The Boom-or-Bust Jukebox is a weekly feature in which we review one single – either a standalone entity or one from an upcoming album that interests us – as well as anything new to Billboard’s Country Airplay top 40, and a throwback single (currently exploring No. 1 country singles of the ‘90s).
With no new entries to this week’s country airplay top 40, I’ve decided to write about two standalone entities for this week. Anyway, onward.
Randy Rogers Band, “Nothing But Love Songs” (written by Jon Randall, Radney Foster, and Randy Rogers)
This is exactly the type of musical comfort food I needed this week. I was a bit underwhelmed by the Randy Rogers Band’s last album, so if the extended break was what they needed to recharge the batteries – especially seeing as how they’re branding their upcoming Homecoming project as a return to their roots – I’m all for it, because “Nothing But Love Songs” goes down easy. It’s not a world-beater for me as far as the mini “song about songs” genre is concerned – this reminds me a bit, oddly enough, of musical contemporary Wade Bowen’s own “Songs About Trucks” in execution sold with a more distinct breakup theme – but call it a result of a really great groove and melodic hook in the fiddle and electric guitar doing the bulk of the heavy lifting for me with a great bass and organ foundation to match it, because this is pretty immediately likable. I’m not sure Rogers ever sounds in his most comfortable range here – he struggles with those high notes pretty frequently – but this is a really nice step for that new album. Boom.
Joey McGee, “Green and Blue” (written by Joey McGee)
And from “Nothing But Love Songs” we turn to … well, a love song. Actually, introducing this new pick is somewhat odd, if only because it’s actually a re-recording of one of Joey McGee’s older tunes in support of an upcoming acoustic album (my quick introduction and background for him is to just point to the excellent Terlingua Taproot from 2017). So as either an introduction or reintroduction, this new version is definitely my favorite. Granted, it was pretty bare-bones to begin with, and outside of a really fantastic chipper rollick in the recurring groove and a live vocal pickup adding a lived-in sincerity here, along with some pretty detailed imagery that can give this sentiment some actual weight, I’m not sure there’s much to add – it’s simple but really effective. It runs a bit long, but all in all, a solid recontextualizing of an older song, and a good reason to check out an underrated talent.
And now, this week’s throwback review:
Alan Jackson, “Wanted” (written by Charlie Craig and Alan Jackson)
And from an anti-love song and a bonafide love song, we now have a song caught somewhere in the middle of lost love, and from one of my favorite country music artists. Granted, the slightly goofy premise of sending out an apology in the form of a wanted advertisement has always kept this just shy of being among my favorite Alan Jackson songs. And the fact that it’s sold as overly serious instead of a potentially lighthearted comedic track probably doesn’t help matters much or do much for its slow pacing. But Jackson’s more weathered, mature vocal timbre works better in this mold anyway and has always lent a natural gravitas to his work that’s helped it endure throughout the years. As an early track, however, I’m just not sure this comes together as well as it could. It’s still pretty good, though.