Tag Archives: Lee Ann Womack

Memorable Songs From Overlooked Albums: November 20th

Well, during my last one of these, I said we’d probably have another soon because I already had a few in mind, but after that, I took a break, and also there weren’t as many forgettable/mediocre albums from which to draw material. This time, I think there will be another one soon, as I wrap up the year. You might even see some next time that came out before these songs, as we go through the back burner and try to get to things we’ve missed throughout the year. For now, we’ll get to some of the more recent ones and throw in a couple that have been waiting their turn for awhile. Y’all know the routine: songs from albums we didn’t cover due to time constraints, good songs from mediocre and forgettable albums, and songs from albums neither of us had much to say about but which we still felt deserved a feature.

Margo Price: “Don’t Say It”

Yes, I found Margo Price’s second album, All American Made, incredibly boring most of the way through. This was a great opener, and I also enjoyed “Weakness,”–not featured here because it was covered in Brianna’s review of her EP–but after that, it was just so sleepy. As someone who enjoyed her debut record, I was looking forward to this, and it just didn’t resonate with me. I know I’m in the minority here, and that’s part of why these features exist, to provide a space to highlight stuff I otherwise couldn’t write about and give you an opportunity to fall in love with it if you so choose.

Margo Price: “Pay Gap”

One rare moment of energy on Price’s album came here, as she candidly explored the problem of unequal pay for women. The upbeat atmosphere contrasts with the seriousness of the lyrics in a way that really works and serves to elevate the message.

Lee Ann Womack: “The Lonely, the Lonesome, and the Gone”

This one is a decent album, it’s just one I don’t have much to say about, and with the time constraints as we near the end of 2017, I don’t have time to think of words. It seemed like for every good track on her latest record, the next one or two lost me. Still, there are more good ones here than the two I’ll showcase, and of the albums listed here, this is the one I’d recommend checking out over the others. The title track is one of the strongest and also one that seems to be getting a bit underrated in terms of the songs that we’re, you know, supposed to like here.

Lee Ann Womack: “Mama Lost Her Smile”

As I say, there are others worth checking out here besides the tracks featured–most notably, the cover of “Long Black veil”–but this one is certainly deserving of all the attention it’s received. Probably the universal favorite, this one describes looking at old photographs and wondering just when and why her mother started to look unhappy. Lee Ann’s interpretive ability is on full display here.

Christian Lopez: “Swim the River”

Once again, probably in the minority here, but I just cannot get into Christian Lopez. This isn’t a terrible album, it falls into the mediocre category as well, but one thing Christian can do very well is love songs. This opener is a good example.

Christian Lopez: “Silver Line”

Another place where the potential and personality in Lopez shines forth on Red Arrow; not coincidentally, also another love song. There’s also some cool fiddle here which makes everything better.

Lindsay Ell: “Worth the Wait”

And now to the mainstream for a couple songs that I almost didn’t include here because they’ve been out since August and indeed, would have made that list that was supposed to happen shortly after the last one. But then I told myself the whole point of this is to highlight stuff that’s been overlooked, so I should do that anyway, even though it’s November now. First is the final track on Lindsay Ell’s debut album, The Project, and it’s one of the only times she actually seems to be being herself, not to mention one of the only moments you can sort of call country.

Brett Eldredge: “Cycles”

Brett Eldredge isn’t the problem with the mainstream, but he’s also not the solution, and this is honestly the only thing I can remember from his self-titled album. That said, this is a really nicely written song that explores the on-again, off-again relationship thing quite well.

The Lone Bellow: “Deeper in the Water”

Okay, so best for last, as always. I knew nothing by this group until I put on Walk Into a Storm and fell in love with this song. And then? Not much happened after that. But this one is the one I’ve been most looking forward to putting on this list.

Collaborative Review: Chris Stapleton–From a Room, Volume 1

Ok, so we thought we’d try something different for this review, and if it works and you all enjoy it, we may do this on occasion for more albums in the future. Brianna and I each came into this album with very different opinions of Stapleton’s prior work; while we were both fans, she was more impressed by Traveller than I was, and a self-described Stapleton fan, and although I really enjoyed that album, I felt it was a bit too long and not quite on the level assigned to it by some critics. We both felt his unprecedented sweep of the 2015 CMA’s and subsequent historic success to be well-deserved and have both looked forward to this album. And, while we’ve both enjoyed Chris Stapleton’s second record, different songs and aspects spoke to each of us once again–it goes back to that whole “music is subjective” thing that Leon of Country Music Minds and I seemingly discuss every five minutes. So with that in mind, we thought we’d share our opinions together and just have a conversation about the music.

Track Listing

1. “Broken Halos”
Brianna: “Broken Halos” is a really nice way to open this album. From the opening acoustic guitar to Chris Stapleton’s voice, I was immediately drawn in by this song. I like the lyrics too, which are admittedly a bit vague, but seem to speak on how people help us, but eventually leave. This song has continued to grow on me with each listen. It’s one of my favorites off this album.
Megan: See, I would disagree slightly. I think it’s a really solid song, but it doesn’t draw me in as an opener like “Traveller” did off his last album. I think it’s the vagueness in the lyrics you mentioned. There’s no doubt his voice and that guitar make you want to listen, but for me, it’s not a strong opener.
Brianna: The vagueness is the one thing I’d change about that song.
2. Last Thing I Needed, First Thing This Morning”
Megan: Wow, what a song this is. It’s a nice Willie Nelson cover, and the harmonies with his wife Morgane are always great. Although, and I’m probably going to be unpopular for saying this, I sort of feel like with this, and later on with another cover, he’s trying to manufacture another “Tennessee Whiskey” moment. And I’m just not sure that’s happening again. Still love this though.
Brianna: I never knew it was a cover until you told me, but I agree with you on feeling like he’s trying to make another “Tennessee Whiskey.” I really like the song, but at the same time, I don’t love it either. I won’t keep saying it, but his voice is fantastic. OH, and I like the imagery in the lyrics, but I guess that doesn’t really come into play here since it’s a cover.
Megan: I think it still does, to some degree. I mean, he did choose a good cover lol.
3. “Second One to Know”
Brianna: The more upbeat music on this track was a really nice change, and the theme in the lyrics is pretty clever, since he wants to be the “second one to know” if the woman he’s with decides she’s done with the relationship. It’s really catchy since the song’s fast too. It’s not my favorite, but I do wonder why this particular song was chosen to be performed on the [ACM] awards.
Megan: I agree–I like the theme and the upbeat instrumentation. Not to harp on it any more, but if I’m Stapleton, I’m opening the album with this fun little song.
Brianna: There aren’t many upbeat songs on the album, though, so maybe that would have misled the listener. Not sure why they did a lot of things they did, though.
Megan: You make a good point here–and yeah, Mercury really screwed up a lot of things, but that’s enough for a whole other piece lol.
4. “UP to No Good Livin'”
Megan: Here’s your classic country song, complete with lots of steel. Everybody who says Stapleton’s more soul than country, it’s like this song is a giant “f you” to this notion.
Brianna: Exactly. He proves he’s country with this song. NO surprise to anyone, but it’s my favorite. The steel, the vocals, the lyrics being very witty, talking about being unable to live down being up to no good.
Megan: Yep. “I’ll probably die before I live all my up to no good livin’ down”–I’m not sure you get much more country than that.
Brianna: I love it. So much.
5. “Either Way”
Brianna: I love the acoustic production here. It really allows Chris Stapleton’s voice to be the star–which it should be on a painful song like this. It took me a moment to adjust to this version of the song, since I’ve only heard Lee Ann Womack sing it, but he’s very successful at making his version stand out. The chorus gets me every time.
Megan: Yeah, and if he’s actually going to have another “Tennessee Whiskey,” it’s going to be here, as I prefer this version. The actual lyrics are about a couple passing in the hall but barely speaking, and when he belts out, “You can go, or you can stay, I won’t love you either way,” you can’t help but feel that pain. My favorite of the album.
6. “I Was Wrong”
Megan: Well, I said Stapleton isn’t more soul than country, but he’s definitely got a lot of soul in his country, and all that comes bursting out on this heartbreak song. One of the least country moments, but also one of his best vocal performances on the record.
Brianna: Yes, I have to agree with you about how soulful this song is. What I love about Chris Stapleton is that he isn’t out of place singing in a few different genres, and that it all feels natural. Back to the song…I like that he outright admits that he was wrong to his ex, as opposed to only himself.
7. “Without Your Love”
Brianna: This is my least favorite song off this album. The chorus is very catchy, though. I like that this is the next song after “I Was Wrong,” as it could be seen as the continuation of the story. I just think this song is otherwise forgettable.
Megan: It’s my least favorite too, and it does feel like the continuation of “I Was Wrong,” as in this one, he’s missing the ex. But it also adds to it being forgettable because it comes off as the lesser version of the incredible “I Was Wrong.” ON a longer album, I don’t mind this, but on a 9-track project, it feels like filler, and you can’t afford filler on a 9-song album, especially not one as stripped-back as this.
8. “Them Stems”
Brianna: It really does, as does “Them Stems.” I like the rhythm of the song, and again, the album did need a bit of a change in tempo, but this song doesn’t grab me aside from that.
Megan: Yeah, this is where we’re total opposites. I saw SCM call this filler and call the use of pot references to be cool outdated–which it is–but sue me, this is just the fun break from the rest of the album that I needed. One of my favorites. Just makes me smile every time I hear it. Also have to love the harmonica.
Brianna: Haha, I do recognize that a fun song was needed here, so I get it. And it is catchy. I don’t hate it, but it is my second least favorite.
9. “Death Row”
Megan: It’s a nice way to close the album, mixing his soulful voice with more country lyrics about a man on death row. The only tiny criticism I have for this is that while he sings the crap out of it, I don’t quite feel his pain like I do in “Either Way” and “I was Wrong.” Doesn’t quite connect with me.
Brianna: I don’t feel it emotionally either. Also, is it just me, or is the song kind of ambiguous? I don’t know if he did it or not. The reason I say that is because he says he told Jesus everything he knew, not everything he did. Plus, his lyrics are a bit hard for me to understand when the song starts.
Brianna: I love the sparse production though. It fits perfectly.
Megan: Yes, I would agree about it being ambiguous, not quite specific enough to strike a chord. That production definitely fits it and closes the whole thing well.


So, as you can see, although we both enjoyed this quite a bit, different moments stood out to each of us. My favorites were “Either Way,” “I Was Wrong,” and “Them Stems.” Brianna’s standouts were “Up to NO Good Livin'” and “Broken Halos.” WE did agree that “Without Your Love” seemed like filler, and we each thought that while this record was solid, as a 9-song effort, it seems to still be missing something. For me, it’s an overall better effort than Traveller because that was too long, but since this was shorter, I wanted it to be nothing but brilliant songs, and it didn’t quite live up to that. Brianna considers this more a solid, consistent effort all the way through for a 7.5, while I see it as a good album with a little filler but also some standout brilliance, making it about an 8.5. So we’re going with a collective

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Album Review: Aubrie Sellers–New City Blues

Rating: 8.5/10

Often, we traditionalists are labeled by the mainstream as close-minded purists living in the past, wanting everything to sound like Hank Williams and Waylon Jennings. We can’t embrace anything new and forward-thinking. Well, sit back and listen, because I am a traditionalist reviewer about to embrace something quite new and different. Meet Aubrie Sellers, the daughter of the brilliant singer Lee Ann Womack and songwriter Jason Sellers. Aubrie comes onto the scene in a time when country music is desperate for women, for substance, and yes, for originality. She brings us a style she calls “garage country”–a blend of country, Americana, and garage rock. Much like Whitney Rose’s 2015 Heartbreaker of the Year, with its blend of traditional country and vintage pop, Aubrie’s New City Blues introduces something new to country music that you won’t have heard before–something not every listener will embrace, and something that is at times overdone and forced on this record, but something for which Aubrie Sellers will stand out and for which she should be commended.

The album opens with guitar licks, introducing us to garage country long before we meet Aubrie. This album is unapologetic in what it wants to be, unlike Cam’s recent effort, Untamed, which, though it showed Cam’s potential, struggled to say anything and find an identity. “Light of Day,” the first track, tells me two more things–I quite like garage country, and Aubrie Sellers sounds remarkably like her mother, which is an absolutely wonderful thing. “Light of Day” is infectious, the perfect way of introducing us to Aubrie Sellers and to the style. “Sit Here and Cry” is an upbeat heartbreak song, which I find quite intriguing. It features some great harmonica play, but the lyrics are nothing special, and the garage country is a bit overdone here. “Paper Doll” is a moment of complete rock–and on this song of frustration with girls acting like “paper dolls” with their “fake makeup,” this approach works. More songs like this would bring the album down, but “Paper Doll” stands out as a highlight, an experiment.

“Losing Ground” slows the album down–here, Aubrie sings of a woman who is going through a difficult time; “But I’m not crazy, I’m just losing ground,” she sings. The heartfelt honesty in this song really sells it, and I am glad this song was more strip-back, allowing Aubrie’s voice to shine, along with the lyrics. It should be noted that this is one of two songs on New City Blues solely written by Aubrie Sellers, which makes me excited for her future as a songwriter. Next is “Magazines”–a full garage country rant about the lies magazines tell women, from weight loss plans to how to get a man. It’s something that Kacey Musgraves or Brandy Clark would sing, and I am not surprised that Brandy Clark was a writer. “Magazines” seems a little overproduced; it feels like the garage country is a bit forced. “Dreaming in the Day” gets everything right–the production and the lyrics and Aubrie’s vocals go together perfectly. Here, the narrator sings of “sitting at a green light,” still thinking of the night before with her man. “Liar Liar” is another one where the production fits perfectly, telling the story of a man in a bar who is good at lying to women. “Humming Song” is the other song written solely by Sellers; it’s another strip-back moment that might sound happy and pleasant if the lyrics weren’t so sad. The woman here is heartbroken over her man falling for someone else, and writing this new woman love letters. It’s the slow, stripped-down counterpart to “Sit Here and Cry”–both are lighthearted songs on the surface, but the lyrics are actually quite dark.

“Just to be With You” returns to Aubrie’s signature garage country, complete with distortions–here, a woman is quitting her job, stealing a car, and generally being reckless in order to be with a man who lives far away. The production fits here; it is just as reckless as the lyrics. Love will make us do bizarre things, and this song does a good job of expressing that desperation. “People Talking” tells of the things people say behind our backs–Aubrie sings, “My ears only burn when they’re not around. Go on believe them, what am I to do? It’s only people talking, it’s not true.” This feels like an honest moment on the album, and because of that, I feel it is slightly overproduced. Here, the style doesn’t add to the song, it distracts from Aubrie’s voice and the lyrics.

The next three songs get the production absolutely right. “Something Special” is about a woman asking her man to do “something special, something we don’t do all the time.” It’s one of the better songs on the album, and one I keep coming back to. “Loveless Rolling Stone” is about a rambling woman who seems to be missing someone–“They say home is where the heart is, and if that’s so, I must be a loveless rolling stone”–what a line. “Like the Rain” is the most country moment on the album; it’s a song about a man who “floods my heart, then leaves it desert dry.” I am glad this song lets Aubrie’s voice shine and tell us the story. She really conveys the sadness of the woman in this song well. The album closes with the full garage country “Living is Killing Me.” Honestly, I’ve listened to this song four times, and I can’t quote a line. It’s not bad, it’s just unnecessary. Fourteen songs is generally too many for an album, and this one feels like filler, and further forces the style.

Overall, this is a great album. Aubrie Sellers has a remarkable voice, and her unique garage country style is original and suits her. Still, there are moments of overproduction, where the style is simply overdone. Having said that, this is, for the most part, an excellent debut. New City Blues brings something new to the table, and it’s definitely worth checking out.

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