I can’t believe it’s been over a year since I first heard Andrew Pope’s “Stormchaser”. I knew right then and there that I wanted to hear an album from this guy, and while it has been a long time coming, we finally have an album from the same guy who Bobby Bare once deemed the future of country music.
Right away I’ll say that if you’re a fan of guys like Chris Stapleton, Cody Jinks, or Jamey Johnson, or traditional country music in general, you’re going to like Andrew’s latest album, Stoned On The One. It’s a no frills country album that honestly, doesn’t need a lot of explaining. If anything, it certainly cements Andrew as an artist through the coming years, and when it comes to top tier country albums this year, you can file this away as one.
This is a very dark album at its core. The themes are certainly representative of the core country music themes, but when I say that I mean the darker side of country, the side where the heartbreak happens and the honesty shines through. In fact, I would say a good chunk of this album shows Andrew fighting personal demons or getting over heartbreak of some sort, and that makes for some real standout tracks here.
Undoubtedly the best moments on Stoned On The One happen when Andrew matches that darker lyricism with the right mood to match it. “Runnin’ After Rainbows” begins with a very moody tone before telling the tale of a girl who’s gone off the deep end since her and the narrator figured out they weren’t good enough for each other. It also goes to show how great of a singer Andrew is, not just from a power standpoint, but also as an emotive interpreter as well. He can’t help this girl, and it’s killing him.
The final two tracks ensure that the album ends with a bang as well. I’ve loved “Stormchaser” since I first heard it over a year ago, and it still holds up just as well. The beautiful outro with the booming drums and haunting pedal steel gives the song the “storm” like quality it’s going for. I also enjoyed the more menacing closer “Through” for ending the album on a blusier note as well as the killer opening (which I learned was caused by a phaser. Learn something new everyday).
Along the way you’ll also get some damn great (and well written) tracks that deal with regrets of the past such as “Stoned On The One” or “Honky Tonk Tragedy”, and “Even Ramblers Get The Blues” as well as “Whiskey Gets Me There” are excellent acoustic ballads that again, show what a great emotive interpreter Andrew is. Despite the title as well, “Redneck CEO” isn’t what you think it’s about. Instead, it’s a tribute to Andrew’s grandfather, a man who obviously had a huge influence on Andrew.
If I were to criticize the album, I would say it’s a little too stuck in the darkness at times, as much like Chris Stapleton’s Traveller, the album does drag on without any changes in tempo or any moments of levity. “I Wish I Was In Austin” is the outlier with its fun instrumental breakdown in the middle, but you also have songs like “Country Congregation” and “Granny Panties” which don’t feel as fun or as lively as their themes imply.
There are also times where the themes start to run together, and while I wouldn’t say there’s a bad song on this album, there are some that don’t standout above the others such as “If I Go Crazy”, and again, at thirteen tracks it does run a little long.
But again, overall Stoned On The One is a very satisfying listen, and for fans of any of the above mentioned artists, you’re going to love this. I’ve been waiting awhile for this album, and I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest. It’s also worth mentioning too that Andrew had a hand in writing all of these tracks, some of which are solo cuts (I Wish I Was In Austin, If I Go Crazy, Even Ramblers Get The Blues, Through). He also produced the album himself, and I have to say the sound is incredible here – honoring Andrew’s heroes such as Haggard and Hank Jr. while also keeping a modern touch on it, in short feeling like an excellent modern day traditional country album. Keep your eye out for Andrew, as I think you’ll be hearing his name a lot more over the next couple years.
Stoned On The One is set to be released on May 5th through Alacob Music.