Album Review: “That Lonesome Song” by Jamey Johnson
When you have it you have it. It’s no mystery that Jamey Johnson is far from the best vocal powerhouse to hit the country scene, in fact his voice contains more of the rugged and experienced sound his heros made it big with. No Jamey Johnson is not out to be a great singer, he is here to share his images through his writing and his own brand of traditionalist country sound. That is what this album is all about. After his record deal and his marriage hit the bottom Jamey began rebuilding his life and career and after two years this is the result.
Right from the start Jamey hooks the listener and doesn’t let go. The album opens with “Released“, a very short staged recording of Jamey being released from prison, a symbolic expression of how he is finally able to do things his way and how he has been able to conquer the demons that have haunted him physically and mentally over the years. This leads right into one of the darkest and most memorable songs in today’s world, “High Cost Of Living“, which takes no backroads while explaining mercilessly the effects that drug abuse and self torture can have on your life and how hard it can be to turn it all around.
Accompanying this are 10 other self-penned works from Johnson and two covers of Waylon classics. Among the self-penned songs are such comedic works as “Mowin’ Down The Roses“, which has Jamey posing as a man destroying the last little bits of what is left of a tortured love, and “Women” which combines both remorse and manly thoughts to create a laughable, yet delicate look at trying to find the right woman. The closing track, “Between Jennings and Jones“, contains the same upbeat feel and shows an autobiographical look into Johnson’s attempt to make it this far in his career.
Some of the more memorable tracks on the album are much more sentimental. The first single from the project, “In Color“, is a powerful and emotional tribute to Jamey’s grandfather and combines loneliness and recollection for a realistic and relative result. “The Last Cowboy” allows Jamey to pay homage to the literal power and significance of old time country music in both today’s and yesterday’s worlds and how it seems to be hard to find the next person to pass that on, using his hero Waylon Jennings as a name drop to help explain his point. In “Stars In Alabama“, the second to last track, Jamey begins to draw the album to a close in another personal and seemingly autobiographical clip that has his mother reminding him of what there is off the stage and outside the world of Nashville, record labels, and radio airplay.
Johnson appropriately provides two covers from Jennings on this project. “The Door Is Always Open” is a fabulous song with Johnson urging his former lover to return, not forcing her, but simply explaining that if she needs anywhere to run to or if her new life goes wrong the door is always open for her to return to him. Considering Jamey had gone through a divorce, this song does contain a lot of personal feeling hidden beneath his rough vocals. “Dreaming My Dreams” is another song of lost love and personal pain as Johnson sings to his character’s lost love not asking for her back but simply releasing his feelings stating that he will move on someday, but will always wish he was dreaming his dreams with her there to support him.
The title track, “That Lonesome Song“, is mixed in the middle of the work to address Jamey’s position that got him into this project. He sings as a drunk who wakes in the morning only to remember nothing and try to allow the listener to view his situation through his own eyes.
Jamey Johnson, considered one of today’s most talented and respectful songwriters on the scene, may not have a star quality voice, but neither did Waylon or Johnny for that matter. This song is filled with more fear, passion, hatred, love, power, anguish, torture, and downright talent than any other album offered up so far this year. Every song rings true and leads into the next and every words and strum keeps the listener tied down and at full attention for what this guy will do next. Every track plays almost as if it’s ones big event. Jamey has offered up every aspect of a great country song including sound and styles while allowing himself to stay who he is and do his own thing for what sounds like the first time in his life. In an era of pop culture, media madness, and popularity contests, this album will go down as one of the biggest underdog projects of the decade.
Produced by The Kent Hardly Playboys, Jamey Johnson, and Dave Cobb
- High Cost Of Living
- Place Out In The Ocean
- Mowin’ Down The Roses
- The Door I Always Open
- Mary Go Round
- In Color
- The Last Cowboy
- That Lonesome Song
- Dreaming My Dreams
- Stars In Alabama
- Between Jennings And Jones