Having only purchased a minute amount of mainstream albums the past few years, I have kept my ears towards some of the hopeful mainstream artists. Jon Pardi and William Michael Morgan have been the only ones I have pulled the trigger on and instead choose support the talent in Texas and independent arenas. I am not naive to think that all Texas music is the best thing since sliced bread. That mindset is laughable as I have watched fans protect some acts that are right up there with the bro-country mainstreamers. Hearing the first few tracks leading up to Joe Nichols new album Never Gets Old, I began to feel excited. Could this be the first mainstream purchase I make of 2017?
This past weekend I was working out in the gym and decided to fire up the new album, remembering that it was out. See, contrary to what some people think, I'm not just going to buy an album. To keep saying we NEED to purchase every album is stupid. So you expect me to take my hard earned money and just buy your album to support you? No way - it needs to be good. I need to have a taste of what I'm getting. It's like the fools that just buy a vehicle without doing any research or examining the car at all. "Oh Toyota's good, so I'll just buy this Rav4, I love the color." Yeah OK, sounds like an educated buyer to me. Same applies to music: I'm going to make sure I like what I'm buying.
So here I am, working out on my arc trainer getting a good sweat going, enjoying the first few tracks to Joe Nichols' album. Diamonds Make Babies I remembered hearing from Dierks Bentley's excellent album Home and learned that Chris Stapleton was a co-writer. Not a bad track at all and a solid start to everything. I'm hopeful.
There's truthfully quite a bit to appreciate about this album. There are some excellent country songs such as I'd Sing About You which showcases why we all are drawn to the vocal talent of Nichols. His special baritone voice is something I have always enjoyed and is initially what drew me to him back when he first ended up on country radio. Remember Brokenheartsville? Yeah that is a favorite of many real country music fans. I'd Sing About You taps into that special feeling once again and had me thinking "I might actually by this album."
Then Breathless came on sporting a cookie-cutter mainstream dance beat sound that made me start to lose interest. It's not necessarily a BAD song, but I've just come to expect more out of artists and find myself having less tolerance than I used to. Tall Boys is another mainstream sounding track that ultimately made me start to skip songs. The cheesy references to beer drinking and short shorts just drives me berserk. Maybe it's too much to ask for a full length solid mainstream country album now?
The final nail in the coffin for me was Baby Got Back placed at the end of this album. Yes, you read that correctly. Joe Nichols is singing how he likes big butts and cannot lie. Now, I read that it was a joke on the band at shows, but to me, leave it as a joke. Keep it for humor at a show. Don't stoop to this level for an album. When you record a song like this, Johnny of Pitstop for Country is not going to purchase your album. Including a song like this tells me someone is banking on this to catch people's ears and build hype to buy it. No matter the excuse, they spent a lot of money to include this song and it's there in hopes that people buy it.
So you might be asking yourself: Does this album completely suck? Well, not really. It certainly has some questionable songs that I would have loved to see left off. It reaffirms why independent artists are continuing to steal more of the country market share, despite the lack of realization of this phenomenon by radio listeners. With album sales at some of the lowest we've ever seen, it's important to produce quality offerings that make people dig into their wallet. Never Gets Old is a perfect example of falling short and is a roller coaster that I decided to not pay to ride again. It's unfortunate, really. So much potential. So much anticipation. Lack luster final product. Another Nashville let down.
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
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