The long wait is over country music fans, Alabama is back with a new album! After embarking on a farewell tour in 2003 and spending the last six years working on solo projects, the Alabama boys are back making music together again. Southern Drawl, their first new studio album in 14 years, was released on the 18th of this month, and is already receiving support and praise from fans and industry peers alike. Now, I grew up listening to Alabama on the radio, that was what real country music was when I was a kid. I went into listening to this album as a fan who was excited for new music.
The album opens with the title track, “Southern Drawl”, and I have to admit that as a fan I was expecting more “Roll On Eighteen Wheeler”, “Mountain Music”, and “If You’re Gonna Play In Texas”, so “Southern Drawl” was an extremely disappointing start to the album! “Southern Drawl” is clearly Alabama’s attempt at fitting into the Bro Country crowd. The production is all jacked up, much like something you’d expect from Jason Aldean. Lyrically, the song is very generic, throwing out all the phrases and imagery that has become staples in the genre and especially in Bro songs. It just doesn’t sound like Alabama, and it’s not really that believable coming from such a seasoned band with an iconic sound. I do have to say, that I do see this song as a potential single, it would certainly fit in at radio, but again, that’s not saying much.
My heart sank a little listening to that song, as I prayed that this was just a fluke, and that the rest of the album would sound more like the Alabama us fans know and love. Luckily, my prayers were answered, as “Southern Drawl” seems to be just that, a fluke on an otherwise solid album. The only other track on Southern Drawl that seems a bit out of place is “Hillbilly Wins the Lotto Money”. The track is hokey and just weird. Like I said, other than those two tracks, the rest of the album is pretty solid, especially for a comeback album. We have to take in to consideration that Alabama hasn’t had new music in 14 years, so they are attempting to make “relevant” music and figure out how to fit in with the new trends of country. So I’ll let “Southern Drawl” slide…
“Wasn’t Through Lovin’ You Yet” is the lead single from Southern Drawl and was just recently released to radio, in fact I heard it for the first time on local radio Friday (the 18th). The track finds its narrator begging his lady love not to leave him, all the while acknowledging the couple’s mistakes that led to the current point. He declares that he wasn’t through loving her yet. The track is lighter in production (compared to “Southern Drawl”), but I still feel like it’s a bit too loud for the song. There’s just something about this song that’s very lackluster, like they’re just singing it because they have to. It lacks feeling. That being said, it was a step in the right direction compared to “Southern Drawl”.
The record seems to get stronger as it goes on. “This Ain’t Just A Song” is the third track on the album and it’s also the point where I let out a sigh of relief. Finally! A song that sounds like an Alabama song! This track is softer and sweeter, very light on production, which goes well with the overall mood of the track. As Owen sings “ This ain’t just a song to me/ It’s a hymn I heard my Grandma sing/ A lick I learned on Dad’s guitar, a drunk I met in some old bar/ And blink you missed it Tennessee”. This song speaks through the point of view of a singer and songwriter, writing songs that stem from personal experiences and feelings, and hoping that it moves the listener in some way. It’s an excellent song, and a standout on the record.
“As Long As There’s Love” is a song reminiscent of “Angels Among Us”. It’s a song with a powerful message of love and hope. Alabama pulls off this song nicely, without sounding cheesy. “Back To the Country” is a foot stopping pure Alabama song, a modern day “Mountain Music”. I have to say that this is one of my favorites on the album. The production perfectly complements the lyrics and vocals. The song opens with, “Back to the country, where I feel at home/ Back to the country, I’ve been gone too long/ Take Me on back, take me on back to the country,” and then goes on with “Buildings so high I can’t see the sun/ They’re closing in on me/ Car after car on this cold concrete/ I need some dirt under my feet.” Owen sums it up with “My body needs a break/ My mind is a mess/ God only knows, my soul needs a rest.” Like I said before, the album definitely gets stronger the farther into it you get.
Other highlights are “American Farmer” and “It’s About Time”. Although “It’s About Time” isn’t country at all (but that doesn’t mean much these days anyway I guess), it still a good song. The track has a really cool sound to it, and I love the lyrical content. Southern Drawl concludes with “I Wanna Be There”, a sweet track about wanting to be there through all the milestones of life, all the little and the big moments. It’s a wonderful way to close out the record. Overall, Southern Drawl is a solid album with a few flukes on it. It’s definitely worth a listen and certainly enough to give us Alabama fans hope for the future of the band!
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