Song Review: Jason Eady’s “Waiting to Shine”

Rating: 9/10

Texas/traditional country artist Jason Eady has released a third song from his upcoming self-titled album, due out April 21st. “Why I Left Atlanta” was good and “Barabbas” was excellent, so I was really eager to see another one ahead of the record.
“Waiting to shine” is a more upbeat track than the previous two, and the instrumentation is fun and catchy. It’s brighter than most of what we got on the outstanding Daylight and Dark, and that’s refreshing to hear from Eady. However, the lyrics are really thought-provoking and still display the great songwriting present in much of his prior work. This song is about words: “words are like diamonds, the best ones are the hardest to find.” In reference to words in songs, Jason states that “finders are keepers, and I’ll take all the keepers I can find.” It’s a really interesting and true assessment of the power of words and music. But the right words in speech can also be powerful too, as the second verse illustrates. Sometimes words can make all the difference, and Eady notes that the best ones are out there somewhere just “waiting to shine.” This is another great track from Jason Eady, and this album is looking very promising so far.

Thank You Country Perspective

If you haven’t heard yet, Josh of Country Perspective announced yesterday via Twitter that the blog’s hiatus would probably be permanent. I acknowledged it on Twitter, but it wasn’t nearly all I wanted to say.

Country Perspective, and Josh and Derek, helped make this possible for me. When I was all but converted to a pop fan in late 2014 and early 2015, I found that blog and started hearing names like Jason Eady, Courtney Patton, Lindi Ortega…I could go on, but they are part of the reason I came back to country in the first place. When I grew passionate about doing this myself and started this blog in June 2015, they encouraged me. Josh and I didn’t always agree, but that was fine; when I posted a piece about genre lines in response and somewhat rebuttal to one of his, he posted it on Twitter, of all things. He was good like that, encouraging discussion and differences of opinion. Even if we differed somewhat in opinion, he was good at fostering that, and that’s something that not all blogs and writers strive for. He inspired me in a lot of ways, but that one has affected me the most.

Josh and Derek still continued to introduce me to music even after I started writing, indeed right up to the hiatus of Country Perspective. In addition to the artists I mentioned, I have them to thank for Kasey chambers, Sam Outlaw, and probably others I’m forgetting. They were both passionate about music and writing, and Josh, I can understand how that passion didn’t translate into running a blog. But thank you for sharing that passion with all of us.

Lastly, I want to thank Josh in particular, and this is a bit of a personal thing. He cared so much about his readers, and for me, that meant even more than it probably did to most. I remember asking on occasion what pictures or iTunes reviews said on his posts because my screen reader couldn’t read them. I remember him describing them; it got to where commenters would do that too, but it started with Josh. at one time, he had a podcast and said he would consider putting it on iTunes if that were more accessible than SoundCloud. I was one of his readers; yes, he may have, and probably did have, other blind readers, but because of one he listened. That’s not something you find everywhere, particularly with someone who has so many readers and commenters, and I am grateful for that.

So it makes me sad to say this, but for now, this is farewell to Country Perspective. Thanks for what you did for all of us. You will be missed.

Review: Lindi Ortega–Til the Goin’ gets Gone EP

Rating: 8/10

Lindi Ortega left Nashville, and nearly country music, behind after realizing that despite her awards and critical acclaim, she still couldn’t pay her rent. Eventually, she ended up at the piano writing what she believed would be her final song, “Final Bow.” But as it so often does, music came out of these struggles, and “Final Bow” ended up as the first song on Ortega’s new EP. And even though it’s only 4 songs, there’s that common thread of pain and hope running through this EP that gives this project a cohesive feel generally not possible, and definitely not easy, with EPs.

The title track opens the EP, speaking of going on despite all of life’s hardships “til the goin’ gets gone.” Perhaps the line that sums up this whole EP and Ortega’s frame of mind is “and I hope someday they find me, see that I was on my way, when I lay down by the side of the road where I made my grave.” The sparse arrangements here and throughout the EP really add to it, and let the world-weariness in Lindi’s voice shine through. This is an excellent song, and it’s the one you should pick if you only choose one. Next is “What a Girls Gotta Do,” another heartbreaking song in which Lindi sings about a stripper who can’t pay her bills and had no choice but to take this job: “it might make your daddy cry, but a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to survive.” This is another one you should absolutely hear. Ortega’s cover of Townes Van Zandt’s “Waiting ‘Round to die” fits the EP perfectly; this is the first time I’ve heard a woman sing this song, and she really pulls it off well. “Final Bow” closes the EP, and because there are only four songs, this brings it down as a whole from a ten. My problems with this one are, although the lyrics are great and it speaks to Lindi personally, it’s almost so personal that it doesn’t really connect. She wrote it as her farewell to music and didn’t think it would see the light of day, and even though it fits with the tone of the album, it doesn’t have the universality that makes “Til the Goin’ gets Gone” stand out. Also, the other songs featured acoustic guitar, and this one switches to piano which I didn’t really feel worked for it and interrupted the feel of the EP.

It’s a shame that Lindi Ortega went through so much in her life to inspire this music, to make every word on this short project sound real and borne of pain and struggle. But music is meant to be real and relatable, and through her hardships, she produced something beautiful. I absolutely recommend checking out this EP, and I hope we’ll be seeing more from her in the future.

Listen to EP

Single Review – Jason Isbell – “Hope the High Road”

Rating: 8/10

Driving guitars start off the new Jason Isbell song, and it immediately sets the mood. If you were expecting more of the acoustic-driven tracks you got from his last two albums, think again with this particular song, at least. I think this is a very welcome change. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Something More than Free and Southeastern. However, this change back to more rock songs is awesome. It’s fast, quick, and it catches you right away.
Now we get to the lyrics. Some of these seem fairly autobiographical, with him saying things like he’s sang enough about himself and he’s sick of the white man’s blues. The overall message I get from this song is that he’s over the negativity, and he wants to be happy. Included in this is the fact that he wants some vague person he mentions in the lyrics to find a world in which they want to live in, and to not be tired and angry.
After hearing this song, I’m interested to see what the rest of this album holds in store. I fully admit that I have yet to check out his first few records, but I’m a definite fan of Isbell and his music. If the other songs on The Nashville Sound are similar to this musically, I’ll be happy.

Single Review: “Speak to a Girl” by Tim McGraw and Faith Hill

Rating: 5/10

Okay, I’m not coming at this as some purist who has a problem with 90% of Faith Hill’s catalogue because it’s more pop/adult contemporary than country. I’ve enjoyed a good chunk of music by both these singers, and they’ve made some excellent songs together. For proof beyond my word, I suggest “Like we Never Loved at All,” “I Need You,” “Angry All the Time,” and “Meanwhile, Back at Mama’s.” That’s not even mentioning the two they’re probably most known for, “It’s Your Love and Let’s Make Love.” So the news that they’re releasing a duets album could potentially mean we’re getting some great music, and if Hill’s inclusion inherently means a more pop sound, I would think that is expected by now. So let’s just establish the fact this is a pop song, judge it accordingly–or not–and move on.

The song itself is about all the things a man should do in order to make a woman fall in love with him. The song explains she doesn’t care about money; she wants a man who respects his mother and treats her right. A pretty cool line is “she wants you to say what you mean and mean everything that you’re saying.” all in all, it’s a nice message and if it does well on radio at all, it will be a blessed contrast from the way radio hits normally speak about women. The two, as always, sing well together.

Still, even though it’s a good message, it feels underdeveloped. it could have been more specific, less generic. The lyrics are a little shallow in places, and I have no idea why sometimes the writers chose “she just want” instead of “she just wants” because it just sounds ridiculous. I guess it’s trying to sound urban or cool, but it really got on my nerves. IN the end, it balances out to just be kind of forgettable which means it will probably be a massive hit in today’s radio climate. Then again, there is a female, and the words are about respecting females, so that’s two strikes against it.

I really wanted to like this song, but it’s just there and really doesn’t do much for me either way. I hope the album will be better.