There’s a lot to appreciate about artists that take the time to maintain a true country sound. In many ways the bro-country and pop infused “country” can be looked at as a blessing. Some may raise an eyebrow to a statement like that, but many listeners such as myself, have found a deeper attraction to quality country music. For the majority of my young life, all I had was country radio. Streaming services didn’t start gaining traction until the time Nashville started to dive-bomb. Online music platforms gave me the ability to hear music I would not have access to otherwise. When I hear someone like Don Vickers who can put some classic 90’s twang into a new album, I have to give him some spotlight. His latest album Judgment Day is a modern take on what so many passionate country listeners yearn for.
I have listened to this album a few times a week since it has come out and my first takeaway was the well balanced song layout. It is apparent that Vickers and company took their time with the organization of the album because it flows naturally. We go from the fiddle heavy track title track Judgment Day into the Merle Haggard tribute When the Hag’s On to provide that first hook. These first two songs are excellent tracks and perfect of examples of real country still being alive and well. The latter is infused with some humor and a tip of the hat to the Hag. All he wants to do is listen to Haggard’s song play and the girl just won’t shut up. As cute and charming as she may be, it’s getting in the way of hearing the music of a country legend. When Haggard passed away, Vickers actually went back to the studio to change a few lines to ensure he paid the proper respects to this country legend. I found that to be an incredibly admirable gesture.
The powerful tearjerker, I’m Not Drinkin’ Alone is a tribute to our troops that sadly don’t make it home. This song demonstrates the brotherhood that soldiers have for one another. When they are in a foreign place, their camaraderie is all they have. Mommy and Daddy aren’t there to save them. They’re going to get shot at and have their lives in jeopardy all the time. The soldier in the song finds himself at the bar and he has the bartender in tears when he tells her that after three successful tours with his buddy, one of them didn’t make it back. I personally could not put myself in that situation and lose my best friend after all those years together. From being friends in school, to serving side-by-side in the military and ultimately watching his mother be presented with the folded flag - talk about painful. When someone disrespects our military, they forget that this is the reality to many.
I’m sure you will find yourself chuckling when you hear the boot shuffling tune Drunk to Meet You. Vickers’ has a good sense of humor and while it’s a solid country tune, it’s amusing. Some comments that just don’t come out quite right get him in a sticky situation at the bar with a pretty girl’s man. I’m also a big fan of the upbeat The Man She Loves with it’s references to life on the road. Traveling to different venues and not being home is not easy for anyone in the relationship. He takes a reflective look at himself and his own faults. Thriving on the energy of the crowds at each show pull him away from being the best partner he can. As a music-maker it’s always: “On to the next one.”
So you say real country is dead? Or maybe you think the stuff on mainstream radio is “new age country.” Yeah, I’ll raise you Don Vickers and Judgment Day. This is truly an excellent album and this guy needs some more attention. Texas radio needs to pay more attention to him and help spread the word. Judgment Day is one of the best traditional-leaning country albums I’ve heard in a long time. Bravo, Don Vickers.
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
Check out my spotify for good tunes!