2008 Rewind

2008 Rewind: “In Color,” Jamey Johnson

December 26, 2008 // 10 Comments

Jamey Johnson’s “In Color” is the greatest country song of 2008. There’s no quantifiable evidence to support the argument, and in terms of artistic validity, beauty’s in the eye of the beholder, isn’t it? But  “In Color” lives up to the title; it’s not the feel-good story of the year, but it’s oddly humbling and heartwarming, all in a nice, neat four-minute package. Johnson penned the epic ballad with rising star James Otto and Nashville songwriter,  Lee Thomas Miller. In three-verse perfection, they play out a high-detail performance that eerily echoes our difficult times. “In Color” is a broadly applicable song, with the themes of economic hardships, wartime efforts and everlasting love all wrapped around a simple, understated chorus.  They don’t make ’em like this anymore. Country songs, or at least the really mainstream ones, aren’t rigged for regular Joes anymore, and especially the cockeyed pessimists of the bunch. But you can just Read More

2008 Rewind: Crazy Lonesome

December 26, 2008 // 2 Comments

Music Row preaches positivity, but a pair of Nashville’s heartbreaking best sang the blues this year Songs of solitude are the lifeblood of country music; loneliness has spawned a slew of classics. Hank Williams measured his pain when, inspired by marital discord, he wrote “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” In George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” a man pines for a former flame until death becomes him. And with her country-pop standard, “Crazy,” Patsy Cline pled insanity as a result of unrequited love. The pathos-plagued singers of the past recorded songs that soothed their own discomfort while serving as sweet elixir for listeners in the midst of their own miseries. Bent on survival, these timeless artists transferred hurt into heartrending performances. Conventional logic now holds that such despair would upset the daily rhythm of Music Row. The feel-good anthems that now filter through country radio have signaled the Read More

2008 Rewind: The Not-So-Desperate Housewife

December 26, 2008 // 8 Comments

As a new generation arrives, Trisha Yearwood flies under the radar on Music Row A beautiful blonde, signed to Scott Borchetta’s Big Machine Records, remained a constant force in popular country music, churning out chart-topping singles and blazing the concert trail with a slew of the year’s most-played songs. That’s Taylor Swift, for all of you playing along at home, but another of Borchetta’s singers is a beautiful blonde operating in Nashville, though she’s not the top draw that she was in the early stages of her career. Trisha Yearwood debuted in 1991 with the classic tale of Katie and Tommy, “She’s in Love With the Boy,” and twenty top ten singles, a shelf-full of Grammys, ACMs and CMAs and fifteen million albums sold signaled her reign over the country queendom in the ‘90s, an era of milk and honey and unsurpassed riches for the genre’s top acts. In this Read More

2008 Rewind: In Covers

December 26, 2008 // 5 Comments

Three talented ladies unveil a batch of remakes that recharge their creative batteries Recording a covers album can be a daunting task; only a singer with a clear artistic vision is worthy of the adventure. Even then, the risks involved often outweigh the rewards. But this year, a trio of country’s finest singers proved that such an exercise can be a liberating, and ultimately, satisfying experience. Sleepless Nights, Patty Loveless’ fourteen-track collection that culls from the traditional country catalog of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s,outclasses much of the original material issued by Music Row this year. But its humble beginnings found Loveless in one of the worst slumps of a career spanning three decades. Loveless spent most of the ’90s scooping up industry awards and selling gold and platinum. Her success was particularly gratifying for Music Row; she was a critical darling who, with the help of husband/producer Emory Gordy, Read More

Dan Milliken’s Top 10 Albums of 2008

December 25, 2008 // 2 Comments

Happy holidays, everybody! I’m back with my personal top ten albums of the year, a list that took a stupid-long time to put together but is very nice to have done. All I would say as a note is that I like all of these albums very much and don’t think the rankings should be scrutinized to death, because my tastes certainly change frequently enough. Okay, you get it. Let’s do this. Va-VOOM! #10 Dailey and Vincent, Dailey and Vincent I typically lean progressive in my bluegrass tastes, but there’s simply no arguing with this dynamic twosome, whose debut finds them ripping into a straight-ahead traditional style with such crazy-polished singing, playing and writing that they practically become the new standard. Excellent. #9 Kathy Mattea, Coal Confession: I wasn’t quite sure how to take this one. Although I like Kathy Mattea’s voice and generally love concept albums, I had trouble Read More

Blake Boldt’s Year-End Lists

December 25, 2008 // 5 Comments

Happy holidays! Singles: 1.  “In Color,” Jamey Johnson 2.  “Waitin’ on a Woman,” Brad Paisley 3.  “This Is Me You’re Talking To,” Trisha Yearwood 4.  “She Left Me for Jesus,” Hayes Carll 5.  “What I Cannot Change,” Leann Rimes 6.  “Last Call,” Lee Ann Womack 7.  “Anything Goes,” Randy Houser 8.  “Dig Two Graves,” Randy Travis 9.  “Please Read the Letter,” Alison Krauss & Robert Plant 10.  “Fine Line,” Little Big Town 11.  “Mockingbird,” Allison Moorer 12.  “Crazy Arms,” Patty Loveless 13.  “This Town Needs a Bar,” Jeremy McComb 14.   “Just Got Started Loving You,” James Otto 15.  “Takin’ off This Pain,” Ashton Shepherd 16.  “Gold,” Emmylou Harris 17.  “Every Other Weekend,” Reba McEntire & Skip Ewing 18.  “You Look Good In My Shirt,” Keith Urban 19.  “More Like Her,” Miranda Lambert 20.  “Love Don’t Live Here,” Lady Antebellum

Dan Milliken’s Top 20 Singles of 2008

December 23, 2008 // 6 Comments

Let’s do this, y’all. You’ll recognize some of these write-ups from our collective list, but others weren’t posted there or were cut down for that list. This is my “Director’s Cut” version, you might say – or maybe the “UNRATED!!” version, depending on your taste in films. In any case, here are my favorite 20 things designated as country music singles in 2008 (that I picked up on, anyhoo): #20 Elizabeth Cook, “Sunday Morning” Cook mines an abstract Velvet Underground song and halfway convinces you it was always meant to be a quiet country reflection. The production and vocal are a bit too buoyant to fully convey the song’s weariness, but they do flesh out its gentle message of hope, and that’s not too bad, either. #19 Hank Williams III, “Six Pack of Beer” Silly and shallow it may be, but III’s turbo-campy lament of hard times + booze was Read More