Ah yes. There’s nothing like those artists that work so hard to keep the throwback sounds of country music alive and well. The crying of the fiddle and pedal steel going back and forth in perfect harmony. And what’s that you say? No mention of tailgates and tan lines? Nope. Just some bona fide country gold and honky tonk. Jeremy Steding put Aaron McDonnell on my radar earlier this year and I have really enjoyed McDonnell’s music ever since. He possess a keen ear for pulling all of the classic elements together into a neatly wrapped package without the slightest feeling of being dated. Luckily for us, he released a new album titled, Lucky Me a few weeks back.
One requirement I always keep in the back of my head while listening to any music is balance. It’s important to me because it’s easy to get bored nowadays with the constant pummeling of everything. Its information overload most of the time, so with any form of art, my attention must be maintained. Have those songs too high energy the whole time is just as bad as having a snooze fest. I personally enjoy variation - something I like throughout my life in general. It’s like AC/DC. A few songs are okay, but after a while I’m sick of them and don’t want to listen for another few years. HA!
When artists lean towards the traditional side of country, some lean a bit too heavy on that sound for my tastes. The songs end up sounding like a big glob of sameness. Not exactly something that this cowboy wants to listen to. But there are artists like Aaron McDonnell who grasp the knowledge and ability to find the fulcrum sweet spot.
Lucky Me takes us through a well thought out collection of tunes - from the waltzy almost self deprecating title track, which flawlessly transitions to Life Sounds Easy on the Radio. The latter features some wonderfully twangy electric guitar transitions that work with the upbeat, yet throwback sound of this one. A travelling artist like McDonnell knows all too well the realities of sticking to your own guns and being true to yourself. All of the young mainstream stars name drop the country greats yet their releases have as much in common as a city boy and cowboy. I just hope Aaron’s van doesn’t smell like shit like he says in the lyrics… Someone get this man some Febreze.
McDonnell spends some time on the realistic side of life with the imperfect love and being humbled for the life you have, rather than the one you don’t. It’s a mature mindset that much of our society has yet to embrace. The rom-com era and social media have made anything less than a Hollywood movie relationship a let-down. Everything needs to feel rehearsed or documented to be “perfect.”
I’m looking at you out there…you know, the picture you’re talking of your dinner as you ignore your significant other. Oh wait, let me add a snap chat filter on there for good measure.
In reality, life isn’t perfect. It’s a collection of decisions that we hopefully learn from, in efforts to make ourselves better with each passing day, month or year. Being comfortable with your place in life is important - far more than keeping up with the Joneses.
Joining McDonnell of a few of the tracks is his equally talented wife, Dani. She adds a nice touch to the up tempo, Honky Tonker which ends the album with a bang. The highs and lows of being a travelling artist. Money is low and the beer is ever flowing. Hearing the duo sing between the raging fiddle and slick guitar had me bobbing right along to this track. Remember that balance I spoke of? This song is a perfect example. And how about that instrumentation? What a fun sound they put together on this one.
The skinny? This is Aaron McDonnell’s best work today and I’m sure there will be a stir caused from it as we roll into next year. Between artists such as Aaron McDonnell, Margo Price, Mike and The Moonpies, Jason James, and Jeremy Steding, the throwback sound is alive and well. In fact, it just might be better than ever.
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
Check out my spotify for good tunes!