Album Review – Ags Connolly’s ‘Nothin’ Unexpected’

Who? – Ags Connolly from Oxfordshire, England
Album Release Date / Producer?/ Record Label? – February 3rd, 2017 / Dean Owens / New West Records
Genre? – Country

Opinion On The Artist’s Discography Overall Up To This Point? – His 2014 debut album, How About Now was a great, underrated album that caught my attention over the holidays last year. Now it’s time to talk about this new album.

Where Might Other People Know This Act From? – Other blogs probably. Also, he’s “a proud supporter of the “Ameripolitan” movement”.

Is There Any Sort Of Event Surrounding the Making Of This Album? – Not as far as I know.

Can You Give A Brief Overview Of This New Project? – Nothin’ Unexpected is a good name for the album. I mean yeah, I know that implies that I’m calling it predictable (which I’m not), but really, after Ags’ great debut album, I think many listeners were expecting another great country album from him this go around. You get that with this album. I don’t quite think it’s as great as How About Now, and we’ll get to why, but I also think this is definitely a very worthy follow up that cements Ags as a great artist. 

What Are The Low Points / Nitpicks Of The Project? Nothin’ Expected is the type of album that feels personal for Ags, exploring a lot of his past and how it affects him in the present day. That being said, there is some heavy stuff on this album, and if I were to nitpick I would say that a lack of variety is probably this album’s biggest flaw. Most of these songs are either dealing with old lovers or are just fun drinking songs. Therefore, this album can start to run together after awhile, both in theme and in sound. 

I also won’t say that Ags is the best at pulling off those fun, drinking songs either. I like “Haunts Like This” for what it is, and we’ll get back to that later, but Ags is definitely the type of singer who’s able to convey a ton of emotional presence, and again, that’s something we’ll get more into later on. That being said, while he’s able to handle the heavier material quite well, the more fun songs such as “Neon Jail” and “Haunts Like This” don’t sound as convincing to me, as if they were placed here solely to allow for some moments of relief from the more somber tracks. 

What Are The High Points / Praiseworthy Elements Of The Project? – As noted before, this is a heavy album, and it really hits you more on the 2nd half.  That doesn’t mean you can write off the first half though. Hell, I originally was going to write off “I Hope You’re Unhappy” since the narrator was acting like a complete jackass until I realized, wait, he’s aware he’s doing this. He only wants her to be unhappy since he is as well, and he wants her back. It’s the type of song that works due to its self-awareness, and really, it’s a great way to open the record. 

Now, while I stated that the themes of these songs can start to run together by the end, Ags is a skilled enough writer to at least add something different to the table elsewhere, such as in the details, the sound, or even Ags himself. “I Suppose” is a stone cold country ballad that lets face it, is straight up his alley. Definitely my favorite song on the record for capturing such a moody tone and reminding me why I love country music.

We’ve heard the song about the person who comes back to an old town that still has memories attached to it (in this case, his old lover), only to find out that not everything is the same. The narrator’s love, Suzy, left the town while he was gone, and there’s no happy ending. Again, I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but Ags is really able to hone in on those emotions, giving it a personal feel. Hell, maybe it is personal how I would know?

I won’t repeat myself, but really that praise extends towards tracks like “Fifteen Years”, “Slow Burner” and “I Should’ve Closed The Book” as well despite my overarching (minor) criticism. Aside from that though, “Haunts Like This” literally sounds like it came from Hank Williams’s catalog with the fantastic steel guitar and handclap percussion. Also, the one track here that sort of is the outlier in terms of theme on this record is “When The Loner Gets Lonely”, a track that really hones in on how loneliness consumes a man, once again being a great showcase of emotion from Ags. 

Closing Thoughts? – So overall, I definitely enjoyed this album. I don’t quite love it, again some more variety would have helped, but it’s still a really good album that is filled with some fantastic production, great songwriting and a hell of an emotive interpreter in Ags. In these last cold winter months where the harshness of life and the weather can eat away at this, we can revel in the darkness and the beauty that is Nothin’ Unexpected.  

Can You Summarize Who Might Like This Album? – Fans of traditional country. If you enjoyed his last album you’ll enjoy this. 

Are There Any Albums This Reminds You Of? – Not really, I mean it’s traditional, but the production choices on this album are really unique, and it’s hard to pinpoint any album (or artist) that sounds like this.

Best Song(s)? – “I Suppose”, “When The Loner Gets Lonely”, “Haunts Like This”, I Hope You’re Unhappy”, “Fifteen Years”
Worst (Or Weakest) Songs? – “Neon Jail” 
Where Can I Buy This Album? – http://atthehelmrecords.bigcartel.com/

Grade: B


3 thoughts on “Album Review – Ags Connolly’s ‘Nothin’ Unexpected’

    1. Wow, I knew there was a piece I wanted to write about today but I couldn’t think of it for the life of me… I meant to talk about Andrew’s album so thanks for reminding me! And thanks for the heads up on the releases, I’ll update the list soon.

      Like

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