The Guitar Song by Jamey Johnson

After the success of 2008’s That Lonesome Song, Jamey Johnson returns with a two-disc, 25-song parcel of his gritty musical reality. Though the “White” disc showcases up-tempo if not uplifting tunes while the “Black” disc descends into moodier tracks, Jamey’s stark songwriting style makes the album’s two halves appear seamless.

“Good Morning Sunrise,” despite its optimistic-sounding title, finds a man chasing a bad breakup with a shot of whiskey: They say whiskey before noon is such a shame / That’s why the night has taken your place. Bill Anderson makes an appearance on the title cut, which contains a litany of stories one might hear if some of Nashville’s famed guitars could talk. The collection is filled with lines of everyday wisdom, including It’s so hard to stay honest in a world that’s headed to hell from “You Can’t Cash My Checks.” He offers a surprisingly hopeful spiritual revelation on “I Remember You.” The autobiographical stunner “That’s Why I Write Songs” and “Macon” are already gaining fans—the former is circulating in a much-viewed YouTube video (see below)—and he pays homage to his songwriting roots with the Kristofferson classic “For the Good Times” and Vern Gosdin’s “Set ’Em up Joe.” Throughout the package, Jamey reminds that life isn’t always simply black or white.

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