You Love Songwriting? Listen To These Albums

Tom Mailey

I like a mindless, feel-good summertime anthem as much as anyone but sometimes, I like songs that make you think a little bit, or that give you a different or new perspective on things. They don’t have to be deep, brooding or introspective, either; they can still be fun, or funny, or catchy… but in a way that doesn’t rely on cliches or other songwriting shortcuts that sometimes make up the top 40.

And there are two recent albums that, to me, fit this bill perfectly.

The first is by newcomer Ashley McBryde, a young lady Pat gave me a heads-up about after seeing her perform at Live in the Vineyard Goes Country.


Her new album, Girl Goin’ Nowhere, is raw, honest, smart and more than occasionally funny. From her title cut, which is a clap-back to all the doubters early in her career who are now patting her on the back to “The Jacket”…a beautiful take on the deeper meaning that can be found in a simple piece of clothing, McBryde is that rare writer whose doesn’t seem to waste a single word. Plus, she’s got a great voice. My favorite cuts: El Dorado (which could be an anthem of sorts for a certain nearby county), her first single from the album, “A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega” and “Tired Of Being Happy” — which is one of the most cleverly written songs about tempting to someone to cheat that you will ever hear.

Next up: Dierks Bentley’s new one, The Mountain.


Dierks recently told Rolling Stone he wanted to make this album for himself. To do that, he felt he needed to get out of Nashville, so he headed to Colorado, where he spent weeks with his bandmates and writing partners putting together his 9th studio album in the shadow of the Rocky mountains. The result is a record as organic as an alpine meadow, addressing topics most country songs now try to avoid: aging (“How I’m Going Out”), acknowledging life isn’t one big happy keggar all the time (“Burning Man”, which he performs with the Osborne Brothers, “Living”), and letting go of all the stuff that doesn’t matter (“Traveling Light”, with Brandy Carlisle). He’s also got a couple powerful love songs, including “Woman, Amen”–which just went to number 1 (Bentley’s 17th) and the Bruce Horsby-ish “My Religion” that features more piano than steel guitar or dobro–another unusual angle for country music right now. My favorite cuts: “The Mountain”, “You Can’t Bring Me Down”(an excellent flip of the bird to haters everywhere), and “How I’m Going Out”.

Neither of these albums–that I noticed anyway– contain a single mention of Dixie Cups, Daisy Dukes, flavored lip gloss, tail gates or any other rampant country music cliche’ relied on a little too heavily these days. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Hey, if you like it, it’s good, if you don’t, it’s not. I’m ain’t here to pass judgement. All I’m saying is, if you’ve been longing for some country that sounds like its performer spent a little more time crafting than usual, you can’t go wrong with either of these two releases.

 

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