Music

John Anderson: Easy Money

Despite a few up-tempo numbers, John Anderson’s latest record is proof of why he was (and still is) such a great talent in traditional country circles.


John Anderson

Easy Money

Label: Warner Brothers Nashville
US Release Date: 2007-05-15
UK Release Date: Available as import
Amazon
iTunes

There's twang, then there's real twang, and then you have John Anderson. Like so many other artists who were big in the country realm a few decades ago, Anderson's career was still chugging along but with less attention paid to it. Fortunately, the people that are Big & Rich never forgot about those who came before them. And while this record might not have any of those signature hits such as "Swingin'" and "1959", it certainly proves that Anderson can still make you yearn for old-school country radio.

Anderson has his sound updated somewhat Easy Money, especially the radio-friendly opening tune that also happens to be the title track. Having much more of a pop or rock flavoring than what he might be accustomed to, Anderson sounds just a bit out of his niche but the arrangement ensures that it still generally works. Anderson rocks out a bit during the homestretch while some fiddles and electric guitar are thrown in for good measure. But Anderson is far more comfortable on the acoustic-leaning ballad "A Woman Knows" which shows his pipes quite well. Unlike the opening number, Anderson doesn't seem to be pushing himself on the song. Instead the gentle country song is coming to him.

Although no credits are given on each song, Anderson has some help on the record: Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and a guitar solo from Keith Urban being a few names to hang your hat on. "Funky Country" sounds like it was about to be recorded by Big & Rich but they decided to give it to Anderson. It's again just a bit of a stretch but the hooks keep you interested with its obligatory funky feel as he sings about raising hell and making people move. Again though, Anderson comes home with another slower, tender ballad called "Bonnie Blue" as Joe Spivey provides some subtle but important fiddle to accent the song nicely. And it's here where things go to another level, with Anderson nailing the Celtic-tinged song perfectly as it creeps just over six minutes.

By now you probably know the way this album is heading, so yes, Anderson follows this gem up with another up-tempo but rather average tune delivered with much more passion than the first two. Again his voice is front-and-center, but it still falls short of what he is best at. This is the case with the slower, mid-tempo, and elementary country approach with "Something to Drink About" which could have been the b-side to "Swingin'" or "1959". This might be the second best tune of the 11 on the album and seems to soar with the slightest of ease.

The momentum continues with the haunting and barren "Weeds" as Anderson again finds himself alone with his thoughts while a pedal steel is heard in the background. The tune slowly picks up but it sounds like a natural progression and in no rush to become a toe-tapping ditty. But Anderson gets a bit sappy with the piano-fuelled pop ballad of "You Already Know My Love" which sounds more in line with Keane than anything in the country realm. While not quite as adorable as "Weeds", the song should be one you find yourself cozying up to after a couple of listens.

The lone up-tempo song that gels from start to finish is "Brown Liquor" which isn't too glossy but much more honky-tonky as Anderson talks about going crazy quicker and getting t-t-t-tongued tied. However, it's the wistful and waltz-like "Willie's Guitar" which talks about the hole in Willie Nelson's guitar. Although a bit odd, it definitely works quite well as Nelson brings his signature voice in during the homestretch.

Overall, while it could do without a couple of the up-tempo contemporary numbers, Easy Money is basically money in the bank.

6

Cover down, pray through: Bob Dylan's underrated, misunderstood "gospel years" are meticulously examined in this welcome new installment of his Bootleg series.

"How long can I listen to the lies of prejudice?
How long can I stay drunk on fear out in the wilderness?"
-- Bob Dylan, "When He Returns," 1979

Bob Dylan's career has been full of unpredictable left turns that have left fans confused, enthralled, enraged – sometimes all at once. At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival – accompanied by a pickup band featuring Mike Bloomfield and Al Kooper – he performed his first electric set, upsetting his folk base. His 1970 album Self Portrait is full of jazzy crooning and head-scratching covers. In 1978, his self-directed, four-hour film Renaldo and Clara was released, combining concert footage with surreal, often tedious dramatic scenes. Dylan seemed to thrive on testing the patience of his fans.

Keep reading... Show less
9
TV

Inane Political Discourse, or, Alan Partridge's Parody Politics

Publicity photo of Steve Coogan courtesy of Sky Consumer Comms

That the political class now finds itself relegated to accidental Alan Partridge territory along the with rest of the twits and twats that comprise English popular culture is meaningful, to say the least.

"I evolve, I don't…revolve."
-- Alan Partridge

Alan Partridge began as a gleeful media parody in the early '90s but thanks to Brexit he has evolved into a political one. In print and online, the hopelessly awkward radio DJ from Norwich, England, is used as an emblem for incompetent leadership and code word for inane political discourse.

Keep reading... Show less

The show is called Crazy Ex-Girlfriend largely because it spends time dismantling the structure that finds it easier to write women off as "crazy" than to offer them help or understanding.

In the latest episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, the CW networks' highly acclaimed musical drama, the shows protagonist, Rebecca Bunch (Rachel Bloom), is at an all time low. Within the course of five episodes she has been left at the altar, cruelly lashed out at her friends, abandoned a promising new relationship, walked out of her job, had her murky mental health history exposed, slept with her ex boyfriend's ill father, and been forced to retreat to her notoriously prickly mother's (Tovah Feldshuh) uncaring guardianship. It's to the show's credit that none of this feels remotely ridiculous or emotionally manipulative.

Keep reading... Show less
9

If space is time—and space is literally time in the comics form—the world of the novel is a temporal cage. Manuele Fior pushes at the formal qualities of that cage to tell his story.

Manuele Fior's 5,000 Km Per Second was originally published in 2009 and, after winning the Angouléme and Lucca comics festivals awards in 2010 and 2011, was translated and published in English for the first time in 2016. As suggested by its title, the graphic novel explores the effects of distance across continents and decades. Its love triangle begins when the teenaged Piero and his best friend Nicola ogle Lucia as she moves into an apartment across the street and concludes 20 estranged years later on that same street. The intervening years include multiple heartbreaks and the one second phone delay Lucia in Norway and Piero in Egypt experience as they speak while 5,000 kilometers apart.

Keep reading... Show less
7

Featuring a shining collaboration with Terry Riley, the Del Sol String Quartet have produced an excellent new music recording during their 25 years as an ensemble.

Dark Queen Mantra, both the composition and the album itself, represent a collaboration between the Del Sol String Quartet and legendary composer Terry Riley. Now in their 25th year, Del Sol have consistently championed modern music through their extensive recordings (11 to date), community and educational outreach efforts, and performances stretching from concert halls and the Library of Congress to San Francisco dance clubs. Riley, a defining figure of minimalist music, has continually infused his compositions with elements of jazz and traditional Indian elements such as raga melodies and rhythms. Featuring two contributions from Riley, as well as one from former Riley collaborator Stefano Scodanibbio, Dark Queen Mantra continues Del Sol's objective of exploring new avenues for the string quartet format.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image