Josh Turner’s New Covers Record Proves Pure Country Music Is Still Alive And Well

Courtesy: MCA Nashville

Much has been said over the years about the fate of real country music.  As with rock music, there are many who would like to say that real country music is dead.  However, artists, such as Jamey Johnson, Chris Stapleton, Hank III, and Shooter Jennings have proven that it is very much alive and well.  They are not the only artists who have proven this true.  Josh Turner has done his own share to prove that real country music is alive and well throughout his career.  His latest album Country State of Mind, which was released in June through MCA Nashville, is no exception to that rule.  The 12-song covers compilation takes listeners through so much music history with its featured songs.  They will be discussed shortly.  The arrangements featured in the songs do their own part to make the record so appealing to country music purists.  They will be discussed a little later.  The record’s sequencing rounds out its most important elements and will also be discussed later.  Each item noted here is important in its own right to the whole of the record.  All things considered, they make the compilation proof that real country music is still alive and well and that there are those who are working to make sure it stays alive.  They make the album a wonderful tribute to the roots of country music.

Josh Turner’s new covers compilation Country State of Mind is a presentation that is certain to impress any country music purist.  That is proven in part through its featured songs.  The songs in question take listeners back to country music’s earliest days and even up to the 90s, which was really the end of the golden age of country music.  The oldest of the songs featured in the recording is the Hank Williams hit song ‘Alone and Forsaken.’  The song was not officially recorded until the early 1950s, but its roots go all the way back to a radio performance in the late 1940s, and it is pure country.  It is a prime example of what made and makes Hank Williams still one of the greatest country music artists of all time. Going through history some more, the record also goes back to the 1950s with a cover of Johnny Cash’s 1959 song ‘The Caretaker,’ which itself is more of a deep cut from Cash, into the 70s, with Kris Kristofferson joining Turner for his cover of Kristofferson’s 1973 song ‘Why Me’ and even into the 90s, with a cover of Jim Lauderdale’s ‘You Don’t Deem To Miss Me’ (1997).  The song was made popular by Patty Loveless.  There are even a pair of dips into the 80s with Turner’s take on Randy Travis’ hit song ‘Forever and Ever, Amen’ (1987) — Travis joined Turner for the performance in this record – his take on the 1986 Hank Williams, Jr./Roger Alan Wade song ‘Country State of Mind.’ Putting it simply, the compilation is essentially a musical history lesson of sorts about pure country music.  Regardless of familiarity with the featured songs, it is a lesson that every listener will enjoy.  Those listeners who are less familiar with the history of country music will use this record as a strong introduction to the genre’s roots while those who are more seasoned will welcome the trip back in time just as much as those who are new to the genre.  This is just one aspect of the record that makes it so appealing.  The arrangements featured in the songs add their own value to the record.

The arrangements featured in Josh Turner’s recently released covers compilation are important to note because they show Turner’s respect for the songs that he covered here.  Case in point is his take on ‘The Caretaker.’  As Turner sings the song’s lyrics, he does something significant with his trademark baritone and makes it sound just like that of Johnny Cash.  The shortness in the notes that he sings and the simple use of the vocals and guitar makes the song sound just like Cash’s original.  The only difference between the two renditions (other than the fact that Turner replaces Cash’s name with his own in this version) is that Turner’s rendition does not have the subtle backing choral element that Cash used in his song.  That’s not a detriment, either.  It just gives Turner’s version its own identity that still pays full tribute to Cash’s original. 

Turner’s cover of ‘Forever and Ever, Amen’ is another example of the importance of the album’s arrangements.  Turner’s take on the timeless tune stays true to its source material for the most part.  At the same time, he adds a subtle extra with the use of the bluegrass influence throughout the song at various points.  The fiddle and mandolin that are audible in Turner’s take are not so much there in Travis’ original.  There is a little bit more of a twang to the guitars in Turner’s take, too.  Listening through both versions, one could actually argue that Turner’s cover is one of those songs that actually improves on the original.

Turner’s cover of Hank Williams Jr.’s ‘Country State of Mind’ is a near mirror image to Williams’ original, right down to the twang in Turner’s voice as he sings.  He and Chris Janson collectively do so much to make this rendition a full tribute to the legacy not only of the song, but of Hank Jr. right down to the famous yodel at the song’s end.  It is a full-on display of pure country music at its finest that the aforementioned listeners will appreciate and just one more example of the importance of the musical arrangements featured throughout Country State of Mind.  Together with the rest of the album’s arrangements, the whole of the record’s musical content doe even more to show why Turner’s fans and country music purists alike will enjoy the compilation.  Together with the songs themselves, the two elements collectively create a strong foundation for the compilation.  Resting atop that foundation is the record’s sequencing.

The sequencing of Country State of Mind is interesting in its own right.  That is because it never stays too happy or sad for too long throughout the record’s 41-minute run time.  It starts out on a relatively upbeat note in ‘I’m No Stranger to the Rain’ and continues in that fashion in the record’s second song, ‘I’ve Got It Made.’  From there, the record’s energy pulls back momentarily in Turner’s cover of ‘Why Me’ before picking back up again in the record’s title track.  His cover of ‘I Can Tell By The Way You Dance’ keeps the record’s energy up a little bit longer before surrendering again in ‘Alone and Forsaken.’  From this point on, the subtle ups and downs in the album’s energies is stable right to its subdued finale, that noted cover of Johnny Cash’s ‘The Caretaker.’  Looking back through the record’s arrangements, their energies clearly show a certain amount of time and thought was put into the record’s sequencing.  The result is that it never stays one way or another for too long.  This ensures in its own way, that listeners will remain engaged and entertained through this aspect just as much as through the compilation’s content.  All three elements combined make the record a compilation that while yes, it is a bunch of covers, is a record that proves without question that pure country is still alive and well.  What’s more, that Turner made the choice to take on these classic pure country tunes shows that there are those who want to keep it alive once more.

Real, pure, country music is not dead.  There is a generation of artists out there today that is doing its part to ensure this is known, despite so many critics wanting people to believe otherwise.  Josh Turner’s recently released covers compilation Country State of Mind is just the latest proof that pure country is alive.  The record’s songs serve as a musical history lesson and musical tribute to the roots of pure country all in one.  The arrangements featured within those songs add their own appeal to the compilation.  That is because they stay largely true to their source material while adding a subtle extra to each song, giving each even more enjoyment.  The sequencing of the songs and their arrangements puts the finishing touch to the record’s presentation, ensuring once and for all, listeners’ engagement and entertainment.  Each item noted is important in its own way to the whole of this record as has been pointed out here.  All things considered, they make the record a presentation that proves pure country music is alive and well and that there are those out there who are working to keep it alive.  Country State of Mind is available now.

More information on Country State of Mind is available along with all of Josh Turner’s latest news at:




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Memphis International Records’ New Charlie Rich Collection Is A Must Have For Country Music Fans

Courtesy: Memphis International Records

Courtesy: Memphis International Records

Late next month Memphis International Records will release its new Charlie Rich tribute record Feel Like Going Home: The Songs of Charlie Rich to the world.  The record, while hardly the first ever collection of the classic country singer’s songs, is definitely one of the rare Charlie Rich collections worth hearing.  That is due in part to the songs that were chosen for the record.  That will be discussed shortly.  They are only a part of what makes this record stand out.  The artists who were chosen for the compilation are just as important to note as the songs that were chosen.  That will be discussed later.  The different approaches taken to Rich’s songs rounds out the most important of the record’s elements.  Listeners will find, in hearing this record, that each element is important in its own way to the record’s presentation.  All things considered, the record in whole proves to be a piece that any classic country fan should have in his or her own music library.

Memphis International Records’ new Charlie Rich tribute record is a piece that every classic country fan (and even every country fan in general) should have in his or her own music library.  That is due in no small part to the songs chosen for the record.  Thirteen of Rich’s songs were chosen for the record, some more well-known and some not so well-known. The record’s second offering, ‘Caught in The Middle’ is one of those lesser known pieces.  The song was originally the b-side to the single ‘Who Will The Next Fool Be.’  Speaking of that song, it is also included in this compilation later in its sequencing. The record’s opening song ‘Lonely Weekends’ is one of Rich’s more well-known pieces.  It was originally a single included in Rich’s debut 1960 record Lonely Weekends With Charlie Rich.  Even ‘Midnight Blues’—originally included in Rich’s 1971 album A Time for Tears—is here along with a number of other songs that fans of all ages will enjoy. The songs are enjoyable not because they are such a solid mix of Rich’s songs from his Sun Records days, but also because of the artists tapped to record the songs.

The songs that were chosen to make up the body of Feel Like Going Home: The Songs of Charlie Rich are important to note in the record’s presentation because they represent a very distinct period in Rich’s career.  That period is Rich’s time with Sun Records.  The period specific songs are only one part of what makes this record stand out for country fans.  The artists chosen to perform the songs are just as important to note as the songs themselves.  That is due in part to the fact that the performers tapped for the project do not come only from the world of country music.  Singer/songwriter Susan Marshall, for instance, crosses musical borders, writing and performing pop, folk, and rock music.  Shooter Jennings, the son of the late, great Waylon Jennings crosses those borders, too writing and performing country and rock songs.  Preston Shannon, who takes on Rich’s ‘Easy Money’ is a blues artist, not country.  Simply put, the artists tapped for the project are not just country artists.  They run the gamut just like Rich himself did during his career.  Taking such an approach is a real tribute in itself to Rich and his contributions to the music industry.  On another level, the fact that each artist only takes on one song each, rather than taking on multiple compositions, makes them and the record even more enjoyable to hear.  Speaking of hearing the songs, the arrangements that each artist presented of his or her given song rounds out the most important of the record’s elements.

The songs that were chosen for Memphis International Records’ new Charlie Rich collection and the artists tapped to perform those songs are each important elements in their own way in examining the record’s presentation.  While each element is clearly important to the record’s overall presentation, they are not the record’s only key elements.  The performances put in by each artist are just as important to note as the performers themselves and the songs chosen for the record.  Jim Lauderdale’s take on ‘Lonely Weekends’ largely pays honor to Rich’s original tune, but amps things up a little bit with his guitar-driven take on the song and an electronic organ in place of Rich’s original piano.  By and large, the two renditions are the same, save for those differences, and of course the choir in the background.  Considering this, anyone that is familiar with the original song will enjoy this take on the classic tune just as much as the original.  Much the same can be said of ‘Easy Money.’

Preston Shannon’s take on ‘Easy Money’ has taken the original sax-driven song and stepped it up even more, replacing the original sax line with a guitar.  The drums are also more prominent in Shannon’s take on the song than on the original.  It is just one more way in which the record’s performances prove to be just as important to its presentation as the songs and artists tapped for the record.  The album’s closer and title track is perhaps the greatest example of the importance of the record’s featured performances.

Kevin Connolly almost directly mirrors Rich with his performance of the beautifully painful ‘Feel Like Going Home.’  While the arrangement is slightly different here from the original—Rich used a piano in his original tune while Connolly used a steel guitar (or what sounds like a steel guitar)—the effect is still the same.  It will garner tears from listeners of any age and musical taste.  Connolly expertly captures that gravelly tone in Rich’s voice in his take on the song here, adding even more impact to the song.  The end result is a song that is so powerful in its painful delivery that it makes the perfect closer for the record and yet another example of the importance of the performances presented throughout the record.  Between Connolly’s performance, those of Preston Shannon, Jim Lauderdale, and all of the other artists, the performances shine through brightly from beginning to end.  They combine to prove in the end that the performances, while not precise mirror images of Rich’s originals, are just as good as Rich’s songs if not better.  When the performances are set against the songs and performers chosen for the record, all three elements join to show in whole why this tribute record is not just another obligatory piece meant to prey on consumer spending habits.  They join to make this collection one that country music fans of all ages should have in their personal music libraries.

Memphis International Records’ new Charlie Rich collection Feel Like Going Home: The Songs of Charlie Rich is a record that every county music fan should have in his or her music library.  That is because the songs presented in the record are in themselves a musical history lesson on Rich and his contributions to the music industry.  The performers tapped to record the chosen songs are just as vast as they styles of music that Rich composed during his career.  Their performances of those songs, while not mirror images of Rich’s songs, do the original songs justice just as much as they do Rich’s own legacy.  They could even  be argued to be just as good as Rich’s originals if not better.  Keeping all of this in mind, Feel Like Going Home: The Songs of Charlie Rich proves in the end to be, again, a must have for any country music fan.  It will be available in stores and online on Friday, October 14th.  It can be ordered online now via Memphis International Records store.  More information on this and other titles from Memphis International Records is available online now at:









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