Monday, February 08, 2010
Review: Josh Turner's Haywire
Josh Turner- "Why Don't We Just Dance" (YouTube video stream)
I got chills the first time I heard the title track of Randy Travis' "Storms of Life." References to Montgomery Ward, a Ford pickup, chicken wings and a six pack spilled out of my car radio in the first thirty seconds of the old-fashioned weeper. Now, that's country! Along with Dwight Yoakam, Steve Earle and Marty Stuart, Travis was part of a traditionalist country revival that was destined to forever rid the airwaves of the likes of Barbara Mandrell, Anne Murray and Restless Heart.
Or so I thought.
I had a similar reaction when Josh Turner's soulful Christian admonishment "Long Black Train" hit a few years ago. Turner clearly shared Travis' love of George Jones and both men specialize in chest-rattling low notes. Maybe Turner was the antidote to the nation's unhealthy infatuation with Rascal Flatts.
I was fooled again.
Haywire, Turner's new album, is a perfectly-conceived, immaculately-produced crossover country album. I don't like it.
The album is a tribute to domestic bliss. Rather than consummating a relationship in a sordid motel, Turner croons "Let's Find a Church." Turner's idea of getting rowdy on "Friday Paycheck," the album's obligatory honky tonk song, is shouting out a request for Johnny Cash. He assures a child that he's a "monster-runner-offer" on "As Fast As I Could." And do I really need to give away the subject of "The Answer"? (It's Jesus, silly!)
The prim and proper Haywire will likely be one of the top-selling albums of 2010. While I can picture myself enjoying the album as I tailgate in mixed company before a Carrie Underwood or Brad Paisley concert, it's not what I want from country music. I demand songs about pain, drinking and cheating. Great voice or not, I don't need a guy who rhymes "sunshine" with "good times."
I'm considering buying the deluxe version of Incense and Wine, the latest album by Miles Bonny, mostly because I covet the engraved flask that comes with the package.
Sir John Dankforth has died.
Killer Strayhorn perform Monday at Jardine's.