I don’t usually review singles on this blog. I think any craftsman worth their salt releases a whole body of work and it should be heard as such. I don’t give a shit about the charts or the downloadable single mentality. I prefer to tackle the whole of a work because I think it’s most fair to someone that has poured blood, sweat and tears into 10 or more songs. I prefer to focus my attention on good music and good music is never produced to be sliced out like bologna.
But here I go reviewing a single. This is because Jamey Johnson is no typical artists and his damn full length isn’t out until Fall and his newly release single, My Way To You, is all I have to tide me over until then.
The song begins like many of the songs on Johnson’s excellent previous effort (and now certified Gold) – That Lonesome Song. A far off chill of pedal steel cries out and is met with an acoustic guitar. High-living, hell-raising and regret. Living on the edge and living to come back to set it all to music. The story Johnson tells, with his eerily Waylon-like baritone, is a country music chestnut most eloquently told by Johnson himself on his last release’s’ High Cost Of Living (penned by Johnson and James Slater)
Sure Johnson is repeating himself from that song, but it’s a sin many have committed and he does it so damn well he gets a pass. Where the song breaks down for me is when this lonesome confessional rocks out. Yes, I said rocks out. First there is the piano that seems a bit tickly for the subject matter. Then the drums thunder in as if it were a Springsteen epic. Then the electric guitar squeals in like it was some Poison rock ballad. It’s just too much all over the place and way off target.
Johnson still brings the goods and this song is still better than 99.99% of what’s on mainstream country radio. But I’m using his own benchmark album as a measure here. And though the song is a familiar theme and works deftly in his able hands, the arrangement detracts from him and it’s tone of solemn redemption.
Look I know a case can be made that the big “BOOMING” ending is the cathartic part of his rising like A pheonix from his sordid past and blah blah blah… I’,m not buying it and I just hope when the proper release is dropped all the bombastic fat is stripped out and Johnson is allowed to be the raw talent that has made him part of the new wave of Outlaw heroes.