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Jamey Johnson|The Guitar Song

The Guitar Song

Jamey Johnson

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When was the last time anybody in country music released a double studio album? Following up his stellar 2008 recording, That Lonesome Song, songwriter Jamey Johnson returns with the ambitious, sprawling 25-track The Guitar Song. The set's two discs are divided into thematic halves: the Black Album concerns itself primarily with darker, more complex situations in life, love, and loss, and the White Album focuses on more redemptive themes. It's not as simple as that, however; there is a yin-and-yang effect too, as evidenced by "Playing the Part," from the Black Album, which is an upbeat tune about surviving bad times in Hollywood. Likewise, "California Riots" is a nasty thumping outlaw number about sheer survival, but it's on the White Album. That balance is a part of Johnson's gift. Songs find their own way. The Guitar Song is uncompromising. Johnson's own accomplished road band -- consisting of players symbiotically sympathetic to the material -- provides the backing, and he gives his musicians room to really play, whether it's honky tonk Southern rock or bedroom or back-porch ballads. The sound is rougher edged than contemporary country; it comes from the Waylon Jennings/Hank Jr./David Allan Coe era. It rocks, but it also rolls. Johnson's chameleon-like ability as a writer and singer also affords him the luxury to collaborate with many of Nashville's current writing crop as well as veterans, all without compromising his vision as a narrative songwriter. He allows tough topics to rise from the heart and speak directly with whatever emotions they carry coming to the fore. Check the title track (with a guest appearance by Bill Anderson); the broken love songs "Heartache," "Cover Your Eyes" and "Thankful for the Rain"; the brutally lonesome "That's How I Don't Love You Anymore"; the Merle Haggard-influenced "Even the Skies Are Blue" and "Good Morning Sunrise" (which are the best vocal performances on the album); the front-porch reminiscence in "By the Seat of Your Pants"; the tough, soulful, gospel-influenced blues of "Macon"; and the lilting closer, "My Way to You." Likewise, his choice of covers -- including "Lonely at the Top" (a little-known Keith Whitley honky tonk tune), Mel Tillis' classic "Mental Revenge," Hank Cochran's "Set "Em Up Joe," and Kris Kristofferson's forlorn "For the Good Times" -- are all executed with the necessary spit, grit, and empathy, and display Johnson's considerable talent as an interpretive singer. The arguments as to whether The Guitar Song is as good as the beloved That Lonesome Song don't matter. What does matter is what The Guitar Song accomplishes: it makes plain the music contemporary country is trying to erase, while being a thoroughly accessible modern offering. Given its wonderfully crafted and performed material and stellar production, it is the country album of 2010.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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The Guitar Song

Jamey Johnson

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1
Lonely At The Top (Album Version)
00:03:13

Don Cook, ComposerLyricist - Keith Whitley, ComposerLyricist - Jim "Moose" Brown, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - John Scott, Synthesizer, AssociatedPerformer - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Kennedy, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Chick Raines, ComposerLyricist - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

2
Cover Your Eyes (Album Version)
00:03:44

Jim "Moose" Brown, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Bobby Bare, ComposerLyricist - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - Dave McAfee, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

3
Poor Man Blues (Album Version)
00:03:31

Fred Mandel, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Rains, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Brian Allen, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Chris Powell, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Jason Cope, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

4
Set 'Em Up Joe (Album Version)
00:02:47

Hank Cochran, ComposerLyricist - John Scott, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - BUDDY CANNON, ComposerLyricist - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - DEAN DILLON, ComposerLyricist - Mike Kennedy, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Vern Gosden, ComposerLyricist - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

5
Playing The Part (Album Version)
00:04:29

Shane Minor, ComposerLyricist - Jim "Moose" Brown, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - Dave McAfee, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

6
Baby Don't Cry (Album Version)
00:03:27

George Teren, ComposerLyricist - Fred Mandel, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Brian Allen, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Chris Powell, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

7
Heaven Bound (Album Version)
00:02:39

"Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - Dave McAfee, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

8
Can't Cash My Checks (Album Version)
00:07:17

Fred Mandel, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - James Otto, ComposerLyricist - Shannon Lawson, ComposerLyricist - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Brian Allen, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Chris Powell, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Jason Cope, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

9
That's How I Don't Love You (Album Version)
00:03:55

Jim "Moose" Brown, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Dean Miller, ComposerLyricist - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - Dave McAfee, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

10
Heartache (Album Version)
00:05:20

Jim "Moose" Brown, Hammond B3, AssociatedPerformer - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Rivers Rutherford, Acoustic Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - Dave McAfee, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

11
Mental Revenge (Album Version)
00:04:21

Mel Tillis, ComposerLyricist - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Dobro, AssociatedPerformer - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - Dave McAfee, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

12
Even The Skies Are Blue (Album Version)
00:03:54

Jim "Moose" Brown, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Rivers Rutherford, Acoustic Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - Dave McAfee, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

DISCO 2

1
By The Seat Of Your Pants (Album Version)
00:06:28

Carson Chamberlain, ComposerLyricist - Jim "Moose" Brown, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - TEDDY GENTRY, ComposerLyricist - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - Dave McAfee, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

2
California Riots (Album Version)
00:06:21

Jim "Moose" Brown, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Lee Miller, ComposerLyricist - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - Dave McAfee, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

3
Dog In The Yard (Album Version)
00:03:25

Jim "Moose" Brown, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - BUDDY CANNON, ComposerLyricist - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - Dave McAfee, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

4
The Guitar Song
00:03:24

Bill Anderson, Vocals, FeaturedArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Vicky McGehee, ComposerLyricist - Fred Mandel, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Mark Raines, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Chris Powell, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

5
That's Why I Write Songs (Album Version)
00:04:05

Chris DuBois, ComposerLyricist - Ashley Gorley, ComposerLyricist - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

6
Macon (Album Version)
00:04:18

Fred Mandel, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Rains, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Brian Allen, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kacey Coppola, ComposerLyricist - Chris Powell, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

7
Thankful For The Rain (Album Version)
00:02:59

David Lee Murphy, ComposerLyricist - Vicky McGehee, ComposerLyricist - Fred Mandel, Hammond B3, AssociatedPerformer - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Mark Raines, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Brian Allen, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Chris Powell, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Jason Cope, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

8
Good Morning Sunrise (Album Version)
00:03:56

Arlis Albritton, Producer, ComposerLyricist - Keith Gattis, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Michael Spriggs, Acoustic Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Jamey Johnson, MainArtist - Chris Powell, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Mark Crum, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - John Henry Trinko, Piano, AssociatedPerformer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

9
Front Porch Swing Afternoon (Album Version)
00:04:39

Larry Shell, ComposerLyricist - BUDDY CANNON, ComposerLyricist - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - Dave McAfee, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

10
I Remember You (Album Version)
00:04:50

Shane Minor, ComposerLyricist - Jim "Moose" Brown, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - John Scott, Hammond B3, AssociatedPerformer - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Kennedy, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

11
Good Times Ain't What They Used To Be (Album Version)
00:03:04

"Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Dallas Davidson, ComposerLyricist - Mark Rains, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jim McCormick, ComposerLyricist - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer, ComposerLyricist - Brian Allen, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Chris Powell, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

12
For The Good Times (Album Version)
00:04:01

Kris Kristofferson, ComposerLyricist - Jim "Moose" Brown, Piano, AssociatedPerformer - John Scott, Synthesizer, AssociatedPerformer - "Cowboy" Eddie Long, Steel Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Mike Kennedy, Drums, AssociatedPerformer - T.W. Cargile, Mixer, Recording Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Randy Leroy, Mastering Engineer, StudioPersonnel - Jamey Johnson, Acoustic Guitar, MainArtist, AssociatedPerformer - Wayd Battle, Electric Guitar, AssociatedPerformer - Kevin "Swine" Grantt, AssociatedPerformer, Bass (Vocal) - Phillip Stein, Production Coordinator, StudioPersonnel - The Kent Hardly Playboys, Producer

℗ 2010 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

13
My Way To You (Album Version)
00:05:20

Jamey Johnson, MainArtist, ComposerLyricist

℗ 2009 Mercury Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.

Descripción del álbum

When was the last time anybody in country music released a double studio album? Following up his stellar 2008 recording, That Lonesome Song, songwriter Jamey Johnson returns with the ambitious, sprawling 25-track The Guitar Song. The set's two discs are divided into thematic halves: the Black Album concerns itself primarily with darker, more complex situations in life, love, and loss, and the White Album focuses on more redemptive themes. It's not as simple as that, however; there is a yin-and-yang effect too, as evidenced by "Playing the Part," from the Black Album, which is an upbeat tune about surviving bad times in Hollywood. Likewise, "California Riots" is a nasty thumping outlaw number about sheer survival, but it's on the White Album. That balance is a part of Johnson's gift. Songs find their own way. The Guitar Song is uncompromising. Johnson's own accomplished road band -- consisting of players symbiotically sympathetic to the material -- provides the backing, and he gives his musicians room to really play, whether it's honky tonk Southern rock or bedroom or back-porch ballads. The sound is rougher edged than contemporary country; it comes from the Waylon Jennings/Hank Jr./David Allan Coe era. It rocks, but it also rolls. Johnson's chameleon-like ability as a writer and singer also affords him the luxury to collaborate with many of Nashville's current writing crop as well as veterans, all without compromising his vision as a narrative songwriter. He allows tough topics to rise from the heart and speak directly with whatever emotions they carry coming to the fore. Check the title track (with a guest appearance by Bill Anderson); the broken love songs "Heartache," "Cover Your Eyes" and "Thankful for the Rain"; the brutally lonesome "That's How I Don't Love You Anymore"; the Merle Haggard-influenced "Even the Skies Are Blue" and "Good Morning Sunrise" (which are the best vocal performances on the album); the front-porch reminiscence in "By the Seat of Your Pants"; the tough, soulful, gospel-influenced blues of "Macon"; and the lilting closer, "My Way to You." Likewise, his choice of covers -- including "Lonely at the Top" (a little-known Keith Whitley honky tonk tune), Mel Tillis' classic "Mental Revenge," Hank Cochran's "Set "Em Up Joe," and Kris Kristofferson's forlorn "For the Good Times" -- are all executed with the necessary spit, grit, and empathy, and display Johnson's considerable talent as an interpretive singer. The arguments as to whether The Guitar Song is as good as the beloved That Lonesome Song don't matter. What does matter is what The Guitar Song accomplishes: it makes plain the music contemporary country is trying to erase, while being a thoroughly accessible modern offering. Given its wonderfully crafted and performed material and stellar production, it is the country album of 2010.
© Thom Jurek /TiVo

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