Sunday, 2 May 2010

Josh Thompson - Way Out Here

I’d never heard of Josh Thompson until my mate Jeff borowed me this, his debut album. First impressions from the cover photo weren’t good. A ponytail ain’t my cup of tea until it’s on some blonde waitress in a little summer dress. As Jeff likes to say, "that doesn’t make me shallow does it?"

Josh Thompson was born in the late 70’s in Cedarburg, Wisconsin. The state might have spawned Bob Timmers, but it isn’t renowned for being a country music breeding spot. Thompson moved to Nashville five years ago as a songwriter and last year landed a recording contract with Columbia’s Nashville division. This is his debut album for them and there’s a handful of excellent numbers. He had a hand in writing all ten songs, all but one with co-writers. And what a high profile bunch of buddies to have with David Lee Murphy (Party Crowd, A Little Dust On The Bottle) collaborating on two numbers, Rhett Atkins (I Brake For Brunettes, Friday Night In Dixie) and George Ducas. It’s good to see Ducas on the scene, I loved his 90’s debut with the likes of Lipstick Promises, Teardrops and My World Stopped Turning.

The title track, Way Out Here pretty much tells you what the album is about and you’d swear this guy was a chest thumping redneck, “Our houses are protected by the good Lord and a gun, And you might meet ‘em both if you show up here not welcome son”. The chorus emphasises the point, “We’re about John Wayne, Johnny Cash and John Deere, Way out here”.

Other highlights of the set include the country rocker, You Ain’t Seen Country Yet, with the disturbing line, “if you ain’t made love to a Haggard cassette, well you ain’t seen country yet”. Now I’m a pretty big Merle fan myself, but I’ve never been tempted to put my pecker in one of his cassettes!

A Name In This Town is witty, with lines like “I still hold the land speed record down County Road 509, Judge Taylor said he was real impressed but wouldn’t waive the fine”. Another one I really liked was the opener, Beer On The Table which reminded me of the Not A Moment Too Soon Tim McGraw era, back when he was good. McGraw was country back, now the tastiest thing he does is Faith Hill.

There’s a couple of decent ballads in Sinners and the clever, I Won’t Go Crazy. Talking of crazy, Blame It On Waylon is also really good. It does just what it says on the tin and fades out to a Waylon beat complete with the Hoss guitar.

The album peaked at number 9 in the country charts and even made 28 on the pop charts, so Columbia and Thompson will no doubt be back for another ride next year. As for the singles, I see that Beer On The Table peaked at 17 whilst the tile track has just entered the top 40. An entertaining album that although it nods towards soft rock, stays the right side of country, and always has a clever or funny lyric thrown in.

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