Category Archives: Random Reflections

Reflecting on: Jason Eady–Daylight and Dark

I commented during my review of the new Jason Eady record back in April that it has to be one of my biggest regrets about starting Country Exclusive in June 2015 that I never got the opportunity to talk about the masterpiece that is Daylight and Dark from this platform. But hey, now we have a category for it, so I’ll take any excuse. This may be my favorite album of all time–don’t lock me into that, because it’s a close race between several, and these things are very subject to change, but it’s up there.

Release Date: January 2014

Style: traditional country/Texas country

People Who Might Like This Album: fans of really traditional country with lots of steel, people who like darker lyrical content

Standout Tracks: This is hard to do but…”Daylight and Dark,” “The Other side of Abilene,” “Temptation,” “Lonesome Down and Out,” “OK Whiskey,” “Liars and Fools,” “we Might Just Miss each Other” (featuring Courtney Patton)

Reflections: I remember the exact day I heard this…sort of. Not the exact date, and not much about the day itself prior to discovering this album, it was just one of those days back when I was first getting into this scene and before I started here where I was discovering all kinds of new music. I kept being flooded with new names to check out, and some of them were good, some of them boring, but all a cool discovery process. The thing I remember about the day I found Jason Eady was it hadn’t been an easy day for me personally, and we all know those albums and songs that connect with us and send us back to emotions and feelings long ago. It wasn’t a good time in my life when I found this album, and maybe that’s why, though dark stuff usually isn’t what I gravitate toward, something about the depth of sorrow and uncertainty in this album, coupled with all that traditional instrumentation in a time when my ears were starved for it, and topped off with the raw emotion in Jason Eady’s vocal delivery, just made me stop what I was doing and sit there and listen to this whole album. And then a good chunk of the rest of his discography. I don’t think I’ve ever done that for any artist unless I meant to sit and listen to them for review; with Jason, I heard one song and then made it the priority of my day to hear the rest. It brought me comfort and healing in a way that only certain things can–there’s a lot to be said for music that can cheer you up, and I’m a real proponent of stuff like that, but this just connected with me in a way that’s undeniable.

So now that I’ve rambled on about that, I guess I should actually talk about the songs and why it’s so great. “Daylight and Dark” is just excellent, capturing perfectly the state of mind of someone caught both literally and metaphorically between daylight and dark and not sure where to go in his life. The same sentiments echo in “Lonesome Down and Out” and more subtly so in “Late Night Diner,” even though that’s an Adam Hood cover. There’s a cleverness in the writing here that is just unmatched; even now, I hear cool new underlying things in the lyrics. That’s true on his newest record too, although not quite to this degree. He doesn’t just have “one too many” in that song, he has “one, two…many.” Also, “one becomes tomorrow.” And “we might just miss each other” means they might barely miss running into each other and not have to dredge up old feelings, they might only miss each other and not get the chance to run into each other and see where those feelings lead, and they might, after all, though they didn’t want to admit it, miss each other. This one, sung with Courtney Patton, gave me my first clue that a duets album from them would be great. These are just two of many cool examples of subtleties in the writing; in fact, the two I’ve illustrated are more obvious ones. It’s also just really country, and just a comfort to listen to. I could go on and on, but for multiple reasons, not the least of which that I am procrastinating packing for my trip by writing this, I will conclude this by saying that nothing I write will do it justice, and if you haven’t heard this, you’re missing out on one of the best and most traditional albums released in the past ten years.

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Reflecting On: Marty Robbins – Gunfighter Ballads And Trail Songs

I have alluded to my love for Marty Robins in the past, and I figured that it was about time that I discussed one of his albums in detail. It may be a cliché choice, but for this week’s reflection, I’m going to discuss what is probably his biggest album, Gunfighter Ballads and Trail Songs.

Release Date: September 1959

Genre: The Western side of country and western

People Who Might Like This Album: Those who like cowboy stories and songs

Standout Tracks: “Big Iron,” “They’re Hanging Me Tonight,” “Utah Carol,” “Running Gun,” “El Paso”

The thing about Marty Robbins is, a lot of his songs are stories. They are sung stories, but stories nonetheless. Many of them do not have a traditional chorus, just one or two phrases that link the whole thing together. “Big Iron” is a fantastic example of this. It’s all about how an outlaw underestimates a ranger who had come to take him in. Even though I have heard the song multiple times, I still find myself drawn to the story and what will happen next.

Then, there’s “They’re Hanging Me Tonight.” It’s all about a man who was going to be hanged for murder. He had killed his ex-girlfriend because she’d left him for another man. He knew it wasn’t right, but he did it anyway. What I find interesting about this song is that the man does not run, he knows he deserves his punishment.

I love the melody of “Utah Carol”. The story is sad too. A cowboy was in love with his boss’s daughter, and so he put a blanket on his saddle so that she could ride his horse easier. The blanket caused a stampede, and though she tried to tie the blanket in place, she fell off the horse and into the cattle, while doing so. Utah Carol tried to save her, and was ultimately successful, but he himself was killed. This is one of my favorite songs, just because it’s such a poignant tale. He saved the girl he loved, but not himself.

“Running Gun” is a fantastic song. A man leaves his girl far behind, because he feels guilty for becoming a paid killer. He planned to send for her when he’d reached Mexico, but never got that far as the man was killed by a bounty hunter who was faster than him. He knows that the bounty hunter will one day face someone else who is faster than him, but his last thoughts are of his girlfriend and how a woman should never love a running gun.

Lastly, there’s “El Paso”. I cannot talk about Marty Robbins without mentioning it. This is his best-known song, and for good reason. In it, he tells yet another story. This time, it’s all about a man who was in love with a Mexican dancer. He got jealous of a cowboy who captured her attention one day, and a gunfight ensued. He killed the stranger and rode away from El Paso, where the song is set. However, he eventually went back because he missed the dancer, and when he got there, he was killed. I remember watching TV as a kid, and a countdown of the best songs of all time was on. I don’t recall if it was just in country, but “El Paso” either made number one, or close to it. Either way, I was fascinated, and it led me to Marty Robbins’ other music. It’s still my favorite song of his.

Like I said before, Marty Robbins does a lot of story songs, and this album is almost nothing but. I love a good story song, though, and I’m pretty sure my love for them started here when I first heard “El Paso”. Another thing I love about Marty Robbins is his voice. I have never heard anyone who sounded like him. Of course, everyone has different voices, but something about his particular voice and singing style is just fantastic. If you like music set in the West or cowboy stories, I highly recommend checking this album out if you have not.

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Reflecting on: Travis Tritt–It’s All About to Change

Well, from the day we started doing these, I always knew I would cover Travis Tritt on here, and now seems like the perfect time since I am going to see him Friday. I went back and forth for an inordinate amount of time on which album to cover, considering his originals and various compilations. Over the years, I’ve worn out the album The Very Best of Travis Tritt, so ultimately I decided to cover an album not as familiar to me. I chose the album that has my two favorite Tritt songs, It’s All About to Change, but really any place is okay to start with Travis and his music.

Release Date: 1991
Style: traditional country infused with Southern rock
People Who Might Like This Album: those who like their country mixed with rock and grit
Standout Tracks: “Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone who Cares),” “Anymore,” “Bible Belt,” “Nothing Short of Dying,” “If Hell Had a Jukebox,” “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin'”
Reflections: Travis Tritt said in one of the songs on his debut album that he vowed “I’d mix Southern rock and country, and that’s just what I did.” That’s really the best explanation of Tritt and his sound. He takes the best of both traditional country and Southern rock and blends them into a sound all his own, respecting country’s roots while being very modern and forward-thinking. Those that think country is boring, try saying that after “The Whiskey Ain’t Workin” or “Bible Belt.” Incidentally, the former features Marty Stuart which just adds to its overall coolness.

I mentioned this has my two favorite Travis Tritt songs. The first is “Here’s a Quarter (Call Someone Who Cares),” another country rock song where he tells his cheating ex who wants to come back home that she can call one of her “sordid affairs.” As the song says, he’s kind enough even to offer her a quarter. This song is probably the one he’s most known for, and it even made Saving Country Music’s Greatest songs of All Time which can’t be taken lightly. Incidentally,, it’s very much responsible for my current relationship too; it was a conversation about this song and Travis Tritt in general that started all of it. My other favorite is “Anymore,” where he’s telling a woman that even after much time has passed, he still loves her and he can’t keep pretending otherwise. It’s the first song of his I ever heard and one of the best examples of Travis doing more traditional country. It’s the marrying of country and rock that is his signature sound, but ballads like this and “Nothing Short of Dying” shouldn’t be overlooked either because he does these types of songs just as well. Actually, the video for “Anymore” was the first in a series of three about one character, and all three were ballads.

Like I say, there really isn’t a bad place to start with Travis Tritt, and he’s definitely an artist that you should know. From the more rock-leaning stuff to the traditional ballads, there’s something here for everyone, and this album is a good showcase of his variety in sound. So start here, and hopefully, this will make you a fan, and you will seek out more of his music.

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Reflecting On: Sarah Gayle Meech – One Good Thing

I had a hard time settling on what to write for this week’s Random Reflections article. Nothing was really sticking out to me. However, from reviewing the latest Gretchen Wilson album, I’ve been in the mood to listen to straight-up country music sung by a woman. I finally chose Sarah Gayle Meech’s album, One Good Thing after much deliberation.

Release Date: August 2012

Style: Traditional Country

People Who Might Like This Album: Those who appreciate the fiddle, and country songs with classic country themes

Standout Tracks: “One Good Thing,” “Old White Boots,” “No Angel”

When you first start this album, you immediately know what you’re in for. The title track is all about how heartache makes for a good song. It’s pretty hard to get more country than that. I mean, lots of classic country songs had heartbreak at their core, and the fact that Sarah Gayle Meech is acknowledging that right off the bat just tells you what kind of album this is going to be. Plus, I really love the fiddle and faster tempo in this song. It doesn’t hurt that she shouts out Hank Williams. Now, I know a lot of people do it, but somehow, it doesn’t seem cliche when Sarah Gayle Meech does it. You can believe she’d actually listen to the artists she points out.

“Old White Boots” is another faster song. They’re just the ones that really stick out to me with this album, and they have the best fiddle play. I love this song though. It’s all about how she just wants to go to a honky tonk in her old white boots. It’s a fun track about being simple, and just wanting to have a good night on the town.

“No Angel” is definitely my favorite song on the entire album. I love the instrumentation of the track, with its guitar. The song is all about how she’s not an angel. She says and does what she wants. I love how she tells the guy “You ain’t my first, and you ain’t my last. I ain’t no angel.” It’s so refreshing to have a woman speak out and say that she breaks rules, says how she feels, and drinks. Far from trying to be perfect, Sarah Gayle Meech is just being herself and she won’t change for anyone. Sure, it’s a bit shallow, but I can’t help loving the song with all its straightforwardness.

I know that from these songs I’ve picked, the album seems all fast and fun. However, there is real heartbreak and emotion on here. “Foolish” shows these feelings off the best, where Sarah Gayle Meech has let down the person she was in a relationship with. She doesn’t know how to be in a relationship and is used to being alone. Therefore, she leaves the person and later regrets it. For me, though, as much as I like this song, the three I highlighted above are what really make Sarah Gayle Meech stand out as an artist. I recommend checking out this album if you want something that’s traditional country, and if you want to find a new female artist to like.

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Reflecting on: Two Years at Country Exclusive

Hey y’all, we’re two!

It was suggested to me that I write a reflection on my time here since today is officially our two-year anniversary. I don’t really know if it counts since I wasn’t writing regularly for much of 2016, but we’re going to say it does. And now, I’ve written so many reviews and reflections and articles without effort, but I can’t think what to say here for the life of me.

It’s not because I have nothing to say, it’s because there’s so much to say, and then again, I don’t know just how much of it you all would care to read. I could talk about my most memorable moments running this blog, opportunities like getting to interview Jamie Lin Wilson or meeting Jason Eady. I could talk about how many great artists I’ve discovered and all the awesome friendships and acquaintances Country Exclusive has afforded me, or I could tell you how all the bullshit and drama that comes with running a blog is worth it whenever someone finds a new artist because of something you wrote or suggested to them. I could focus on that, and all of it would be true–but it’s not the whole picture, and ultimately the success and even the life of Country exclusive is not even close to all about me or the things I’ve written and said in the past two years.

So with all that in mind, I’d like to reflect not just on my time, but also on the people who impacted me the most over these past two years. There’s Rob, aka my boyfriend, who after I didn’t write for ages in 2016, convinced me that people actually give a shit what I have to say and that I shouldn’t abandon this like I considered, and who streams Jason Isbell albums with me from 4,500 miles away. There’s Brianna, who has helped my sanity more than she probably knows by coming to write with me and is doing her damnedest to educate me on the music of Loretta Lynn and other such classic country artists about whom she feels my lack of knowledge is a crime against humanity. There’s Jennifer, aka my cousin, who singlehandedly put us on Twitter one day because I am just too lazy to do that.

These next two are probably each going to kill me for mentioning them, but I’m going to anyway because they are both integral to the blog itself and also to my reflection on my time here. First, let me say for anyone who might not know, both Brianna and I are blind. For me personally, it’s a fact that I didn’t try to hide from but that I also didn’t advertise, mainly because I wanted people to read and like or dislike my writing independent of that knowledge. With that in mind, I have to first thank my mom, who did the majority of our pictures until one day in April. And here’s where the reflection about my time comes into it; that one day in April, a publicist inadvertently caused a shit storm by asking me to change a certain picture on here–not a big deal, except that when you have two blind writers, you can’t change pictures right away, and it doesn’t matter if you wrote a thousand great words, that one picture is all that matters to certain people. (Remember the bullshit and drama I mentioned?) I could have probably written a whole post about that incident alone, because it was the day I officially decided I was through caring at all what people thought, and from now on, I’d just be who I am on the blog and take my own advice about honesty and being yourself that I regularly throw around on here. But since I didn’t ever write that post, I’ll just say that the other person who’s going to kill me now is Zack, aka the guy who volunteered to take over our pictures at that point and who takes time to put entertaining captions under them for us and our blind readers. He says continuously, “it’s five minutes of my day,” but those five minutes help tremendously and afford us a flexibility we didn’t have before.

And lastly, but most importantly, there are all of you readers who do actually give a shit what Bri and I have to say, and every person who has ever listened to an album or discovered an artist because of something we wrote. Without you all, we’d be talking to the air, and that part really is worth everything else. So thank you all for making Country Exclusive what it has become, and I look forward to sharing more great music with you!