Jamey Johnson - Black, White, or Otherwise

Music  |  Features

Jamey Johnson has a new, as yet untitled, album, or maybe albums, coming out soon. And it's all quite confusing.

Here's what I know: I've heard these 25 songs, spread across two CDs, and they're superb. I've written about Jamey before, and not much has changed. He still looks like a Hells Angels biker and he still sings like a Redneck Angel, equal parts Waylon Jennings and George Jones. He has a voice for the Heavenly Honky Tonk. Set 'em up, Jesus, and give me a double shot of redemption and grace. Better yet, his songwriting invests the most cliched country music subjects with freshness and authenticity. He's been to hell and back, and he'll tell you about it, but he does so more as a confessional singer/songwriter than as a Stetson-hatted hack. His 2008 album That Lonesome Song was about as good as country music gets, as far as I'm concerned.

So ... there are two albums here, one called Black and one called White, both possibly part of a larger concept album called The Guitar Song. Apparently it's still up in the air. Black is a song cycle of drinkin', druggin', cheatin' and generally pissin' life away, while White seems to offer some glimmers of hope. Take 'em together and they tell a story of redemption. Take 'em separately and there are about a dozen tunes here that deserve to be huge hits, and would considerably improve the fare heard over the radio.

I dearly love this guy. I'm fairly certain that anybody who loves George, Waylon, or Merle would love him, too.

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