Jamey Johnson, “Alabama Pines” (2015): One Track Mind

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On New Year’s Day, Jamey Johnson quietly released his first new non-holiday song since ending a prolonged contract dispute with Mercury Records and launching his own label, Big Gassed Records. Johnson is offering the track for free on his label’s website, and it should be the first of many to come. In announcing the formation of Big Gassed, Johnson promised that as soon as he could get it written and recorded, the music would be available to fans.

Though it certainly won’t compete with his best work, “Alabama Pines” is a welcome return for one of the few guys that has managed to get a traditional country sound on current country radio in recent years. It’s as thoughtful and well-written a song as we’ve come to expect from Jamey Johnson, and the drawl of his voice still oozes the very spirit of classic country.

As he explains in a letter accompanying the new tune, it recalls a New Year’s Day 15 years ago when Johnson was in the middle of his move from Alabama to Nashville and the thoughts that accompanied that shift in his life. “‘Alabama Pines’ is my love letter to the time and place from whence I came,” he writes.

A song about transition, “Alabama Pines” is a most appropriate piece to herald the new chapter in Johnson’s career. At the same time, it will be a very familiar-sounding and welcome tune for fans. Most importantly, though, it ends a five-year drought of new music from Jamey Johnson and promises fans many good things to come in the new year.

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