In my opinion, collaboration albums tend to be a thrown together jumble, but sometimes they come together so perfectly, such as Deryl Dodd’s outstanding, Long Hard Ride. I have been holding albums to the standard that Dodd set earlier this year when he blew my socks off. A throw back favorite artist of mine is Tracy Lawrence and I was cautiously interested when I saw he had a new collaboration album, Good Ole Days. When I saw all of the mainstream names I flinched, afraid to even give it a whirl. Afterall, many of them who once released solid country music have resorted to egging the very genre that gave their start and initial fame.
As I began to look down the list of the artists joining in with Lawrence, I noted the vast majority were artists I enjoyed for quite a long time before they changed their material completely. Some hard headed folks may just label Jason Aldean as garbage, but his first albums were excellent. In some cases, artists like Aldean had country that would have given the Texas scene a run for their money. Heavy fiddle, steel guitar, and songs relating to the working men and women. What more could you ask for? For quite some time, not much. I was content for years because bro country didn’t rear it’s ugly head.
So when I fired up Good Ole Days it made me realize just how far away from their roots these artists have gone. We all hate on Luke Bryan, but years ago he was making some good music. All My Friends Say comes to mind as does Rain Is a Good Thing. What about Someday When I’m Old and Don’t Ask Me About A Woman by Easton Corbin? Dare I say Lonesome USA or Why by Jason Aldean? Again some may hate, but that’s some solid country and when these artists started changing I felt so betrayed. So frustrated that I kept digging until I was fully immersed in Texas Country. None the less, I will always enjoy those artist’s early albums. Good music is good music in my mind.
These experiences are why I try to go easy on someone like Luke Combs - despite not loving all of the songs on his new album. When he pairs with Tracy Lawrence on the unifying track, If the World Had a Front Porch, it will make you realize just how talented this young gun is. Easily my favorite track on this collab filled album, it solidifies the music that I feel Combs should make going forward. Combs voice is so distinguishable and powerful - something I hope will lean more traditional for his future works.
And I can’t forget to mention the amazing Kellie Pickler who joins Lawrence on Stars of Texas. That thick southern drawl of Pickler’s encompasses the down-home southern flavor that never fails to satisfy. Pickler is one artist that faded away from the mainstream attention as she stuck more to her traditional traditional roots. Like many of her works, she brings that powerful punch to this duet and meshes seamlessly with Lawrence’s vocals.
Is this album going to blow down the competition? Nope. However, it is a album that is a fun listen for anyone that enjoys Tracy Lawrence and his hits throughout his career. Sometimes it is just nice to sit back and relax to an album that features different talents through each song. There is not a bad song on this album and if you listen with an open mind, you’ll realize that many of these artists, despite their bro-country tendencies, did a stand-up job. In many ways it’s a reminder that many mainstream artists are capable of far greater than what they sing each night or on the radio. Money is powerful and it can afford a life that many only dream of. While we want our favorite artists to always stay true to what got them started in music, some make decisions that might be difficult to turn down if we were in their shoes.
Regardless of what these artists do daily, Good Ole Days is a very enjoyable listen that I do recommend you take for a ride.
Just a Massachusetts guy supporting Texas and other independent country/Americana artists.
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