In a country music world where R&B beats and sickly sweet pop is dominating the genre, it can be frustrating when a big release arrives and it just feels like more of the same. The initial singles from Randy Houser’s latest record promised a lot, so naturally I was expecting a decent record from this early-January release.
Randy Houser is an artist who I’ve had mixed feelings about in the past, I’ve never really got into his music and his writing credit on the infamous Honky Tonk Badonkadonk takes a lot to get over (why? Just why?!). That said, Houser has a lot more to offer and is clearly a great songwriter. His CMA Songwriters tour in the UK a couple of years ago proved what a great artist and entertainer he is.
The album kicks off with his un-imitable Southern growl on No Stone Unturned, a reflective song that gets your foot tapping and chugs along nicely. Punctuated with some great acoustic guitar work, the song feels like it could become arena sized at any minute, especially during the instrumental outro. This tempo continues into Our Hearts, a song that features our very own Lucie Silvas, an artists whose superb vocals have helped uplift many country albums this year.
It’s not all slow ballads here however, songs like Whole Lot of Quit provide a bluesy shuffle that’ll get any crowd up and moving, especially when the harmonica starts to sing. It’s rootsy songs like this that I really love to hear on a country album, the type that you can imagine a band really jamming out on. Nothin’ On You invokes 80’s rock with it’s soft rock verses and singalong chorus, a great fun song that’s likely to be a live favourite for years to come.
On Magnolia you can really feel Houser channelling his inner bluesman. No Good Place to Cry is a raw and sparse song, where Houser’s characteristic growl works alongside a solo electric guitar in the intro, growing bigger and bigger as the song comes on. It reminds me of Stapleton, sadly Houser can’t quite hit those notes like Chris (but who can?!). Similar can be said for High Time, a song that would suit Stapleton or Brent Cobb nicely. It feels like Houser would fit in nicely with those more ‘authentic’ (don’t hate me for saying that) artists.
One of the highlights of the album is What Whiskey Does. Featuring some beautiful vocals from Hillary Lindsey, this is a song that would have been a huge hit once upon a time. Sadly, I don’t think country radio is interested in a song like this at the moment, but if Houser is to make a splash with this album then I’d bet my bottom dollar this song is up there as the reason for it. A great country song.
It’s hard to pin down how Houser was feeling when writing this record which is a shame because that’s something that I always like to feel. There’s no doubt that it’s a musically brilliant album, in a completely non-cynical way he’s channeling that Stapleton sound. It’s all about the big voice and the blues, which is brilliant, and he still manages to make something very much of his own. There’s enough variety, songs like What Whiskey Does give you the feels whereas a tune such as Whole Lot of Quit make you want to party. Compared to a lot of Nashville country at the moment this album is refreshing and I hope it get’s it’s due.
- No Stone Unturned
- Our Hearts (Feat. Lucie Silvas)
- What Whiskey Does (Feat. Hillary Lindsey)
- Whole Lotta Quit
- No Good Place to Cry
- New Buzz
- Nothin’ On You
- What Leaving Looks Like
- High Time
- Mamma Down Know
- Running Man
No Stone Unturned, What Whiskey Does, Whole Lotta Quit
Six Shooter Rating
8 out of 10