EAST BAY EXPRESS - Jamey Johnson CD Review
The Guitar Song
By J. poet
It took a while for folks to cotton to hard-luck honky-tonk singer Jamey Johnson. No one paid attention to his excellent debut, The Dollar, and his second album, That Lonesome Song, was a hard sell, too — probably because it documented the disintegration of his marriage. Still, it ultimately caught the eye of Mercury Records head Luke Lewis, won a Best Album nomination from the Country Music Association, and slowly went gold.
The Guitar Song is the ambitious follow-up, a 25-song two-disc set with no power ballads or concessions to pop. The first album, Black, delivers tales of darkness and depression taken at funereal tempos. "Lonely at the Top" deals with the tribulations of fame, with a working-class twist. When he sings It might be lonely at the top, but it's a bitch at the bottom, you can feel a cynical sneer on his lips. "Baby Don't Cry" is a lullaby that uses fairy tale images to describe the terrors of childhood. "That's How I Don't Love You" is an alcoholic's torch song delivered in a desperate growl. "Even the Skies Are Blue" is a lament with hints of George Jones in the phrasing.
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