Out Today: Jamey Johnson

by

comment

playback-jamey-johnson.jpg

JAMEY JOHNSON
The Guitar Song
(Mercury)

Jamey Johnson’s The Guitar Song is both the most conventional and unconventional country album you’ll hear this year. Its main theme is a country-music favorite: redemption. But this two-CD concept album about a self-destructive musician who eventually sees the light is an ambitious song cycle that travels new paths to get to an ages-old subject. With his beefy build and hobo beard, the 35-year-old Alabama native looks like the most badass guy in the room. And he often sings with a twangy swagger that’s equal parts sentimental and menacing. He’s a Lynyrd Skynyrd fan with a serious jones for the Hank Williams songbook, and both sides fight it out for space on the terrific The Guitar Song, which divides its two discs into “Black” and “White” parts. The 25 songs start dark (the opening cut is called “Lonely at the Top”) and work their way toward deliverance. “Taking depression pills in the Hollywood hills,” sings the record’s protagonist in “Playing the Part,” shortly before he bottoms out. By the time he swings through “Macon” and makes his way to “Front Porch Swing Afternoon,” Johnson (or The Guitar Song’s country-music star — it’s not clear if they’re the same person) deserves a little peace. But that doesn’t mean he won’t do some hell-raising on Saturday night from time to time. —Michael Gallucci

Follow us on Twitter: @clescenemusic

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.