Album Review – Dustin Sonnier’s ‘Country’

You know, it’s been a strange year for Country and Americana music. Now, you might be thinking of that as a negative thing, but really it’s far from it. It seems like 2016 is the year that people either drift away from the traditional country sound or cling tightly to it. Now, both extremes have brought us some fantastic music thus far this year, and there have been albums that are a little of both extremes. It’s just fascinating watching to see what artist drifts in what direction.

Another interesting observation has been that most of those artists who have chosen to stick to the traditional country sound are either young in age, young in their careers, and most commonly both. Perhaps it’s a rebellion to the pop sound that has permeated the mainstream these days. Perhaps it’s just the kind of music these artists want to make. Either way, it’s great to see a younger generation that wants to carry on the torch for traditional country music.

Dustin Sonnier falls into the camp I just described. He may be young, but let me tell you ladies and gentlemen, he sings like he’s much older, with a raspy vocal texture that was simply built for country music.

Dustin Sonnier may be new to you and I, but truth be told he released his first album all the way back in 2008. He’s been quiet ever since then but now he’s back with a new project simply called Country and let me tell you, it lives up to the name, despite the simple title.
Country doesn’t mess around when it comes to the sound. This is real country music with twang, steel guitar, fiddles, and tales of heartbreak, drinking, and love. You hit the first track, “I Said I Loved You, But I Lied” and you’re enraptured by an infectious vocal melody as well as some great bouncy fiddles. “It’s Gonna Take A Little Jack” feels like it could have most likely been a hit on 80’s or 90’s country radio. “Neither Do I” is a great example of an honest narrative of a man who admits to his former lover that he’s the reason why their love turned cold and that even he’s sick of himself. One also has to mention the fantastic Conway Twitty cover on this album with “I See The Want To In Your Eyes”, a cover that surely is worthy of a nod from the country legend. And of course, the best track on this album comes from the slower “Whiskey Makes Her Miss Me”, a tale of a guy who sees his old flame at a bar. He knows that she’s still not over their break-up due to her constantly pushing away other guys who walk up to her. There’s a melancholy sense to this one, almost as if the male narrator feels bad that their break-up had this much of an effect on her.

Of course, Country isn’t a complete homerun. At only six tracks long, it’s understandable why some would leave this album wanting a little bit more. Also, while the sound of this album is quite heavenly, the writing could be a little stronger in spots. “It’s Gonna Take A Little Jack” and “Take It From The Top” aren’t bad songs at all, in fact they’re quite good. It’s just that they pretty much have the same message to them.

Country is a strong effort though, and certainly worthy of any country fan’s time. Dustin Sonnier may not have necessarily re-invented the wheel with Country, but he did show what makes country music so special to begin with, and that’s the whole point of the album anyway. Quite simply put, Dustin Sonnier understands country music, and that’s something that’s getting harder to find in artists these days. When the music is this damn good, I find it hard to nitpick that much. Dustin’s got a bright future in country music between his amazing voice and his true-blue country sound, and I am eagerly awaiting a full length album from this man.

Best Tracks: “Whiskey Makes Her Miss Me”, “Neither Do I”, “It’s Gonna Take A Little Jack”

(7/10)

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