by Dan Ferguson
That Lonesome Song
Mercury Nashville Records
The curiosity was piqued when Jamey Johnson's That Lonesome Song appeared on multiple Best-of-2008 lists from New York Times pop music scribes. "Somewhere between Jennings and Jones" he sings on the album's closing number and aside from the alphabetical coincidence, it hits the nail on the head. Other than a few old reliables, country music worth a crap from the Nashville mega-labels has been nil in recent years. Johnson defies the norm with his devastating tales of woe all set to perfectly understated arrangements - the pedal steel fade-ins and outs are killer. Classic country lives. Visit www.jameyjohnson.com.
Yep Roc Records YEP 2195
Austin favorite sons The Gourds ignite the recording year in fine fashion with the roundhouse punch that is Haymaker! There's never been anything fancy about this band and that lack of pretension is a big part of the appeal. Weirdness on the Lone Star home front to colorful characters met along the road figure prominently in the songs comprising this loose-limbed and rustic roots music stew which crosses stylistic subgenres more than cars cross the Pell Bridge. Recommended. Visit www.thegourds.com.
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 - 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)