2012 IN NASHVILLE COUNTRY
Free the Music
(Sea Gayle/Arista Nashville)
Here's what I wrote in the PopMatters Country Best-Of, shortly before learning that Jerrod Niemann is not really country:
Keeping Nashville horn players employed since 2010, this goofball proudly endorses the man in the moon and insists that he is a man, not a fraction. (Maybe that’ll end the rumors.) Niemann’s post-Big & Rich country mixes metaphors and styles with abandon, its exquisitely chiseled production sweeping you from song to song. Free the Music veers from Beck to honky-tonk weeper, the ominous “Get On Up” to the lite tropical “I’ll Have to Kill the Pain”. It all seems like breezy showboating until “Only God Could Love You More”, a massive ballad that’ll awaken your inner 14-year-old to the knowledge that love is awesome. God, too; though he’s less prominent in Niemann’s cosmology than alcohol or Jessie James, who has the courtesy to rhyme with “Guessing Games”, the title of a dark new wave strutter. “Do you know what is completely obnoxious?,” asks Niemann of his mystery woman. Sometimes the answer is Jerrod Niemann, but he’s always real nice about it.
And, just because I'd like to preserve the discussion, traditionalist commenter Al3x 0rr proposed the following:
"I feel a a good trad country album should top a dance-pop album marketed as country any day in a list of best country releases. A terrific album exemplifying the best aspects of a genre's style should be among the qualities looked for in a great album when talking about releases within that particular genre."
He also noted, "I just gave a listen to the Jerrod Niemann album and I'd love to know what makes this country and not lite-rock pop soul." He went on, "Did y'all actually hear [Marty Stuart's unmentioned-in-the-list] "Nashville, Vol. 1: Tear the Woodpile Down" and decide that it was simply not among the ten best country albums released in 2012? If you can explain to me how Jerrod Niemann's album is a better "country" album, I'd love to hear it."