The old expression, "An empty barrel makes the most noise" can define nearly the entire last decade of country music. As country music began it's explosive rise to "the cool genre" that everyone likes, the name dropping posers grew right along side it. These are the Brantley Gilberts, Jason Aldeans, Luke Bryans, and Billy Currington's of the world. The guys that decided to say "screw it" to their original listeners and headed across the street to whore out their music. So what exactly did they do? They started pushing out pop-country garbage and name dropping in efforts to somehow give themselves credibility. You shouldn't need to qualify your music to make people believe it's legit real country. Someone like Jackson Taylor has been pushing out real outlaw music for over 15 years and his music speaks for itself.
As a relatively new listener to his music (about two months), I appreciated the confident, no-shits given attitude. Jackson Taylor doesn't give a rats ass what you think. He's going to do whatever the heck he wants damnit – and I love that. It's a refreshing attitude to have when we live in a world of people afraid that your shadow is bigger than theirs on the sidewalk. Give me a freaking break man.
See, Taylor and his band The Sinners aren't just some typical big machine all show and no-go-puppet show. These guys have a sound that is pure outlaw without talking about how cool they are. They do their thing and do a damn good job at it. I've been listening to their 2016 release, Which Way is Up and had it cranking to help me power through my workout at the gym. It's glorious guitar, powerful outlaw vocals, and enough southern rock 'twang to put a few more tears in Same Hunt's size 12 skinny jeans.
Here in Massachusetts, I crave for a time when I can go to a bar and have real country music that's local. Pipe dream or not, these guys are the type of band I would kill to see on a Friday or Saturday night. Songs like Another Bottle Goes Down let you know that it's perfectly acceptable AND encouraged to have a fun night out with the gang. You can listen to some solid music from a great band and keep 'em tippin' back with your buds. It's the delivery here that grabs your attention. The deep voiced Taylor and the distorted guitars talking back and forth work to create a addictive head bobbin ritual.
The ZZ Top style guitar comes through loud and clear in the suck-it-up buttercup song, Sad Bastard Music. No one likes the guy that goes out with his friends only to become an instant buzz-kill. Sure, no one wants to be cheated on, but sulking and ruining the night for everyone doesn't do anything to help you overcome it. It's best to man-up, double fist some tall ones, forgive and forget and move on. If you want to mope, well maybe you should go grab a seltzer water and go hang out in the corner by yourself.
I admire the band's performance in the humorous, yet eloquently delivered Foolin' Around. Most of us guys can appreciate a pretty women, but when you listened to the execution in mainstream songs, it revolves around "blue jeans" and slidin' into the truck. While there's no doubt this song is about his attraction to her sexy figure and perfectly tanned body, it's a solid real country tune. Songs like this remind us that we are all human and sing about things we like, the people we love, and those we find attractive. It's the subtle cues in the lyrics and the attention to keeping that pedal steel whirling in harmony with the classic country riffs 'twanging that make all the difference.
There is one track here that will likely make you pause and pay just a little closer attention. Right towards the end of the album, we have Every Other Weekend, which will certainly give you a punch in the gut. Those that are divorced out there will especially find it difficult to not shed a tear. As a father, you want to be there for your child and help raise them – through the good and bad. As frustrating as children can be in the teenage years, most dad's wouldn't give that up for the world. This sensitive side hit me as it was something I was not expecting at all. However, I like to think everyone has a something that shows their heart – no matter how often they keep it locked up and hidden.
So to my friend Chris Janson: instead of that drank you were gonna fix, why don't you pull out a big ass glass from the cupboard and pour yourself a tall one of Jackson Taylor and the Sinners, sit back, and learn what real country and outlaw is all about.
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
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