Jamey Johnson 'The Guitar Song' Mercury/Humphead

The consensus seems to be that this is an important album in that it is more genuinely country sounding than pretty much everything that has been released on a major Music Row label for quite some time. The other thing is that being a double album of 25 tracks it would have made a better single album. That's subjective as it's likely that no two people would come up with exactly the same list of tracks to make their ideal single disc album. It sell, pretty much, for the same price as a single, so you need to give it some space to listen and find your own choices. Add to that it was produced by the band, know as The Kent Hardly Playboys, and they are the players involved which, for the most part, is not the way it's done, session players being the usual order of the day. Some detractors have pointed out better albums in the same vein, but these are usually independent artists, free of any restraints, and you have to look harder to find the, . This album should be in your local record shop via Humphead and should be easy to order if not. As to the album; firstly Johnson's vocal are strong, his baritone is allowed to stretch and move around these songs some of which extend beyond the usual three minute barrier. Add to that the band also get the chance to get in there and play the songs. The songs are variable some good ones and some not so good ones. His co-writers are often those of the current crop, who have been, seen in some quarters as neo-outlaws, which isn't really the case. They instead mine a seam of southern rock and Hank Williams Jr, rather than a truer rebel like Hank 111. There are a bunch of covers here to that, for the most part work, one being the Keith Whitley co-write Lonely At The Top which is one of those songs that laments the troubadour life but is balanced by the response of life may be as the title suggests but never forget that "it's a bitch at the bottom". Other songs from outside writers include Set 'Em Up Joe a Hank Cochran, Dean Dillon, Buddy Cannon and Vern Gosdin co-write and Mel Tillis' Mental Revenge. The two "sides" are divided into dark and light even though there not a whole lot of difference between the two in terms of sound the themes are lighter on the white disc. Not that this is a concept album in the way that Willie Nelson's Red Headed Stranger was, rather it concept are more loosely defined and adhered to. Overall I enjoyed the album and think that Johnson's heart is in the right place. It's status, to some degree, will be, in terms of the mainstream, seeing how well it sells and what that might infuence the majors in the way the perceive "country" as it appears that pop-country may not have the hold and sales it once had and that country albums overall are have a big sales decline. There are many reasons for that but the quality and distinctiveness of the music has to be a big factor