I've mentioned my love for classic country music before. I am a complete sucker for that sound--Waylon, Willie, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Kris Kristofferson, you name it. Good lyrics about hard lives with a twanging guitar. Gets me every time.

So, flipping channels a few weeks ago, I stopped when I saw Shooter Jennings. I like Shooter Jennings--don't love him, haven't bought an album, but have been interested in what I've heard. And then I saw that he was singing with another man. A bearded dude who reminded me a whole lot of a country version of a younger James Hetfield. They were singing a song about "between Jennings and Jones." And two verses in, I was hooked.

Jamey Johnson is the first musician I've heard since the day I was introduced to Grace Potter & the Nocturnals several years ago that has really struck any cord at all with me. And as I listened to him swap songs with Shooter, I liked him more every time he opened his mouth. That gravel voice, soft Alabama accent, no-bullshit guitar. Wonderful.

5678a2bc-543a-4114-be02-e940b9d39578.jpgAs soon as the show was over, I hopped on iTunes and looked for the album with the Jennings and Jones song on it. I found out it was Johnson's first studio album, "That Lonesome Song", and decided to take a chance, spend my $10, and buy the whole record.

Every song on it is good. And a few of them are great. I think my favorite is Mary Go Round, but I'd probably tell you different on another day. The lyrics are poetic, but straightforward, and the music is all traditional country, with an occasional moment that makes you think a bit of southern rock (think Skynyrd). The influences are pretty clear--I can't help but hear Merle Haggard in The Cost of Living High and Waylon himself on Between Jennings and Jones, and the pun of Mary Go Round is all Kristofferson--but this is a tribute more than an impersonation, and Johnson's original songs are so good I didn't for a second wish he would just give up and do covers (which tends to be the case whenever I hear anybody with a good classic country voice).

So, now that I have That Lonesome Song more or less memorized, I'm going to buy Johnson's second studio album, the double "The Guitar Song" as soon as it comes out in September. And these are the first records I've bought in years, y'all. Even with Grace Potter, I was satisfied to buy one. This is a big endorsement coming from me.

So if you like classic country, here's what I want you to do. Go here and watch the video for "In Color" or here to watch "Mowin' Down the Roses." Look how cute he is! Listen to how great those songs are! Then run out and buy his CD or his MP3s. Then come back and thank me.


Absolutely agree on JJ. I first heard In Color and became an instant fan. It would be hard to name my second favorite. Between Jennings and Jones comes close. For Classic Country today, he is to me the greatest singer on the charts.

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