That Lonesome Song - Review
There's a new man in Black in Nashville. Jamey Johnson's monochrome color scheme begins with his denim-and-leather wardrobe and extends to his songs — tales of drug abuse and marital ruin sketched in shades of black and blacker. "I had a job and a piece of land/My sweet wife was my best friend/But I traded that for cocaine and a whore," he croaks in "High Cost of Living." Johnson, a 32-year-old former Marine from Alabama, keeps his music rugged and gothic — stark honky-tonk ballads awash in weeping pedal steel — and makes no secret of his love for George Jones, Waylon Jennings and other grandees.
Country has no shortage of wanna-be outlaw neotraditionalists, but Johnson's songs are crisper and more tuneful than most. And much grimmer. In the title track, Johnson is a broken man who wakes up in his Chevy with "whiskey eyes and ashtray breath." In the menacingly bluesy "Mowin' Down the Roses," he goes through the house collecting his ex's things and torches them "on a burn pile in the back." Even in the album's jauntiest song, "Women," Johnson's jokes have an undertone of rueful self-loathing. "Women keep our heads spinning," he sings. "I just can't ever seem to make one stay."