For all of their commercial successes and industry recognition, The Mavericks were never a band that bowed to popular trends in country music. On Mono, the second album of their full-fledged revival, they play even faster and looser with genre conventions than ever before. The result is an album that, if not necessarily their best—What a Crying Shame and 2013’s In Time set particularly high standards— may be the most purely fun album of The Mavericks’ career.
If you’re going to keep revisiting the same themes, you might as well take some risks with your delivery.
Kenny Chesney’s new single sounds fresher and more engaging than anything he’s done in a very long time. It’s easy to miss that he’s singing about what he always sings about: nostalgia for growing up in the country with American rock as the soundtrack.
What makes “American Kids” work more than a lot his attempts with this theme is that sounds like he learned something listening to those Mellencamp and Springsteen records. This record oozes charm and mature authority, like he’s finally lived long enough to look back and say, “Hey. We were kinda crazy back then. But we all turned out alright in the end.”
Written by Rodney Clawson, Luke Laird, and Shane McAnally
Urban’s recent output has been upbeat and bright, so it’s a sucker punch to hear him in full melancholic mode again. But like John Mellencamp once sang, “It hurts so good.”
“‘Til Summer Comes Around” is a sadly beautiful tale about a man who lives in a summer town and falls in love with a girl who’ll be leaving at the end of the season. Using the emptiness of “everything is closing down” as a backdrop, Urban’s heartbreak becomes one with the town. Just as the carnival rides are shut down and have to wait out the fall, winter, and spring, so does Urban have to wait for his love that promises to come back.
Only she doesn’t, making the summer somehow sadder than the seasons he’s already waited out. Whereas he’s now surrounded by the town’s vibrancy and life that is there every summer, the hope that kept him going during the off-season has disappeared.
The 201 Greatest Singles of the Decade, Part 5: #120-#101
#120 “Tonight I Wanna Cry”
A chillingly frank portrait of loneliness, awkward reference to “All By Myself” notwithstanding. Few mainstream vocalists today could pull off something this intense. – Dan Milliken
#119 “Portland, Oregon”
Loretta Lynn with Jack White
Peak: Did not chart
If you can take a healthy dose of dirty rock ‘n’ roll in your country, this is one of the coolest-sounding records of the decade, a classic one-night-stand duet. That it’s a very cross-generational pairing singing it would be creepy if not for the goofy smiles shining through Lynn’s and White’s performances. – DM Continue reading →
John Mellencamp’s “My Sweet Love” is surprisingly addictive. Lines such as “It sure would feel good to feel good again”, celebrate the feelings that accompany new found love. Its purposeful retro feel, rapid drum beat and strong bass combines to create a song that’s worthy of radio airplay, though it’s doubtful that country radio will be the place for it.
Little Big Town’s Karen Fairchild adds a prominent harmony vocal that elevates the song even more. Ultimately, the rockabilly and retro production of “My Sweet Love” seems like a song that might have fit nicely on Robert Plant’s and Alison Krauss’ Raising Sand project.