There is nothing like one of your favorite artists releasing new music. The only thing better is when the artist releases an album that pays tribute to their entire career and re-imagines some of their best original songs. Often much to my frustration, there are artists that have some amazing songs, yet they were recorded early on in their careers when the budget wasn’t quite up to their current level. Understandably, the bands are usually not as tight and refined, but as time passes that typically changes. With Casey Donahew that has been exactly the case, and he has delivered a hell of an album with The Wild Ride.
As I originally said here in my preview piece (Read Here), seeing Donahew live was a pretty incredible experience. The fullness that his music has from the electric guitar to the amped up fiddle is honky tonk country that you can freely sing-a-long and dance to with your friends. Hearing songs like Stockyards and 12 Gauge live destroyed the original recordings and to our benefit, Casey and the band kept this in the back of their mind as time passed. As the steel wheels of the van grew into polished aluminum 22” Prevost mags, The Casey Donahew Band’s ground covered continued to grow. I witnessed passionate fans singing right along to the early songs, only reaffirming the true support that independent artists like Donahew have.
From Casey’s website:
When I first started we didn’t have much money and really didn’t know what we were doing, but we knew we wanted to make something for our fans. So we went in and made Lost Days, our first record, and spent about $1500.00 doing one take with an acoustic guitar, bass and drums. We didn’t even have a lead guitar player, so we had a guy go in and go over the top of the songs one time through. So there’s four instruments, one vocal, and no harmonies -- it’s about as basic as you could get, says Donahew. “These songs have been with me a long time and they’re a part of who I am. It’s been a lot of fun to go back in the studio to record them the right way and pay tribute to my fans and celebrate the years.
Comprised of 15 songs, The Wild Ride pulls songs from his previous album such as: Double-Wide Dream, Movin’ On, Casey Donahew Band, and Lost Days. Fans of the band may also notice Matchbox 20’s 3AM, a song that this 90s-2000’s pop fan loves. While a country boy through and through, I think some of the best pop/alternative music came in the 90’s and early 2000’s, so this song hits a sweet spot for me. Casey and the band did an excellent job recording their own take on this tune.
With multiple plays of this album under my belt, I can tell you that the title lives up to the album itself. From cover to cover, The Wild Ride is a Texas Country journey that takes you from drinkin' songs and life on the road, to even songs about drug use and struggling with addiction with Angel. Having followed his career for six plus years now, all of the instruments and harmonies used within made me giddy. When listening to a song like Back Home in Texas on their debut Lost Days album it is amazing to hearing the youth in Casey’s voice and the simplicity of the acoustic guitar, drum and over laid electric guitar. When you fire up the new recording, it will make you realize just how far these guys have come. The same goes for the rest of the tracks on the album. It’s remarkable the difference in production over the course of 15 years.
The album is a monumental point in my own quest for growing my own brand. More than just the enjoyable music aspect here, The Wild Ride is a life lesson and it’s up to you to understand how important this album is if you have any sort of dream. I ask that you listen to the original albums Casey has released at some point because it puts this entire new album into perspective. Often times in life we think we need to immediately jump right into the big leagues and if we don’t, anything else is failure. We are trained in this day and age to believe that instant gratification is the only way to be successful and the journey isn’t important. What’s struggle and hustle?
Stop and think about the fifteen years that have led up to The Wild Ride. What were you doing fifteen years ago? Me? I was in 5th and 6th grade. That is scary to me to even think about. The amount of time that has passed doesn’t sound like much as number, but all during that time, Casey and his band decided to make music. They didn’t have a huge budget, but they had a bigger love for making music. Instead of sitting on their butts dreaming about it, they picked up their instruments and played. I imagine there were plenty of covers as well, but as song writing ability grew, so did their arsenal of original music. In other words: learn by doing.
The years in a cramped van, the tight budgets, the disappointment to only playing for a few people who may or may not be listening - it’s all part of the ride. It’s a ride that this band has focused on and have never lost sight of the people that helped share the music and sing back to them each night. It’s that commitment to their dreams and loyal fans that allows me to sit here from my desk in Massachusetts and write about The Wild Ride.
While I have enjoyed the hell out of this album and will continue to do so, don’t miss what this album represents. This is a dream, like many of us have, that has come full circle. That is one of the most incredible success stories that you won’t find on the news, but I can guarantee you will see these and others right here with Pitstop for Country.
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Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
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