Tag Archives: Don Williams

Memorable Songs From Overlooked Albums: June 1st

You’ll notice I wrote “overlooked” instead of forgettable this time–that’s because the majority of these fall into the category of us having nothing to say about the album rather than really being forgettable. some of them are, but writing “forgettable albums” would be somewhat misleading for most of them. Now, many of you know the drill–standout songs that truly did come off mediocre/forgettable albums, songs from albums we didn’t cover due to time constraints or out of deference to artists, or like most of today’s, songs from albums we just didn’t have much to say about but still thought some tracks deserved a feature. Today’s is quite an eclectic list, from traditional to Americana to pop country to Texas and Red dirt, so there should be something for everyone. As always, this feature arrives when there are enough songs sliding through the cracks to produce one.

Sarah Shook & The Disarmers: “Keep the Home Fires Burnin'”

Man, this song is absolutely great. I heard it, and I was so excited for their debut album Sidelong. Cool instrumentation, nice lyrics, and really catchy and fun despite it being a heartbreak song which I thoroughly enjoyed. I loved all the energy put into it–it’s not something you see every day in Americana/singer-songwriter albums. I thought it could be a really nice debut…and the whole rest of their album was just boring. It’s one of the few that does fit the forgettable albums label. I do think there was great, interesting instrumentation throughout it, but this song opens it amazingly, and then there’s just nothing. It would be extremely sad not to feature this, though, it’s a really good song, and I think they’ve got massive potential.

Dalton Domino: “Decent Man”

Dalton’s album Corners really doesn’t fit the “forgettable albums” label either, more just the “not for us” label; neither Bri nor I could really get behind it, but we’re heavily in the minority. Obviously a lot of people really enjoy it, and so I wanted to feature a song from it so that you all could enjoy it too, if you’re so inclined. It’s definitely unique, and credit to Dalton Domino for doing something cool and different in the Texas/Red Dirt scene, even if I’m not personally on board. I do quite enjoy this one.

Rascal Flatts: “Back To Us”

I went back and forth about whether or not to review this. This was an ironic album title for a project that was mostly mediocre and bland, with some God-awful moments and a couple of bright spots that really drove home the point that if Rascal Flatts actually tried to live up to that title, they could once again make good pop country. I never hated them, they just shouldn’t have started trend-chasing. Anyway, I could have probably written a lot about their album, but the title track has emerged as quite a good song, and I want to remind everyone what Rascal Flatts is capable of when they do it right, so I’m putting it here.

Jade Jackson: “Bridges”

This falls also into that “not for us” category. The music in this album is really very good though, and Jade does a nice job balancing between more country rock songs and more singer-songwriter stuff. It’s the latter, at least for me, which suits her voice more, and this song is a good example. I think Jade Jackson is probably the one that people are either going to love or hate–she’s got a very unique voice, and if vocals aren’t really a factor for you, you’ll probably love this album. But I’m not sure everyone will like her voice, and that’s ok. I want to stress, though, that of the albums I’ve listed here, this is probably the best one in my opinion, and it’s simply personal preference holding it back for me.

Jade Jackson: “Gilded

The title track is probably the best song from it, from those lyrics to the melody to that fiddle. It’s another more singer-songwriter type track, and as I say, Jade Jackson’s voice works more with these songs.

Evan Michaels Band: “Like it Should”

This one comes from an EP, Ain’t no Stopping This, and it’s really more just that we don’t generally cover EP’s for a number of reasons, so they are just held to higher standards. As for this particular EP, from the Evan Michaels Band of Stillwater, Oklahoma, I thought it showed potential, but they will need to do the very thing I credited Dalton domino for above–stand out in the ever-growing Texas/Red Dirt scene. That said, “Like it Should” stands out off the EP as a nice song about missing an ex and shows off that potential I mentioned.

Alison Krauss: “Till the Rivers All Run Dry”

Let’s end this feature in fine fashion, with two excellent covers of Don Williams classics turned in for the Gentle Giants album. Again, cover albums are just held to higher standards, and these two outshined the rest. This is an excellent love song; Don Williams’ version was great, and Krauss does a nice job interpreting it and making it her own.

Trisha Yearwood: “Maggie’s Dream”

Yes, the best for last. Honestly, this cover is better than the original. Maybe it cuts deeper with a woman singing the lines, or maybe you just believe Yearwood’s rendition more, but this story of Maggie, a waitress at a truck stop in Asheville who’s nearing fifty and longing to be married despite what she tells everyone around her, was good before and now even better. Honestly one of the best songs I’ve heard this year despite the fact it’s a cover.

Reflecting on: The Definitive Collection: Don Williams

Friday’s Gentle Giants tribute album to Don Williams has inspired me to go back and search through his discography. I know Brianna did a Greatest Hits collection last week, but this is honestly one of the best examples of his music that is also easily accessible–many of his original albums can’t be streamed, and hopefully, hearing this one will inspire you to dig further into his albums anyway. His music is some of the first exposure to older country that I ever had growing up, and it’s some I still come back to, and for good reason.

Release Date: 2004
Style: mostly countrypolitan/the Nashville sound, some more traditional country as well
Who Might Like This Album: fans of Ronnie Milsap, fans of Sam Outlaw, fans of softer country, love songs, and heartbreak ballads
Standout Tracks: “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend,” “If Hollywood Don’t Need You,” Lord, I Hope This Day is Good,” “Good Ole Boys Like Me,” “Come Early Morning,” “I’m Just a Country Boy,” “She Never Knew Me”
Reflections: You might think Sam Outlaw is an odd reference to make when referring to a classic country singer like Don Williams, but it’s the Nashville sound that Outlaw has modernized which Williams helped to make popular in the 70’s and 80’s; he wasn’t an outlaw like Merle or Willie, and his brand of country, although sprinkled with traditional songs, leans more toward the pop country of that time–which just shows you how far the term pop country has slipped, and also that it wasn’t always synonymous with crap. There’s a reason he is called “gentle giant,”–that unmistakable bass voice is known best for love songs like “I Believe in You” and heartbreak songs like “Some Broken Hearts Never Mend” than anything else. This album, and really all Don Williams music, is an easy listen. It just puts you in a good mood. It’s relaxing and simple, and it reminds you that it didn’t take grit to make timeless music.

There’s a sincerity and depth of emotion in these songs that’s hard to come by in today’s writing, and “gentle” is also the right word to describe the voice of Don Williams. I mentioned simplicity, and it shines through on “Lord, I Hope This Day is Good,” a little prayer for just that, a good day in the midst of struggle, and “Good Ole Boys Like Me,” a song that reminds you you can sing about growing up in the South without it being one giant cliché. He can share sentiments like “If Hollywood don’t need you, honey, I still do” from my personal favorite Don Williams song, or “most of all, you’re my best friend” and have them come off as sincere rather than cheesy. It could be the bass voice or simply the way you believe the words, but Don Williams has a way of selling these types of songs that would perhaps otherwise come off too sappy. I keep coming back to that word, “gentle,” which seems to describe his voice, his style, and his songs. As I said, it’s a nice, easy listen. Start with this, and work your way through his music. I have yet to find a bad Don Williams song.

Listen to Album

Female Fridays: Featuring Courtney Patton

For today’s Female Friday, I turn to the Texas scene to focus on a very underrated female, Courtney Patton.

How You Might Know Courtney

If you aren’t very familiar with the Texas scene, you probably won’t know her. If you are, she is the wife of better-known Texas artist Jason Eady.

Bio

From a 2014 interview with Galleywinter, on her musical influences:

Don Williams, James Taylor, old Willie Nelson. I love Carole King. She’s mellow, a killer songwriter back in the hippie days, and I grew up listening to that because that’s what my mom listened to. Joni Mitchell’s album Court and Spark, it’s real mellow too. Steve Wariner, ya know, like slow good, waltz-y country.

From a 2015 interview with Saving Country Music, when asked, “What is country music to Courtney Patton?”

Country music to me is simple stories with beautiful words with a simple melody and beautiful arrangement. And it’s cheap therapy to me (laughter).

Courtney Patton is gaining quite a reputation in the Texas music scene for those “simple stories with beautiful words with a simple melody and beautiful arrangement.” A singer-songwriter from Granbury, Texas, Courtney has independently released three albums, each with its own unique sound. Still Around (2008) is characterized by acoustic guitars and a mixture of traditional country and country-pop arrangements. Triggering a Flood (2013) brought Courtney her first real critical acclaim; this is a typical Texas country album, with a sound very similar to much of the red dirt music coming out of Oklahoma and Texas. So This is Life (2015) is, in Courtney’s own words, “a traditional country record”–Courtney raised funds for this on Kickstarter with this type of album in mind. So This is Life was
my introduction to Courtney, with its acoustic arrangements and excellent songwriting. I was immediately captured by her voice, and became a Courtney Patton fan the day I first heard her album. Since then, I have listened to her earlier albums as well, finding songs on both Triggering a Flood and Still Around that I enjoyed. Courtney Patton and Jason Eady have discussed a future duets album, which will likely be the next album to come from either of them, and that day cannot come soon enough because Jason Eady is incredible as well.

Since this column is about the promotion and discovery of talented females, it is important to share that in the SCM interview, Courtney was asked about females in the Texas music scene, as well as the Keith Hill controversy. It’s as hard, if not harder, for females to be successful in Texas as it is in Nashville. Courtney said,

It is incredibly hard for female artists. I’ve even admitted to being one of the females that prefers listening to men and I don’t even know why that is. I think there are a lot of really strong female writers out there right now that are proving me wrong. And that’s so great. I think that there’s always been more men since music has been around but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t just as many great women that aren’t being heard. I know that guy [Keith Hill] was a consultant and I know that he feels like he was misquoted a lot. Jason [Eady] and I went back and read what he wrote and he was just saying what he saw. But it’s a hurtful way to deliver a message that if radio stations play more women singers, their ratings will go down. I hate that. I’d like to say that’s radio’s problem for not figuring it out correctly. Our local radio guy, one of my favorite radio host’s named Shayne Hollinger, said, “There’s no reason for you not to play women because they’re out there and some of them are better than the men.” I believe that. I believe that there’s some really talented women out there that are better than some of the men that are being played. We just need to shut up and do our work and prove it. That problem has been there forever for women

Patton went on to say that men and women have different points of view and can tell different stories when writing songs.

Women are mothers and can be wise in those ways. They can be spouses to addicts and speak from being abused. There’s so many different ways to write a country song and it’s important to hear it from the woman’s perspective. Women can have subtleties that guys don’t. I don’t know. All I know is that I’m all for it (laughter). All my girlfriends are fantastic songwriters and singers and I know that much of what they’re doing can’t be done by a guy. And there’s things that guys can do that we can’t. It really takes both of us. I just hope that there’s as close to a level playing field as there can be because they deserve to be heard. I hope to be heard.

Why Courtney Belongs on Country Radio

Firstly, I am not going to use this to talk about why Texas and/or independent artists should get airplay and recognition by mainstream Nashville–that is its own point entirely and could cover multiple posts. This is about what Courtney brings to the table in the Texas scene and in country music as a whole. The answer is simple: her definition of country–“simple stories with beautiful words with a simple melody and beautiful arrangement.” Whenever someone asks you how you define “country”–and that happens a lot these days because apparently that definition has magically changed–refer them to this. Courtney Patton’s answer is the best possible answer, and her music is a wonderful reflection of her answer. Her songs tell about her parents’ divorce, (“So This is Life,”) one-night stands, (“Little Black Dress,” “Need for Wanting,” “Sure am Glad,”) marital problems, (“Battle These Blues,” “Her Next Move,” “Where I’ve Been,”) prison (“Killing Time,”)–and by the way, all those examples come from one album. That, my friends, is country. It’s raw and real, and there’s something relatable about that that Courtney Patton understands. Then, she takes all these songs and adds acoustic guitars, steel guitars, fiddles–and in the case of Triggering a Flood, a good Texas country blend of country and rock instrumentation–and her remarkable voice, and makes you feel something with nearly every song she sings. And by the way, someone needs to give Jason Aldean a Courtney Patton record, because I guarantee he will be able to tell her apart from the other women–if not, he is tone deaf and no one should be taking him seriously anyway.

Tracks I Recommend

1. “War of Art”–So This is Life
2. “Lamplight”–Triggering a Flood
3. “Need for Wanting”–So This is Life
4. “So This is Life”–So This is Life
5. “Little Black Dress”–So This is Life
6. “Where I’ve Been”–So This is Life [by the way, Jason Eady wrote this, which accounts for part of its awesomeness]
7. “Sure Am Glad”–So This is Life
8. “Better Man”–Triggering a Flood
9. “Light Fades”–Triggering a Flood
10. “Twelve Days”–So This is Life
11. “Ain’t Lovin’ Like This”–Triggering a Flood
12. “Still Around”–Still Around

Listen to Triggering a Flood

Listen to So This is Life