafting this song. It’s about a couple that mistakenly fell in love and loved each other every year they were married. One story particular demonstrated this, as in their first week of being married the wife burns the pecan pie and the husband eats it anyway since he doesn’t want her to cry and feel bad. Eventually the man’s wife gets sick and dies, leaving the man to mourn the death of his best friend. But he looks back as lucky to have her in his life and the time they had together. It’s a heartbreaking, touching song that is absolutely fantastic.

Barham tackles the American dream again in “O’ Lover.” The song is a pretty messed up story about a man explaining to his love that things haven’t been going the way he planned and the farming life isn’t providing for them. So he’s planned to rob a store for money, is armed with a pistol he got from his father and has a getaway car to boot. To take it even further he points the gun at her and tells her get in the back of the car, not giving her choice of whether or not she wants to participate in this robbery. While it’s a disturbing story, stories of this level of desperation for money take place every day and once again I marvel at the absolute honesty that shines in Barham’s songwriting. This is followed by “Road to Nowhere,” a song about a man getting his heart-broken by the woman he thought was the love of his life. Her leaving destroys him, as once again someone he invested all of his trust and love in has left his life. It’s a tragic song and unlike a lot of modern country breakup songs, this doesn’t even involve alcohol or a happy ending. It’s just a crippling loneliness and darkness that you’re left with because that’s how it is in reality.

The album ends with Barham covering two songs off American Aquarium’s 2012 album Small Town Hymns. “Reidsville” is about a young couple realizing over the course of their lives that their fates living in small town are already pre-determined. It’s a life destined to be filled with difficulties and having to work the family business just to make ends meet. Eventually the town robs them of the joy they had when they were young and leads the man to declare he’s going to ask God when he dies why he gave up on the town. The song perfectly captures the dark cynicism of small town life. Rockingham concludes with the introspective “Water in the Well.” It’s about a man who sees his family farm taken away by the state of Georgia and is now left with nothing. He reflects on how long his family owned the farm and how he did his best to carry on the legacy that was passed down to him, but ultimately failed. Faced with the haunting failure and lack of money, he wonders what will become of him once he runs out of stuff to sell to make a living. And just like the rest of this album we don’t get a happy ending, but we’re all left wondering what’s next.

BJ Barham’s Rockingham will flat-out knock you on your ass. It’s depressing as hell and it’s full of raw emotion. Don’t take this as bad as it’s quite the opposite. It’s a beautifully dark album that paints a poignant tale of the failed American dream, lost hope, the hells of small town living and the trials and tribulations of everyday life. The songwriting is absolutely flawless and couldn’t be any deeper if it tried. While I didn’t spend a lot of time talking about the instrumentation on this album because the songwriting is so excellent, it also shines bright and does a good job of letting the lyrics do the heavy lifting. At eight songs long, this album is somehow the perfect length. It doesn’t let up and hits you in the gut every step of the way. I don’t think there will be another album released this year as morbid as Rockingham. But I don’t know if there’s an album better than it this year too.

Grade: 10/10

Album Review – Cody Johnson’s ‘Gotta Be Me’

Cody Johnson Gotta Be Me

Without a doubt one of the biggest pros of the digital era in music is it has allowed the rise and success of independent artists. In country music, Cody Johnson is perhaps one of the best examples. Hailing from the Texas country scene, Johnson has raised his profile steadily in recent years. He has major sponsors, is a fixture on the Texas charts, has great streaming numbers and sells a lot of album. This is without all of the support of a major label or country radio. With his new album Gotta Be Me, he sold 23,000 copies in its first week. To really put this into perspective: Chris Lane just hit #1 at country radio with his pop song “Fix” and only sold just over 6,000 copies of his new album in the first week. Johnson’s sales should have been great enough to land him his first #1 country album, but thanks to Blake Shelton’s 99 cents album deal on Google Play he missed out at the accomplishment (Johnson had the perfect response to this). With all of his chatter around the album, I decided to re-listen to the album after initially deciding not to review it. After more listens it grew on me and I decided to give it a proper review because at times this album can shine pretty bright.

The album’s title track kicks it off and right away you’re greeted with the warm, welcoming sounds of country music. If there’s one thing this album absolutely nails, it’s the instrumentation. This is a true country album through and through. In this song Johnson sings about how he sticks to his guns and always stays true to himself. It’s a solid song to start the album. This is followed by “Grass Stains.” It was kind of predictable where this song was going from the beginning, as it’s about a couple having sex in the grass. It’s pretty close to bro country lyrics and the very least are laundry list and predictable. This isn’t necessarily bad, but the fiddles can’t cover up unimaginative songwriting. One of the better-written songs and one of my favorites on the album is “With You I Am.” It’s a song about a guy telling his woman about how he was never the quarterback of the football team or flashy guy. He was the humble guy who stayed in the background. But now with her in his life he feels like a more confident, better person. Unlike some modern country songs about love, this one actually takes time to explain why this relationship is so meaningful.

Johnson harkens back to 90s country on “Half a Song.” I say 90s country because everything from the lyrics to the instrumentation remind me of something I would hear on the radio in that era. If country radio still actually played country music all the time, I would say this would be a hit single. It’s a love song that you can dance to, but also has heart and connects easy with the listener. “The Only One I Know (Cowboy Life)” is another song where Johnson sings about the kind of person he is and the life he leads. Now when I see most country artists with a song that is about living the cowboy life, I roll my eyes because it feels disingenuous and false. But with Johnson it doesn’t. Not only because he used to be in the rodeo and is from Texas, but also you can hear it in his voice as he sings.

The slower, pedal steel guitar-driven “Walk Away” is next. It by far digs deeper than any other song on this album, as it’s a cheating song about a guy finding out his love is cheating on him. She doesn’t know that he knows, as he finds the guy she’s cheating on him with. He buys the guy a drink and calmly explains to him that he needs to walk away from this affair because he loves her and wants to give her a second chance. It’s rare to hear this in a cheating song and see the cheated person give the cheater a second chance. It’s kind of refreshing to hear another take on a cheating song and I applaud Johnson for it. I would say this is the best song on the album. Johnson swerves back into cliché/laundry list territory on “Kiss Goodbye.” It’s another cheating song with a more modern instrumentation feel and features some spoken word from Johnson. The spoken word isn’t necessarily bad, but it’s kind of awkward and doesn’t improve the song. This song is just sort of there for me.

“Chain Drinkin’” is another song that you can tell where it’s going by the title of it. But predictable isn’t always bad. While this drinking song isn’t bursting with creativity, it’s easy to enjoy and tap your feet along with as you listen. What helps is it doesn’t take itself seriously and errs more on the light-hearted, humorous side. While ballads and cheating songs are the bedrock of country music, you need these fun songs to break it up too. Johnson relies on the old trope, “If you love something, set it free,” on “Wild as You.” Just like “Kiss Goodbye,” it’s a lightweight song and one of the more forgettable moments on this album. The same can be said of the next track, “I Know My Way Back (Clara’s Song).” Again not a bad love song, it’s just okay and not something I would go out of my way to hear. “Billy’s Brother” is about a man getting drunk in bar and a man remembering not to fight Billy. This is because of Billy’s brother, who sounds like he could kick anyone’s ass. The entire song revolves around getting drunk and the man hoping he can keep his hands off Billy. Predictably he doesn’t and I’m assuming Billy’s brother won another fight. This is the type of song I can imagine connects much better live than on an album.

After a streak of lighter songs, Johnson digs back deeper again with “Every Scar Has a Story.” He sings about all of the scars on his body, both physical and emotional, all tell a story about something that has happened in his life. This is from going headfirst off a motorcycle to getting his heart broke. Again in a more just world, this song is a hit. “I Ain’t Going Nowhere Baby” is about a man reaffirming to his love that he isn’t going anywhere and that he’ll always have a shoulder there for her to cry on. With already numerous love songs on this album and the record being 14 songs long, you kind of run out of steam by this point (more on that in a second). Gotta Be Me ends with another highlight of the album, “I Can’t Even Walk (Without You Holding My Hand).” It’s an acoustic bonus track that features both of his parents and it’s a really touching song. Normally I don’t review bonus tracks in my album reviews, but this song is so great I had to include it. It’s probably one of the coolest outros I’ve heard on an album and ends the record on a high note.

Cody Johnson’s Gotta Be Me is a solid country album. Is it one of the year’s best? No. What ultimately holds this album back is the songwriting and the album length. While there are a few moments of a good songwriting, too many times there are songs that have a been there, done that feel. In the case of a song like “Grass Stains,” it reminded me a little too much of the not so distant bro country era. At 14 songs, this album is just too long and can drag towards the end. This album would have been so much better if you cut the four worst songs. It would be an easier listen and the songwriting would be more forgivable. I will say though that this is a step up from Cowboy Like Me and I think it’s the perfect album for a mainstream country fan looking to get into Texas and/or independent country music.

Grade: 7/10