John Anderson,Easy Money

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May 19, 2007

John Anderson
Easy Money

By Paul W. Dennis

John Anderson and George Strait are about the only two with a high profile left from the generation of male singers that came to prominence in the early 1980s. Obviously Strait has been the more successful but John Anderson is the superior balladeer and has much the more distinctive voice.

Here, John Anderson returns with his first CD of new recordings in several years, this time with John Rich of Big & Rich serving as producer. Fortunately. Rich stays largely out of the way and lets Anderson focus on that which he does best, as seven of the CD’s eleven songs are ballads.

First some consumer advice. Upon inserting the CD into your player, troll over to track 11, “Willie’s Guitar” and give it a few listens as John, Merle Haggard (vocal) and Willie Nelson (vocal & a guitar solo) work their magic on this wistful tale which, curiously enough, wasn’t written by either John, Merle or Willie. No matter, as writers John Phillips and Ray Stephenson certainly caught the essence of heartbreak and resignation.

First the “bad”: the uptempo songs “Easy Money” , “Funky Country” and “If Her Lovin’ Don’t Kill Me” are merely okay – worth 3 or 3.5 stars each. These three songs are the ones on which the John Rich “Muzik Mafia” sound is the most in evidence.

The fourth uptempo number, however, “Brown Liquor” is really excellent, on a par with John’s best uptempo numbers like “Black Sheep”, “Chicken Truck” or “Swingin’.”

Aside from the John & Merle & Willie offering, John has six really, really good solo ballads; in fact, I don’t think John Anderson has ever done wrong by a ballad in his life. For me the highlights are “A Woman Knows”, a sensitive John Rich-Julie Roberts penned ballad along the lines of Johnny Darrell’s 1969 hit “A Woman Without Love” and John Anderson’s song about about a woman’s threat to her wayward husband that she’ll give him “Something To Drink About”. “Weeds” penned by Anderson and his late friend Lionel Delmore, might prove to be the favorite ballad from the CD for many listeners.

All in all, a very pleasant surprise, as I was having nightmares about how a John Rich-produced CD might sound. Fortunately, it sounds like John Anderson being John Anderson, and it doesn’t get much better than that.

Related Posts:

Single Review: John Anderson, “A Woman Knows”

Album Review: Pam Tillis, Rhinestoned

100 Greatest Contemporary Country Albums: #50-#41

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  1. Mike WhitakerNo Gravatar says:

    Country just might still be country. And The Voice is definatly still The Voice. I too shivered at the thought of what might happen to the sound and legacy of John Anderson when placed in the hands of the Muzik Mafia. Don’t get me wrong, I a fan of the Mafia and all that they’ve done to advance country music. However, I am a firm believer that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. John Anderson was definatly not broken. He has one of the most distinctive sounds in country, and it is a sound that my generation grew up on. This album blew my socks off completly. John is still being John, and at his best, there is no match. Thanks to both Johns for what is so far the best album of 2007.

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