Album Number Two
Joey + Rory
Released: 14 September 2010
For any newcomers, the premise of the "Barkeep's Jukebox" is to match each song with an appropriate drink. Because of this, I'm not so much reviewing the album, as I am trying to explain the reason for each drink recommendation. Incidentally, you can download the album in .mp3 format from Amazon.com for just $5.00 through October. Here goes:
"Album Number Two" - The album opens with a recap of how things have gone for Joey + Rory since their debut, and the expectations placed on them for this sophomore release, and turns into a plead to fans to support the album. It's delightfully self-aware, and has a great driving fiddle & pedal steel guitar. I've been watching a lot of older movies lately, so I say pour some brandy to calm your nerves.
"That's Important to Me" - Joey sings about how being a wife and mother are the most important things to her; the value of making a home-cooked meal for dinner, etc. On paper it might seem trite, but her sincerity gives the song its authenticity and elevates what could easily have become an eye-roller. I'd recommend a gin & tonic here; something old school that, if not mixed properly, can be too sweet (or bitter).
"All You Need Is Me" - There's a good ol' boy with everything he thinks he needs to be set; Joey's here to point out the one deficiency in his life is that he doesn't have her. It's the kind of tender, yet aggressive, courtship perspective one believes Joey had when she met Rory. I see this conversation taking place over some beers on a Saturday night. Get into the down-home feel with a local micro-brew.
"Born to Be Your Woman" - In some ways, it's a flash-forward from "All You Need Is Me." Out of context, it's a duet between husband and wife, trading remarks about how destined for one another they are. If this had been nearly any other duet partnership, it would certainly be too much to swallow, but it fits what we know about these two. Pop open a bottle of wine. I'd go with something sweet here--but not a champagne. That would be overkill.
"Baby I'll Come Back to You" - Joey takes the "when pigs fly" retort and gives it a country music theme, evoking unfathomable behavior from established stars as signs that she would actually go back to her ex. My favorite line was," To see the chance is mighty slim/Chris Gaines or me are coming back again." Loved it. Have something appropriately independent and snarky here; a shot of tequila sounds about right. Salt and lime are optional.
"God Help My Man" - Joey's aware of the time of night, and that her man hasn't come home yet. She stews, running through a list of acceptable reasons for his absence, alternating with threats about what will happen if she finds the truth unacceptable. Pour some bourbon and let the burn simmer in your throat.
"The Horse Nobody Could Ride" - A horse is a horse, of course, unless the horse is an allegory for an independent woman no man could tame. Until, of course, one does. Back to beer for this one; this time, something mass produced and domestic like a Budweiser or Coors Light.
"Farm to Fame" - A story of the rise--and fall--of a country artist. This could easily be about Bocephus, or The Possum, except for the fact they've endured through their respective downturns. Pour yourself a Jack & Coke, heavy on the Jack--either to bask in the excess of the 15 minutes of fame, or to try to endure the aftermath.
"Where Jesus Is" - I cringed when I saw the title, just because I've grown exhausted of the bumper-sticker religious songs in contemporary country music, but this is actually a very thoughtful song about how faith doesn't require grandeur; that the pomp and circumstance of organized churches is really anathema to what spirituality is really about. Pour some red wine--careful that you're not doing it for the wrong reasons--and make sure it's the cheap stuff or you'll have missed the point of the song.
"You Ain't Right" - Living with your mom while in your 30s is equated with having to leave the bar because your kids are in the car outside or mistreating your spouse. Each of the behaviors cited will ring true for someone, and offend someone else. Given how holier-than-thou this song is, it's especially troubling coming after the gem of "Where Jesus Is." Have an O'Doul's here, because anyone this nosy and judgmental wouldn't approve of drinking (gasp!) alcohol.
"My Ol' Man" - Rory sings a ballad in tribute of his old school, down-to-earth, hard-workin' dad. I'm of Scotch/Irish heritage, so I'm inclined to say raise a glass of scotch, neat, in tribute. Like "That's Important to Me," it's the sincerity that really makes this song work as well as it does.
"This Song's for You" featuring Zac Brown Band - You know all those generic themes that every mainstream country song of the last decade has tried to elevate to something profound? They're mashed together here and I found it vapid. But I digress; drink whatever you want here. After all, it's "for you."
A final note on the album itself. The organic feel of the arrangements works well from start to finish, and at no point do they try to perform material that doesn't suit them, so it all rings true. I just wonder, in the economy of the last decade, whether it's fair to continue to perpetuate the false notion that having a job is proof that you're doing something right, when so many have been out of work for so long through no fault of their own. I may be a sensitive liberal, but I'm sure enough of their intended audience includes conservative, unemployed folks who might find some of the remarks made on "You Ain't Right" and especially "This Song's for You" insensitive.