THE9513.COM – Jamey Johnson Single Review
JAMEY JOHNSON – “Macon”
By Blake Boldt
June 24th, 2010
So often dubbed the savior of traditional country, Jamey Johnson has invited such lavish praise by virtue of his rough-and-tumble baritone and rich, incisive songwriting. His 2008 album That Lonesome Song was the gritty snapshot of a humbled man veering towards his emotional abyss. Often the darkness grew so thick that he leaned on booze and bad women for temporary relief.
Johnson defies the conventions of modern-day country music with those matter-of-fact tales of sin and redemption. When he snuck onto radio playlists with the CMA Award-winning saga “In Color,” it seemed like a mini-revolt against the slick pop styles of recent times. Even his appearance is at odds with today’s popular tastes. The bearded bard stands out in a crowd of fresh-faced kids who have turned CMT into a running cycle of Abercrombie ads.
There’s more to the man, though, than just heartbreak, hard times and facial hair. “Macon,” the first single from his upcoming double album The Guitar Song, is a lusty Southern rock track, with Johnson pining for his woman on a Georgia highway. As a traveling musician, he’s often performing hundreds of miles from where the home fires burn. That distance has left him hot and bothered, longing for the sweet touch he’ll savor upon his return.
As usual, Johnson gives a neat twist to an age-old theme. Outlaw troubadours like Waylon and Willie and even Johnson himself have sung convincingly about the temptations of the open road. At times, they might’ve solicited and even surrendered to these attractions. On “Macon,” though, Johnson is focused squarely on being faithful to the point of impatience. “The faster I go, the more I know about waitin’ too damn long,” he growls. He presents a reality that’s none too rare among weary working travelers. Their struggle is shared.
“Macon” is a slow-burning number that begins with a sweeping piano intro that slides right into a steel-laden arrangement. Its decidedly retro harmonies are supplied by a female chorus cooing sweetly in agreement with his randy reflections on life and all-night lovemaking. If That Lonesome Song announced him as the genre’s premier singer-songwriter, “Macon” is further proof that Johnson will enjoy a long and fruitful reign.